Rather than a set of stuffy rules, etiquette is the way of doing things that our grandmothers considered ‘being proper’ in a social, professional or formal situation.
Although the times and our world have changed, the basic tenets of respect, honesty and consideration – ‘doing unto others’ – still have a vital role to play in society today.
Work is a social place, but employers have been very slow to recognise it. We pretend that people go to work just to do their jobs, but for many people that’s not true. We get more out of our work than just a wage or salary- ( pay cheque) when the environment is healthy.
We get social interaction that we need, and we get to build up other people and they build us up, too.
When the energy is good in your workplace, your co-workers can be like friends. However, the fuzzy line between work-friendship and regular friendship can also cause you problems.
Sadly, when people get fearful they can turn on you, give up your secrets and generally hurt you. Maybe it would be better for you to find a trusted friend who isn’t also a co-worker and spill your guts to that person when you need advice!
Here are some examples of personal information your co-workers don’t need to know about you:
1. Your relationship difficulties
2. Your detailed financial state or financial problems
3. Your legal woes
4. Your health situation, except as it applies to work
5. Your family drama
6. Your feelings about your company or your boss
7. Your plans to leave the job
8. Your political aspirations inside your company
9. Your hesitations and doubts about yourself
10. Your struggles (with substance abuse, gambling, etc.)
I look forward to the day when every workplace is also a community built on trust, but we are not there yet. When you lean on trust that does not exist or that is too ephemeral to rest on, you can live to regret it. There is too much fear in most workplaces to make very personal conversations with your colleagues a good idea.
Think of a friend whose opinion your value and whom you haven’t seen in a while. Reach out to that friend and invite them to meet you for a drink or lunch or coffee. We all need support networks, but our workmates may not be the best nominees for that role, as good-hearted as they may be.
Use your judgment when inviting your professional contacts into the vault where secrets are shared. You will sleep more easily when you do.
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