Professional Etiquette

I am fairly new to the professional environment, and have noticed a few etiquette issues which seem to permeate my work atmosphere.  Take the following with a grain of salt, of course, as this is coming from the girl who accidentally said “#winning” to the CEO of a Japanese company during a mergers and acquisitions meeting, and actually attempted to fist bump the head of Marketing in the hallway.

#1: Holding Doors

There are three areas that define “door-holding” appropriateness; the 5-10 foot range where you’re considered an inconsiderate prick if you don’t hold the door, the >25 foot range where you’re considered both creepy and socially confused if you do hold the door, and the 10-25 foot range which is viewed as the “gray area of death” to those who actually pay attention to etiquette.  In my cases, my coworkers seem to insist on maintaining the awkward 10-25 foot range whenever we approach a door, and I am forced to either pretend to have no social graces and callously allow the door to swing shut in their face (serves you right for not walking closer to me on the way over here), or pause uncomfortably at the door and strain to hold it open while they employ an awkward, two-step hop/skip to reluctantly increase their pace, all the while thinking about how annoying I am for making them rush.

I’ve learned to walk through the door, unperturbed, and then push it back out with all of my might.  That way, it’s up to them if they want to allow the door the swing shut in their face, or hurry up and catch it before it closes.  Either way, don’t hop/skip on my account, I’ve already breezed by and am unconcerned by your personal door-holding inconsistencies.

#2: Walking down the Hallway

It’s not a big deal when you don’t know the person at the end of the hallway, but when you do… it’s the worst.  If you say hi too early, you’re forced to acknowledge their presence the entire stretch of the hall, which is usually punctuated with awkward smiles, quick looks away and then back, and in awkward “hello” when you’re finally in hearing range that usually gets caught in your throat.  If you say hi too late, you’re forced to do an in-motion about-face to ensure they didn’t think you were ignoring them, and that invites the possibility of a “stop-and-chat” that neither one of you are interested in.

I solved this by carrying my cellphone with me whenever I leave my office (yes, even to the bathroom), and pretending to fiddle with it as soon as someone enters the hallway.  I take a cursory peek up from the phone when they’re in eyesight, and gauge the distance for a proper acknowledgment.

#3: Thermostat

This is simple.  In an office environment there are usually too many offices for each one to have its own thermostat.  My company connects two offices to one thermostat, and one lucky person gets to dictate the temperature while the others either suffer in silence, or make their personal preferences known.  This lucky person is me.  The unlucky person sitting in the office down the hall from mine realized early on that I like things hot.  Apparently, removing clothing was not an option for them (although, in my opinion, they will be singing a different tune when winter rolls around), and after their first two polite emails went unanswered (I was employing the “if you ignore it, it will probably go away” tactic I used for babysitting in junior high), they showed up to my office, dripping in sweat and frowning quite menacingly.

I now bring my coat to work every day… who said compromise isn’t an option?

#4: Riding the Elevator

I would like to start by declaring that you should never ever think it is appropriate to fart on the elevator right before you step off.  It’s rude, and that’s that sh*t I don’t like.  That’s rare, however, as the main issue seems to be whether or not you choose to hold the elevator for someone running frantically to catch it.  There are three types of people who don’t hold the elevator.  The first is that purposely rude person who shouts a casual “Omigod, so sorry!” through the closing doors, despite the fact that they had clearly been pushing the door close button the entire time.  Yeah, I know what you did… you’ll get your comeuppance eventually, buddy.  The second is the klutzy person who actually intends to hold the door, but for some reason forgot how an elevator works in their rush to help you out.  All you had to do was stick your foot in the doorway… I don’t know why you got all frantic and started pushing random buttons.  The third is the oblivious person who doesn’t realize there are other people in the world who would like to ride the elevator.  They’re the ones who notice the doors close on your crestfallen face, and then spend the entire ride up the elevator lamenting how they would have held the door, if only you had yelled a little louder.  Oh, stop it.


Do us all a favor: be nice, pay attention, and hold the damn elevator.  Last thing you want is some angry co-ed plotting revenge on you as they stew on the first floor where you left them.

Posted In:


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s