person working on a computerWe all know the phrase “loose lips sink ships,” and nowhere is that truer than in the workplace. If you want your ship to stay afloat, you must be aware of those things you should never, ever say or do at work!  

Workplaces all have both written and unwritten rules employees need to adhere to. Specifically what these rules are will differ from place to place. For example, the dress code at a bank would be drastically different than dress expectations at a car repair shop. Greasy pants on a bank clerk would make the employee look like an unfit slob, but on an auto mechanic, greasy pants would give the impression of a hard worker!  


The Official and the Unofficial

Most workplaces have an employee manual that will spell out the written rules. Read it. Then perhaps read it again. Always keep it handy for a quick, specific consult. Employee handbooks can be extremely detailed and nit-picky, which makes relying on your memory a bad idea.  

A workplace has every right to expect their employees to adhere to all the written rules. Flouting the rules because you don’t even know them makes you look as though you don’t care.  

Now, what about the unwritten rules? They’re harder. You can often read between the lines of the written rules to get a good feeling for the mindset of the company. That should be your first step in figuring out what you need to do in order to fit in with your work environment. 


Play Detective

The next step is to keep your eyes peeled for clues by carefully observing everything around you. The more observant you are, the faster you’ll catch on to the unique atmosphere at your workplace.   

In the meantime, let’s go over some of those workplace rules that are universal no matter where you work.  

Now, some things are super obvious. Gut instinct tells us (or at least it should,) that you should never cuss out the boss, or anyone else for that matter. That could not only get you fired, but it could also potentially lead to an expensive, embarrassing legal nightmare that would forever doom your reputation to the bottom of the toilet.      

But beyond being nice, polite, and avoiding vulgarity, what common traits do stellar employees seem to share? They avoid breaking all of the unwritten rules!   


7 Things You Should Never Say or Do at Work!

Here is a list of common mistakes people make in the workplace that cause friction:

  1. Dragging personal stuff into the workplace: This cannot be overstated.  Leave your personal baggage at the door. Beyond superficial banter, it is actually best to avoid talking about your family and life outside of work completely, even the fun stuff. A lot of unspoken resentments can flare up from people listening to you talk about family issues.
  2. Side-hustle stuff: Even if it is not something you’re making money at, devoting work time to other pursuits is a strict no-no. Even if you do not literally punch a timeclock, when you are on company time, you owe them your full attention.  
  3. Gossip and bad-mouthing other employees, or the company: No, no, no, even if it’s true and they deserve it. This one will bite you in the tush faster than you can say the boss is a jerk. Gossip is destructive in so many ways. It divides the team, pits people against each other and brings down moral. And please do not be so naive as to think that people eager to hear gossip won’t spread whatever you tell them or make you the most talked about person in the office! Avoid office gossip like the plague. 
  4. Steal lunches: If you want people to hate you, steal their lunch. If there’s anything that turns a gentile type hostile, it’s finding out the lunch they had stored in the freezer and counted on to soothe their rumbling tummy has mysteriously vanished. Keep easy snacks like crackers or mixed nuts in your drawer, then you’ll always have something to chew on but lunch is something you need to take daily responsibility for and think ahead.  
  5. Jam the copy machine without telling anyone: Office managers will tell you this one is frustratingly common. These machines jam up frequently and people tend to walk away without either fixing it or telling someone who knows how. Then, sure enough, someone on a tight deadline races in to make copies and are totally screwed! 
  6. Talk Politics or Religion: Controversial topics that stir high levels of passion like politics and religion are generally thought of as off-limits for any polite office conversation. There are good reasons for this unwritten rule. Most people already have their minds made up on these issues, so they aren’t generally open to outside views. People can be extremely sensitive, which makes it easy to offend someone unintentionally. There are actually laws against any workplace putting political or religious pressure on employees and while those laws generally apply to management, employees should avoid it as well.     
  7. Consistently being late: Yes, the clock is ticking every second of every day but you can’t just ignore it, even if you find the sound obnoxious!  Staying on top of time management is one of the best work habits you can develop. There is not a workplace on earth where being on time won’t win you some points!  


Know Your Stuff!

If you really want to impress the boss, keep up to date with advancements in your industry. That’s easier today with Google alerts and other free messaging services. Is there any training that would beef up your skills and make you a more valuable employee?

If so, knock their socks off by taking the initiative and finding some training resources. Software is constantly being updated.  Maybe you could find a refresher course on some of the basic business software virtually everyone uses.

For example, 90% of all major companies use SAP software. Find some SAP courses online and sign up!  Imagine the huge smile on the boss’s face if you were to walk in and surprise them with an SAP certification! You can learn SAP online in your spare time!    

Author Photo

Lorraine Grula is a curious and compassionate Okie native who grew up on politics and science. She loves to read, write and study the world and shares her insights in our blog.
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