As I near the end of my second year in the professinal world, I feel like I've been working in an office for a thousand years. I'm beginning to consider myself an old hat at this. In honor of my upcoming anniversary, I've collected some of my wit and wisdom, as well as the secrets of my success to share with the adoring public. Here you go:
1. If you happen to see a co-worker leaving or entering a bathroom with reading material, resist commenting. Sometimes you can let the context guide you. If, for example, your co-worker tries to hide their reading material in their shirt or under their arm, they're probably not ready to admit they were multi-tasking. In fact, it's best if you pretend this never happened. The question is: who doesn't read in the bathroom? The answer to this questions is: how much would it cost to attach magazine holders to the stall doors?
2. Tank tops at work? If you have to ask this question, you shouldn't be in a professional environment. Quit your job and sign on at Hooters or Christie's Cabaret or at one of Nashville's many "premier gentleman's clubs" where partial and full-blown nudity are encouraged. No one really gets to dress the way they'd prefer to at work. If we could do it, most of us would be here in our pajamas. Ideally, a professional environment should be a place where people can communicate and think clearly. It's difficult to hold a conversation when a woman's breasts are in danger of spilling out onto the conference room table. Everyone feels uncomfortable, not just men. So, do everyone a favor and save the tank top for the pool, beach, or Saturday yard work.
3. Caught your co-worker "scratching" their nose? This will happen. A similar phenomenon occurs when someone "scratches" their nose in the car while driving alone. The sensation of being alone and invisible is simply too real for some people. When this happens your best bet is to pretend it never happened. Just launch into your question or conversation as though you saw nothing. If your co-worker apologizes or brings up what happened, insist that you didn't see anything. Most likely, however, the nose "scratcher" will be wondering whether or not you saw anything. They'll attempt to pretend nothing happened and for the sake of everyone, just go along with it. And then, later, you can add that person to your list of people to never touch. And also, never touch their stapler or anything they've ever touched. And wash your hands a lot.
4. Occasionally, in a meeting or in casual conversation between two people in the workplace, someone will say something that could have multiple interpretations. Let's face it, just about anything could be misconstrued to have a sexual meaning. What really matters is how it's said. In any case, when a co-worker says something that you find to have a hilarious double meaning, please, remember we're at work. This is especially true when in a meeting. Not everyone is on your enlightened level of maturity, and besides, you don't know who else is listening. If you're 100 percent certain no one is listening, and you know you're co-worker will appreciate your singular take on the moment, by all means, cut loose. Just remember, the walls have ears.