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Office Etiquette Tips


Having worked in office settings for the majority of my career, I have seen and heard a lot of things that should be avoided like the “plague”.  I thought it was time to share some the top 10 most annoying behaviors in offices.  This list is compiled from several different websites and professional publications and in no way reflects this writer’s personal opinions.

The first set of office “rules” is going to address personal issues.

  1. Keep your hands out of other people’s lunches or food.  While working for a call center in Southern California, it was a daily occurrence for someone’s lunch to disappear.
  2. Avoid strong perfumes, shampoos or soaps.  With so many people with allergies, you never know when you might offend them with what you consider your favorite cologne. Even light mild perfumes can overwhelm the most sensitive of noses.
  3. Keep your strong smelling food leftovers at home.  There is nothing worse than having a client walk in your office where someone has just heated sauerkraut.  They may not mind the smell but it does not give a great impression.
  4. Remember to take your leftover food home at the end of the week. You don’t want to be the one to have the 6 month old moldy food in the refrigerator. Designate a date every month for the refrigerator to be cleaned out and rotate assignees.

Now for some general office/business guidelines:

  1. Know what your office management means when they say business casual.  For those with Blue Jean Fridays remember that your jeans should be in good condition and keep your other attire more business than casual. No one wants to see your stained Saturday morning housecleaning shirt at work.
  2. Keep your voice level. In smaller offices or in large ones with cubicles, loud voices have a tendency to carry.  This also helps when trying to soothe an irate client.
  3. If you absolutely must go in to work sick, be considerate and use tissues, hand sanitizer and wash your hands frequently.
  4. Don’t interrupt someone on the phone by using hand signals or waving pieces of paper in front of them.
  5. Be courteous where personal phone calls are concerned. Many offices have rules where no personal calls or cell phones are allowed on the floor. 
  6. Keeping a neat and orderly desk shows that you are respectful of your space and others.

I sincerely hope that these ‘tips’ help you in your own work environment.  While some work for some offices, not all will work with every office, you will need to choose which ones are most beneficial to your environment.  From all the research, the overall theme seems to lean toward being respectful of and having consideration for your co-workers and your clients.



Birds of a Feather Part 2

Last week’s blog was about the Purple Martin fascination  shared by my office manager Melissa Williams and our insured’s Tim & Angie Russell, well this week I am going to touch on some of the more interesting facts about the birds that leads to the fascination.

  1. They prefer the gourds to regular birdhouses due to the privacy and Angie says it is because they swing. However in some areas they prefer the octagon or rectangular shaped condos, as well as the woodpecker holes found in trees.
  2. They like to colonize.
  3. The older birds will return to the same yards year after year, however the younger ones will leave and look for their own “colony”
  4. They eat only insects and will gather where there is plowing or mowing going on so that they can gather all the insects that are disturbed by these actions.
  5. There is a bridge here in North Carolina that houses about 100,000 every summer. It is the William B Umstead Bridge in Mann’s Harbor. When they leave the bridge for their morning food forage it can actually be seen on Doppler radar.
  6. They will travel 2000+ miles to South America for the winter.
  7. They rely on humans for their nesting and while raising their young. Angie tells me that “they really aren’t timid around people and are undisturbed by our outdoor activities”.
  8. Their natural enemies are the wild sparrow and the starling. These birds will try to enter their homes and feed on their eggs.
  9. They like to have the posts holding the gourds put in the same place each season.
  10. All 3 of my sources agree that they worry about “their birds” in inclement weather due to a lack of food source. Melissa says that in a pinch they will eat egg shells.
  11. They usually only roost in open areas with minimal amount of trees.

If you need or want more information, visit the purple martin society website

Well I hope you have enjoyed discovering the hobby of our office manager Melissa and our clients Tim and Angie. I am sure that all 3 of our fans are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the first scouts of the seasom

Happy Bird Watching.



Birds of a Feather Part 1

While talking to my office manager Melissa Williams, I discovered that she has a genuine fondness for a certain type of bird.  One of our clients and his wife, Tim & Angie Russell, share this same fondness.  Melissa says that it is the way the birds glide and sing “of a morning” that first drew her attention.  The birds I am talking about are the Purple Martins.  If you are like me and know little or nothing about these birds, then sit back and let your mind absorb all the information that I learned while talking to Tim, Angie & Melissa.

First off, let me just say that there is a real dedication to being a purple martin fan.  I’m sure we have all seen those tall antenna-like poles holding white birdhouses; well those are gourds that house the Purple Martins while they are nesting.  The scouts will arrive in North Carolina anywhere from the 2nd week in February to the middle of March while the sub-adults (those who return from the previous year) start to arrive in April and continue to arrive until around the middle of May and stay until mid-August.  In this time, they are mating, nesting and taking care of their young. 

This past year Tim & Angie decided to grow their own gourds rather than purchase them and from the sounds of things this was quite an undertaking. He started with growing the gourds then last fall he pulled them and started the 1-3 month drying process. Once the gourds have dried out he will clean them up and paint them white and attach a “roof” to them.  When I asked him how he figured out what to do with the raw gourds he said that he found the instructions on the internet and he had several conversations with a neighbor.  Once the gourds are cleaned and painted then it comes time to put some nesting material inside. Tim will actually pack them himself with pine needles and some dirt but Melissa prefers to leave the nesting materials in a pile on the ground for the birds to gather themselves.

Once the gourds are prepared, Tim will start adding them to his telescoping gourd pole. He has room for upwards of 100+ gourds with room to add 3 more sections.  Once the birds start arriving they will circle the pole until they are sure that the spot is safe.  Amazingly enough once they decide to enter the “homes” they will fly right in without hitting the roof. They seem to know right where the entry hole is.  Angie says it is fun to watch the little ones when they start to fly as they will knock into the gourds looking for the entry hole.

On that note, I am going to end this week’s blog. Be sure to stay tuned for more fascinating Purple Martin facts in next week’s Part 2 blog.

Happy bird watching,


2012-01-27_001_2012-01-27_0072012-01-27_001_2012-01-27_008                                   purple_martins3_-_melissa


Coffee, Lunch & your Budget

Do you stop on the way to work at your favorite coffee shop? Do you go out to lunch every day? If you answered yes to either of those questions, then you could 

have taken part in a recent survey of American workers who were asked those same types of questions.

Accounting Principles conducted a recent survey about the above mentioned habits and the results were quite surprising.  Before I give you the actual numbers let me give credit to the older workers because we are a bit more frugal than those in the 18-34 age groups.  According to the survey about half of American workers will purchase their morning wake up during the week and two-thirds will buy their lunch.

The biggest spenders of both the coffee and lunch purchases were the 18-34 age groups.  Their average expenses for coffee were $24.74 while those 45 or over spent $14.15 each week.  This younger group averages $44.78 per week while the over 45 crowd average cost is $31.80.  For both groups, men were the biggest spenders by 4% over women plus for lunch they were spending twice as much as women.

The average commute cost was between $31 and $60. This means that people were spending more for their coffee and lunch combined than they were on their commute costs (gas, tolls, etc.) This explains why companies such as Starbucks were able to expand as much as they have.  I wonder if at home coffee machines like the Keurig will make any kind of dent in the gourmet coffee shop business?

So before you stop for your favorite java or walk out the door without packing a lunch, give some pause for what buying out will do to a possibly already shaky bottom line.  This is not to say that you should go cold turkey, but maybe start tracking your spending and figure out if an expensive coffee habit or lunch out with the girls is worth blowing your monthly budget.

Good luck,



Mother Knows Best???

How often have we heard our mothers’ tell us this? I know mine has said it in the past. Where old fashioned cleaning tips are concerned we should admit that yes, they may know best.  After all, if they are older than 50, they have lived through some tough times.

I can remember my mom telling me stories about the depression and what they had to “make do with”, and based on this I have decided to share some of those “tips”.  To start, do you hate cleaning silver and paying the high price of silver cleaner?  Using an old toothbrush and plain white toothpaste will do the same job as those expensive cleaners. I cannot however offer any tips on making it go any quicker or making it less tedious. Sorry.

We all like the smell of a good candle, but what do you do when it gets on your favorite doily or tablecloth? A surefire way of removing dried on wax is to take brown wrapping paper and with the matte side facing the wax, place a medium-hot iron over the stain. Be sure to move the paper repeatedly.  Once you only have a trace of a stain left, use a rag moistened with mineral spirits to remove the rest.

Do you use a rinse agent in your dishwasher? Instead of buying one, try using 1-1 ½ cups of white vinegar in the rinse compartment. Run your dishwasher through its normal cycle and you should have spot free dishes.

What about blood, coffee or chocolate stains? Of course I have a tip for that. After spot testing the fabric in a hidden spot, use ¼ cup of borax mixed with 2 cups of cold water and let soak. Rinse and wash as normal.

If you have a sports player in the family, then you may be familiar with the stinky shoe. One Tip I found online suggests putting a combination of coarsely crushed herbs and spices in an old pair of socks, tie them together and then stuff them in the smelly shoes. Suggested items are rosemary, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, orange peel, lemon peel, thyme, lavender and pine needles. Of course the shoes may then smell like a kitchen at Thanksgiving.

While I have not personally tried all of these, they all sound like good alternatives to the more costly and chemically induced store bought brands. 

Happy cleaning