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Meredith Leigh Knight Columnist

Published Friday, February 15, 2013

It's the little things

You don’t have to work in the White House to encounter politics firsthand. In fact, no matter where you work, there’s sure to be some – just on a different scale.

Some of the worst office politics can erupt, not on big matters, such as promotions or who’s taking the lead on projects, but on the little things, for example, like who broke the popcorn machine or who took your last cranberry LaCroix from the fridge. Yes, on a large scale those are small things, but if you work in an office every day, it’s the little things that can make or break a day.

As Robert Earl Keen sings:

It’s the little things, the little bitty things

Like the way that you remind me I’ve been growin’ soft.

It’s the little things, the itty bitty things

It’s the little things that BLEEP me off.

Perhaps you are starting a new job and need tips on how to get along, or perhaps you’ve been in your job a while and just can’t figure out why you don’t get asked to lunch on Fridays, we’ll look no further. I’ve compiled a list of things that just might help you become the most popular person on your aisle, heck, your floor even.

Here they are:

Never heat up leftover fish in the microwave. I love seafood, but not the smell of it for eight hours because that’s how long it takes to wear off, plus, face it, fish is never any good the next day. Just to clarify, cold tuna is fine but make sure you keep breath mints nearby.

Don’t make excessive small talk in the elevator. Saying hello and have a good day is gracious plenty. Asking “Is it cold enough for you? Is it hot enough for you? Is it windy enough for you?” is too much. Also, comments about what day of the week it is, for example, “I’m good for a Monday” or “It’s Tuesday, one day closer to the weekend” or “Happy hump day” or “ Two more days,” etc., falls under the “too much” category. On Fridays, however, this rule does not apply, and you may say anything you want about this day of the week.

Do not come to work sick. If you do, perhaps you should just keep it to yourself and not tell anyone about your stomach cramps and how many trips you’ve made to the bathroom.

Along those lines, do not over share the details of your recent stomach flu or your children’s recent stomach flu. In fact, don’t share medical details at all. If someone asks how you are feeling, say, “Great, thanks,” even if you spent the weekend in the ER with a gallbladder issue. Actually, make that especially if you spent the weekend in the ER with a gallbladder issue.

Do not blare music with explicit lyrics unless it’s the aforementioned song. That would be OK. Funny even.

Do not ask your co-workers how old they are, why their first marriage fell apart, or if they are going to have another baby, especially if you are using this as elevator chit-chat.

Do not wear flip-flops and yoga pants on casual Friday – or ever around co-workers.

Do not send joke emails to your co-workers and then come back to ask them if they got it and then try to force them to admit that, yes, it was a cute kitten, and, no, I can’t believe it was smoking a cigarette.

Do not give up on reaching out to your co-workers. Continue to invite them to lunch, even if they say they are eating at their desks, and you see them in the cafeteria with a group. In fact, continue to be friendly even when they aren’t.

No matter what they do, continue to act with tolerance and patience while you keep a big smile on your face. It’s a little thing, and if it doesn’t work, at least it will bleep them off.

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