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Readers' reactions: Etiquette rules not always relevant

The majority of readers who commented on the recent FedStyle column on workplace etiquette seemed to agree that etiquette expert and international business coach Gloria Starr was offering common-sense rules. Not everyone did, however.

“I would rather have one person in an un-ironed shirt that knew what he/she was doing over 20 people wearing a suit that do not have a clue,” reader Chris from Ohio wrote. “The reality is MOST people place too much emphasis on what a person looks like vs. what his/her abilities really are.”

Another reader who had similar view of workplace etiquette suggested “some need to loosen up a bit.”

“Demanding strict observance of work-place etiquette, while many of us work at our desks, EAT at our desks (without a regular lunch breaks) and work through breaks (not talking about slackers), if strict observance of rules needs to be observed, it needs to be enforced across the board,” that reader wrote.

One reader who suggested etiquette training be part of young employees’ orientation shared her own experiences with employees violating workplace etiquette.

“With new interns arriving in the past year, all of the disregarded manners listed in the article have really reared their ugly head,” Cheryl wrote. “Some of the young women dress like they are going out to the clubs in their tights and 6-inch high heels or skirts short enough to leave nothing to the imagination.”

Although inappropriate attire in the workplace was a major lament, Cheryl said her biggest complaint was young workers’ sense of entitlement.“They all want to be GS-11s and higher with limited to no experience,” she said. “A manners class should be part of their orientation up being hired. It's tough to deal with every day!!”

But that self-entitlement gripe could really have its roots in jealousy, suggested reader Lilly, who said she had heard the same complaint from older co-workers. “Most younger employees are starting their careers with a B.A. or M.A., something which most of my older co-workers don't have, hit the ground running at work, and aren't as willing to play by the ‘good ol' boy rules,’ an unfair game, which everyone knows doesn't reward those who work hard but rather those who are willing to kiss up,” she said.

Workplace rules and etiquette also depend on the location of your workplace. What doesn’t work in Washington may not always be a deal breaker elsewhere in the country, a reader pointed out.

“Here in Alaska in winter, I haven't seen too many professional women wearing a suit, hose and heels to the airport,” the reader said. “And my department has detailed rules concerning use of government equipment during an employee's off-duty time, which are different” than what Starr proposed.

But what had readers going was Starr’s expectations of her own employees to work 14-hour work days, whenever needed.

“14-hour days?? Are you kidding me??? Obviously, that supervisor has no life outside of work!” one reader said.

“I can see this being true on some counts, but 14 hour days???” commented another reader. “Does this employee have a union? Or did they know that's what they were in for? There is something to be said for the expectations of American employees being set too HIGH.”

Additionally, Working Dad also pointed out that outside-of-work obligations may also hinder an employees’ ability to work late hours. “Your work ethic and performance may be as strong as the co-worker with fewer outside commitments, but carpool, train, family responsibilities, etc. can limit the extra hours one can spend in the office.”

Posted by Camille Tuutti on Jan 11, 2012 at 12:19 PM


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