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If you work in a typical office environment, you share your space with one or more coworkers. And that means you need to learn how to play well with others. Because being stuck in the same space for eight hours a day with people who basically amount to perfect strangers requires a certain amount of courtesy and consideration.
While you may not be as obnoxious as “that guy,” there are still plenty of little things you might do without realizing how much they can get on your coworkers’ nerves. And it’s the little things that slowly grate on people until suddenly you realize that Bob’s been giving you the silent treatment for days and you kind of hate Sheila.
So here are some simple, easy ways to make the workplace an overall shinier, happier place and prevent some unnecessary drama:
Avoid the heavy perfume
Same goes for cologne for the guys, as well as scented beauty products like lotion and soap.
We tend to not notice the scents we wear after a while, which can lead us to layer them on heavier than they need to be. You may think you smell like “Midnight Fantasy,” but you could be giving your coworkers a raging headache.
Keep the tunes respectful
If you work in close quarters, headphones are always the best way to go. (Although even those can be turned up so loud your coworkers notice, so be careful.)
If you have a little more leeway and can play the radio at your desk, try to keep your musical choices to ones most generic coworkers wouldn’t find offensive. It doesn’t have to be smooth jazz or golden oldies, but maybe stick to some easier fare like Taylor Swift or Colbie Caillat instead of Drizzy or Nicki Minaj.
Clean up after yourself (and, sometimes, other people)
It’s common courtesy to wipe up the coffee you spilled on the counter—but what about refilling the copier when you’re done with your project, even though there’s still a little paper left for the next person (though not enough for a full job)?
When you find the copy room table littered with staples and paperclips, do you clear it off to make room for yourself, work around it—or do you add your own contribution to the clutter, figuring that if other people don’t mind leaving a mess behind them, why should you help them out?
Don’t be petty, and don’t (PLEASE don’t) make the receptionist print out one of those “Your Mom Doesn’t Work Here” signs. Just keep things orderly and replace whatever you notice has run out, without making it into a power play.
Stay away from pungent lunches
You may love your big bag of midday popcorn, but if your office microwave (it’s the microwave’s fault, of course) always burns it, you may want to find a different snacking option. Burnt popcorn can singe the nostrils of people several departments away.
Be equally aware of the fact that your next-door desk mate may not appreciate it when you reheat your spicy curry leftovers from the night before. True, you do have a right to eat whatever you want—but there’s also such a thing as common courtesy. If you show some for others, they’re more likely to show some for you.
Don’t be the office reality show
You know that coworker who’s going through a messy divorce, who has all those risque stories about the girls he’s dating or whose teen is getting into so much trouble at school lately? You probably do—because most offices have that person who loves to air their personal dramas, whether or not they’re appropriate for all audiences.
When you’re in mixed company, it’s best to keep your juicier stories only for the coworkers you know share your sense of humor or lack of PC controls. Not only do some people just not want to get involved in your drama, but some might be genuinely offended by your subject matter.
What common courtesies do you wish your office mates would observe?
Kelly Gurnett is Assistant Editor of Brazen Life and runs the blog Cordelia Calls It Quits, where she documents her attempts to rid her life of the things that don’t matter and focus more on the things that do. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook and hire her services as a blogger extraordinaire here.