Maintaining Office Harmony

Since my teenage sons have been big enough to pour milk into their cereal, I have been asking them to return the bottle to the refrigerator. Since they have been old enough to take a shower on their own, I have been asking them to hang up the towel. Occasionally they will pick up after themselves but for the most part, they are on to the next task without thought to what is left behind. 
A nuisance at home but if they take these habits to the workplace others will not be so forgiving. To maintain harmony at both work and home takes effort, patience, and (sometimes) minor sacrifices. The same rules apply for being a good workmate as for being a good housemate: Be considerate.
In the office:
  •           If you take the last cup of coffee or water, start another pot or replace the bottle. 
  •           When waiting for the coffee to brew, consider washing those few spoons in the sink.
  •           When you use the last of the paper in the copier or printer, replace it. Do not leave it for someone else to do.
  •          If the copier is jammed, fix it or call someone who can.
  •          Be considerate of deadlines. If someone is in a hurry to get a few copies made, let him get ahead of you. 
  •           If you know a coworker is working furiously to get out a report, offer to answer her phones.
  •           Respect privacy. If the fax is not addressed to you, do not read it. 
  •           If you need something from a colleague who is away from her desk, wait for her to return and then ask for it. Don’t help yourself.
  •           Use the proper receptacles in the restrooms.
  •           Finally, be pleasant. You can make your office a happier place to work by managing your mood and demeanor. Treat everyone the way you would like to be treated.
Corby O'Connor is a business etiquette expert, columnist and speaker.  You can visit her website at: or email her at:

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