Corporate cues

Corporate Cues

Office sins you must never commit

How do you draw that definitive line that says ‘I mean business and nothing more’?


Even without any actual conversation, a lot can be said about your body language. Avoid being touchy and maintain eye contact. While informal dressing is now passable at most offices, steer clear of plunging necklines, shirts that ride up and pants that ride down. You don’t want to give out the wrong signal! Plus, an added bonus is that you can feel comfortable and at ease when you don’t have to fiddle with necklines and hemlines. Reaching out and patting or touching someone while talking basically opens up both your own personal space and that of the other person. So use your in-built radar to decide whom to hug and whom to shake hands with.


It is not a crime to make friends at work. However, it is best to stay clear of personal or intimate issues regarding anyone. Keep the office gossip for those endless conversations with your BFF. We get it, it is only human to be curious about those around, but remember that those who gossip with you will also gossip about you. What is going on in someone’s personal life should not be any of your concern. Nor should you go overboard in divulging personal information as far as possible.


It is common for colleagues to meet outside of work to catch up and unwind. Unless your colleague is this extremely cute guy you want to get lucky with, it is better to form groups to hang out with rather than bonding with any single individual. Sometimes, work requires a one-on-one meeting, but keeping these meetings strictly about work avoids any miscommunication. Office parties are a good way to get to know your peers but make sure you keep your alcohol level in check. Getting drunk at a party will only make you say and do things which could make you a laughing stock the next day, and trust us, you don’t want to go down that lane!


Clear communication is the secret to any good relationship. It is best to speak up immediately when a situation demands it. It goes a long way in establishing boundaries. Everyone comes with their own specific set of mannerisms and while it is okay to try and be friendly, there should always be respect for another person’s sense of space and dignity. When you feel offended or uncomfortable, clear the air then and there. Politely telling someone that you do not wish to be talked to in a certain way usually has immediate results!


Every office has a pre-set hierarchy. Follow the protocols and stay ethical. Going through the proper channels to advance your views and achievements is a safe bet. It is far better to stay focused on the work at hand and limit discussions with peers to general topics. However ambitious you might be, take your ideas to your direct vertical superior instead of jumping the ranks and approaching the boss. Not only is this kind of behavior bad office etiquette in general, it sparks off unnecessary introspection about why the hierarchy was not followed.

“It is important to understand psyches before getting close to people. There are men who take the slightest bit of
friendliness as an invitation. On the other hand, I have several good guy friends at work too. It is all about
keeping things at a strictly professional level until you can gauge whom to trust. You don’t have to make a beast
out of everyone. Take your time to open up and until then a straight face is the best one to step forward with.”
Sheetal, H.R. Manager, Chennai.

“I am a bubbly, vivacious girl by nature. When I started working, I realized that I would have to tone down my
causal exuberance as it was causing me to be labelled as a flirt. All said and done, even in this modern age, men
do get swayed easily. Over time I realized how to be cheerful and friendly without getting too close. It is all
about finding a balance.”
Priti, IT professional, Hyderabad.

“Women are hard to understand. It is difficult to tell what they want guys to say and do. Sometimes women giggle
around you and stroke your arm and when we return the attention they get offended. That said, there is no excuse
for violating someone. Most guys do understand that women are not to be made sex objects out of.”
Sourav, BPO employee, Chennai.

“It is a fact that men have a nasty habit of making needless, unfair assumptions about women. In a perfect world,
women could dress and behave freely without being stigmatized for it. The fact, however, remains that reality is
far away from idealism. It is unfair to ask women to make drastic changes, but it helps if women pay a little
attention to how they dress and talk. It is less distracting!!”
Shrikanth, Flight Attendant, Bangalore

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