A Call for Courtesy at Work

Even though these workplace faux pas may seem obvious, many are not getting the message.

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Michael Wade
I know that some of the following sins may seem obvious, but apparently that clarity has still not reached a sizable number of people in the workplace. I keep hearing from workshop participants about the friction these issues continue to create.

1. Text-messaging during conversations. Do we even need to explain why this is rude?

2. Checking out E-mail or opening correspondence while meeting with others. A great way to let people know they don't merit undivided attention.

3. Inflicting cellphone conversations on people in restaurants, elevators, and lobbies. Odds are, those in the immediate vicinity do not care to hear about the deal in Denver or the condo in Carmel.

4. Loose use of obscenities. Here's a thought for those who believe this type of language is appropriate in the workplace: Would you use obscenities while being interviewed for a promotion?

5. Making the personal public. There are personal phone calls, and then there are calls that are ultra-personal. Do not have any witnesses present while making the latter.

6. Showing up late for appointments. Unless there is a major excuse, arriving late is not endearing or cute. It is rude.

7. Overly casual dress. Attending an important meeting in clothing that is more appropriate for a hike or a nightclub can not only raise questions about judgment; it can also be seen as a subtle put-down of the other participants.

There is a variation of discourtesy that deserves special attention: Rushing to ascribe bad motives to others. Until shown to be unworthy of trust, people deserve the benefit of the doubt. The team member who eagerly declares war on, or withholds assistance from, other employees can pull down morale and destroy effectiveness. This infraction may not be as common as others, but it can be far more harmful.

Michael Wade writes Execupundit.com, an eclectic combination of management advice, observations, and links. A partner with the Phoenix firm of Sanders Wade Rodarte Consulting Inc., he has advised private and public-sector organizations for more than 30 years.