7 Workplace Mistakes
This is a difficult situation. We're gonna reduce the intensity of the difficulty and call it an annoying office issue. Our work spaces are open cubes, there's little privacy. One of my co-workers will often whisper when speaking to other people. Do you think this is rude?
No, I hear a no over here, I see a nod yes over here. What makes you say no?
I think it's even nice 'cause you don't disturb other people.
I think it's nice, you're not disturbing someone else. Sure, what makes you say yes, I think it is rude.
Well, it depends a lot on if it is a quiet space. If it isn't a quiet space, then it's rude 'cause then it's that feeling of what are they saying that I can't hear.
I think this is a perfect example of why this is annoying office issue a difficult situation because I don't think it's necessarily clear. But I like the way you're thinking about the context. You're saying and I really don't wanna disturb or bother other people. You're saying it's the appearance of ...
being secretive. And those are things that are really valid to think about. Generally speaking, we say to avoid whispering 'cause you don't wanna give that appearance of being secretive. If it's really a conversation that you don't wanna share with other people, that you wanna have in private, have it somewhere else. In the absence of other information, our impression often defaults to the negative. For you it's a good intention. It's the appearance. It's the way it feels or seems to someone else that ultimately can negatively impact a relationship. So the next set of slides that I'm gonna work through are a series of these kinds of annoying office issues. Each one is gonna serve to illustrate a point that are gonna build into a series of expectations, and expected behaviors that will help us navigate workplace civility issues with intelligence and effectively. So the first one, has a question about acknowledging people. So it's the third time I walked past Marcia's desk yesterday. I didn't say, "Hi." Do you think this is rude? Do you think this is rude? Third time?
I think it depends on context. If you would say, hi to Marcia at her desk or if you would say hi if you just saw her in the hallway. 'Cause at her desk, you might be interrupting something that's important going on. But if you're standing at the coffee machine, you still haven't said hi three times. You missed the boat.
If you haven't said hi, yes, maybe. If it starts to a compounding infraction sure. But if you've already acknowledge someone, you don't need to do it again and again and again and again every time you see them. Do you need to interrupt an important conversation to say hi? No, probably not. Sometimes the eye contact hi or hello is enough. As you walk by, a little smile, a nod. If they're not engaged in conversation hello. This is really to emphasize or talk about again the importance of first greetings, acknowledging people at the start of a day. Oh I've seen this person every day, do I really need to say hi. Yeah, the first time you see them, it's a good idea. You just wanna establish that connection, establish that basic human connection. The capacity to empathize. The willingness to acknowledge each other and the time that you're gonna spend together. Even if it's just occupying the same office space. I hear about this one all the times particularly true of supervisors. If there are people that report to you, you set the tone for organizational behavior. Say hi to people, acknowledge them. It's really, really important. You don't need to overdue it. You don't need to do it every time you see them. And there is a question of dosage. There's absolutely a question of dosage. Greet each other with a smile. Second annoying office issue. Yesterday a co-worker got a phone call from his daughter. Turns out she had been suspended from school. I couldn't help overhearing the conversation. What should I have done? Nothing, absolutely nothing. Respect each other's privacy. It's a critical part of navigating work relationships well. I just wanna re-emphasize that we don't get to choose all of the people that we work with. We have to spend a lot of time with them. One of the ways that we can survive these relationships. One of the ways we can thrive in these relationships is to respect each other's privacy. Give each other a little space. If they bring it up, they open the door for that conversation. They tell you how worried they are about their daughter. They wanna know what you think. Engage if you want. But you don't need to say anything. In fact, you might even excuse yourself. Give them the space they need to deal with the situation. Respect each other's privacy. Annoying office issue number three. Jack, who has a desk next to me, is driving me crazy. At least five times a day, he shows up and starts talking to me. It always seems to happen just as I am getting something done. What should I do about Jack? How do you handle it? You can set boundaries. I'm just starting to get something, could we talk about this later? It's okay to start to carve out the time and the space you need to work. It's okay to set boundaries, in fact it's an important part of being an effective co-worker. These a reciprocal courtesy here that's really something that Jack needs to keep in mind. I like to call it knock before entering. Human attention is a gift. Before you assume someone else is gonna give you their attention, you have to ask for it. So back in the good old days, imagine their office had a door and you were gonna knock before you entered. You didn't just walk into someone's office. Knock, knock, come in. Is now a good time, there's something I wanna talk to you about? That's the way I would encourage people to approach open office, open desk environment, shared work spaces. Hey there is something I've been thinking about, do you have a second? Can be the verbal knock on the door. I'd love to talk to you about that. I've gotta finish doing this set of emails first, let's pick it up in 15 minutes. Do you have time then? Absolutely, ask for each other's attention. Knock before entering is the old fashioned courtesy that I keep in mind to remind myself of this. So there's a reciprocal courtesy that pairs well with this idea that we're gonna ask for each other's attention. It's illustrated by annoying office issue number four. Sometimes, when I go over to Tom and ask him a question, he's reading a report and making notes while he talks to me. The other day, his computer signaled that an email arrived. He clicked on it and started to read it while I was in mid-sentence. Is this rude? Absolutely. We're all incredible multi-taskers. We're all asked to manage and track a lot of different information. To keep track of complex relationships and managed devices that will lure and signal to us all the time. But once you've given your attention to someone, you wanna give them your attention. It sends a very clear message when someone's talking to you and you take your attention elsewhere. Once you've given someone your attention, you wanna give them that attention. Focus on a colleague when you are meeting. So these two courtesies, I think of as reciprocal courtesies. We're gonna ask each other for our attention but once we've given attention. We're going to give it. If you can establish both of these as core values, core components of work place culture. They work well together and they provide a really stable work environment for people to get a lot done to work effectively. Our fifth situation. Happened again today. One of our team members was 10 minutes late. "I'm sorry, I'm sure you'll understand. "I was just finishing up a report for Mr. Evans." Is this rude? It's a question of timeliness. I'm saying how far we've gotten in our coursework without really emphasizing the importance of timeliness 'cause in many ways, it's the number one business manner. It's our second point of emphasis today. Maybe Mr. Evans is the single most important person in your company, and you really do understand. Maybe you have one report due for him each year, and he's famous for piling on work at the last minute. Maybe this is the one client who generates the revenue that sustains your team or your business all year. There are always exceptions to every rule, but generally speaking, you wanna honor your time contracts, honor your commitments. What's the difference between a reason and an excuse? Very little. Sort of an ambiguous question. It's designed to get at the point that there isn't a big difference between a reason and an excuse. The difference is usually context. Our final annoying office issue has to do with phone manners. I answered the phone, Hi, this is Jane at MDC Company. How can I help you? The voice on the other end responded. "Hi, could I speak to Tom Smith?" He didn't give his name or company. Is this rude? Yeah, absolutely. Identify yourself on the phone. It's true whether you're picking up the phone, whether you're receiving a call or whether you're initiating a call. Hi, this is Dan Post, the Emily Post Institute. How can I help you? Hi, this is Dan Post calling from the Emily Post Institute, is Sarah there? Save the other the time of saying, "I'd be happy to check, can I tell them who is calling?" Sometimes people call and they wanna talk to somebody I work with. We all take turns, we all share answering the phone at the place where I work. And they almost feel a little grieve, a little offended when I ask who it is. I say, I really don't know. Even if you have a scheduled call right now. Even if that person is expecting your call. I need to know it's you. What if it weren't you? Then you would want me to not put you through so that this person would be ready for the expected call that's suppose to be happening right now. You identify yourself at the start of a call. We live in an era where our phones often identify us to each other. Sure there's a social courtesy when you're calling your closest friend or significant other. You might not need to identify yourself. Your phone would do it. There's almost a reciprocal courtesy to this that says you identify if it's not you. Hi Mom, this is Dan, I'm answering Pooh-go's phone. But you let people know who they're talking to. That's the courtesy when you're talking on the phone. You don't require them to identify you or to ask you to identify yourself. So here's a broad, not concluding concept, but something that I really wanna share. Manners do matter. These are workplace relationships. Yeah people should be able to take it. People should be able to prioritize work, focus on their job, focus on their career, and yet business is built on relationships. The quality of those relationships impacts the quality of our lives. Don't put others down. Don't act superior. Pick your fights carefully. And if you're going to confront, do it privately, be calm. Know what you want for an outcome and seek the other person's buy-in. These are the biggest mistakes that you can make in a professional context or workplace relationship. People will survive if you don't say hi in the morning. Over time, it's corrupting the workplace cohesion and workplace culture. But people will leave jobs. People will change the way they respond to you, interact with you, behave around you if they perceive that you're looking down at them. If they think that you're someone who's overly negative or combative. There are incredible cost to workplace and civility. These are the more egregious infractions to start to escalate the amount of tension that starts to escalate the costs. We're gonna talk about how to have disagreements. How to have difficult conversations. How to have awkward conversations without appearing in these ways in just a second. A final thought about workplace culture because it comes up all the time. At an important client meeting a cell phone begins ringing. After the second ring everyone realizes that it is your phone. It's going to be all of us. What do you do? Silence it, pardon me. It's relatively easy. What if the stakes are higher? What if it's a really important client meeting? Well you should have turned your phone off ahead of time. Maybe you apologize to your team afterwards maybe. It depends on how egregious the mistake is. Another part of a good apology is that you don't repeat the mistake. You get that course on workplace etiquette communications standards. You turn your phone off when it's really gonna matter.