It’s New Year’s resolution time again. Not for me, of course, because I personally gave up making New Year’s resolutions a few years ago. (That was actually my New Year’s resolution for 2009: to quit making New Year’s resolutions.)
But keeping my resolution doesn’t prevent me from helping you with yours. I’ve come up with a set of ten resolutions that will not only make you a better person, but also improve the quality of life for the people who spend a lot of time with you on a daily basis — your coworkers. Your New Year's resolutions, should you choose to accept them, are as follows:
- I will NOT send emails out in ALL CAPS. If I don’t know proper capitalization, I will either make an effort to learn it or at the very least err on the side of not using any capitalization at all. I understand that emails written with the “caps lock” key on make my coworkers feel like I am really, really pissed off at them when I tell them about the office-wide carpet cleaning that is scheduled for the coming weekend, and leave them wondering if I think it is their fault that everyone has to remember to put their trash cans on top of their desks before they leave on Friday.
- I will NOT put my coworkers on the spot by asking them to buy the candy bars, wrapping paper or Girl Scout cookies that my kids are supposed to be selling for their various fundraisers. I understand that doing so puts my coworkers in the uncomfortable position of having to tell me to my face that they are either broke or selfish or simply not willing to monetarily support my kids’ pet projects because the funds ultimately go to organizations that they feel perpetuate close-minded thinking and exclusionary practices that ultimately hurt society. I further understand that my kids are supposed to sell these things themselves, which means they will also benefit from this resolution because it will help them appreciate that it is not Mommy’s responsibility to do their work for them.
- I will NOT send “reply all” emails even if I think what I’ve written is really funny or makes me sound smart or important. I understand that “reply all” emails are universally loathed and when I send them I am inviting all of my coworkers to roll their eyes, make fun of me behind me back and come up with nick names for me like, “Reply-Allison.”
- I will NOT forward chain emails that contain an implied threat of a bad luck, loss of friendship or a fall from grace if my coworkers decline to drop what they’re doing and forward it on in the next thirty seconds to ten of their strongest or most courageous or closest BFFs ever (starting with me). I understand that not only does this practice make me look needy, it is also annoying because it clogs up their email inboxes, and rude because it takes up their time (even if only a second or two since my prolific history in this regard has conditioned them to know the instant they see the special flowery font and pastel color scheme I use for all my workplace emails that they can simply hit the delete button since it’s never important, anyway). Finally, I understand that forwarding these chain emails hurts my professional reputation by reinforcing the idea that I am simply not that bright.
- I will NOT send or forward emails to my coworkers with political humor unless I in fact work for a politician, or religious or spiritual messages unless I in fact work for a church. I am a grown-up with good judgment and can distinguish between emails that are appropriate for the workplace and ones that are not, as well as appreciate the different roles that coworkers play in my life on the one hand, and close friends and family play on the other.
- I WILL wear clothes that are both appropriate and clean to work. If I gain or lose weight, I will buy new clothes that fit me properly instead of continuing to wear my old clothes even though they now afford detailed outlines of parts of my body or view corridors of expanses of flesh that should be reserved only for the loving eyes of my significant other. I will wear clothes that are in keeping with the office culture and suitable for the job functions that I must perform while at work. I will not wear clothes that create the impression that I have a part time job at a second rate strip club that I have to rush off to as soon as I leave the office. I will look in the mirror before leaving for work each morning and ask myself, “Would I mind looking at this person for eight hours today?”
- I WILL spend a couple of dollars and buy myself some ear buds if I like to listen to music at work. I understand that musical taste is subjective and know that just because nothing gets my productive juices flowing like a good blast of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, that doesn’t mean that my coworkers are sophisticated enough to appreciate TSO’s high-brow sonic artistry.
- I will NOT eat food out of the break room refrigerator that I did not personally bring; nor will I send out office-wide emails offering up my lunch left-overs for anyone with a big appetite, strong immune system, and non-functioning gross-out trigger. (“I have a perfectly good four inches left out of my six-inch Subway Cold Cut Combo sandwich with extra mayo, if anyone wants it. It’s sitting on the file cabinet in my office, ready for the taking!”) I will always clean up after myself when I eat or drink something in the office break room. I understand that cleaning up after myself includes not leaving anything in the fridge for more than a week.
- I WILL give my coworkers the benefit of the doubt. If my Keebler Elf PEZ dispenser turns up missing I will NOT send out an office-wide email angrily accusing someone of stealing the prize I got in fifth grade for winning third place in the “What Arbor Day Means to Me” contest with my poem about the silent song of spruces. If something is irreplaceable to me, either because of sentimental or monetary value, I will have the good sense not to leave the cherished item perched on the edge of my desk in my cubicle.
- I WILL make an effort to pick up on social cues. If I stop by my coworker’s desk for a chat and she barely glances up at me, or repeatedly checks her wrist watch, or gives one word responses to my entertaining story about last night’s amusing antics of Mr. Patches, one of my five adorable cats, I will recognize that it is not a good time to visit. I understand that the office is a place where people come to work. If I find myself over-sharing with my coworkers, I will take steps to beef up my personal life rather than continuing to expect the people at work to not only be my coworkers but also my entire non-feline social circle.
MAKE THESE TEN RESOLUTIONS YOURSELF AND FORWARD THEM TO FIVE OF THE MOST ANNOYING COWORKERS IN YOUR OFFICE WITHIN THE NEXT THIRTY SECONDS AND YOU WILL HAVE GOOD LUCK FOR THE ENTIRE NEW YEAR!
Keep these resolutions and you will almost be forgiven for the time you cornered your coworkers in the break room and made them look at your vacation photos from the trip you took with your church friends to San Antonio’s River Walk last summer. Have a happy and productive New Year!