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There are rules everywhere in society. Most are in place to keep people safe and maintain order. But sometimes, unwritten rules can be followed in groups primarily out of courtesy for others. That’s definitely the case when it comes to the corporate world. Here’s a list of some of the most common unwritten rules in the workplace that everyone should know.

1. Keep Your Personal Business to Yourself

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There’s a reason it’s called personal business. In general, it’s understood that in workplace settings, you should keep your personal business to yourself. It’s important to remember that your colleagues are just that—colleagues. These are not your friends with whom you can share details of your personal life—it’s best to keep things professional.

2. Take Your Vacation Days

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Many companies have time-off policies that prevent you from carrying your PTO days over to the next calendar or fiscal year. While some may think that these policies are in place to protect employees and ensure that people take their time off, more often than not, they are actually to benefit the company so that they don’t have to carry vacation days on their books. For this reason, it’s an unwritten rule that you should always take your PTO days. They’re part of your total compensation package, and you’re entitled to them.

3. Don’t Be too Chatty

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The unwritten rule of thumb in the working world is that you want to be less chatty than everyone else. You don’t want to be known as the person who is always spilling the beans and is known as the “workplace gossip.” This is one case where less is definitely more.

4. Treat Your Colleagues With Respect

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In the corporate world, respect is everything. For that reason, it’s important to treat everyone you meet with respect, no matter what your personal opinions of them are. You don’t want to get a reputation for being disrespectful or difficult to work with, as this can impact your ability to grow your career.

5. Don’t Ask Questions You Don’t Want Answers to

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This can be true when you’re talking about your actual work; maybe you’re working on a project, and there are times where it’s just better “not to know.” At the same time, it can also be true when it comes to casual workplace conversations – don’t ask Karen about her dogs if you don’t want to be stuck hearing about her dachshunds for the next hour.

6. Be Cognizant of When You’re Sending Emails

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If you have bad news or bad feedback to provide by email, don’t send those emails after hours or after 2 pm on a Friday. The receiving party can’t do anything about those emails at those times other than worry about it non-stop until they can address it the next day or after the weekend, so it’s better to save them for the next morning or a Monday. If you don’t want to hold off on crossing it off your to-do list, schedule send is your new best friend.

7. Use Urgency Only When Necessary

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As the saying goes, “If everything is an emergency, then nothing is an emergency.” In the workplace, it’s an unspoken rule that you only use the word ‘URGENT’ if something truly is urgent. If you abuse that and mark all of your requests as urgent, people will eventually end up ignoring you, including when something is actually urgent.

8. Respect People’s Personal Time

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Just because you’re at work doesn’t mean people don’t deserve some time to themselves. For example, it’s a bit of an unwritten rule that if you see someone eating lunch by themselves quietly, you shouldn’t take it as an opportunity to talk their ear off. Lunchtime is personal time, and everyone is entitled to spend it however they want to.

9. Be Courteous When Booking Meetings

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The unwritten rule is called the 9-3 rule—essentially, as much as possible, do not schedule meetings to start before 9 a.m. or after 3 p.m. In addition, there’s an unspoken understanding that meetings should never be booked for the full half hour or hour—give people 5 or 10 minutes between meetings for breaks, especially in today’s world where back-to-back meetings are the norm.

10. Don’t Gossip About Your Coworkers

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There is absolutely zero benefit to talking ill about your coworkers to another coworker. Remember what was said above about your coworkers being your colleagues, not your friends? This is another time to remember that distinction. You never know if a colleague will pass on the info you shared with them, so it’s best to just keep it to yourself.

11. Be Respectful of Your Environment

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Office environments tend to be on the quieter side. Remember to consider your surroundings. When on a virtual meeting or phone call, always use headphones or duck into a meeting room, if possible. Your coworkers don’t need or want to hear your entire conversation, so be courteous by minimizing the disruption to the environment.

12. There’s No Such Thing as Anonymity

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This is a big one when it comes to corporate workplaces – rememeber, there’s no such thing as anonymity in the workplace. When it comes to filling in “anonymous feedback surveys,” never provide feedback that you wouldn’t be okay with people knowing that it came from you; those surveys are rarely constructed with true anonymity in mind.

13. Always Be Cordial With Your Teammates

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No matter what, aim to always be cordial towards your teammates. While you don’t have to like them, you do need to be able to work together – after all, this is part of what you’re paid for. You never want to become known as the person who’s difficult to work with.

14. Mute Your Computer or Use Headphones

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There is nothing more annoying than being in the office and hearing a constant pinging sound whenever your desk neighbor gets a new email or chat. That’s why there’s an unwritten rule in the workplace about muting your computer or always using headphones. No one needs to hear the team’s ringtone all day long, and you definitely don’t want to annoy your coworkers by forcing them to listen to your email and chat notifications all day. Be courteous of your surroundings.

15. The Rules Extend to Food, too

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You may not expect this, but there are even unwritten rules when it comes to food in the workplace. For example, it’s a big no-no to touch other’s food in the breakroom. Not only that, but it’s also well known that there are certain foods that you should not bring to work, particularly things that are smelly, like fish or curries. You don’t want to be known as the person who is constantly stinking up the lunchroom.

15 Stereotypical Coworkers Who Probably Work in Your Office

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We have all heard of some of the stereotypical personalities in movies and TV shows, the boss’ pet or the goodie-two-shoes, but there are so many more personalities out there. We found a discussion in a popular online forum discussing some examples of other workplace personalities. Here are some of the top responses. 15 Stereotypical Coworkers Who Probably Work in Your Office

12 Practices To Ensure Proper Work Etiquette in the Workplace

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Work environments are a melting pot of various personalities, habits, and preferences. The topic of work etiquette can be very polarizing as employees have different preferences, ways of interacting, and individual work habits. Recently, someone online asked an interesting question, “What workplace etiquette do people need to keep or start doing?” Here are the top-voted responses. 12 Practices To Ensure Proper Work Etiquette in the Workplace

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