4 Etiquette Tips You Should Follow If You’re the Low Man on the Totem Pole

etiquette at a new jobStarting a new job is always a little stressful, even if you are looking forward to it. There are new people, new rules, and new etiquette you need to pay special attention to when you are the low man on the totem pole at your new job.

Of course some etiquette and rules are common in any professional setting, but there are times when etiquette can vary widely from one job to another. Plus etiquette is more confusing now than in any time in the past due to email, the internet, and social media. These inventions are helpful but they can can also be harmful. They make it difficult to navigate what is and what is not appropriate in your new office.

With that in mind, here are 4 etiquette tips you should follow if you're the low man on the totem pole at your job.

Don't Be a Know-it-all

Having a lot of background knowledge when you step into a new job with a new organization is great, but you want to be careful to avoid looking like a know-it-all. When you are in meeting with your new boss and co-workers, it may be wise to simply observe for the first few meetings instead of speaking up on every issue. When I was the new employee in my office, I tended to keep my opinions to myself unless they were pertinent to our conversation, or if I had a question. Even then, I usually shared my opinion and asked my questions privately, after the meeting was over.

Beware of the Office Parties

At my organization, our rules are pretty lax and special events like evening or weekend retirement parties, holiday parties, and more can get a bit wild. The office supplies food and beverages (read: alcohol) and sometimes things get a little out of hand toward the end of the evening. In my organization, most of the employees have worked together for at least 10 years, so when I was at one of these parties as a new employee I was extra careful to have fun, but not too much fun. I definitely didn't want to do anything embarrassing that might make my co-workers or boss look at me differently on Monday.

Go With the Flow

Sometimes office policies and unwritten rules are not exactly clear. When that happens you need to find an employee you trust to not lead you astray and simply take note of what they do and why. You need to be willing to observe before acting so you don't find yourself in a sticky situation where you broke an unwritten rule or handled some other situation improperly.

Be Who You Want to Be

Much like starting at a new school as a kid or going away to college, getting a new job gives you a chance to re-invent yourself and become who you want to be. This is not permission to be completely false, but starting over does give you permission to leave behind some traits or mistakes you previously made and start with a clean slate. Of course, your boss may already know about some of your past career history if they checked your references carefully and spoke to your old boss. Hopefully you didn't burn any bridges when you left your old job behind.

Being the new employee at an organization can be difficult, but it can also be rewarding. Hopefully the next time you take a new job you'll keep these etiquette tips in mind so you can make the most of your fresh start.

What other etiquette tips can you think of for new employees?

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