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Workplace Etiquette 101

February 20, 2012

If I’ve learned one thing during my 14+ years of working with office co-workers, it is that you would be surprised just how many people need a lesson in basic etiquette in the workplace. My case in point: the communal candy jar.

I am one of those people who always has on her desk a glass candy dish filled with assorted treats. Typically the treats are holiday themed (candy hears for Valentines, jelly beans in spring, pumpkins for Halloween …), but I digress. I like providing candy for people. First of all, it gets people to stop by and say hello. Second, it brings a nice bit of camaraderie and happiness to the office. And finally, I’m a candy junkie myself and sing the praises of those who have a little sweet something for me to snack on at 3 p.m.

But one thing that drives me absolutely crazy are those certain co-workers who have no since of manners when it comes to the candy jar. Those of you who work with co-workers (or even just deal with humans) on a daily basis know what I’m talking about, right?

In my candy jar world, I’m talking about someone who comes into my office and picks (literally) through the jelly bellies to get to the ones he wants. And if he picks one he doesn’t want, he puts it back in the bowl! How disgusting is that?!

I understand the frustration of getting a nasty jelly belly. We’ve all been there and wished we never picked up that popcorn one. But the unspoken rule is that you take a few, and if you get one you don’t like, you toss it in the trash. NOT PUT IT BACK IN THE BOWL! To add insult to injury, this person also sits in my office and chews the candy with his mouth open. I have to stop myself from yelling, Where are your manners?!

I’ve been racking my brain to come up with a solution to this problem. I don’t want to stop providing candy. Yet I don’t want to have to quarantine the remaining jelly bellies after this person sifts through them either.

So after a long and hard deliberation, I’ve come up with a solution. I will now be going from this …

… To this! At least now with my $10 antique store find, a person can only touch the bellies they get. Lets hope he doesn’t realize how to unscrew the top.

Have you ever been in an awkward work situation or a colleague or two could use some etiquette training?  Please say it’s not just me!

22 Comments leave one →
  1. February 20, 2012 3:24 am

    First thought: who raised this guy? As a mom I cringe thinking I didn’t instill the correct candy etiquette in my kids! By the way, this reminds me of the Gilmore Girls and Lorelei warning Rory not to eat the “urine mints” at restaurants. (and you are a woman of willpower — I’d be the one eating all those jelly beans if they were on my desk, and I wouldn’t be waiting until 3 p.m. to start!!)

  2. February 20, 2012 3:38 am

    Clever solution! I also don’t like having to tell kids on Halloween to take just one; many just grab as much as their hands will hold!

  3. February 20, 2012 3:49 am

    What a great solution – and so pretty to boot! 🙂

    We have several buffoons in my office — the ones who leave 1/4″ of coffee left in the carafe with the burner on, toss their old coffee into the sink without ever rinsing it, take the last fork, knife or spoon without refilling, and leave the paper towel center on the roll – for someone else to replace of course. Yes, most culprits are all men and yes I am certain they’re slobs at home, too.


  4. February 20, 2012 4:05 am

    Such a pretty & practical solution!

  5. February 20, 2012 6:10 am

    great solution — smart woman! I probably would have taken the “you touch it, you eat it” sign route. Yours is much better. 🙂

  6. February 20, 2012 6:56 am

    Very creative idea, Leah, and cool looking too! Your co-worker is also probably the type of person who opens every WRAPPED piece in a mix chocolates box to find the ones he/she wants! My candy jar is finally depleted from all types of holiday candy that I was trying to have other people eat besides me…. perhaps I should think of something creative to replace it with!

  7. February 20, 2012 6:59 am

    You are a genius!
    Sometimes I miss the camaraderie of working in an office. Thinking about the open mouthed chewer (ew!) is one of those things that makes me glad I’m at home alone.

  8. February 20, 2012 7:53 am

    Great solution Leah. I used to have the same problem as I always brought candy to share with the office as well. After experiencing the hand-sorting issue, I decided to only place wrapped candy in my bowl. It worked like a charm as well.

  9. Lorena permalink
    February 20, 2012 9:12 am

    I can’t wait to find out who the offender is! I have a few guesses…

    And I really appreciate the candy you put out for others, Leah, so thank you! I’m not much of a jelly bean gal, but if I do grab one it’s because I’m reasonably sure that it’s the flavor I want (and if not, well, that’s what a napkin or tissue is for…or heck, wash it down with another jelly bean!). And don’t get me started on chewing with your mouth full. Ick.

    Anyway, love the new jelly bean dispenser! If I need a candy fix in the new job, or when I’m near your office, I’ll be sure to stop by for a visit. 🙂

  10. February 20, 2012 11:04 am

    What a problem solver you are, Leah. That’s brilliant!

  11. February 20, 2012 11:29 am

    Is it sad that I knew where you were going with your post from the get-go? Brilliant solution! And good find! $10

  12. Becky permalink
    February 20, 2012 12:00 pm

    OH I KNOW!! I make frosted sugar cookies for each holiday–Valentine’s, Halloween & Christmas and when I hear the stuff people say, it’s like “why do I bother doing this?” What ever happened to JUST SAYING THANK YOU. Ohhh but no. It needs to be turned into a competition between me and someone else who bakes, “are these just those same sugar cookies from Christmas?” “I’m trying to stay away from that crap.” But usually 5 dozen are gone in a matter of hours?? UMMMM. I think I just realized how close to being done with baking for the office I am.

  13. February 20, 2012 12:38 pm

    That is awesome! I was going to suggest you serve only buttered popcorn jelly bellies but you are much nicer than me.

  14. Nicole permalink
    February 20, 2012 4:14 pm


  15. February 20, 2012 7:03 pm

    Your co-worker reminds me of Dwight Schrute (sp?) from The Office. He would swagger up to the receptionist’s desk and pick through the candy dish just like you described. My heart goes out to you. Hope the new candy dispenser helps!

  16. February 20, 2012 11:19 pm

    It’s a GREAT solution and I had the EXACT same problem….I then put only pre-wrapped candies in the jar – like mini candy bars and such.

    It’s the person in the office who is poorly groomed (read smelly) that I could never figure out how to deal with. Did they not know? or care? Or did they think it was acceptable? I was stumped and still don’t know how to deal with that…how do you politely tell someone they need to shower and comb their hair?

  17. February 22, 2012 5:31 am

    Where do some folks get their inflated since of entitlement from? Geeze! what an aggrivating situation. I love your solution. You are so clever. Well done! 🙂

  18. February 22, 2012 9:31 am

    I love this! My daughters nuts about these candy dispensers!

  19. February 23, 2012 12:26 pm

    I am SO thankful that etiquette is important to you also Leah! So many seem to feel it is not important any more and went out with the dodo bird. I heartily disagree. In fact I have another post about etiquette coming up sometime, for once I’m actually ahead with my posts (all this bad weather keeps me home bound, not that I’m complaining, it’s great for getting things done!) When I went back to school I worked at a bakery on the weekends and you would be shocked at the people who come along and try to poke, prod, feel, sniff and otherwise squash the baked goods and then want to put them back!

  20. February 24, 2012 8:11 pm

    What a cute little machine you found!

    My pet peeve is….I don’t like when people lick their fingers to pass out pages. I’ve never licked my finger to separate paper in my life, and I’ve survived. It is possible to pass out pages, without licking. I’ll take the memo, minus the spit please. Where does this licking come from? Who started it? And how can it be stopped?

  21. March 3, 2012 7:28 pm

    Your candy dispenser idea is brilliant.

    Office etiquette…where to begin…how ’bout the nose. The restroom is an excellent place to strenuously blowing one’s nose. The cubicle across from me, however, is not.

    And drips on the potty seat should be addressed before departing the stall.

    Don’t take all the ice to fill your water bottle at 8:00 a.m., as others might like a cube or two also.

    Cell phones have vibrate and silent options for a reason…there is perhaps no better reason than a cubicle office environment.

  22. erica baneras permalink
    August 30, 2012 7:45 am

    haha. i would have smacked his hand with a ruler if he tried to put anything back.

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