Back to Basics: Appropriate Workplace Behavior

Since so many of your waking hours are spent at work, it is natural that the workplace can start to resemble one giant family. When everyone adheres to set standards of appropriate workplace behavior and respectable social etiquette, your workplace family will feel like a Norman Rockwell painting. However, when team members engage in toxic behaviors – well, you will have a one-way ticket for arrival at dysfunction junction, and no one wants that.

How people behave at work can have a major influence on the overall company culture, reputation, and business results - and a lasting impact on the personal brand of the individuals themselves. While most organizations work to set consistent standards of workplace behavior and outline those expectations in their employee manuals, the actual management and enforcement of those standards can be a little more complicated. This is due to many situations having blurred lines requiring case-by-case flexibility, which often can lead to confusion and inconsistency. The key for any employee is to focus their attention on their own behaviors versus the behavior of others.

Here are some simple ways that you can demonstrate you are an active participant in modeling appropriate workplace behavior.

Be Inclusive.

To be inclusive means to embrace diversity and to be respectful of the differences of others. At the end of the day we all share more commonalities than we do differences – so focusing on what you have in common with each of your team members is a great place to start. Workplaces that are filled with people holding different views, life experiences, and personalities are generally far more successful than those that do not. Individuals that have increased exposure to people that are different than them typically tend to be more well-rounded both professionally and personally.


It does not take much to demonstrate inclusivity in the workplace - simply be civil, respectful, open, and inviting. You know, just treat people how you would like to be treated – how easy is that?

Do Not Engage Gossip.

Sometimes what we share in common with our fellow employees is a frustration within the organization, an annoyance with another team member, or some scandalous water cooler chatter – and that can make it easy to validate negative feelings through commiserating or spreading gossip. Here is the thing though; any positive release you may experience when taking a jaunt down whisper alley is brief, but the negative impacts can be far-reaching. The truth is when you engage in gossip it says far more about your character than is does about the original issue that got under your skin, and chances are that whomever you are gossiping with is likely to be gossiping about you down the road too.

When faced with an annoyance, ask yourself – what does this have to do with me? Will it matter in 5 minutes, 5 weeks, or 5 years? By putting a reality check on your frustrations, you are allowing yourself to remove the emotional component and stay grounded.

Avoid Oversharing & Over-asking.

Chances are you have forged strong relationships at work, and that is a good thing – but in order to protect your personal life from becoming workplace fodder, and to avoid making people around you uncomfortable, it is important to avoid oversharing. Naturally, you may have a workplace confidante that you share more private details of your life with, but those types of conversations are best handled outside of the workplace. Oversharing can be completely unintended as well; sometimes you have to make a call to the doctors, pay a bill, or take a call from a family member and if at all possible, it is best that those moments be handled on break, in a private room, or outside. 

Not only should you refrain from oversharing, it is also critically important that you don’t engage in asking or pushing for personal details from others you work with. Not only can asking deeply personal questions create an uncomfortable situation, it could also put both you and the company in legal jeopardy.

Refrain from Controversy.

Welcome to 2019. Controversy seems to be pretty abundant in today’s society – so telling you to refrain from it may seem like an impossible task, but it really isn’t. There is a time and a place for all kinds of conversations and open dialogue about controversial issues – the workplace is not it though. If you think about it, isn’t the idea of a controversy-free space a rather refreshing idea? Sharing opinions on hot-button subjects, political views, and subjects of morality should be avoided in the traditional workplace. There are times when it may not be avoided, for instance a new law may have a direct impact on your work – when faced with a situation like that, the key is to focus solely on discussing the law and what impact it has on the job or the company and nothing more.

There is likely going to be a time when someone brings up a local or national controversial subject that may strike a chord with you, or ask your opinion on it – never be afraid to politely say “I understand you are interested in that subject, but I choose not to engage in such discussions at work.” A graceful exit from the conversation will send a clear message that you are not interested in discussing the topic, while also not putting the person who brought it up on the defensive.

Don’t Bring Others Down.

It is said that “rising tides raise all ships” – are you a rising tide, or are you a falling one? The idea is that when people around you are successful, you will be more successful as well. This makes it even more fascinating that so many in the workplace have this ‘dog-eat-dog’ attitude, which can create a conflict filled, self-serving, and overall hostile work environment. Check your ego, hostility, aggression, misery, and judgmental tendencies at the door and just watch the increased performance of everyone around you. This isn’t bingo; if your co-worker celebrates a win – you should celebrate with them. If they are working hard and getting hung up on something – offer a helping hand. If you accomplished a goal, give a nod to those that helped you be successful. Don’t sabotage others for your own gain, because face it – you are all in it together and need to be able to rely on each other.

 

Toxic environment got you down? Manpower is here to help!