French office etiquette rule #133: be boring as hell
Imagine someone asked you to write a book on “the rules” in your office.
How many things would make your list of do’s and don’ts and would the appearance of your colleagues make the cut?
Laurence Caracalla is a former Paris press officer and a stickler for “appropriate behaviour at work”.
She’s recently published a book that’s more like an extensive list of office etiquette for anyone considering working in France.
And if what Caracalla’s book reveals is true- aside from casting some serious doubt on the “effortless” nature of Parisienne chic; I’m guessing The Punch wouldn’t be the only office in for some serious trouble if relocated to France.
Immaculate presentation tops Caracalla’s list and probably isn’t the most surprising – I’ve been on the Paris Metro at 6am and thought I’d walked into a hair dressing salon – but isn’t it just a bit of stretch to expect workers to be equally fresh and well-groomed as they leave the office at the end of a long day.
She also claims a zero-tolerance policy on (any) swearing or telling jokes, because “it’s too much of a risk that it won’t be funny.”
Oh and after work drinks or savoring a bottle or two of wine at lunchtime is definitely out.
And if you happen to run into an acquaintance as you’re walking along the street with colleagues you can forget waving hello, Caracalla says a small hand gesture of acknowledgment will suffice. But I’m guessing the middle finger is best left at home.
You can read the whole article online. But here’s a quick summary of some of her other top tips:
Wear make-up that highlights your face
Say “hello/bonjour” to other people in the lift every time you see them
If you feel like making some spontaneous chatter, roll your tongue around in your mouth for seven seconds before speaking at all
Make sure you always have manicured feet
But definitely don’t:
Wear cheap perfume
Wear un-ironed shirts
Have an office affair
Drink at lunch time
Talk about money
Make private phone calls in the office
Here at The Punch I think it’s fair to say that office etiquette plays second fiddle to the business of actually doing work. And a shared conversation or great joke is very often the best part of the day.
The Australian Institute of Family Studies says we all spend at least 30 to 45 per cent of our time at work.
Surely it’s OK to feel a bit human when we’re there.
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