Office Etiquette Pet Peeves

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in your career is not understanding that there are certain codes of conduct and etiquette to abide by in the workplace.

If you’re not careful, you may even lose opportunities because others may be put off by your lack of professionalism.

Below are the Top Ten Office Etiquette Tips to live by and share with others in your office if you think they might need a friendly reminder.

Share the credit. Not acknowledging a colleague’s work can ruin your reputation. You won’t come across as a team player, but instead, you will come across as someone who just cares about his or her promotion.

Office attire should be on the conservative side. Never wear clothes that are too revealing, messy or “crazy”, and don’t wear running shoes to work and then change. In a Linked-In survey, 29% of women (notice, not men) said that their number one pet peeve was other women not dressing appropriately for the office.

Clean-up after yourself especially in the office kitchen. Most people truly hate it when they go into the office kitchen and it’s a mess, when someone has taken the last cup of coffee and not made a new pot, or when someone has taken their food or drink they were looking forward to having. Tidy up after yourself in common areas and do things like make that extra pot of coffee and people will really appreciate it and you.

Be on time. Being punctual says a lot about your personal values. When you’re constantly late, you are basically giving a silent message that you don’t care enough about others or their time.

Don’t gossip or talk about too personal of things. Talking badly about someone else in the office will get out and will do you no good! Also, even if you are friends with someone at work, do not talk about really personal issues while you are on the clock. It’s not appropriate and can make others feel uncomfortable.

Be respectful during meetings. Every office has their own culture of what’s acceptable to do in meetings, however, as a general rule, you should not use your electronics during a meeting unless you have told the group you are using it (iPhone, laptop) to take notes or to refer to certain documents. Otherwise, people will think you’re texting a friend or writing your grocery list. Show that you are actively listening, be courteous of others, don’t attack ideas, and stay on track.

Don’t be intrusive. Don’t be too loud, take personal calls around others, have a dirty or messy workspace, wear too much perfume, have a loud or inappropriate ringtone, or eat smelly things.

Don’t interrupt your colleagues. Not only is it disrespectful but it’s a sign of bad social skills.

Have professional emails. An email should be handled as a formal letter and can be kept on a company’s record for years so make sure they are well written. Do use proper grammar, punctuation, be brief and well organized, and only “reply all” if everyone needs to see your response. Change the “subject” line as the topic changes, and put only those in the “to” line who need to take action on your email.

Don’t come to work if you’re too sick. The rule of thumb is “if you’re contagious you should stay home.” But if you just have sniffles you should be at the office.


If you’d like additional information on office etiquette or would like etiquette training for your office or staff, please contact me at [email protected] or go to


Aimee Symington
Aimee is the CEO of Finesse Worldwide, and an etiquette expert with almost 20 year's experience teaching etiquette to adults and children throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Aimee has appeared on NBC’s The Today Show, and she regularly shares her etiquette advice on Charlotte Today, Fox News, and WBTV, on radio programs such as NPR, and in newspapers and national magazines such as Good Housekeeping and Woman's Health. Ms. Symington is also the creator of the award-winning, nationally acclaimed products on manners for children called “Blunders®” and “Manner Mats®” For more etiquette tips for adults and children, please visit her website at Connect on Facebook.