Etiquette Tips for When You Get Sick

love youGetting sick isn’t something you’d wish for yourself, even if you dread going to work. I get that there are days when you just want to sleep longer and have a bit of time for yourself, especially if you have a highly-stressful job. Catching a cold or getting the flu may seem minor compared to other ailments but it can affect your focus, energy and how you carry yourself. Apart from the constant sneezing, runny nose, coughing and over-all feeling of malaise, there’s that siren call to just stay under the covers and let sleep do its healing wonders.

What if you still have to go to work, despite being sick? Maybe you think it isn’t as bad, maybe you feel like you can still function even if you sniffle and cough here and there or maybe your boss requires you to still come in for whatever reason. Here are some workplace etiquette tips to keep in mind when you fall sick:

  • If you are encouraged to use your sick leave, please do. One of the ways you can practice good etiquette at work is to not get your colleagues sick by spreading whatever virus or bacteria you have. If however, you choose to or are still required to come to work, remember to keep sanitizer or alcohol with you, wear a face mask and bring tissues and wet wipes.
  • After sneezing, coughing, blowing your nose or using the toilet, make sure you wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Wipe dry with a towel or tissue because damp hands can spread germs more than dry hands. The sad thing about some workplace toilets in office buildings is that you can’t always be confident that soap and tissue are available. Due to this, I’ve made it a habit to bring my own alcohol, tissue and a small bottle of hand soap just so I can keep my hands sanitized.
  • If you’re not wearing a face mask and have to sneeze or cough, PLEASE do the very thing we are taught as early as kindergarten: COVER YOUR MOUTH and keep the germs to yourself. I remember I had a co-worker whose cubicle was next to mine and she had a bad, phlegm-y cough. She kept coughing outright without covering her mouth or even saying “excuse me.” I wanted so much to call her out but I didn’t want to embarrass her. I messaged her privately and told her that I would appreciate it if she covered her mouth whenever she coughs because I wouldn’t want to catch her bug. She laughed it off, made a big deal about it and told our other co-workers. Some poked fun at me for telling her off, while others thought it was silly that she actually embarrassed herself by showing how she’s a grown woman who can’t even do a very elementary hygienic gesture.
  • Please do not spit at the common-use sink. I understand the feeling of wanting to expel phlegm that’s stuck in your throat, but please spit into a tissue, dispose of it properly and wash your hands (or use alcohol). It is unsightly to see phlegm marks on the sink. Remember, these are still bodily fluids that should not be carelessly disposed.
  • Use your own utensils and cups at work, even if you are not sick. These are personal belongings that are not meant to be shared.
  • Be mindful of your pregnant co-workers. If you can take antibiotics to fight off a bacterial infection or medicines to ease your symptoms, pregnant women can’t do so easily. Remember, they’re carrying a baby and when it comes to medicines, they have to get clearance from their ob-gynecologist if it’s safe to take while they’re pregnant.

These may appear rigid for some, however, if you experience firsthand falling ill and missing work days because a co-worker gets you sick, then you should also be mindful of how you manage your sickness, practice good hygiene and etiquette. 🙂

-Mrs. Ingrid P.

Taboo Topics

Sometimes, the atmosphere in a social gathering can be ruined just because of conversation topics that are considered taboo, off-limits or too intrusive. Asking about a person’s salary, talking about someone’s sex life, poking fun at religion or bullying people because of it… it may seem like others have accepted this as a norm, but it’s good to be reminded about manners, respect & courtesy.

Etiquette Lesson: Is it appropriate to ask a couple “Why don’t you have kids yet?”

NO.

couples talking 2

Sure, this question can be masked with “concern” but really, their decision to have kids is none of anyone’s business. This is a common embarrassing question in Filipino social gatherings and I have seen how couples at the receiving end of the question squirm uncomfortably. See, the couple may actually want kids but may have some challenges reproducing. It isn’t their fault that they are experiencing that. Why add insult to injury by asking them a sensitive question?

On the other side of the spectrum, the couple may have that mutual decision not to have children. Again, their reasons are none of anyone’s business. Do not take it against them for it is their choice. Before anyone considers asking this question, I think it’s wise to consider:

  • Why must I ask this question? What is my motive?
  • Am I friends with the couple? Do they consider me as someone they can trust? – Personal questions like our example above may be alright for people the couple trusts. Don’t just blurt this out when you meet them for the first time or if your friendship hasn’t deepened just yet. Chances are, if the couple grows to trust you, they will mention it without you having to ask.
  • Will it directly affect me if I don’t get the answer to the question? Am I “concerned” or just curious?

This may seem like a common question that’s thrown around but it pays to be mindful of how the other party would feel. Remember that courtesy is appreciated by a lot of people–it makes them want to continue talking to you or listen to what you have to say.

Stay classy!

Etiquette Lesson: Can I take any vacant seat on a plane?

Depending on the rules and regulations of your airline, there are some carriers that allow passengers to take any seat they want on a first-come first serve basis. Airlines like Air KBZ of Myanmar let passengers pick their seats but you’ll have to be quick!

For flights with reserved seating arrangements, you must comply with the rules. You only take the seat you’re assigned to. Unless you’re traveling with a group and you’re okay to switch places, then that can be arranged
In the event that you’re not happy with your seat and wish to switch, and you see that there are vacant spots, you will have to wait until boarding is done. Politely speak to the cabin crew and ask if you can be transferred to a vacant seat of your choice. Don’t just voluntarily sit there without asking for permission.

Image courtesy of www.gocabincrew.com

Image courtesy of http://www.gocabincrew.com

In the case that went viral on social media between Melissa Mendez, Andrew Wolff and his friend Rey Pamaran, you can recall that the actress was on Pamaran’s reserved seat so that she could take a picture of the clouds. Reports say that she informed them about it when the two got to their seats but this didn’t turn out so well.

I think a nicer way to have gone about it is waiting for the passengers who reserved the seats to arrive. If she wished to take a photo, she could have asked permission properly. I guess it would be a different story all together.

Remember, when you’re on a plane:

  • Be polite, respect the cabin crew and your fellow passengers. Behave in such a way that you’d like to also be treated, don’t intentionally disturb other passengers if you yourself do not want to be disturbed.
  • As soon as you board and find your seat, stow away your carry-on luggage in the overhead bin or under the seat.
  • Try to use the restroom before the plane takes off. If you get an aisle seat, that’s fine. But what if you get a window seat and you’re seated next to people you don’t know? Of course you will have to excuse yourself as you stand and squeeze yourself to get out of the space.
  • Think twice before making a scene. If someone insults you, be the bigger person and think: If I respond to this behaviour, what will I gain? Would it be better to keep my silence? How should I properly respond to this without letting my emotions get out of control?
  • Let the cabin crew know if you need any help, if someone is harassing you. In this age of camera phones, everything can be captured and shared online. You might be a viral superstar before you even get to your destination.

Proverbs 25:28

Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.

The test of good manners is to be able to put up pleasantly with bad ones.
Wendell Willkie