Despite good intentions, you come across bad office etiquette once in a while. Or perhaps, the work is a little easy for people – too easy to the point that people need to gossip just to kill the boredom. Perhaps people are too stressed.

Regardless of the reason, these bad office etiquettes are never good things – both for the company productivity, as well as the social dynamics within the department altogether.

Remember also that the people in your office are also the people you’ll most probably spend most of your weekdays around, so here are some habits that are frowned upon in office settings, and how to avoid or mitigate it.

  1. You’re excessively Introverted

There is nothing wrong with being an introverted person who is happy being left alone. However, when you frequently pass up company events and lunches with colleagues,  you may have brushed off acquaintances who might become your close friends or potential investors or founders of your company! Also, it’s just a little rude to decline every single lunch and event that people offer you.

Sure, you can be busy with work. But in your enthusiasm to clear all your work for the day, every day, it can potentially give people the wrong impression of you.

If you think you’re doing that, try making it a point to connect with your colleagues. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy – offer them some food from your cupboard, have a short chat whilst taking a break. These not only help you alleviate stress, it will open new opportunities and avenues to receive help, and get constructive feedback. Besides, wouldn’t it be good to have a lunch buddy on the weekdays?

  1. You react less-than-well to sudden change and situations.

In the workforce, sudden or rapid changes can and will happen, i.e. your boss asks you to do a last minute project, you’re only to do something someone else’s way and not yours… you get the picture.

While it isn’t necessarily a bad thing, this can usually cause people in the organisation to form an impression of you being rigid and inflexible. This won’t reflect well in some cases, especially if you’re up for a promotion or getting a new position elsewhere.

While changing stance from this mindset is relatively difficult in any case, perhaps instead you could take a step back, and consider another perspective. Sure, we can get a little slighted depending on how the person phrases the question. But, when someone asks you to do something their way (usually the more senior members of the company will ask for that), it is usually because they have done it that way before, and worked.

There is more than one way to solve a problem; perhaps the way they asked is the fastest, most economical way. Doing this will earn you the respect of many of your peers and seniors in the company as well!

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  1. You’re the gossip-monger.

Perhaps the most common office etiquette issue – gossiping behind people’s back. While that is generally normal, it isn’t normal when YOU are the head gossiper. I suppose this can count as bonding too much with your colleagues.

This one is probably the easiest to correct. Simply put, dial back on the talking. We can all start by talking about more positive things instead – recent accomplishments by your colleagues’ children, their own little victories etc. Isn’t it better to spread positivity around rather than put people down behind their back?

Failing which, if that doesn’t work out, simply find a way to excuse yourself from the gossip. Gossiping can often lead to unnecessary office tension and inter-department conflicts, something that any company can do without at all.

  1. You’re not shy about voicing your opinions.

Fancy getting into a heated debate over politics, government and just about anything under the sun?

While some people do enjoy getting passionate and delve deep into their debates and reasons for supporting/not supporting whatever issue, what we think is passion, others might see as confrontational/aggressive.

This can lead to people gossiping behind your back at work, and worse still,  alienate you at work altogether.

While you should keep that passion for what you truly love, please understand that not everyone shares that same passion and excitement as you do. Some people merely just want to go through the motions and have a non-argumentative work day. Reserve your energy for the real debates at the science fairs or symposiums! Actually, you can even do that in your interviews, but don’t overpower the interviewer, okay?

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  1. You complain a lot. Really a lot.

We all complain – from how the water should be hotter when we shower, to how poorly the pickles are arranged on the plate. It happens to even the best mannered of people!

However, there are some people who do complain excessively all the time about everything – how the boss doesn’t care about your work, how the pantry is always dirty, how small the cubicles are… you get the picture.

Again, it happens to the best of us. However, we’ve learnt that complaining lesser is actually good for us, as can be seen in this post. However, it’s not easy – you’ll literally have to catch your tongue before the complaint comes out!

If you really can’t complain less, you can complain to yourself. That usually helps in reducing the bad impressions people form of you (I mean if you complain to yourself, you can only judge yourself, right?)

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Founder @ The New Savvy
Anna Haotanto is the Advisor (former CEO) of The New Savvy. She is currently the COO of ABZD Capital and the CMO of Gourmet Food Holdings, an investment firm focusing on opportunities in the global F&B industry. She is part of the founding committee of the Singapore FinTech Association and heads the Women In FinTech and Partnership Committee. Anna is the President of the Singapore Management University Women Alumni. Anna invests and sits on the board of a few startups. Anna is also part of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry Career Women’s Group executive committee. Anna’s story is featured on Millionaire Minds on Channel NewsAsia. She hosts TV shows and events, namely for Channel NewsAsia’s “The Millennial Investor” and “Challenge Tomorrow”, a FinTech documentary. Anna was awarded “Her Times Youth Award” at the Rising50 Women Empowerment Gala, organised by the Indonesian Embassy of Singapore. The award was presented by His Excellency Ngurah Swajaya. She was also awarded Founder of the Year for ASEAN Rice Bowl Startup Awards. She was also awarded the Women Empowerment Award by the Asian Business & Social Forum. Anna has been awarded LinkedIn Power Profiles for founders (2018, 2017), Tatler Gen T, The Peak’s Trailblazers under 40 and a nominee for the Women of The Future award by Aviva


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