Lesson 8: Workplace Etiquette

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Goal from IEP connected to lesson:

Objective from IEP connected to lesson:

Purpose of lesson: Determine proper etiquette for possible work experiences.

Materials needed: Internet search engine

Introduction

“You have prepared a personal data sheet and are ready to begin filling out job applications. Before beginning the application process, let’s discuss proper workplace etiquette.”

Discussion: Why Workplace Etiquette is Important

Facilitate lesson with a motivating discussion such as, “Suppose you are working in a cubicle, which is one of many small workspaces next to one another. A cubicle has boundaries but is not fully blocked off from adjacent cubicles. The employee on your right plays music quite loudly, and you can’t concentrate. How would you feel? Can you think of additional co-worker behavior that might frustrate you?”

Talk about how, in every workplace, for volunteers, interns, and salaried employees, some social expectations and courtesies are critical to be aware of in order to be successful. Being mindful of your fellow employees and how your behavior might help or hinder their work is an important element of workplace etiquette.

Ask students how respect is given to parents, teachers, and peers. Ask students if they think this would be different with coworkers and bosses. If so, how?

Present additional examples such as: following a supervisor’s instructions, allowing personal space (approximately one arm-length distance), tidying up, not eating smelly food for lunch in a busy or small, shared office, respecting privacy, showing interest in people and the job, following dress code, etc.

Emphasize the value of an employee demonstrating a proper balance of assertiveness and flexibility. It’s good to take the initiative and passionately pursue goals unless it is done at the expense of others (e.g., dismissing others’ goals or ideas, etc.). The workplace is not a “one-man show,” and an employee who is humble, thankful, encouraging of others, and willing to compromise will generally be well respected and appreciated.

Exercise: Scenarios

Present examples of work-related situations that require consideration of etiquette and professional behavior. Brainstorm solutions with students. Examples:

  • Your coworker wants to talk to you constantly, and you can’t get any work done.
  • You really want to Snapchat while at work.
  • You work more efficiently while listening to music, but your coworker has told you it bothers him.
  • You are exhausted and practically falling asleep in a meeting.
  • A customer is frustrated that your store is out of her favorite brand of shampoo and is not being nice about it.
  • You forgot to request this Saturday off from work, and it’s your girlfriend’s birthday party.

Discussion: Self-Awareness of Your Personality

Ask students to describe their personalities and how they relate to others. Someone with a dominant personality might think about how they will benefit from practicing listening and encouraging others in the workplace. Someone with a naturally passive or soft-spoken personality will benefit from confidence and idea-sharing in the workplace.

Exercise: Research Workplace and Job Etiquette

Have students research basic workplace etiquette and any etiquette specific to their desired job(s) by using an online search engine, asking a mentor, and/or inquiring of any personal contacts.

Review

“Today, we determined proper etiquette for possible work experiences, and next time we will examine proper attire.”

Progress notes, data collection, comments, modifications:

Next steps/lesson: Proper attire for work experience.

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