Do’s and Don’ts for Wearing a Halloween Costume at Work

Halloween is one of the best holidays of the year and it can be a lot of fun to celebrate with your co-workers.  Many workplaces encourage their employees to wear their costumes to work but if you do, here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

Keep it appropriate.  Even though it’s Halloween, you are still at work.  Don’t choose a costume that is sexy or offensive.

Make sure that everyone else is dressing up.  You never want to be the only one.

Don’t choose a costume that makes it difficult for you to work.  Remember that you are there to do a job.

Don’t go over the top.  This is not the best way to stand out at work.

Put candy out on your desk.  You never know when you might encounter trick-or-treaters!

(Written by: Karen Bivand)

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Stand Out By Being Polite

Have you ever met someone who is impeccably polite?  They truly are a delight to be around.  When you boil it right down, politeness is simply being aware of and respecting the feelings of others.  By having good manners, you can make yourself more likable to everyone that you meet.  Here are some tips that will help you take your politeness to the next level.

Say hello.  People love to be acknowledged.  By smiling and saying hi to people when you see them, you are telling them that they matter to you.

Be considerate.  Pay attention to people when they talk to you.  Learn about their interests and the names of their spouse and children.  Respect their roles and duties and do what you can to make their day easier.

Dress appropriately.  Don’t wear revealing clothing or dress too casually for work.  Practice good hygiene- take a shower and brush your teeth.  It’s not polite to force your colleagues to hold their nose when they talk to you.

Remember the basics.  Words like please, thank you and excuse me still carry a lot of weight.  By minding your manners you will leave people with the right impression.

Be sensitive.  It is important that you are respectful of people’s differences such as gender, race, religion and politics.  Always make an effort to include everyone and never make derogatory or potentially inflammatory statements.

Usually it’s the rude behaviour that stands out, but if you are consistently polite you will find that doors tend to open up for you.

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Photo by: Stuart Miles/

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Work With Integrity

Are you an ethical person?  Of course, if you were asked this at a job interview, you would answer with a resounding, “Yes!”, but if you were really being honest with yourself, what would you say?  Do you uphold your moral standards or do you sometimes take the easy way out?  In the work environment, your ethics can be put to the test.  Here are some tips that will help you maintain your integrity, while keeping your job:

Do everything above board.  When you are operating in the real world, it’s not always easy to distinguish between what is ethical and what isn’t.  Even if something is routinely done by your coworkers, you should still stop to consider if the behaviour is right for you.  In some organizations, employees regularly alter dates and other details just to make reports look better.  A good test is whether or not you would want your actions published in the employee newsletter.

Take responsibility.  Always stand behind your actions, particularly your mistakes.  When you admit to your errors and take steps to correct them, you demonstrate professionalism and show your manager that you can be trusted.

Don’t gossip.  Have you ever seen someone who is chummy with a coworker one minute and gossiping about them the next?  When you talk about people behind their backs, it makes you look petty and mean.  Your coworkers may start to wonder what you say about them when they aren’t there to hear.

Be prepared to take a stand.  Living with integrity will sometimes put you in uncomfortable situations.  There may be some occasions when you have to speak up to defend someone or to say that you think something is wrong.  However, in the workplace it is important that you pick your battles.  Don’t do anything that you believe is unethical, but make sure that you are always respectful to your coworkers.

When you’re trying to uphold your moral standards, the workplace can be tricky.  You often feel like you need to tow the line or risk alienating your coworkers or even losing your job.  However, you shouldn’t have to choose between your job and your ethics.  Your coworkers may be annoyed that you think that something they are doing is wrong, but if you maintain your professionalism, they’ll get over it.

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Photo by: Stuart Miles/

What to Do When Your Manager is Angry With You

You have done something to annoy your manager.  Maybe you don`t know exactly what it is that you did, or perhaps you are well aware of how you crossed the line.  Whatever the reason, you need to deal with the fallout.  Here are some tips that will help you smooth it over:

Don’t lose perspective.  Believing that your manager is angry with you can be stressful, but try not to get carried away with it.  Is it possible that your manager is not angry with you at all, but that she’s stressed about something else?  Even if you did annoy her, it’s not the end of the world.  It is natural for managers to occasionally become frustrated with their employees and the feeling usually passes after a day or two.  

Address the problem.  Determine why your manager isn’t happy with you and take steps to fix the issue.  If you don’t know what the problem is, think back to when her behaviour changed.  Was there something that you said or did that may have annoyed her?  If you’re not sure, then ask your manager.  It is impossible for you to address the problem if you don`t know what`s wrong.

Keep a low profile.  If you have done something to annoy your manager, the last thing that she wants to see in her office is your smiling face.  Continue to do your work, but do your best to stay out of her hair.

Step up your performance.  In terms of your work performance, this is your time to shine.  Is there an area of your job where you have not been meeting your manager’s expectations?  Make a concerted effort to exceed them.  If you do it right, she`ll be so impressed by your achievements that she`ll forget that she was ever angry with you.

Most people agree that there is nothing worse than an angry boss, but try not to get too upset about it.  If you are generally a good employee and you are making an effort to fix your mistake, you`ll be back in your manager`s favour before you know it.

(Written by: Karen Bivand)

Holiday Gifts for Coworkers

The Holidays can be a tricky time of year at work; you never know who is going to get you a present, and you’re always afraid that you’re going to buy your coworker the wrong thing.  Here are some gift ideas that are sure to be a hit:

Holiday treats.  Almost everybody loves sweets and they’re especially appreciated during the holidays.  Do some baking and your coworkers will happily gobble up whatever you make.  It’s a great way to bring a gift to everyone so that nobody is left out.  Just be sure to provide an ingredient list in case anyone has allergies.

Gift card to restaurant or coffee shop.  Who says that gift cards are impersonal?  They can be a great gift if you put a little thought into them.  Pay attention to which coffee shop or restaurant your coworker frequents and pick them up a gift card.  They’ll be flattered that you took the time and you know that they’ll appreciate the gift.

Mugs or water bottles.  Everyone wants to be more environmentally friendly, so make it easy for your coworker by giving them a reusable container to carry their drinks.  Find one that has a little character and whenever they drink from it, they’ll think of you.

Coffee, tea or hot chocolate.  What does your coworker enjoy drinking in their mug at work?  Why not buy them a package of it?  Choose a high quality brand which they may not have tried.  You could be introducing them to their new favourite drink.

Fun office supplies.  We all need office supplies, so why not get them something fun.  Something as simple as a pen with their favourite sports team on it, or a stapler in the shape of a shark can be enough to brighten your coworker’s day.

You may feel a lot of pressure to find the perfect gift for your coworker, but try not to let it get to you.  Buy them a gift that is thoughtful and appropriate, and if you have any doubts, just follow the lead of the people around you.

(Written by: Karen Bivand

“FIGHT!” Learning the Dance Steps of Workplace Conflict

No matter how much you try to avoid it, at some point you will find yourself in a workplace conflict. If you are unprepared and handle the conflict poorly, it could cost you professional relationships and even your job. If you handle it well, it could be viewed as an example of your strong leadership and communication skills. Learning how to effectively handle workplace conflicts is well worth your time.

Rule #1: Don’t let the conflict get personal. Keep the conflict focused on the challenges of the position and the organization. Don’t attack anybody personally and refrain from getting emotional.

Rule #2: Don’t try to get other people on your side. This behaviour is unprofessional and can make a conflict more complicated and difficult to resolve. Keep the conflict limited to those who are directly involved.

Rule #3: Focus on maintaining the relationship. Even when conflicts are handled professionally, they can still cause strain on a relationship. Minimize this by demonstrating in your actions and communication that preserving the relationship is important to you.

Rule #4: Know when it is time to escalate. You should escalate conflict situations as a last resort. Only escalate the situation if you have done everything in your power to solve the conflict and the conflict is causing harm to the organization. When escalating the conflict, be as transparent as possible. Let the other party know that you are planning to escalate and invite them to be a part of the process.

Workplace conflicts can be challenging and emotionally draining, but since many people do not know how to handle them, it is an opportunity for you to distinguish yourself.

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Photo from: anankkml/