We do some of the silliest things while at work. We get comfortable with our co-workers, and we start considering our workspace an extension of our home. When that happens, we often cross that invisible line between professional and personal. When we work in close proximity with others it is almost as if they become like family. You love family and you love to hate family. Families share too much information, they speak their mind too freely but they love unconditionally so all is forgiven.
Your co-workers (especially if you work in cubicles) are too close, and you end up sharing too much information, end up speaking your mind too freely. But unlike your family, all is not forgiven, because ultimately, they are not family.
Have you crossed the line?
You work in a limited area with a lot of other people. You come to know a lot about them, and they about you. The little things they do drive you insane, and you can be sure the reverse is also true.
When you work in a cubicle, there are certain rules that you need to follow and certain levels of awareness you need to have so that everyone can peacefully co-exist in that confined space.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”3jedu” via=”yes” ]When you work in a cubicle, there are certain rules that you need to follow. Are you following them or are you oblivious?[/ctt]
You have none. Just because you can’t see other people while in your cube does not mean that you are alone. You are not. Every phone conversation you have will be overheard by many people— especially the three others who share that square with you. Gossip is rampant in every office, and you don’t want to be the topic of conversation because you had a private conversation in a very public place.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”W6GY7″ via=”yes” ]Gossip is rampant in every office. Make sure you aren’t the subject. Follow these Cubicle Etiquette rules[/ctt]
I remember this happening to me about thirty years ago when I worked in Toronto. I spent eight hours a day in my cubicle, loving the team I worked with, and since I am highly social, I thought a cubical concept office was a great thing. That is, until the day I had a very private (or so I thought) conversation with my mother about where I’d been the night before. The timing was bad, but Mom was worried about me, so she called me at the office. For a few moments, I forgot I was at work and I got into my private and personal conversation, unaware that several of my colleagues were silently following along. Since they could only hear my side of the conversation that left quite a bit to their imagination and they were all too happy to fill in the gaps themselves.
I was mortified when I was questioned later by a co-worker. I was embarrassed that my conversation had been actively listened to, and that further conversation and speculation about my personal behavior was occupying the thoughts and actions of my coworkers.
But I learned my lesson. Now I save those personal conversations for home or private locations. Every time a friend, child or parent calls us at work, someone in our office makes mental notes in the invisible file they keep on us. The bottom line is that it’s impossible to have a private conversation in a cubicle.
Your cubicle is designed to absorb sound. If you have papers stuck to the wall, they will deflect sound, making your conversations even louder to other ears. Remove anything that is on the wall that did not come with the original design so at least your conversations aren’t as loud as they might be otherwise.
When talking on the phone, speak down into your desk instead of spinning around in your chair (making yourself comfortable) and looking into the office space or out the window. Speaking out of the cubicle will make your sound travel and even more people will hear your conversation. Even if you are talking about work and the information is not private, it is not respectful of other people for your voice to be so loud. Speaking into your cubicle will absorb sound.
Since cubicle areas usually contain many people, the white noise throughout the office will creep up through the day. This will cause you to speak even louder so you can hear yourself think. If you get accused of speaking in a loud voice outside your office (by family and friends) this could be the culprit. Be very aware of your volume.
Listening with earphones or even a radio (which is terribly disrespectful as that sound travels even at a low volume) throughout the day also skews your volume levels. Teenagers are a perfect example. As soon as they take out their ebuds they are yelling. Are you doing the same because you are drowning out the white noise in the office by listening to music? Constant noise (or music) in close proximity affects your awareness of your volume level. We talk louder to be heard over the sound, and it is often too loud.
You don’t have much space, so organization really counts. The smaller the space you have the faster you will make an impression. Is your impression the one you want to convey? Are you neat enough for your small space?
Do you have stuff at your desk that entices coworkers to visit? Do you keep candy or the funny comic strip that brings people by to visit you? If you do, while it may be great for your social life, it is impairing the working space for those around you. Don’t invite people to visit you to chat at your cubicle, and if it is work-related, keep it short.
Cubicles are terrible for customer service. When someone is on the phone with a client and the cubicle next door is singing “Happy Birthday,” it sends a very bad customer-service message. The same is true for boisterous laughter and other loud conversations. For some reason our customers don’t want to think that we have too much fun at work.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”Y0d7k” via=”yes” ]Working in a tight space with so many others requires us to really think about how our working habits affect others.[/ctt]
Working in a tight space with so many others requires us to really think about how our working habits affect others. Most of our bad behavior is done innocently enough, but creates tension in the workplace that does not need to be there.
Pay attention, lower your voice and call your mom from home.