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The rules of office conduct may seem complex, but many of the basics are simple common sense. If you’re about to start a new job, enter the workforce, or just want a reminder on office conduct, brush up by reviewing these five core rules that can help you in almost any work situation.

Don’t start or entertain arguments

Conflict is inconducive to productivity, so it makes sense that you want to avoid it in the work place. Arguments create tension between coworkers and colleagues, leading to poor teamwork and stifling communication. In addition to creating collaboration issues, arguing also takes up time and brainpower that could have been used to get work done.

In order to avoid unnecessary conflict, just walk away from bad behavior. Don’t engage or reciprocate when confronted, stay calm and don’t get emotional or angry. Keeping a clear, rational head in the face of conflict goes a long way to navigating it skillfully. If there is an issue that needs to be addressed, don’t be accusatory or argumentative. Instead, meet with the person in private and explain how his or her actions are affecting you. If speaking to them directly about the issue doesn’t resolve anything, you may request a mediator from HR to clarify the code of conduct and your company’s business ethics.

Act with integrity

In all companies, it should go without saying that both management and employees need to act with integrity. Be honest and straightforward when dealing with internal or external audiences, follow the rules and code of conduct and keep your work and attitude.

Be professional in your actions and behaviors

Being professional applies to how you dress, speak, and act. This means that you wear office appropriate attire, address others with respect and use speech and language that is appropriate for the work place. Remaining professional will help you earn and keep respect in the office. By being consistently professional, you also earn credibility for your actions and ideas, making it easier to suggest business strategy and other improvements you may think of.

It’s also important to act and dress professionally when meeting and interacting with clients and customers. As an employee, you are a representative of your company and should behave accordingly.

Make sure to learn about the office dress code so you know what attire is appropriate. Your company may have casual Fridays, or require formal business attire at all times. Address others with respect and, this is truly common sense, leave bad language out of your work vocabulary. Finally, be professional in how you handle conflict, proposals, meetings and other office-related tasks. Don’t show favoritism and submit professional, high-quality work.

Separate work and personal life

Whether you are working in a family business or not, you should separate work and personal life for the sake of the business and your colleagues. Keep company matters in-house and be discreet when discussing office politics, methodologies and policies. If you are unsure about whether you can share company information or not, err on the side of caution and don’t share it until you ask a supervisor whether it’s public information.

Likewise, only share your personal stories sparingly, if at all. Coworkers aren’t necessarily interested in hearing about personal matters, and you might make it awkward in the office if you insist on talking about past relationships or other inappropriate topics.

Be punctual

Punctuality is a commodity in the workplace. It entails showing up at the time you say you will and being courteous of others’ time. Arrive at work and meet all your other appointments on time. If you are running late, let your coworkers know. Don’t schedule your meetings to closely together to give yourself adequate time to reach each one on time. Also, keep meetings contained to the scheduled amount of time; don’t let a meeting drag on longer than 10 minutes after the proposed closing time. The other attendees may have time sensitive obligations after the meeting or the meeting room may be needed by a different group.

About the Author: Jocelyn Pick