Ok. So a few months ago I was interviewing a witness in an investigation over the phone. We’d been speaking for about 30 minutes and I only had a few more questions to ask when I realised he was talking to me whilst on the toilet. No, I wasn’t imagining it. You can hear when someone has stepped into a small space – the sounds just vibrates differently. But there were other sounds. Lucky this isn’t a podcast where I would do sound effects for you! Yes, the FULL range of noises!!!. Ok, no more details!

Maybe he thought he’d put me on this?

Maybe he just thought this was OK?  

Are we OK with this?

I’ve run this scenario by quite a few people since and I have to say the jury is split. Some think it’s so wrong and scrunch up their noses as they think through the health issues of holding the phone and handwashing etc. Others shrug and say lots of people are on their phones whilst they are on the toilet. Someone reminded me that in fancy hotels there are wall phones installed next to the toilet. So basically, I was being a prude!

A common thread through all of these seems to be that the behaviour does not demonstrate expected levels of care and consideration for the other person.

So my call out to you is what workplace behaviours and etiquette needs to be readjusted in your workplace?

Here are some of the ones I’ve seen recently to help you brainstorm.....

  • Nicknames. I know it’s an oldie but it comes up regularly in mediations we do. Check if what you are calling someone is ok with them. Recently the continuous use of the friendly title “champ” by a colleague was a red flag nickname.
  • Email. Waiting till someone is not at their desk to send an email rather than have a conversation. Then putting your phone on silent at the exact moment you know they will read it.
  • Food. Eating colleague’s food from the fridge and then leaving the dirty container in the sink. Workplace kitchen etiquette really is a whole sperate topic.
  • Daily quiz. Writing the answers to the lunch room’s copy of the Herald Sun daily quiz in the paper next to the questions. I had one participant to a mediation so furious her attendance at the mediation was conditional on her colleague ceasing to do this.
  • Over talking. Ignoring that colleagues are talking over each other in meetings. Or ridiculing the person who calls this out.
  • Venting. Pretending or believing venting to a colleague is productive.  

A common thread through all of these seems to be that the behaviour does not demonstrate expected levels of care and consideration for the other person.

I’d love to know, big and small, what is on your list of things that are “no no’s” in 2018. You are likely to spend close to 2000 hours at work next year, its worth it. Making the investment to think about it and then be brave and have the conversations and make some changes.

So do you want to know what I did with the toilet interview? Well, I thought about saying something. Then I rationalised I will never need to speak to him again and that it wouldn’t impact our ongoing relationship. So I quickly asked my last question and got off the phone…… then I went and washed my hands!

If you need some support working out how to ask someone to stop or start doing something in 2018 please be in touch. Are the ‘care and consideration expectations’ set, understood and agreed to? Or are there big gaps? Perhaps your team needs to make modifications to the way individuals interact? I’d love to support you to get 2018 off to a great start. 

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