Social protocol in the workplace


I am not only new to the workplace, but also new to this country.

Could someone tell me about social protocol in the workplace?

What I mean is making friends, chatting at the water cooler, having a drink and swimming after work – I’m so confused. I would like to have a Handbook for Dummies Immigrating to Canada or For Dummies Immigrating to Canada.

Let me illustrate this with a short story of 2 employees who started working with ABC and Company on the same day. They are Satish and Carina, both from different cultural backgrounds. Both have finished working with the company for the first 3 days and are at the lunch table with their colleagues in the cafeteria. The topic of discussion around the table is weekend preparations and especially Friday night hanging out at the favorite bar.

Satish and Carina don’t know what to say and are actually petrified at the thought of being invited to Friday’s party. Luckily today is Thursday and they still have one day before they make a decision and respond. What will their colleagues think if they agree and if they refuse? Will they be treated as outcasts and not included in future outings and activities? Difficult decisions.

Satish and Carina have been thinking about it all evening. Satish worries about what his wife will say when he tells her it will be late Friday night. On the other hand, Carina is excited about the prospects of dating co-workers and building a stronger relationship or so she thinks. She decided to go, while Satish will decline the invitation. Friday morning, the two are asked if they will join the gang and Carina agrees while Satish apologizes.

All is well and life goes on. The beginning of next week rolls around, and as the days go by, Satish realizes he’s probably missed something. As he watches Carina speak their language, repeating the fun activities and conversations from last Friday night, Satish begins to feel a bit left out. He resumes his work as usual and concentrates on the reports he has to send by the end of the week. He doesn’t have the luxury of hanging out and socializing at the water cooler. Carina, on the other hand, has made many friends and is constantly surrounded by colleagues in discussions, even during work. Satish is in the middle of his report when Carina walks up to him and starts chatting, not realizing that he is extremely busy with his reports. She feels hurt when he politely tells her that he will get back to her as soon as her reports are finished and sent. Anyway, Carina walks away and in her next chat with her friends at work, she talks about the incident and points out that Satish is quite rude and definitely not friendly. They make no comment but just nod their heads.

The end of the week is fast approaching and once again they are invited. Satish and Carina accept this time and have a great time on Friday night. Next week, one of Carina’s co-workers mentions that she really liked Satish and that he was nothing like what she mentioned. He was very polite, friendly and funny too. In fact, she also mentioned that the employees in the office had a very positive impression of Satish due to his work ethic and dedication. Carina realizes her mistake and apologizes to Satish at the lunch table in front of the others. Satish very politely forgives her and tells her that it’s fine and actually apologizes to her for being rude. Everyone is happy and life goes on as usual. Both Satish and Carina learned a very valuable lesson from these incidents.

Satish has learned that socializing is important if not essential, but not at the expense of undone work. Carina, on the other hand, has realized the importance of work ethic and now understands that people respect you at work for who you are and not for your presence and socializing with others.

Thumb rules for socializing at work:

  • You’re here to work, so focus on it first, then socialize
  • When a talkative colleague comes to chat with you and you’re busy, politely excuse yourself and tell them you have a deadline to meet and you’re not pushing them away. Don’t forget to come back to them as soon as you have some time.
  • Accept or decline invitations, for outings after work based on your interests and convenience and not for political reasons
  • Don’t speak negatively of colleagues in their absence. People will start to believe that you are a talker and will always talk behind others’ backs. Nobody likes such people.
  • In case you made a mistake, apologize in public. People will respect you for your openness. Be frank in your discussions, but remember that discretion is a better part of bravery. Don’t say things that will intentionally hurt someone else’s feelings
  • Stay away from office politics, because it can only harm you
  • Strive to be the person who always gets the job done on time, is always helpful to others, and is a pleasure to be around.
  • Make friends at work who are well respected for their ethics and hard work and not because they are seemingly popular or funny.

More than anything else, enjoy your work and let your performance speak for itself. Remember that when you are successful you will be happy whether or not you are a social animal.

Source by Vikki Mungre

Comments are closed.