Q. When an employee enters the workplace, who speaks first? How are you supposed to act when the employee does not say, “Good morning”?
V. C., Chelmsford, MA
A. When I walk by people’s desks or offices at The Emily Post Institute, as the person arriving I say, “Hello” or “Good morning” first. Typically, when entering a workplace, the employee entering will greet his or her fellow workers first. It sets the tone for a pleasant office atmosphere when employees and employers make the effort to give each other a friendly greeting. Once I’ve greeted people the first time, I don’t need to say hello or greet them each time I walk past them during the day.
Unfortunately, there are instances when a co-worker doesn’t respond to a greeting. If it happens occasionally, give him the benefit of the doubt. The worker may be very engrossed in work and not have heard you. If it is a regular occurrence, you can either stop greeting him or choose to ask him about it. “John, I was just wondering what’s up. I like to greet people in the morning, but when I say, “Good morning,” you don’t respond. Have I done something wrong?” Keep it friendly and not accusatory.
Q. We have a communal kitchen that all staff, including managers utilize. The employees are required to take turns cleaning the kitchen. However, the managers are EXEMPT from this task. Should managers be required to ‘take a turn’ if they use the area as well?
P. M., Kissimmee, FL
A. Unfortunately, I don’t make the rules in your workplace. If I did, managers wouldn’t be exempt from taking their turns cleaning the kitchen. If they use it, they should take part in taking care of it. However, each company has the privilege of making its own rules. And as long as that is the rule at your company, that’s the way it is. The only way the situation will change is if the employees can convince management to change it. This is not something to take on alone. Before sticking your neck out, you and any other employees who are frustrated with the current situation need to ask yourselves if this is an issue you really want to spend political capital on. You have to weigh the potential benefit of accomplishing the change against the possible problems that bringing it up may engender. If you decide to move forward, don’t simply complain; work to change the policy. As a group ask to meet with your manager about the kitchen. Seek her input as to the rationale behind the policy and be prepared to explain why you think changing it would be beneficial to the company.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is Senior Vice President and Partner of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.