How Not To Be A Dick When You First Start Work

Because no one wants to be the office idiot. But someone has to be.


by Daisy Buchanan |
Published on

One of the most disappointing things about starting work is the realisation that most offices are less glamorous than the public toilets of shopping centre car parks. No-one wears a blouse with a pussy cat bow. No-one takes you out for a three martini lunch to congratulate you on landing the Sanderson account. If you tell the person next to you ‘Get me Zurich on the phone, immediately! There is no time to lose!’ they will laugh at you – if they can be bothered to look up from the Buzzfeed quiz they are illicitly clicking in order to answer a question nobody asked of them, like ‘Which Cheeky girl are YOU?!’

And you will encounter That Guy. That Guy might be a dude, they might be a lady, but they will be the most irritating human adult you encounter in your WHOLE ENTIRE LIFE (or until you get a new job, and a new That Guy.) There is nothing louder and more annoying than That Guy’s laugh, other than the sound of That Guy eating. That Guy heard about LOLCats three days ago, and has emailed them to everyone, including the people in the Madrid office who sent a terse reply telling everyone not to bother with Google Translate. Sometimes you smell That Guy before you see them. That Guy is so keen to share every single dull detail of their personal life that they make Katie Price look mysterious and enigmatic.

According to a new surveyfrom Brooke, the animal welfare charity, over half of the 2,000 people questioned worked with someone they classified as That Guy. Their biggest crimes? Loud phone chats, inappropriately hitting ‘reply all’ on email chains and fighting over the air con dominated the list. One in ten people also said they could not bear listening to people sing all day. Presumably the other nine could not answer for legal reasons, having attempted to batter a colleague to death with a mouse mat after hearing their 50th shonky a capella rendition of Firework.

But what if you’re That Guy? It doesn’t matter how hard you work, how shiny your reports are or how many resentful, yawn-filled, 14-hour days you put in – if you can’t manage basic office etiquette, you’ll never get a promotion, you’ll never get invited to the pub and you’ll never get told if the office is shut on a snow day. Here’s how not to be that dude, dude:

1. Respect other people’s food

It’s like clothes – don’t perv, and don’t make snarky comments. No-one wants to hear about why you couldn’t eat their lunch because of your diet. No-one on a diet wants a lecture about our Western obsession with body image. And no-one wants your hungry, jealous, leching face staring at them when they’re trying to enjoy a pulled pork sandwich.

2. It’s OK to open your mouth sometimes – but read the office vibe

Do speak when you’re spoken to, but don’t break a tense silence with ‘So! Have you seen any good films lately?’ It’s hard to believe, but sometimes people would rather hear their own computer fan than your opinions on X Men.

**3. Don’t laugh conspicuously at ‘funny’ pictures of hamsters that look like they’re reading the *New Yorker... ***

...Or whatever. And then look around, waiting to be asked what you’re giggling at. Don’t send the hamster to everyone in the office. Everyone in there can access exactly the same internet as you. On their own.

4. On that note, don’t do ‘hilarious’ mass replies to emails from reception about lost keys

Funny has a time and a place, and this isn’t it. Do not be fooled into outperforming the office comedian. His words are tolerated with sympathy after his wife left him because he spent their savings on attempting to launch his failed stand-up career.

5. Make the tea

Don’t make a big speech about how forcing younger staffers to make the tea is exploitative, or do an ‘O Captain My Captain’ on how forcing women to provide hot beverages is undiluted, undeconstructed sexism. The 68-year-old CEO will immediately swoop in and do a big tea round, and you will feel like a tool.

6. Do not turn down tea you are offered with ‘No thanks, I don’t like hot drinks.’

If you’ve ever smoked a cigarette to impress someone you can force yourself to ingest a mug of milk and hot water.


7. Don’t be afraid to listen to music

But use inner-ear headphones and leave one ear free. It’s good to keep an ear to the ground, even if the other ear is onSheezus. No-one wants to reach the point where they can only get your attention by waving both hands in your face to semaphore office distress.

8. Do turn up clean, wearing clean clothes

Stains are admissible, stinkiness isn’t. If you think a shirt might be ‘a bit nipply’, it is TOO NIPPLY.

9. Think about your entry

Occasionally, you will be late, and that’s fine. However, it’s not OK to roll in to work five minutes past the appointed hour holding a conspicuously large takeaway latte.

10. Don’t ask if it’s OK to go to the toilet, just go

Do smile at your boss when you bump into her in the loo. No need to ask her how it went, or to pretend you don’t have bowel movements and you’ve only gone in there to wash your hands.

11. Always accept birthday cake with a polite smile, unless touching icing sugar brings you out in swollen red hives

You don’t have to eat it if you don’t like cake.

12. Don’t assume that everyone else knows how everything works, and don’t be afraid to ask

No-one will begrudge going through the photocopier with you for the seventh time. At least, not as much as they will begrudge calling a contractor to fix the busted photocopier.

**13. And most importantly, HAVE FUN! **

Sorry, not have fun. Have the good sense not to do a joyful air punch when the fire alarm goes off while shouting ‘Wahoo! Massive skive!’

Follow Daisy on Twitter @NotRollerGirl

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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