Thursday, April 19, 2012

Etiquette Snafus- From the Office to the Gym

As over 1/3 of US adults are obese*, more and more companies are allocating funds to wellness programs and health education to prevent illness that can result in high costs associated with absences and reduced productivity, not to mention increasing health insurance costs. These companies encourage--and some even fund--employees’ efforts to work fitness into their daily routines.

We’ve seen articles about office etiquette don’ts and a whole slew of pet peeves at the gym. And naturally, as more office dwellers are permeating the fitness clubs, there will be some commonalities. Just a few consistent sore spots:

-Cell phone use - People answering and actually taking calls during meetings, in the locker room, and on the treadmill. I actually witnessed someone have an entire conversation on a mobile phone in the middle of a group yoga teacher training workshop. Even my loudest “Ommmm” didn’t drown out the sound.

-Failing to clean up your messes- There’s nothing like climbing onto a step machine and placing your hand into a pool of sweat. Wipe down the machines. And when you inadvertently leave someone off a meeting invitation or throw someone under the bus in a widespread email distribution (I’m sure you’d never do it intentionally), correct the error and offer a genuine apology.

-Loud or strong-smelling food- Chomping on gum, crunching on chips, and exposing people to the smell of tuna fish or egg salad in any close-quarters environment is in poor taste. And yes, people have been spotted doing this at the gym as well.

-Unruly children- While it may seem to you to be a child’s dream come true to sit quietly in the guest chair at your office for 8 hours or on a bench in the locker room while you shower, change, and chat with your friends, it’s not. Ask your kids. And when kids are bored, they find ways to entertain themselves, which are often disruptive to others. Can’t blame the kids.

-Temper tantrums- No, this one is not about the kids. Stressful situations occur all the time- sales and revenue take a downturn, the club makes an error in billing your dues, office politics become problematic, you have to wait to get onto a cardio machine. How you behave in these moments can be very telling of your character.

There’s nothing wrong with holding people to basic rules of common courtesy. And you will get the best results if you do so with compassion and understanding--we all have bad days. Try a simple “excuse me, could you take that call outside please?” or even a comical (but not sarcastic) quip that pokes fun of the situation, not the person (i.e. “Carol Brady made it look so easy but she had a full time nanny”). And keep pumping iron. A fit and healthy lifestyle has been known to improve mood and ability to manage stress.

Photo Credit: Pure Mobile