Mastering workplace harmony: essential insights into office etiquette

Dana WilsonA nifty little book by Rhonda Scharf, Common Sense is NOT Common Practice, draws from her work in corporate Canada and the U.S. It is an indispensable book leaders should read because it’s about business on the day-to-day level in the office.

Divided into five parts, the book explores such topics as etiquette, communication basics, work-life balance, and success. While office etiquette, office harmony, and just playing nice in the sandbox aren’t often topics of choice in standard business books, Scharf makes you realize they should be. Too often, many managers, keen to “manage” the “high level” of office workings, ignore the day-to-day activities. And it’s the day-to-day messes that make the business falter. Ignoring these messes eventually impacts the bottom line in a big way.

office etiquette rules workplace harmony
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Among the topics Scharf covers in her section on office etiquette are working a full day, keeping a professional workplace, and what not to wear. The section on wardrobe at the office is especially important: As Scharf points out, nightclub wear doesn’t belong in an office. The challenge, of course, is that leaders lack the courage to take a stand to tackle the issue.

Her section on Communication Basics for Office Harmony covers many of the points you’ll find in communication programs, although written in a far more relaxed style. Short paragraphs with bold headings allow you to read in detail or skim and still cover all the points. You may not like it, but don’t be surprised to find that flaws in your own communication skills are included. Particularly recommended is the section on listening.

While many people profess to believe in teamwork, those same people will go on to demonstrate they don’t even understand the concept. So pick up the book if you want to know how to play nice in the sandbox.

For the “Smart Phone” addicted among you, Section 4 will be a bit challenging. Scharf points to her own history to show how a love affair with your job and using the cell phone as an anchor can have drastic ramifications. She even lays out some simple steps for a less busy week.

Section 5, which deals with success, wraps up Scharf’s initial goal of helping the reader become successful at work. While the information it contains may seem basic – what does success mean to each of us? How do we define success? How do we evaluate ourselves? How do we get out of the rut? – it is real.

Scharf has captured information and stories in a very simple manner. As you read Common Sense is NOT Common Practice, try to relate the information to your current workplace and put a plan in place to implement many of the very practical solutions.

Dana Wilson is a freelance writer.

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