Every office has its quirks and unspoken rules when it comes to etiquette, but some of the universal rules of good behaviour seem so obvious that they’re easily overlooked.

Are you the person who’s always leaving your coffee mug in the kitchen sink and leaving it for others to wash up for you? Did you think that your colleagues haven’t noticed? What does that sloppiness say about your ability to finish a task for the team, or your willingness to take responsibility?

How you function in your office environment reflects how you work in general. So while the little things may seem insignificant, they still reflect how you are perceived in your workplace. Here are eight rules you shouldn’t forget:

1. Read the handbook

If your company provides an employee manual, try to read it from cover to cover. The employee handbook not only tells you what to expect in the office environment, it also acts as a formal map to help navigate the culture and expectations of your workplace.

2. Use proper channels

There is a procedure and hierarchy wherever you work. Complaining to board of directors before discussing your concerns with your line manager probably isn’t the board of director’s best way to go.

3. Choose your friends wisely

When you start a new job example, be careful when it comes to talking about work issues with a coworker in case your new friend is the office gossip. It’s a lot harder to remove a bad reputation than to tread carefully and choose your friends wisely.

4. Be friendly with everyone

Whether you’re speaking with the receptionist, office cleaner, or a manager, it pays to be nice to everyone – you never know who is connected to who, or when you’ll need someone. Later, when you need something from a co-worker, you’ll have a better chance of getting cooperation from the woman who told you about her new grandchild than the guy you ignored each time you met in the kitchen.

5. Clean up after yourself

Remember that you aren’t working with your mother, and even if you are, she doesn’t want to clean up after you. Clear off crumbs from counter tops and clean your soup splatter from the microwave – who wants to be known as the office slob?

6. Do vent, but only outside the office

No one wants to work with a constant complainer – it brings the mood down, and people generally always have other things they’d prefer to think about, than an office whiner’s grumbles. If you must vent, do it with a friend or family member instead of a colleague.

7. Have some etiquette

Every time you yell across the room to one colleague, you disturb everyone else in the room. When you lean over the desk of another colleague to talk to someone else, you also interrupt that person’s productivity, so consider sending an email or being more discreet.

8. Deal with deadlines

When your boss gives you a deadline, be sure to understand what that deadline means. Does your manager need a report by Thursday in order to review it by the following week? Knowing these details will give you a little more wiggle room to ask for an extension if it means you can deliver a more accurate report, for example.

On the other hand, your manager could say the report is due on Thursday, but what she really means is she wants it on her desk first thing Thursday morning so she can review the results by noon and send it to the board or a client by 3pm on the same day. In this case, you can forget the wiggle room – it pays to have clarity before you start working.

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