Monthly Archives: June, 2013

Eating on a conference call and negative co-workers

LogoMs. Corporate Manners ponders conference call munchers and negative co-workers

Dear Ms. Corporate Manners,
I’m writing about something that is so gross and unprofessional. A woman was on a conference call with several of us, talking and eating at the same time.  While she was talking with a mouth full of food. I wanted to say, “Please stop eating and smacking in our ears.” What should I have done?
Signed,
Sickened

Dear Sickened,
You did the right thing by doing NOTHING.  Remember, there were other people on your conference call.  Since you couldn’t control her behavior, you took the high road by focusing on the purpose of the call and the other employees who were doing the right thing instead of making a big deal about the one who was doing something wrong.
Sincerely,
Ms. Corporate Manners

Dear Ms Corporate Manners,
The people I work with are lovely people, but they have a serious problem with being negative at work.  It is stressful to come into the office and already people are in a foul mood.  It radiates off them and makes life hard on everyone around them.  I understand that we all have our bad days, but in our office it seems as if these days occur nearly three out of five days a week.  What can help to make them leave their rude, negative attitudes at the door?
Thanks,
Drowning in Negativity  

Dear Drowning,
Negativity is a real downer because it sucks away positive energy. You can’t change the people around you, but you can stay focused on YOU and make the best of the situation. If you find yourself feeling negative, practice gratitude by intentionally spend a few minutes thinking of something positive in yourself and in others around you.
Sincerely,
Ms. Corporate Manners

© Penny Aviotti and Ms.Corporate Manners 2003 – 2013.

How nice are you at work?

LogoDear Ms. Corporate Manners, 
Being the new guy at work, I notice some of the associates treat me like an outcast. It’s not all the time but time to time. Just recently a fellow associate approached me to let me know the group I worked with kept something from me so I would not let this person (fellow associate) know. This person and I are not very close and we do not talk everyday, but the group I work with knew we were acquaintances. I feel very outraged that people I work with would have such childlike behavior, especially since the one starting it is my manager. I understand if you may not like someone, but to go out of your way and get a group of people you work with to hide something like new pennies from a fellow associate is just childish. How do I cope with this? It really makes me feel like they are separating me from their group, even though some are nice to me, and I can’t believe all of them would go along with it. 
Thank You, 
Cooked Goose from Clarksdale

Dear Cooked,
I question why a fellow associate would tell you something so hurtful in the first place. It could be that he or she has made assumptions and passed them on to you, and now you also are making assumptions about your work group. Why don’t you set a great example by being the one in your group who always assumes higher intent and refuses to participate in gossip?
Sincerely,
Ms. Corporate Manners

© Penny Aviotti and Ms.Corporate Manners 2003 – 2013.

What clothing is appropriate for the trading floor?

LogoDear Mr. Corporate Manners, 

I work at a conservative Wall Street firm. Most men at our company wear plain white shirts and dark suits to work. A co-worker of mine on the trading floor wore a nice blue-and-white checkered dress shirt, which was a gift from his fiancé. I told him it was a great shirt, but when the rest of the crowd arrived, many people starting poking fun at it with one person even saying, “Who shot the tablecloth?”. I could tell the repeated taunts bugged him. Is there anyway to promote a more accepting work atmosphere? 
Thank you for your advice, 
Scared in a White Shirt with Tablecloth Blues

Dear Scared,
The trading floor is demanding, but you shouldn’t have to give the shirt off your back to work there. Traditional business attire is fine, but we’ve moved beyond the Mad Men era of white-shirt conformity. So roll up your checkered or pinstriped or pale pink sleeves and get to work. If your friend can handle the trading floor environment, he’s tough enough to take a little ribbing about his shirt.
Sincerely,
Ms. (not Mr.!) Corporate Manners

© Penny Aviotti and Ms.Corporate Manners 2003 – 2013.

How do you feel about perfume and after-shave at work?

LogoDear Ms. Corporate Manners, 
I am amazed by the people in my office who consistently wear strong fragrances. I am very sensitive to fragrances. They cause my eyes to water and give me headaches. I have to use paper towels to open doors so that I won’t get cologne on my hands. Many times I am not able to concentrate on my work. Are there any corporate policies against wearing strong fragrances? There have been times when I have to find another work station or request to work the rest of the day at home due to a co-worker’s insensitivity. I have brought the issue directly to my co-worker, and it caused a strain with our relationship. I told my manager and our human resource representative with no resolution. Please help!
Signed, 
Waiting to Exhale

Dear Waiting,
In a business setting, it’s appropriate to wear little or no fragrance. A woman who wears perfume or a man who wears aftershave should choose a light, fresh scent and apply it in moderation. If you haven’t had success talking to your co-worker directly, you could try going back to your human resource representative to let him or her know that this is a health issue that is affecting your work, or you could just show the strong-smelling co-worker this column.
Sincerely,
Ms. Corporate Manners

© Penny Aviotti and Ms.Corporate Manners 2003 – 2013.

Are cowboy boots appropriate at the office?

Logo

Dear Ms. Corporate Manners, 
I wear cowboy boots most of the time when I am not working, and I have a pair of really nice dress boots that I would like to wear. I wasn’t sure if I am allowed to wear them to work. Would I be allowed? If not, what kind of boots would be appropriate to wear to the office? 
Thanks, 
Confused

Dear Confused,
It’s not a question of what’s allowed but what’s appropriate. What do your customers expect? Conservative, mid-rise, non-Western dress boots, sure. But hand-tooled, ostrich-hide, pointy-toed Tony Lamas? Save them for your after-hours life, pardner.
Sincerely,
Ms. Corporate Manners

© Penny Aviotti and Ms.Corporate Manners 2003 – 2013.

Ms. Corporate Manners, can you keep a secret?

LogoDear Ms. Corporate Manners, 
Just wondering if you can tell me if we can ask you about things that bother us about co-workers, and to try to get advice on how to handle things. Also, I know that when I have read other posts from you, people’s names are not used, and I just want to be sure that my name is not revealed to others.
Signed 
Ready to Scream

Dear Ready,
This column is confidential, so scream away.
Sincerely,
Ms. Corporate Manners

Challenge yourself; envision change

LogoDear Ms. Corporate Manners,
I want to know if you have any ideas how I can make some changes to my life. I’m not liking my life (and myself) much these days.
Signed
Ready to Change in Memphis

Dear Ready,
Someone once told me I can’t take a vacation from myself. Like you, I need to make some different choices. That’s why I enlisted the help of – and now team up with – Kelly Wight of Envision EDGE. She believes genuine transformation comes  through holistic change. Her life-coaching program addresses mindset, exercise, nutrition and discipline. And she custom-tailors each Envision EDGE program – there is no “one size fits all.”
Sincerely,
The Ever-Changing Ms. Corporate Manners

P.S. Check out our new partnership by signing up for the Envision EDGE newsletter.

More questions about moody co-workers

LogoDear Ms. Corporate Manners,
A salaried employee in my work group comes in late everyday and leaves early everyday. When she finally gets to work, she is on personal cell phones – yes, I said “plural” – talking personal and church business. How do you think the employees who have to punch the time clock feels when nothing is being done about it? And . . .when the boss is out, this abuse is even more obvious. I am a non-salaried employee who works hard all day to get the job done. Obviously, this employee doesn’t have enough to do. I would like to say to this employee, if the shoe fits, I hope you are reading this and start earning your paycheck. I actually spoke with my boss about it “again” and she finally talked to the lady. We’ll see what happens. She’ll straighten up for a while then she’ll be back to her usual abuse. Could you put something in your blog that would shed light on similar actions? How would you handle this?
Signed,
Sick and Tired of It 

Dear Sick and Tired,
You do bring up a valid concern. But please consider that you are making an assumption without knowledge of what a salaried employee is doing before or after hours to complete his or her job. Since this is not a time clock violation and you’ve already discussed it with your manager, you either need to talk with human resources or hope that if you’ve noticed that employee’s work ethic, someone in a higher position may have noticed as well.
Sincerely,
Ms. Corporate Manners

Following are two letters from readers who disagreed with Ms. Corporate Manners’ answers to Moody Co-Workers:

LogoDear Ms. Corporate Manners,
Concerning your answer to “Sick and Tired,” a while back, I worked with someone like that before. But I handled it differently and asked her out of concern if something was wrong. I found out her parents were having health problems, and she was trying to take care of them. She was just quiet because she had a lot on her mind. But she was friendly otherwise to co-workers and customers. So my advice is to be sure you know the reason for this person’s quietness. It may not be sulking – just matters of the heart! 
Signed, 
Don’t take Things So Personally 

LogoDear Ms. Corporate Manners,
In response to walking on eggshells, what does age have to do with it? That’s a really childish cut. Maybe this person is quiet because of how he or she perceives other people in the department. You see this person, but have you ever tried to look at yourself? The person may not be giving anyone the silent treatment or feel like someone is stepping on her toes. Do you think maybe it is your behavior that causes the situation? Do you think that you yourself may give silent treatments? Some people see other faults but do not see their own. The way it sounds, you the person who wrote in sound to be ones that are cruel and shunning this person. Signed,
Slinging Eggs

Dear Don’t Take Things Personally and Slinging Eggs,
Sometimes the words come out of my lips before I’ve thought them out thoroughly (or in this case, out of my computer’s mouth!) The next time I’ll take more care and compassion with my answers.
Signed,
Ms. Corporate Manners

© Penny Aviotti and Ms.Corporate Manners 2003 – 2013.

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