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20 Office Etiquette Rules You’re Probably Ignoring—But Shouldn’t

The workplace has changed, sure, but some things never get outdated. Career experts chime in on the office etiquette everyone should know.

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Don't eat at your desk

"Within a tight space, smells can be magnified, so use consideration when packing your lunch or snacks. Try to eat meals in the kitchen, break room, or outside rather than at your desk." —Office etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore in

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Don't go to work if you're sick

"Do your team a favor and don't share your pneumonia germs with everyone. Take a day or two, and focus on getting better. You're no good to anyone when you are too sick to read the numbers on your computer screen. If you must work, then work remotely—grab your laptop, and work from the comfort of home. Don't forget to sanitize your desk when you get back to work." —Office etiquette experts at Energy ResourcingOutside of work, these rude restaurant behaviors are important to avoid

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Limit personal calls in work areas

"Chatting to your best friend about Saturday night is hardly conducive with hard work. Avoid taking personal calls in office time." —Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead in Small Biz TrendsMake sure you're not also doing any of these things that annoy your co-workers.


Getting annoyed at other people's conversations

"If you work in an open office space and professional phone calls distract you, remember that it's probably not the person's intention to bother you. Try to be understanding of the situation and keep a good pair of headphones nearby." —Office etiquette expert Myka Meier as quoted in Town & Country .

These ridiculous office rules will make you glad to work where you do. 

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Don't be the office DJ

In addition to making sure your headphones aren't leaking sound that could bother your cubemates: "Double-check that your headphones are plugged-in before streaming your favorite Spotify station." —Leadership expert Rob Asghar in Forbes

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Remember to knock!

"Imagine how you feel when you're buried under work and a co-worker pops into your office. Maybe it's just to ask a simple question, but that momentary distraction completely derails your train of thought and productivity. Don't do that to your co-workers. Even if right now is the perfect moment for you to discuss something, that doesn't mean it is for them. Take the time to send an email to find out when both of you have a few spare minutes." —Serial entrepreneur Ilya Pozin in Inc.comFind out more things your co-workers really wish they could tell you.

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Respect your co-workers' availability

"Just because others are sitting nearby doesn't mean they are available for conversation at all times. Respect one another's privacy. Act as if there is a door between you, and if they appear to be busy, ask if they have a moment to talk." —Office etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore in

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Keep distractions out of site during meetings

"Ten years ago, there would have never been purses, wallets, or any other personal item sitting on the table during a meeting or business lunch. But now, none of us can survive unless our cell phones are within arms reach. Keep your cell phone stowed away. Having it out on the table is a sign to those you're with that they don't have your full attention." —Serial entrepreneur Ilya Pozin in Inc.comHere's some other business etiquette you should know too.

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Don't be nosey

"Avoid being a busybody when someone you work with is going through a personal issue. If a co-worker has been unexpectedly out of the office for a number of days, it's nice to send a thoughtful note along the lines of, "Hope you're OK. Let me know if there's anything you need." But leave it at that. Don't pry to find out what is wrong, they will let you know if they want to share." —Expert Anthony Balderrama for

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Be considerate of people's allergies

"Avoid overpowering fragrances or any food your co-workers are allergic to. No one wants to be responsible for sending anyone to the hospital." —The experts at Energy Resourcing

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