63 Things People Wish You’d Do At Work

63 Things People Wish You’d Do At Work image DATE: January 3, 2020

There’s a really fine line we all should walk when it comes to pleasing people. #1 You should never compromise your integrity. #2 You shouldn’t obsess over making everyone happy. However, when it comes to work, if there are some things you can easily start or stop doing in order to elevate yourself in the eyes of your boss, coworkers, employees, and customers– why not adapt and help yourself?! Here are 63 things people might be wishing you would do at work.

63 Things People Wish You’d Do At Work

I was bold enough to ask for opinions on social media a few weeks ago. I know, what was I thinking? As soon as I opened the gates, the people came flooding in! I asked, “When it comes to what you want to see practiced more from people at the office, what would you say?”  I got a huge response from people of all ages and all levels of the organizational hierarchy. I am sharing some of the top responses with you in this article.

My goal in sharing this list with you is that it may open your eyes to some easy things you can change about the way you interact with the people at work. Some of these may seem like common sense to you, but most of them were mentioned several times. What does that tell us? That common sense is not always common practice, right?

I’ll be the first to say that I rolled my eyes at some of these when I read them and I had to use some serious self-control by not typing a rebuttal. However, if you find yourself doing the same thing, I encourage you to do as I did — pause, take a step back and think about the other person.  Unpopular opinion alert: I stand strong on my belief that it does matter what other people think about you because it affects how they treat you. So, while some of these things seem petty, it’s best to just get over yourself and do it. If it doesn’t compromise your integrity–it’s fair game! It’s how well you do the little things that will elevate you above your competition. It’s time to level up! Without further ado, in no certain order, let’s dig in!


  1. Listen when someone is speaking to you. Don’t just wait to talk.
  2. Don’t be the first one out the door every day if there is something you can do to help others leave faster, too.
  3. Be present – don’t be looking at your phone while walking to break or the whole time you’re on break. Make the people in front of you as important as the people you’re texting or scrolling past on your phone.
  4. Chew gum respectfully if working in an office or with the public–no smacking, popping, or bubble-blowing.
  5. Respond to emails as fast as possible — even if it’s just acknowledging you received it.
  6. Take really good care of the equipment you’re given to use at the job — computer, tractor, truck or office supplies. This speaks volumes about yourself and your level of professionalism.
  7. Acknowledge everyone you come in contact with, whether it be a customer, co-worker, or supervisor, a hello or a smile goes a long way.
  8. Air pods can cause issues when working with others. If people can’t tell that you have headphones in, they may think you’re rude and ignoring them. Is it really worth the risk?
  9. Take pride in your position no matter what level you’re at in the organization. Leaders love to promote people who are happy to earn their place.
  10. When going into a job interview, it’s always better to be over-dressed than under-dressed. Check out a companies website and social media to see what their typical dress code is.
  11. Always make eye contact when talking face-to-face with someone. Don’t look down or around someone.
  12. Deliver quality output. Put in the time and effort to do your work right the first time.
  13. Don’t just bring a problem to your boss — bring a solution, too. If you have a problem, put in the work to think of a solution before you bring it up to your boss.
  14. Keep a professional social media presence. Think of yourself as an ambassador of the brand that you are working for. Think about how your social media represents the company that is paying your bills.
  15. Iron your clothes. No matter how nice the clothing is, if it’s wrinkled, it looks bad. Your appearance sends a message about yourself and the company you represent.
  16. Keep your workspace clean and tidy. [Side note…several years ago there was a business owner in a room with me that said that if he walked past an employee’s car and it was a disaster…he would not consider them for a promotion. He said if they can’t take care of their car, how can I trust them with more responsibility in my business? My thoughts? Well, you need to know what matters to the people around you and adapt. If I worked for that guy, I’d be making sure my car looked like it just rolled off the lot 24/7! If you want to be more successful, you’ll do what you need to do!]
  17. Look for ways to help the people around you, above you, and below you. Be a servant leader.
  18. Slow down your words on the phone so the person on the other end can understand everything you say.
  19. Put in the time and effort to work safely at all times.
  20. Don’t do the bare minimum. Find ways to exceed expectations.
  21. Say your emotion, don’t show your emotion. No one should lose their cool on someone else in a professional setting.
  22. Instead of “yeah”, say “yes”. Instead of “nah”, say “no”. Choose to speak like a professional.
  23. Don’t swear at work. By simply always being professional in your language and not swearing you will stand out in a good way.
  24. Don’t criticize other colleagues in front of others. Develop a reputation for being supportive of others.
  25. Don’t gossip. If your work involves others in the community, don’t discuss customer’s personal lives with employees.
  26. Find coverage for your shift if you can’t make it, then call and tell your boss you’ve got it covered. Don’t put the extra work on them.
  27. Even if you know what they are going to say next, don’t interrupt someone. Give them the respect to finish, then address the topic.
  28. Make sure you completely understand the task and goal before you make suggestions on how it can be improved.
  29. Smile when you’re on the phone. It’s nice for customers and coworkers to see as they walk by, and the person on the phone will be able to tell a positive vibe in your tone.
  30. Say “ma’am” and “sir”. It’s always good to err on the side of more respect than less respect.
  31. Keep your conversation positive. Don’t choose negativity. Bad vibes attract bad tribes. Be the good.
  32. Follow the company dress code. Don’t try to slip things in/on/off.
  33. Some people like to be called “honey, sweetie, etc.”, others, they hate it. Err on the side of caution.
  34. Don’t be afraid to fail. Your boss and coworkers probably would rather you try and fail versus you calling them and asking for help before trying at all.
  35. Accept responsibility for all your decisions and actions. This speaks volumes about your character.
  36. Don’t dismiss any idea or thought from others–at least consider it.
  37. Be on time. On-time means early. If your office opens at 8:00 am, then you better have already had your coffee, conversations, and restroom break before the door opens and the phone starts ringing.
  38. Always smile when greeting customers/clients. Always.
  39. Be coachable, listen and learn. New employees can learn from seasoned employees and vice-versa.
  40. Leave your cell phone off during a job interview. Make arrangements or whatever you need to do in order to be out of commission during the time of the interview.
  41. Say “please” and “thank you” in person, on phone, in email, at a drive-thru, etc. Manners go a long way.
  42. During a job interview never bad talk your previous boss or place of employment.
  43. Be willing to take initiative. Don’t wait for others to tell you what to do. Take ownership of your job and be willing to start something without having to be told every step to take.
  44. When someone says “thank you” always say “you’re welcome” or “my pleasure”. (Thank you Chik-fil-A!) Saying “yep, sure thing, no problem, okay, etc. probably make you seem rude.
  45. Don’t cross your arms when someone is talking to you. It makes them feel as if you’re frustrated or uninterested.
  46. Do what you say you’re going to do. Be reliable.
  47. If you see something that needs to be done, jump in and do it. Don’t just stand around.
  48. When you are being interviewed, the goal is not to talk about how great you are but to show them how the company/team will be better because of your skills and personality.
  49. Don’t have your mom help you apply for a job. Get your own application, go in by yourself, ask your own questions, call yourself and follow-up by yourself.  [Yes, this is really happening with young adults today!]
  50. Be willing to learn a new way of doing things.
  51. Craft a firm handshake.
  52. Unless you have a very casual company culture, lose the hat. For many in older generations, this is still a big deal to them.
  53. Answer your phone.
  54. If you don’t know the answer, do some research to find out. As a last resort, ask someone else. Either way, don’t just say “I don’t know”.
  55. Don’t be entitled. You may not get what you want or even deserve. Keep working hard anyway. It’ll pay off.
  56. When answering the phone and before putting them on hold, say One Moment Please, not hang on a minute or just a minute or just a second. The latter two examples simply feel informal or lackadaisical. Choose to take the high road if you’re unsure.
  57. Don’t complain about your job on social media. Period.
  58. Know your audience in email. Choose respect and manners at all times. Match the tone of the person you’re emailing. If you’re emailing a coworker about a funny memory at the Christmas party, you probably don’t have to be very formal. If you’re emailing your boss or professor about a project, it’s best to err on the formal side.
  59. Take the corrective criticism and learn from it. Don’t choose discouragement, choose to be better going forward.
  60. Always show respect to those that are already there in the workplace. If you see things that need to be changed, all discussion needs to be handled in a very calculated way in order to keep a cohesive team culture.
  61. Address issues respectfully. Don’t let bad feelings linger.
  62. Don’t have the attitude or mentality of, “that’s not my job”. Do what you can, when you can, to help build up the team.
  63. Communicate your expectations very clearly. What do you want, when do you want it, why do you want it, where do you want it, how do you want it, etc. People typically rise to meet clear expectations.


Understand, Adapt, Succeed

In the 21st Century, I deeply believe the most successful people will be those who take a very individualistic approach to understanding and adapting to the people around them. You must choose to understand what your boss, co-workers, employees, and customers want. Then, without compromising your integrity, you must choose to adapt to each individual person in order to exceed their expectations.

The long list you just read doesn’t even cover everything that was submitted to me. It doesn’t cover everything I hear from leaders through the training and speaking I do. However, I’m confident there are some actions on here you can take to elevate yourself professionally. From here, get to know the people around you better. Have conversations with them to figure out what they want. Then figure out how you can adapt. I can’t wait to hear about all the success you’ll have!

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#emergingleaders #professionaldevelopment #levelup #professionalism #communication #softskills

alyson van hooser

About The Author:

Alyson Van Hooser, Pres/COO, Co-Owner, Van Hooser Leadership. With the grit that only comes from tough experiences, Alyson has learned a thing or two about personal and professional success. From her management experience with Walmart, as an elected city council member, bank manager — all before the age of 30 — Alyson has wisdom well beyond her years! Her podcast, Stake: The Leadership Podcast, offers a fresh perspective on leadership and helps multiple generations successfully work together! Connect with Alyson on LinkedIn.

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