Business Etiquette Tips & Advice

Don’t you hate it when…Cubicle etiquette tips and advice

A hot button from our readers is cubicle etiquette, those little things that co-workers do, that drive you up the wall.

So to bring peace to the world (okay, at least peace to your workplace) we’ve put together a list of the top 10 cubicle or office pet peeves we’ve been asked to address in our business etiquette seminars.

1. Knock-knock? Barge who? Barge Rightin.

It’s rude to barge in. Just because there isn’t a door on your cubicle doesn’t mean people shouldn’t “knock”. To signal your presence before entering you can knock on the side of the partition or ask “Do you have a minute?”

2. What’s yours is mine

What is it about your desk that makes it look like the supply cupboard? Ask permission before you borrow or take anyone else’s supplies.

3. Shock radio

Yee haw, you love country music! Doesn’t everybody? That’s why there’s chocolate and vanilla and headphones. Check with your neighbors regarding the sound level of your radio, iPod or computer.

4. We see you, we’re just ignoring you

If you’re not deaf or invisible why do people carry on conversations with each other over your head and work space? If you need to talk directly to someone, you should go to their desk.

5. Loud talkers

Why do some people use their “outside voice”, when they’re inside? Voice volume while on or off the phone should be kept low. This is why phone headsets make such a good gift idea in open offices.

6. Whoa, wicked perfume

Are people commenting on your perfume or cologne? Guess what? That’s a clue that it’s too strong. Many people have allergies or sensitivities so fragrances should be subtle or avoided.

7. Your mom doesn’t work here

Your mom/spouse/partner usually cleans up after you? They probably don’t work here, so in the lunch/coffee room, refrigerator and other shared areas, tidy up after yourself.

8. The coffee fairy

Why do some people seem to think that the coffee pot or photocopier gets refilled by magic? (Or does their mom work here?) If you take the last cup of coffee, make another pot.

9. Your lunch sounds/smells good

You don’t have to advertise the fact that you are eating at your desk. Do it discreetly. No loud slurping, chomping, chewing, gum popping, odorous foods or barbecuing in your cubicle.

10. Your pet peeve:

This is where you get to fill in your own complaint, comment below or e-mail us your personal pet peeve of workplace etiquette or office rudeness etiquette,,. You’ll feel better by getting them off your chest.

No need for cubicle rage

It’s hard to imagine that you could be the one that bugs your colleagues. Moi? A nice way to bring up your complaint is to first ask your neighbors if you’re doing anything that bugs them. You might be surprised at their response. That should segue nicely into you bringing up your peeves.

Post or share this article

It’s a fact that most of us spend more time with our work colleagues than we do with our families. Families take some effort and so do workplace relationships. Share this article as a starting point for ongoing discussions to ensure your workplace works for everyone.

We don’t do it on purpose

Remember to cut each other some slack, you aren’t trying to annoy each other on purpose. Most of us don’t think a lot about workplace etiquette or how what we do affects others.

Start building some communication, self awareness and a more respectful workplace. If that doesn’t work, don’t escalate, think about bringing us in for a seminar.

Click here for a printable one page PDF version of this list.

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Posted by Joanne Blake – the Canadian business etiquette consultant and cubicle etiquette maven

About the author 

Joanne Blake

Canadian speaker, corporate image consultant & business etiquette expert. If you're interested in booking a presentation, keynote or coaching, contact me. Based in Calgary / Edmonton, Alberta in western Canada.

  1. Gail, this has got to be so distracting! Consider posting our blog article and invite them to include their pet peeves. Be sure to include yours, and if it’s possible, say it with humor.

  2. My office just happens to have a doorway on each side so people frequently cut through it to get to where they are going. Although they apologize for entering my space, they continue to do it!

  3. Hi Ajay,
    That’s a great tip regarding speaker phones. Tomorrow I’m being interviewed for an article on onference call etiquette and I’ll be sure to include your tip.

  4. Hi Joanne, excellent list. Another one to consider (although related to the loud talker but less common): attending a conference call on speaker phone. Thanks

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