Taboos @ Work

Avoid These 7 Work Taboos
By Rachel Zupek, writer

Whether it’s dancing on top of the bar at the company holiday party, chewing with one’s mouth open or falling asleep in a meeting, everyone is guilty of committing some kind of faux pas — social, professional or otherwise.

To avoid putting your career on the line, try to avoid committing the following taboos while on the clock.

Taboo No. 1: Kissing a co-worker

The likely scenario: You’ve had a crush on your co-worker since you started working a few months ago. Now it’s the holiday party and you’ve taken full advantage of the open bar and the liquid courage it’s provided you to flirt with your fling. Before you know it, you’re locking lips for all to see — and talk about come Monday morning. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone; 35 percent of workers in a 2007 survey admitted to kissing a co-worker.

Our advice: If you can’t restrain your desires to smooch your colleague, at least do yourself the favor of waiting until you’re behind closed doors.

Taboo No. 2: Lying about your credentials

You’ve read the stories in the newspapers — CEOs, celebrities and ordinary workers alike are fired every day for one common crime: lying. In a recent survey, one candidate invented a school that didn’t exist, while another went as far as submitting samples of work — that actually belonged to the interviewer. Thirty-eight percent of workers surveyed indicated they had embellished their job responsibilities, 18 percent lied about their skill sets and 10 percent lied about their academic degrees.

Our advice: Whether it’s about your education, experience or previous employers, fudging anything on your résumé is never a good idea.

Taboo No. 3: Wearing inappropriate clothing

How many times have you heard, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have?” Yet how many times do we see this mantra avoided in our offices? Something tells me that the marketing assistant from the 15th floor doesn’t strive for a career in prostitution, so why is she dressing that way? Not only does dressing inappropriately at work send the message that you don’t care about your professional image, it also hinders your chances of moving up the corporate ladder. In a recent survey, 41 percent of employers said that people who dress professionally tend to be promoted more often than others in their organization.

Our advice: Follow the mantra — and mean it.

Taboo No. 4: Gossiping

Rumors in the workplace are like gasoline on a trash-can fire — they spread … fast. While lighthearted conversations around the water cooler are one thing, standing around dishing about your co-workers is another. Unfortunately, it’s a common scenario in most corporate cultures: 19 percent of workers in a 2007 survey said they have spread a rumor about a fellow employee.

Our advice: Co-workers who gossip or spread ugly rumors can harm the work environment. Do your best to stay clear of these people. If you can’t get away, at least avoid engaging in the tittle-tattle.

Taboo No. 5: Drinking too much … inside or outside the office

It’s not the 1960s, people. This means it is not OK to keep a bottle of whiskey in your desk drawer and pour yourself a drink every time you want to celebrate or glower. Employees seem to be confused on this standard office rule, as 31 percent of those surveyed by admitted to tipping the bottle at work.

Our advice: Unless you’re having a party in the office (approved by management), save the libations for happy hour. Even then, always drink responsibly.

Taboo No. 6: Forgetting someone’s name

Have you ever been in a meeting with an important client and, to your horror, when you introduce him to your boss you can’t remember the client’s name? Such a grave mistake is not only taboo, it’s embarrassing. The easiest way to overcome this gaffe is by asking the nameless client if he’s met your boss, Albert Hanson. Hopefully, your client will respond by introducing himself.

Our advice: Forgetting a name has happened to everyone. The best way to recover is by trying something like the aforementioned tactic. If your plan backfires, however, the best thing to do is apologize and admit your mistake.

Taboo No. 7: E-mail mishaps

Whether it’s hitting “reply all” by accident, sending an e-mail to the wrong person or making adverse comments for all to see, examples of e-mail mess-ups are endless. Be careful when it comes to e-mail; it’s not private and can be the quickest way to end your career if you misuse it.

Our advice: Never say anything in an e-mail you don’t want broadcast to the world. Also, keep e-mail use to a minimum and give a little face-to-face time a try once in awhile.

Rachel Zupek is a writer and blogger, She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.

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