Tips from readers on acting professionally

Published: Sunday, May 5, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, May 3, 2013 at 5:46 p.m.

Over the last few weeks, I've discussed what new hires can do, and how they should act at their new job in order to project more professionalism — a quality that today may seem to be in short supply.

I then requested readers' suggestions, and some of you responded with some wonderful ideas that focused on an important area I had overlooked: The nitty-gritty details of getting along with coworkers professionally while "living" at work. Here are some suggestions:

-- In all common or shared spaces (break room, bathroom, gym, shipping/printer area, even the parking area), clean up after yourself, be considerate, and think about those coming behind you.

Leave the table, sink, coffee machine, whatever, wiped clean. If you take the last of the coffee, make another pot. If you use most of the paper in any machine, refill it. If you open a box of whatever, put it back, tidy up. If someone's favorite parking spot is available, don't take it.

-- Never, ever, touch someone else's food. Keep a candy bar/protein bar as emergency food, but never take anything that isn't either yours or offered openly for everyone to partake.

This is a primal thing and can really cause problems if you take liberties.

-- Always contribute to food sharing activities such as potlucks — especially if you're a newbie. These events can be very bonding among coworkers, so don't just toss in a bag of chips or store-bought cookies. Actually cook something or at least put it together. Yes, this includes guys, too.

Contributing food is also a "primal thing," and you'll be surprised how much — and how long — this will be noticed and remembered.

-- Don't use your cellphone in the bathroom, even behind a stall. People expect some modicum of privacy while in a restroom, and having to listen to someone else yakking away is annoying. So, don't subject captive coworkers to your random conversations.

Aren't these great? Thank you readers! Please share the last four weeks of advice with recent graduates or Millenials in your life (ages 18 to 34). Or with anyone who may ask, So, what's professionalism?

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