We spend a lot of time at work, and our co-workers, for better or for worse, are people whom we spend a lot of time with. That being the case, you should try to do your best to not annoy them or put them in an awkward situation; you may need their help one day. As you navigate through the world of office etiquette, here are some general topics and questions to avoid.
Why Are You So Dressed Up Today?
This may sound like a perfectly harmless question, but it actually sounds like you’re prying. The first thought that comes to mind is that they have a job interview. If that is the case, it’s really none of your business. They may have a date or maybe they were just in the mood to wear their power suit on that day. Also, be cautious of giving compliments on someone’s clothing. A compliment, while innocent and genuine in nature, may not be received as such. It may be interpreted as a form of sexual harassment. Bottom line: How someone dresses, on any given day, is none of your concern.
Are You Pregnant?
This is the best way to insult a female co-worker. If the co-worker is not pregnant you have just seriously offended her. If she is pregnant maybe she hasn’t felt comfortable making a huge declaration of her pregnancy; she will let the world know on her own good time. Her privacy should be respected. If she wants to let you in on the good news, then let her be the one to tell you; make no assumptions.
Who are you going to vote for?
The subject of politics, like religion and money, is a sensitive and private subject. People tend to have strong feelings about their political views and there is no need to cause a political debate at the water cooler. If you forget everything else just remember: politics is a big taboo in the workplace. Keep your opinions to yourself until you can rant with your friends at happy hour.
Looks Like Someone Had a Long Night…
While this is more of an observation than a question, suspecting your co-worker is hung over is best not brought to everyone’s attention. If they made the mistake of having one too many margaritas on Taco Tuesday they might be embarrassed. Conversely do not inform your co-workers when you have a hangover; they do not need to know your partying habits and it makes you look like you don’t take your work seriously.
Will You Cover For Me?
Asking this of a co-worker speaks volumes about your character and you have now just put your co-worker in an awkward position. Most people are uncomfortable lying to their bosses; they become racked with guilt and resent you for putting them in that position. Your co-workers are your colleagues not necessarily your friends so don’t expect them to be your BFF and cover for you the next time you take a long lunch.