There are certain things that are universals. Office etiquette, in my opinion, should be one of them. At my current job, the rules of etiquette are….more like guidelines, if anything, and are often ignored. While I’m generally easy going towards this and just try to accept the office for how it is, there are times when I can’t stand it.
The first rule of office etiquette is respecting your boss(es). That should be a given, seeing as how they’re the ones signing your paycheck. However, there is one person in particular at my job who blatantly disrespects the head boss, as well as the other bosses. She thinks that because she’s been there for 25 years that she knows more than anyone else–never mind the fact that she probably never went to college while the people she’s criticizing have law degrees. She even goes so far as to tell the main boss what he can and can’t do. It’s not even a suggestion with her; it’s an order.
The second rule is respecting your coworkers. Unsurprisingly, the person who breaks the first rule breaks this one too. She’s always badmouthing the rest of us–sometimes in front of us, or where she knows we can hear. She thinks that because we sometimes chat and sometimes go online for a few minutes that we do no work. For example, Friday I was swamped. I worked for a few hours straight and had gotten everything down to a manageable level. So, I decided to take my first break of the day and surf the internet for a few moments while I eat a piece of fruit. Well, the above-mentioned person walks by just at that moment, sighs loudly, shakes her head, and then reappears a moment later with a huge stack of papers. She says “well, since you’re not busy, you can do this for me.” She didn’t even pretend it was a request. I was pissed, but knew that it would be faster just to do it than to argue. It still annoyed the hell out of me, though. Not to mention that that’s one of the least annoying things she does.
Third rule: separate the personal from the professional. We’re all decently close at this job and we talk about our personal lives quite frequently. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as people realize that there’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed. When the questions get too intimate or the topic is too taboo, it should be dropped immediately. At my old job as an assistant manager at the movie theater, I was quite close to the managers, because we were on the same mental level. However, we always knew when we were going too far and needed to remember that we were in a subordinate-superior position. Even with the other assistant managers, we all had an agreement that personal conversations were not to go past a certain point. It worked and kept everything running smoothly without too many emotional conflicts interfering with what we were getting paid to do. If we wanted things to get personal, we could always hang out off the clock.
This third rule also applies to actions, not just conversations. If you’re having a bad day, don’t take it out on the rest of the office. It’s not our fault you’re angry/bitter/depressed/whatever. There is a time and a place for emotions to control you, and it is not the workplace. One of the lawyers is currently going through a divorce and, because of that, is extremely difficult to work with–snapping at everyone who tries to make him, and then yelling when stuff piles up at the last minute. It’s fucking annoying for those of us who need him to do his work before we can do ours.
Every time something annoying, and just plain unnecessary, happens, the general attitude in the office is “oh, well that’s just how X is,” or “oh, you’ll get used to it,” and then they wonder why they have such a large turnover rate. We shouldn’t have to get used to sexual comments from a lawyer three times our age and “learn to take them as compliments.” We shouldn’t have to work with people who want to make everyone around them miserable because they are. We shouldn’t have to be bitched at just because we’re trying to get someone to do their work so we can do ours. I stuck it out–though I wanted to quit many, many times in the first few months–and have made some good friends, but that doesn’t mean I don’t long for a normal office with bosses who act like mature adults. It doesn’t seem like too much to ask for.