Work faux pas and how to avoid them
So you’ve just started your new internship and everything is going great.
Everyone’s acknowledged your existence, you made the whole office a cuppa and only had to check who takes sugar once and you’ve avoided leaving the bathroom with loo roll stuck to your shoe. Talking to colleagues is a lot easier than you expected, until… “So how good’s the pay around here?”
Suddenly the whole group goes silent. You’ve committed the ultimate workplace faux pas.
It’s not easy going into a new environment when you don’t know all the hidden rules – especially when you’ve come straight from school – so here’s a list of the top mistakes to avoid making in the office:
Talking about pay is the biggest no-no in the working world. It can lead to embarrassment for everyone involved. If you want to know how much you could earn if you stayed on full time ask your employer or ask a colleague you get along with in a private conversation.
Sending emails to the wrong person
Gossiping is dangerous territory in itself. If you’re talking about someone in an email make sure you don’t copy them into the conversation – especially if it’s your boss. The easy way to avoid this is not to say anything about someone you wouldn’t want to hear. If you really must say it, don’t do it in the office. Especially not with a paper trail that leads to you!
Dressing too casually
Underdressing could indicate to your boss and colleagues that you’re not serious about the job. Make sure you ask about the office’s dress code before dressing down. An easy way to make sure you’re prepared for all dress codes is to start with a plain dress or a blouse and dark coloured slacks as they can be dressed up or down easily with outerwear and accessories. Instantly make either outfit smarter with a blazer and/or delicate jewelry or more casual with a cardigan and/or statement jewellery.
Spilling into other people’s personal space
For some, working in a room with others is hard enough. Try not to make it harder by letting your papers spill onto their desk or pacing into their personal space while on the phone. The best way to keep your desk clean is to ask your employer for a paper tray and pen pot. Also make the most of your bin and drawers if you have them.
Making inappropriate jokes
Banter is welcomed in some workplaces, but you should be absolutely sure this is the case before poking fun at someone. Joking about a protected characteristic could get you in a lot of trouble if there’s a misunderstanding. Watch how your colleagues interact to get a feel for the tone of the conversations. If you want to be extra safe ask a colleague for advice.
So there are my tips. Good luck with your awkward-silence-free work placement!