DON’T gossip. It’s hard, I know. I have a hard time following this one myself. Gossip is just so fun. Though talking about other people’s faults and foibles can be great entertainment, it can also cause a lot of problems. Generally speaking, people don’t like to be gossiped about and when word gets around that you’re one of the folks spreading other people’s business to all parts of the office, you might become the target of some unpleasant commentary yourself. Office dramas and rivalries often begin with what some might characterize as harmless gossip and end with someone losing a job or at least being moved or demoted. And be especially leery of the boss or supervisor who pumps you for the office gossip and information on coworkers… You might think that you’re scoring points with management but ultimately, you are demonstrating a lack of loyalty and integrity. Best advice: Steer clear of the juicy gossip mill.
DON’T get sucked into the cancer crowd. Cancer, as an illness, usually starts out small. But those cells multiply and the disease spreads until it overtakes its host OR the host eliminates it through treatment. Same goes for an office “cancer.” One unhappy employee starts grousing about how mistreated they are and how rotten management is and then goes around trying to get other employees to join the grousing. A small group of grousers may then emerge, bitching and complaining about the workplace but not really confronting management on any certain issue. And their negativity spreads and spreads, ultimately affecting employee morale and productivity. Sound familiar? Well, let me tell you that these little cancer groups do not go unnoticed by employers and the treatment of choice is often termination. Instead of being part of the cancer, try being part of the cure. Said another way, if you are unhappy about something at work and know that others are, too, try to actively make a difference, instead of just letting things fester and brew. If you are viewed as part of the cancer crowd, you might just find yourself jobless when management seeks to stop the spreading negativity.
DON’T be the office jokester. There is always one, isn’t there? That person who always has some new joke or story to relate that is highly inappropriate for work but who shares it, anyway? Get this – Save the joking for your non-work friends. Learned a great new joke about some racial minority? Save it. Think it’s funny to shove two oranges under your shirt and pretend that you’re the supervisor who just got breast implants? Do it after work at your apartment, preferably alone. Acting out in the workplace is a sure way to get attention from your coworkers but you may also garner attention from management, who will not likely be amused. Inappropriate behavior in the workplace paves a road right out the door so keep a lid on your inner comedian.
DON’T let your guard down. This tip goes right along with the previous one. Do not let yourself get too comfortable at work. It is tempting, especially when you’ve become very friendly with your coworkers, to let your professionalism slide. In a fashion that is alarmingly reminiscent of high school, we want to be “cool” and part of the crowd and are willing to lower our standards of conduct to fit in. But the bottom line is this…you may feel safe in your work environment to “be yourself” or “be real” but you’re not. Do not drop your guard and think that because you are “friends” with everyone at work that it’s cool to drop f-bombs or pinch your cube-mate’s butt. The familiarity that is created at work can be a good thing, certainly, but it can also backfire…badly. Best advice: Do your best to maintain a professional and friendly demeanor at work and avoid crossing lines into unprofessional conduct.