Office Etiquette...Expert Commentary

The popular TV show "The Office" hilariously exaggerates the nine to five work world.  The sitcom features a collection of petty, obnoxious, self-absorbed, unproductive, but amusing characters.

The show has become a pop-culture phenomenon, perhaps because people sometimes catch a glimpse of "The Office" in their workplace.  Although, the sitcom gives viewers more than just laughs, it also can be a guide to "what not to do" in a professional setting.  Use the following tips to avoid becoming a corporate misfit.

Joke with care.

Humor can be a great tool in the business world.  It's a great ice breaker and a good way to get and keep peoples attention.  It's always nice to work with someone with a good sense of humor, but focus on the "good sense" part.  There is a gray area between what is "absolutely acceptable" and "clearly inappropriate" and it is vital that that line is not crossed even a little bit.  If you have doubts about if you should tell a certain joke or forward a risqué e-mail, then don't do it.  You don't have to be the office comedian to win over your co-workers and it's better to be safe than sorry.  No matter how well you know your colleagues, joking about race, age, religion, gender, or other sensitive subjects are not appropriate in business.

With that being said, having the ability to laugh at yourself, and difficult situations, goes a long way toward maintaining perspective, reducing stress, and building rapport with co-workers.

Avoid fulsome flattery.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with trying to impress the boss.  But show your loyalty by working hard, and making smart decisions, not by playing politics and becoming the office tattletale.  Treating everyone in the office with the same level of respect will make you well-liked and respected by all.  By being a problem solver and not a problem starter will build character and, with no burnt bridges, career advancement.

Avoid the gossip grapevine.

Unfortunately, this is the most broken rule in the workplace.  Skipping the opportunities to share juicy rumors can be hard to resist.  But resist them anyway.  Though, there may be instances where it may beneficial to be aware of what is being said, it is always wise to keep the information to yourself.  Most of us have had to learn this is hard way.  By heeding this advice, you will not have to go down the inevitable road of "he said, she said", which can ruin credibility.

A solid reputation is one of the most powerful things anyone could have.  Besides very specific rules, being a sincere, good person is the most substantial part of etiquette.  Think about being the type of co-worker that you would want to work with.  Use the sarcasm of "The Office" to handle people with tact and professionalism.