Compliments of Wheelz24 via Flickr defines bad taste as “a strong feeling of disgust or upset following an experience.” Because we work and live in social spaces (more often than not in close proximity to other people), what we choose to wear, purchase, display or model may have ramifications beyond our immediate sphere.

Have you stopped to consider how others are impacted by your choice of your personal items? The intricate web of connection that results in the feeling of “small world” makes your ability to get along with others all the more important. According to Mark McCormack, author of “What they don’t teach you at Harvard Business School” one of the biggest mistakes you can make is the refusal to conform to office convention; e.g., setting your own hours, maintaining a messy workspace, and marching to the beat of your own drummer.

As I’ve stated in previous blog postings, “A slovenly approach to personal decor works at cross purposes in creating the image you wish you project.” Moreover, individuals who live in cramped quarters, and who are increasingly faced with the prospect of commentary from their cube mates must learn to live harmoniously (with an attitude of respect).

To avoid the appearance of insensitive imposition, I suggest engaging your peers in a continual process of communication regarding your “renovations.”  Reactions to definitely avoid are shock and awe at what you consider a personal triumph. When thinking of this topic I’m always reminded of “A Christmas story” in which Ralphie’s father was unable to display a lamp (in the shape of a woman’s leg) after his wife “accidentally” broke it. Note that what you view as a national treasure others may consider an atrocity. To be a good cube mate, engage in the following behaviors:

  1. Show your coworker a visual of what the finished product or purchased item will look like. A visceral reaction of disgust will tell you what you do (or don’t need ) to do.

  3. Consider following the lead of your peers. What type of decorations do they have? The last thing you want to do is stick out like a sore thumb, particularly if others will look at your handiwork.

  5. Get advice. Does your office have a decorator on staff? If not, find someone who has impeccable taste and ask if they are willing to consult. If all else fails, the professional office organizer route is always available. Even if you are relatively happy with your habitat, organizers can give you some great ideas on the best ways to display your belongings. Going it alone (especially when good taste is not your bailiwick) may result in alienation from your group.
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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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