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Unacceptable behavior at work

Understanding Unacceptable Behavior At Work | 3 Examples

The lockdowns of 2020 and a sudden shift to remote work radically altered the definition of acceptable workplace behavior. Freedom changed our perspective. After all, no matter how casual the Friday, few of us wore pajamas to work. Leaving early or taking 90-minute lunches was frowned upon. Yet the new normal means that according to one survey, 12% of remote workers admitted they are usually naked when taking a conference call. A different survey revealed that while working from home almost half of all respondents either logged off early to have an alcoholic beverage or imbibed on the job.


I’m not here to judge. Since so many feel like they have let their work hours intrude on their home life, it’s not surprising that many feel comfortable sipping some vino at four o’clock.  Still, whether your office is at home or in an actual building you commute to, there are some behaviors that are just plain wrong. In fact, even if you’re a freelancer, here are some things that most consider unacceptable behavior at work.

Harassment or Bullying 


Over the past few years, allegations of sexual harassment against everyone from movie producers to comedians made everyone more aware of how pervasive the issue really is. In the U.S., about one-third of the complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission every year relate to sexual harassment. Over the course of a decade, that number stayed roughly the same. Yet by 2020, it had begun to decline


Yet unacceptable behavior at work can take many forms. Unwarranted and unwanted attention not only makes the recipient uncomfortable but can affect job performance. I’ve never understood why anyone would want to make someone’s job harder. Pre-pandemic, one survey showed that 51 percent had witnessed a co-worker yelling at someone. Over one-third had overheard their boss yelling at a colleague. Bullying in the workplace can make going to the job miserable. Victims of bullying often dread their workday. Bullying can mean yelling at a subordinate who doesn’t perform up to expectations or forcing a coworker to do your job. Bullying is always unacceptable.


Insubordination and General Rudeness


In a way, insubordination is like bullying your boss. Cursing out your supervisor, telling a manager you won’t do a task that’s part of your job description or loudly criticizing a team leader in a meeting are all examples of insubordination. So are threats and physical abuse. These actions usually result in termination and even criminal charges. Given the rise in workplace shootings, no one is taking any chances when it comes to an employee’s threatening behavior. 


Unfortunately, the pandemic-imposed solitary confinement many of us endured along with anxiety over office re-openings has triggered a spate of rude behavior. Although loudly venting your unhappiness isn’t helping anyone, it happens. I definitely recommend mindfulness, meditation, and breathing exercises before your stress gets overwhelming. Therapy can also help.  


Lying, Stealing, Etc. 


To be honest, even if you aren’t particularly religious you should probably avoid breaking too many of the Ten Commandments. Don’t steal, don’t sleep with your boss. Don’t covet thy supervisor’s parking spot. You know better.  Recently, The Wall Street Journal reported on remote employees “working” at two jobs. In other words, they kept each employer a secret from the other and fudged their hours. Which means they managed to both lie and steal at the same time. While some bad behavior can be tempting, remember that even the most talented professionals struggle to recover once their career has been tainted. It’s hard to polish a tarnished reputation. 


Although there are thick volumes in HR detailing the things you’re not supposed to do, when it comes to avoiding bad behavior the solution is pretty simple. Treat others as you would like to be treated. If you do that, you’ll not only be successful in your career but in life as well.


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