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[ESL/EFL] Office Etiquette
Third in a series of English language lessons from Jennifer Lebedev
Jennifer Lebedev (jenesl)     Print Article 
  Published 2008-07-01 09:43 (KST)   

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TIP #1

In the American culture, coworkers are almost always friendly, but not always friends. That means no one is expected to share a lot of personal information in a work setting. In fact, telling too many personal details can make others feel uncomfortable and asking too many personal questions can be considered prying, that is, pressuring people to tell more private information than they want to. You should not be afraid to ask a personal question of a co-worker, but you should do it with care:

"Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?" or

"Could I ask you something personal?"

If someone asks you a personal question and you choose not to answer, you can say:

"I'd rather not answer that." or

"I don't really like to talk about that."

TIP #2

At business meetings, you may not like everything you hear. If you want to reject a co-worker's suggestion, be polite:

"That's not a bad idea, but why don't we?

"I'm not sure that's the right way to go. What if we?"

"Well, let's consider all options. Here's my suggestion, and you tell me what you think."

TIP #3

Not all jobs can be done by one person. Many projects are given to teams not individuals. Even if you are not working on a team, you should not hesitate to ask for help when a task becomes too difficult. As long as you do not require assistance with every task, you will not be seen as incompetent. Catch your co-worker at a good time, and try one of these approaches:

"Do you have a free moment? I could really use some help. 쪻hanks. I owe you one."

"Do you mind giving me a hand with this? 쪻hank you. That was a big help."

"Could you help me out here? ...Thanks! I really appreciate it."

TIP #4

At some point we all get sick. When it is your turn and you are physically unable to work, you will have to call in sick. What will you say? Try this:

"I'm very sorry. I'm not feeling well today. I'm afraid I'll have to take the day off." Or

"I won't be able to come in today. I'm afraid I'm sick. I'm so sorry."

TIP #5

Everyone needs a break. Some people break for coffee; others need physical activity such as a lap around the building. If you're working closely with others and want to suggest a brief rest, you can say:

"Do you mind if we take a break? Let's meet back here in ten minutes, all right?" or

"I think we could all use a break. Anyone up for coffee?"

TIP #6

It is not uncommon for American office workers to put in long hours, but sometimes it is best to go home and finish the work the next day. As long as you do not miss a deadline, you can suggest:

"Let's call it day, okay?"

"Why don't we finish this first thing tomorrow? It's getting late."

"How about we head home now? We can pick up where we left off tomorrow morning."

- Office Etiquette by Jennifer Lebedev 

This is an original podcast for OMNI.
©2008 OhmyNews
Jennifer Lebedev is a teacher of English as a second and foreign language with 12 years experience. She has additional experience in teacher training and administration of an IEP and is a published author. Find more of her online English instruction on YouTube under the name "JenniferESL".
Other articles by reporter Jennifer Lebedev

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