It’s ok to Decline Invitations

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Even though most work places have a clause in the handbook forbidding employees from soliciting their co-workers for fundraisers, the never-ending invitations to Silpada and Pampered Chef and Avon parties after hours can be dizzying.

While at first it might seem that in order to fit in you have to attend every single party, I’m here to tell you that isn’t true. It is ok to decline an invitation or have a prior engagement. You can choose to only attend the parties you want to and not feel pressured to buy anything.

There are several ways to decline an invitation. You can simply say, “I’m so sorry, but I already have plans for that evening.” You can be truthful and say the parties make you uncomfortable. You can say you’re just not interested i the product. Figure out what works for you, but be honest.

Now, that we have established that you don’t have to attend every after work event, it is a good idea to attend one every now and then. It gives you an opportunity to socialize outside of the office environment and get to know your co-workers in a completely different light. You might be surprised at who you connect with!


Use Your Inside Voice

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A tweet this morning from the wonderful Laura Scholz made me laugh and shudder. She said, “People, please use your indoor voices! #coworkingetiquette”

While we all learned about inside voices from our parents and teachers, I’m surprised how easy it is to forget. I am excitable and can have problems with volume control when I’m particularly amped up. It has become less of a problem as I’ve gotten older, but I admit, I can still forget.

Whether you work in a cubicle farm or are lucky enough to have separate offices, yelling or loudly talking to others can be very disrupting to those around you. Some of your co-workers might be sound sensitive or have a headache. At the very least other people yelling and talking loudly is distracting.

Treating Others Fairly

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I’ve almost always been considered “Support Staff” in every job except in a newsroom. Maybe my personality keeps me from being brushed aside, but I also (wrongly) thought that we had moved on from treating secretaries and office assistants as second-class office mates.

Everyone has had an experience in elementary school where someone was left out. Left out of a birthday invitation or left out of a game on the playground. It sucked as a child and it’s even more hurtful and damaging as an adult.

Continued exclusion of your co-workers creates a hostile work environment for everyone.

It wasn’t fair to exclude people as a child. If your parents were anything like mine, you probably got scolded for excluding them, regardless of your reasons. It is even more unfair and beyond that, disrespectful to exclude people as an adult.

If you are going to invite the whole office to a party or get together, make sure you invite the whole office. Even the people you don’t necessarily like. Not only will it go toward creating a goodwill bridge with that person, but also you might find you like them a lot better in the non-office setting.

Politely Refusing Food at Work

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Some people show appreciation with food at work. Birthdays, promotions, new hires and any other mile stone can easily be celebrated with a cake.

But not everyone can enjoy the food part of the festivities. A co-worker might be diabetic or allergic to an ingredient. Another might be trying hard to lose weight and the temptation is too much to even be in the same room as a cake.

This is where politely learning to refuse the offered food comes in handy. You don’t want to offend the person who thoughtfully brought in the cake or other item, but you don’t want to be wasteful either.

The easiest solution is to bring a dish to share that you know you can and want to eat. If the party is a surprise or you just don’t feel comfortable not partaking in the cake, get a small piece and carry it around with you. Feel free to stick your fork in and mash it up a little.

There is nothing wrong with saying you are full or have had enough. Find a solution that works for you and stick with it. Your co-worker will understand in the long run.

First Day of Work

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Ask just about anyone you know and they will tell you the first day at a new job is like the first day of school. In addition to learning where you’ll work, where the bathrooms are and where the cafeteria is, you’ll meet people and you should be the person you want to be. I disagree with the metaphor.

If you’ve done your homework and kept in touch with your future supervisor during the transition, you know exactly what is expected of you on the first day. You know what the dress code is, what time to show up and if you are lucky if you need to bring a lunch or not.

As for meeting people, of course first impressions are important, but the people you meet will also want to give the best first impression. I suggest being relaxed and polite and yourself. Don’t try to be someone you aren’t, that approach never works out in the long run.

A successful first day at a new job takes a little planning. Set the alarm a few minutes early, or even a full half hour. Over dress a little. If everyone else in the office is dressed up for your first day, you do not want to be under dressed. Take a few extra moments before you walk out the door to remember that they hired you. You belong there. I don’t suggest being cocky, but simply confidant. When you arrive, be friendly. Make eye contact. Say hello and try to remember everyone’s names. You might be more successful than you thought!

Don’t be afraid to be lost or not know an answer. Ask for directions and ask for help. Everyone in the office has some knowledge that you need, even if it is only where the bathrooms are located.

Relax and above all else, be friendly. Soon you will know the ins and outs of the office. Until then enjoy the opportunities as they arise and use this as a chance to get to know everyone without any preconceived notions.