Archive | October, 2012

Elevator Etiquette 101

16 Oct

I know that everyone probably has an elevator story. How could you not? Riding in an elevator with strangers is an awkward thing. While I have certainly seen strange things and heard weird conversations in elevators, today the oddest thing happened to me. I walked into the lobby of my building, pressed the button for my floor and when the doors opened I stepped in. Behind me a middle-aged man stepped in. So far nothing too unusual. So as the elevator starts climbing I am in the middle of thinking about my breakfast, which I was going to eat immediately when I got to work, when the man looks at me and says, “You know, the man is always supposed to get into the elevator first.” Because I wasn’t sure if I heard him correctly I cocked my head to the side and said, “What?” He looked me straight in the eye (serious as ever) and said, “The man is always supposed to get into the elevator first to make sure its working.” I looked at the guy and tried to force a smile on my face and nod. I guess the theory kind of makes sense, but isn’t it safe to assume that the elevator is working when the door opens? What could he possibly ensure by stepping in it before me? Needless to say, I thought the fact that he said this to me was really odd.

First of all, I have always been under the impression (especially living down in the South) that women are the first on the elevator and the men hold to the door for them. Women are also always the first off the elevator too. It’s just the way it works, at least where I am living. I always judge the manors of a man by whether or not he lets me on or off the elevator first. Second, why on earth did that man feel the need to tell me this? It wasn’t as if we knew each other or had even seen each other before. Was he upset that I got on the elevator first? Was he trying to teach me some sort of lesson? Or is just plain crazy and thinks that what he said was normal?

I may be overreacting, but having to stand there with this man who said that he should have been allowed on the elevator first made me feel a little uncomfortable.

Anyways, my experience today reminded me just how awkward elevator rides can be. So, for those of you who think men should be on the elevator first, here are some elevator etiquette tips (because you probably need them):

  • ALWAYS let women on and off the elevator first. While I say always, there are obviously situations in which this doesn’t necessarily apply. For example, when you were the first one there and a herd of women comes up behind you it is probably ok for you to enter first. But in my opinion, if I were a man, I would let the herd of women go before me. But that’s just me.
  • NEVER step onto a crowded elevator, wait for another one. I hate when that one person steps onto the elevator and makes everyone inch that much closer to one another. Why can’t they just wait? Are they really in that big of a hurry?
  • ALWAYS face the elevator doors. It is really strange when someone steps into the elevator and faces the people standing behind him/her. I am never quite sure why people do this. Why not just face front like everyone else? I don’t care if you know someone in the elevator, no one wants you staring at them the whole way down.
  • DON’T talk on your cell phone in the elevator. At most you will be on the elevator for a few minutes, I think the phone call can wait.
  • GREETINGS are ok if they are short and sweet. Don’t go into too much detail and ask everyone in the elevator what they did that weekend or for their political point of view.
  • DON’T take the elevator to go up just one floor. I cannot tell you how much I despise those people who get on the elevator just to go to the 2nd floor. I, on the other hand, have to go up to the 18th floor and get frustrated when people are too lazy to take the stairs. Maybe that’s why most of America is fat today – they are too busy riding elevators.
  • DON’T fart or burp or do anything else that will leave a lingering smell. No one wants to get trapped with your stink.

Have you ever encountered something strange on an elevator? Would you add any additional elevator etiquette rules to my list?

Never Apologize At Work

15 Oct

If you are a working woman and reading this then you have probably at some point in your career apologized to someone for something. You are sorry the copy machine stopped working or the network went down or  the coffee pot is leaking or  your boss can’t open an attachment you sent him. Am I right? I know that I have apologized for things. And while there are times and places to be sorry (like when you majorly screw something up) you should never be apologizing for the small things that you have no control over.

For example, the other day I was working out with my husband. We work out at Crossfit. That day was a partner WOD (where you have a partner and the two of you complete a long, hard workout together), and I was partners with a young girl who was stronger and faster than me. We did the workout at pretty much the same pace, but I kind of felt the whole time as if I were holding her back. I think it was just my insecurity in thinking that she was better than me, and I let that get to me. At the end of the workout we said good job to each other and then I blurted out an apology. I said, “Sorry if I was a little slow.” When she said no problem and walked away my husband scolded me. He said that I should never, ever apologize to anyone for working hard and doing the best I can. The moment he said this I knew he was right, and then I instantly felt stupid for second-guessing myself and automatically thinking she was better than me.

This experience can easily translate to the work environment. Let’s say you are working on something with a co-worker who is at your level, and maybe it takes you a little longer or maybe you have a harder time understanding the objective or the results. Either way you in some way feel as if you are making a mistake or not doing things good enough, when in reality you are working your hardest and doing the best you can do. In such an instance you should NEVER apologize for being you. Think about it – the only thing apologizing does it make the other person, your co-worker, the one who is supposed to have confidence in you, think you are insecure and incapable of handling the job.

How many times have you ever heard a male at work say they were sorry? Even when men make mistake, big mistakes, they never really apologize. Instead they will say, you were right – not I’m sorry for being wrong. I do think apologizing is somewhat of a woman characteristic. We always feel the need to please and help others, so when we feel as if we aren’t living up to our own expectations we should apologize. While I, as a woman, understand the need to apologize and make things right, doing this at work does nothing but hurt your career and progression.

Have you ever apologized at work and then regretted doing so? Have you ever apologized for someone else’s mistakes? I tend to think that women do this a lot, and if I could give you one piece of advice it would be never to apologize for being you and doing the best you can.

Dealing With Office Drama: The Office Friend Conundrum

9 Oct

If you work in an office with anyone other than yourself you are likely to experience some sort of office drama at one point or another. Maybe you told a co-worker that you trusted that you went on a date only to find out that she went and blabbed your news to everyone else or maybe you say something about one co-worker that somehow gets back to that co-worker and discover that they are upset with you. Whatever it is, we all know that drama isn’t fun, especially when it’s at the office – the very place that you spend more time than you do in your own house.

In my office I have two young women that I consider to be pretty good friends. We enjoy Friday lunches together, keep each other updated on one another’s lives, and sometimes plan out-of-office get-togethers where we sip on drinks and discuss things other than work. I would say that I feel pretty comfortable telling these women a lot of things, and sometimes I find that it is hard to determine where a line exists and if there even is one.

So I will give you an example of some recent drama that I dealt with at the office. One of my office friends (Office Friend A) had an upcoming wedding and me and the other office friend (Office Friend B) were planning on attending. About a week before the wedding, Office Friend B came up and told me that she was not able to attend the reception. A few days later I was talking to Office Friend A and simply asked if she was upset or disappointed that Office Friend B gave last-minute notice that she was not attending the reception (likely after the bill for her plate had already been paid). Office Friend A brushed it off and said no, she didn’t care. I told her I was glad she wasn’t bothered and relayed a story of when my husband and I got married and how disappointed I was when people cancelled at the last-minute. Fast forward an hour when Office Friend B comes into the office and breezes past my door at lightening speed (when she usually spends the time to come in and say hello). When I tried to say hi to Office Friend B later that day I could tell she was upset with me. She is one of those people who is always happy and chipper, so when she gave me a snarly look I knew she was upset.

It was instantaneously obvious to me that Office Friend A had said something to Office Friend B about my question. I became immediate anxious and uncomfortable, so I spoke to Office Friend A to ask if she was upset with me. Come to find out she was, and yes she had said something to Office Friend B. While I feel that I did nothing wrong (yes I offended them, but it wasn’t an intention offense), I hated being in the midst of office drama and having to be around these two women who were upset with me. While I could have held my head up high sure that I did nothing wrong, I decided to suck up my pride and send both of them apology emails. In the end the drama was resolved and everything was ok.

So, what did that little fiasco teach me? First it taught me that while these girls are my friends and while I confide in them with regard to personal matters, I can’t get too personal at work. It also taught me that no matter how close you think you are to someone, drama is always possible, especially at work.

If you find yourself in a similar situation or in a completely different situation involving drama and work, here are some tips:

  • If you think that you did something to offend someone, think about apologizing and taking the blame even if you feel that you did nothing wrong. Apologies go a long way and dealing with upset co-workers isn’t worth your pride.
  • If you feel that someone at your work is gossiping about you and saying bad things that could hurt your career or reputation with higher-ups, then say something to your boss. This may be an uncomfortable conversation, but it is important that your boss know what is going on so they are prepared when someone says something negative about you.
  • If you and another co-worker just can’t seem to get alone, avoid that co-worker, and when you can’t avoid them just simply ignore them. I know plenty of people who have co-workers they despise and they simply get through the day by being as professional as possible while ignoring them and removing themselves from situations involving that person.
  • If you have to work closely with someone who has caused drama in your office, tread lightly. Don’t engage in office gossip and NEVER say anything about anyone that you don’t want to get back to them. These people always seem so sincere and interested in your opinion, but they won’t think twice about throwing you under the bus to spread a little office gossip.

All in all I have come to learn that while you can have good work friends, you can’t be as candid and open with them as you can your real friends.

Have you guys dealt with office drama? What did you do to make the situation better?