Listen. I get it. You want your workplace to be fun and relaxed. A place where everybody can just be themselves who aren’t bogged down with boring HR rules. Nobody wants a fun police. And your HR people don’t want to have to be the fun police.
If you truly want a fun and relaxed workplace, do the world a favor and DON’T do these workplace no nos.
Flirting and Sexual Harassment
When I was 17 years old I worked at a movie theater. I loved this job. I had great friends and I could watch movies for free. This place was good to me. But this is also a place where I was constantly harassed. I cleaned dark theaters following movie showings and I just came to accept that my male co-workers would touch or grab me from time to time. It seemed harmless so I laughed it off. But one day, a coworker took it too far. He pushed me against the wall and reached his hand down the front of my pants. I managed to get away before any real trauma. But I was afraid to work with this man again. I switched shifts. I stuck near other coworkers who made me feel safe. And eventually, I quit.
This wasn’t something I told management. I was 17 and afraid. I didn’t even tell my friends who worked there. But it ate at me until I couldn’t take it anymore. I was in a hostile work environment that went beyond sexual harassment to the point where I felt I couldn’t report an assault. I loved this job, but still I left.
Long story short, even if you think it is welcome. Even if you think you aren’t harming anyone. You don’t know what their experience has been in the past. You may think you are giving a harmless backrub to a stressed friend at work. Or hugging this person every time you have a shift together. But you might be reminding them of a harmful event. Or worse, you might also be showing another co-worker that it is ok to touch this friend. If this person is a creepy fuck, they might take it too far. Sexual harassment is a slippery slope to assault.
Just don’t do it. OK?
Don’t Get Too Comfortable
Surprise! You’re a professional adult and not a college student! Treat your workplace like the professional environment that it is. These means
You’ve heard the phrases: Dress for success and Dress for the job you want to have. This is true. Your clothes are how you introduce yourself to the world. If you are showing up to work in pajama pants it looks like you don’t take your job seriously and can adversely affect your career progression.
The same goes for appropriate workplace conversation. Feel free to speak openly with your co-workers and build authentic relationships. But maybe don’t loudly discuss your yeast infection in the break room. This is not only a great way to get a terrible nickname at work, but to also negatively define your career. Rather than focusing on your merits, people will just think of yeast infections when they work with you.
Control Your Emotions
Leave your drama at home. Everyone has drama. Your workplace doesn’t need to know about yours. We all have those co-workers who come in and loudly talk about their ex spouse is being a jerk again. There is no need to get your co-workers involved in your chaotic life because everyone has their own chaotic life to deal with.
So you can manage to leave the life drama at home but you can’t hold it together when you feel overwhelmed. I get it. We have all had a late night cry at our desks before. But you have to be able to keep control of your emotions. Business depends on the ability to work together. If you are constantly melting down, you are relying on your peers to drag you along. Don’t be a drain on their resources. Find your inner strength, strike a power pose, and move forward.
Don’t Be A Bigot
Part of having a diverse workforce is you need to have a safe and welcoming environment. If you are someone who doesn’t want to share a bathroom with a transgender co-worker, then leave that bigotry at home.
You and the co-worker that you feel the need to discriminate are coming to work for the same reasons: your career. So focus on that. Let your co-worker focus on that. You both deserve a safe and comfortable workplace.
If you want a workplace without fun police but is still an enjoyable place to work, then don’t do the following:
- Don’t flirt or sexually harass
- Be professional in your wardrobe and casual conversations
- Control your emotions
- Leave your harmful beliefs about your co-workers at home
What are some other workplace no nos? Let us know know in the comments!