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The laws of office break room etiquette

Office Break Room

Welcome to the real world! Maybe you have just landed your first job in the workforce (congrats!) or maybe you have been a member of the club for a while now. We imagine that you work hard and cannot wait to get your hands on that delicious lunch hour or that could-not-have-come-at-a-better-time fifteen minute break. Are you new to the office and have no idea where to put your food in the fridge? Maybe you stirred things up a bit by heating up some tuna and smelling up the entire office. Surely that was not you gossiping in the break room and getting busted at the same time. What flies in the break room and what is a no-go? We are sharing some rules for probably one of the least talked about aspects of office life: the break room.

Believe it or not, you need break room etiquette whether the rules are spoken or unspoken. Break room etiquette helps ensure that we have smooth interactions with our office mates. It increases respect around the office and can help keep overall harmony. It also helps to make sure you have a stress-free break, much needed of course.

Here are some simple, common sense and easy to follow commandments to follow when you are in the office break room.

Thou shall not be messy. Please, oh please, clean up after yourself. There are no office maids sister; you are an adult. Do not leave your trash everywhere. Do not leave your dishes to sit in the days until the next quarterly meeting. Do your part.

Thou shall not be lazy. Ever been frustrated because the last person to use the water forgot to change the cooler? We all have. If you are the last to use something, replace it.

Thou shall not gossip. Nothing nice to say? Keep it away from the break room. Gossiping is just plain mean. You never know who is behind you or who may overhear you. The workplace is not the place to vent about how lazy and miserable you think your boss is; save that for cocktails with your best friends.

Thou shall not make smelly foods. Any seafood is pretty much a winner for this category. No one wants to smell fish while they are trying to work. The biggest smelly food crime of the office? Probably burnt popcorn. We know it can be hard folks, just stand by the microwave and watch it.

Thou shall not steal. Do not, under any circumstances, take something that belongs to someone else without asking them. This includes everything from food to dishes. You would not want someone to eat your fabulous homemade cookies, would you?

Thou shall mind thy manners. If you can help yourself, try not to be nuisance in the break room. It is a time for people to relax and get their minds off of work. Do not chat on your phone loudly, chew loudly, or just do anything loud in general. Oh, and for heaven’s sake, do not bug others about work-related projects during the break. Be respectful, mate.

Thou shall enjoy thy break. You have earned it. Take the time to relax and clear your mind. Ready, break!

About the Author

Geralyn Dexter

Geralyn holds a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Florida and a MS in Mental Health Counseling from Nova Southeastern University. She is currently working on a Doctorate in Counseling Psychology. She enjoys reading, yoga and art. Within the next three years, she hopes to complete her doctorate and transition from practicing therapy in a community setting to having her own private practice.