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Office Manners -- Germaphobe

Computers aren't the only ones spreading viruses.

By
Trent Armstrong,
January 19, 2009

Page 1 of 2

We've got another look at manners issues in the workplace. This time we're going to take a glance at office hygiene.

Listener Becky wrote:

“As a casual observer I have seen people putting their 'much used' water bottles right under the water coller spigot, lifting up, and filling their bottles. It seems like to me, that I don't feel that's appropriate. Letting the water simply run into the bottle would keep all of us from passing around those nasty germs that are coming to our atmosphere this winter. I'd like to put a note in our employee newsletter but wasn't sure how to word it without sounding like a germ freak.”

The Approach

Becky, I think there are a couple of ways to approach this. The first being to tackle it head-on. I am going to assume that many people don't even realize they are doing something gross and potentially acting as travel agents for all sorts of germs.

With flu season in full-swing and another flu season just around the corner, this is always a hot topic and not only for the water cooler but all the surfaces in the office that might be growing little germ babies. It is fine to point out the error of your co-worker's ways, but there is a right way and there is a wrong way to do it.

The Wrong Way

The wrong way would be to call people out in front of everyone else and either embarrass them or try to belittle them so they change their behavior. I hope, as adults, each person will have the cognitive ability to accept your scientifically prudent information and adjust his or her behavior. However, getting beaten up in public about it might cause someone to ignore your advice and start nasty rumors about your plastic covered couch.

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