Bad Manners, Ethics At Work

Katie Young
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Wednesday - April 25, 2007

This month’s hodgepodge is about all matters office-related.

Leave your bad day at the door.

My hula teacher used to tell us, “Leave your bad day at the door.” That meant once we stepped foot inside the hula halau, We were to let go of any bad feelings, clear our minds and focus on dancing.

I think the same thing should hold true at the office. We all have personal problems from time to time, but an innocent co-worker is not the person to release those negative feelings on.

Or say you are frustrated with an issue at work and your co-worker comes to your desk at an inopportune moment when you are at your wits end - this is not the appropriate person with whom to vent your anger about your boss.

My friend Jessica had this very problem the other day when she went to speak with her coworker about a project and the coworker, who had just been scolded by the boss, snapped at Jessica because she couldn’t release her frustrations on the man in charge.

Most people spend the majority of their week at the office. So we need to take extra care to treat our co-workers with kindness and consideration - and leave our bad day at the door.

Walking in their shoes.

The other day, my friend Christy, who works for an advertising agency writing copy for ads, called me, flabbergasted.

“You’ll never believe what this graphic artist said to me!” she screamed. “Basically, he told me that my job is easy and if he weren’t such a great graphic artist, he would do what I do because he’s creative and the copy we write mostly sounds stupid and cheesy.”

“That wasn’t nice,” I agreed. “I mean, who does he think he is?!” Christy continued. “I was standing there thinking he was joking at first but he was serious! It was so rude!”

Christy was in shock so she didn’t say anything to this extraordinarily arrogant individual at the moment, which she was now regretting.

This instance is another office no-no. Who are we to judge the difficulty (or lack there of) of someone else’s job? It may look easy to us when taken at face value, but you really never know what someone has to go through to complete his or her job until you’ve actually done it yourself.

Give people the respect they deserve by showing appreciation for the part they play in creating a final product that makes your company shine.

Passing the buck is bad office ethics.

There’s nothing worse than getting blamed for something you didn’t do, especially at work. And it’s even more frustrating when someone passes the buck behind your back and you aren’t able to defend yourself.

This happens a lot in large offices, according to my pal Tom. He tells me that it’s a daily occurrence at his place of work.

“When you have to get input from many departments, it’s easy to blame someone else for things that go wrong,” Tom explains. “It happens to me all the time. I’ve done my work, but then it gets passed on to someone else, and someone else again. By the time it reaches the top, it’s easy to pass the buck on problems that may have occurred several levels back.”

In a small office, this would never work. But according to Tom, it’s a typical practice when an organization is so big there are plenty of people to blame.

“I constantly get blamed for mistakes that slipped under the radar on big projects,” he says. “And I usually find out later that someone above me has blamed me for a mistake I didn’t make.”

So what happens to the people being blamed, who don’t know they’ve been thrown under the bus? Most likely, they are left to defend themselves to the big boss sometime later - when they are trying to prove their innocence after already being deemed guilty. I would guess this would make an explanation sound more like an excuse than a justification.

So don’t doom your innocent co-worker just to save your own okole. Practice good office ethics and either get your work done the right way, on time, or own up when you do happen to fall short. Don’t just pass the buck.

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