How to Practice Tact in the Office

practice professionalism

By: Paula Cabrera

Hello, working moms! As I always say, there’s no reason for us to separate our being moms from the fact that we work. We are not one or the other. We are both.

At the same time, there’s no need to dread the work week. In order for us to look forward to the same, it would help that we build good relations and establish family values even in the workplace.

In the process of developing these good relations in the office, it can be pretty easy to get carried away with the funny stories, the hilarious inside jokes, and even the personal drama we share with our work buddies. Even without intending to, jokes or comments, which we assume are silly and harmless, might be uttered in the wrong context and even end up becoming offensive to others. Thus, we ought to remember that we are in the workplace during work hours and we should use company resources wisely and for the benefit of the very purpose of the existence of our business/company/organization/employer. We should still remember to practice professionalism in order to ensure that we, as well as our office mates we bond with, are both effective and efficient in the workplace. Otherwise, we will be creating problems that will hinder us from doing our jobs properly.

In this light, there’s always a need for us to practice tact in the office. Here are a few tips:

1. Know when to discuss what with whom. There’s always a proper time, venue, and audience for various discussions. That’s why it’s good to know the organization of our company or employer. There are different departments in charge of specific tasks and matters and it would be beneficial to familiarize ourselves with the same. At the same time, company policy and practice should give us guidance as to how we discuss matters in the office, whether it be about giving presentations, reporting our accomplishments, reporting complaints, etc. Approaching the wrong person about a concern will most likely do more harm than good. At the same time, timing is everything. Even if we are armed with good intentions, taking up our work mate’s lunch break to discuss things that can wait will most likely annoy him or her.

2. Acknowledge your work mates’ skills and accomplishments. Boosting one another’s confidence and self-esteem helps us become better work mates and better individuals. There’s really no reason for us to ignore a report well presented or a task duly accomplished. By giving credit to whom it’s due, we encourage improvement, healthy competition, and perseverance in the workplace. Acknowledgment of a job well done is something that ought to be said clearly and often.

3. When it comes to shortcomings, mistakes, or inefficiency of officemates, follow company policy in addressing the same. The goal is help them improve, not to ridicule or embarrass them. If we are in a position to call the attention of the erring work mate, then we need to ensure that the proper notices and opportunity to explain are given to said employee. If there is someone else in charge of supervising the erring employee’s performance, then it is best to inform his or her supervisor of the same instead of confronting that person – worse, in front of others.

4. It’s okay to engage in conversations not related to work, but this should not disrupt work or cause any inefficiency in the workplace. Said conversations should be kept short during work hours. I honestly think we all need a few laughs and a few minutes to relax instead of going through a workday like robots. Of course, being rowdy or boisterous is a different matter altogether.

5. Keep personal drama outside the workplace. If there are clarifications or confrontations with regard to personal matters, it’s best to handle the same elsewhere. Otherwise, other people in the office might get involved and most likely, there are company policies or rules that impose sanctions for these instances.

6. Don’t engage in gossip. Aside from the fact that gossip can ruin people, it’s also good to remember: “those who gossip with you will most likely gossip about you.” Talking about officemates behind their backs is not only unprofessional but it also speaks of our character. There shouldn’t be a place for blabbermouths in the office.

There may be times these are easier said than done, but we’re equipped with golden nuggets by reason of the fact that we are moms. We know there’s a proper venue and time for the fun stuff and for serious work matters. We also know that there are things best left unsaid, comments that are not constructive, and silly jokes that are actually improper. Being moms allows us to further develop our communication skills, as we realize the importance of sensitivity even in an ambience of familiarity.

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Paula Cabrera is a working mom and a devoted wife. She and her husband are both lawyers who are continuously learning to embrace the joys and pains of both work and parenting. Reading and writing have always been some of her hobbies, and so, despite being busy, she finds time to do both even for just a few minutes everyday. She hopes to be able to be able to reach out to other parents through her short pieces and remind them that they are not alone in the crazy yet fulfilling world of parenting.


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