We all have them: days when everything goes wrong. You
oversleep, which makes you late – yet again – for an important morning meeting. Your computer crashes. The heel of your shoe breaks. You start moaning to all and sundry, even though it's painfully obvious that no-one is remotely interested.
Recognise yourself? If so, you could very well be an office pest.
You are trying to finish something important. One of your colleagues is talking non-stop and you don't have the
nerve to tell her to keep quiet or to tone it down a notch.
An open-plan office might not have four walls and a door, but that doesn't mean no work takes place there. Think of the desk next to yours as your colleague's office and respect it. When she looks busy, pretend that the door is closed. Don't interrupt until you pick up a signal that
she may be willing to talk. Don't stand around waiting if you can see someone is on the phone or talking to someone else. It's unpleasant to have to cut a conversation short.
When you're the busy one, don't make eye contact if you don't want to be interrupted. Consider putting up a "Do Not Disturb" sign and tactfully letting your colleagues know that they should respect it.
What's that smell?
Avoid making your workplace into a mini cafeteria. Not
everyone may like the smell of last night's leftovers. Also,
don't marinate yourself in your favourite perfume. You may
think that it smells heavenly, but your neighbour might choke on it. If you can smell your own perfume, you're wearing too much. Less is definitely more.
To be successful in the workplace, you not only have to respect your colleagues, you also cannot afford to let
them lose respect for you. So, before ranting to your team
member about how you're fed up with her nonchalant
behaviour, consider postponing confronting her until you've had time to cool down and think more clearly. Taking time out means that you'll never have to apologise for your lack of respect and it will enhance your relationship as well.
Dressed for success
The way you look and act determines what people think of you: if you smile, people perceive you as pleasant; if you wear the same skirt three days in a row, people may think that you don't care.
Some environments, such as in the medical profession, have
dress codes that all who work there must follow. Dressing
provocatively in a corporate environment may not go down
Remember how you dressed for your interview? If you're not sure about your work dress code, look around: you'll find that most of your colleagues are dressed in a similar way. Of course, this doesn't mean that you have to give up your individuality, simply use your surroundings as a guide.
Some of us work best under pressure, craving the adrenaline
rush. As time ticks by, we get more stressed out. Some
people might work well under pressure, but research shows that most of us procrastinate because of a lack of motivation and poor time management.
If you postpone doing something because it requires a lot of time, break it into smaller tasks. Make sure that you know what's expected. For example, before starting a project, ask about its goals, get it in writing and make
sure that you understand what needs to be done.
Part of doing business means using the phone, but regarding
your office phone as a free chat line to plan your son's birthday party isn't appropriate. Have you given any thought to who's covering the costs?
Before talking about very personal or confidential matters, consider this: your voice projects. Not only does open office space offer little privacy, listening to someone else's conversation is extremely distracting. Contrary
to what you may think, no-one in the office is likely to be
interested in your dinner plans.
If you have to make some personal calls at work, try doing
it during a coffee break or over lunch, and keep your voice
down – you're in the office, not in your living room at home.
Your husband tells you over dinner that his mother will be
moving into the spare room ... for good. You're very unhappy
about it. Are all your colleagues soon going to be aware of
this as well? Admittedly, a crisis rarely happens in such a way that you can neatly fit it into your schedule, but deadlines and work pressure don't ease just because you're in the middle of a personal drama.
If you really cannot cope, think twice before sharing your misery with the support staff or the managing director. Divulging too much of your private life doesn't just mean overstepping boundaries: you might be embarrassed later when the situation has sorted itself out.
If your personal crisis might interfere with your work, inform your supervisor, but decide beforehand what you want to divulge. If possible, try to take a day or two off from work to sort things out.
Through the grapevine
In any work situation, there'll occasionally be times when
colleagues gossip and spread rumours. If you are forever
in the centre of this action, you should ask yourself why.
Whether Martha from Accounts' son came out of the closet or your boss is going through a divorce, it's none of your concern. Stick to business and steer clear of gossip.
It is never harmless. You also lose credibility with your
colleagues and managers: if a sensitive deal is about to be
clinched and your manager tells you about it, and later that
information becomes common knowledge, no-one is going
to believe you when you proclaim your innocence.
Easy come, easy go
We all need to take time off for a doctor's appointment or to attend a meeting at our child's school. However, for some of us, our lives constantly seem to be in disarray. If you often arrive late or have to leave work early, the warning signs should start attracting your attention.
You are not only doing less work than your colleagues and
increasing their load, you're also stealing your employers' time.
Beware of bullying
People are not considered bullies because of their personal
charm and friendly demeanour. It's often because of how they
operate at work and their manipulative ways. Asking
someone's opinion and then embarrassing her in front of a
group of people by disregarding her input, is bullying. Perhaps it's time you addressed the real issues: you are possibly feeling inadequate, for example.
On the other hand, if you are the one being bullied, do not allow yourself to be intimidated. Bullying is a two-way street and no-one can bully you if you don't allow it to happen.
Do you have a pest in your office? Share your experiences in the comment box below.