Five People to Cozy Up to On The Job

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Office politics are present in most workplaces. Every party has a pooper and every office has a brown-noser. Such is life.

Yet — as annoying and superficial as butt-kissing may seem — there may be a thing or two to be learned from the office politico. For instance, it never hurts to get to know the people in your office who can help you advance your career. And we’re not talking about the CEO. There are a lot of people at work — outside the small group of people you interact with on a daily basis — who can make your job a lot easier if you’re on their good side.

Now, just so we’re clear, we don’t mean that you should spend your day throwing around empty compliments and hobnobbing your way around the office. We just mean that it’s important to develop relationships with people at work outside of those in your department. You may be surprised by how much smoother your day goes once you start making the effort to remember the name of the receptionist, or striking up conversations with colleagues you don’t know in the elevator.

Specifically, you might want to try cozying up to these five colleagues:

1. The guy who has been there the longest

You know the one. He’s like the unofficial mayor of your company. He remembers when the CEO was an intern. Whether he takes out the trash or is the vice president of human resources, chances are he knows the company inside and out; making him the go-to guy for information about whether your proposed re-branding will violate the company’s core values, how long it takes to get a raise, and whether the company is more likely to promote from within or fill open spots with outsiders.

2. The receptionist

The receptionist is the company gatekeeper. She knows who habitually strolls in late, who burns the midnight oil and who has the most client appointments coming in. Need someone to cover for you when you sneak out of the office for a coffee break? She’s your girl.

Additionally, receptionists often have job responsibilities like ordering catering services for business lunches and managing conference room schedules. Just scheduled a last-minute meeting? The receptionist will be more likely to rearrange conference room schedules or tell you whose office you can borrow in a pinch if you’re on her good side.

3. The mail room guy

Don’t ignore the mail room guy. He’s another person who holds the key to making your day run smoother. For example: When you order 10 boxes of new sales brochures, having an in with the mail clerk may mean who he’ll deliver those boxes up to your desk, instead of making you walk back and forth between the mail room and your desk 10 times to bring them up there yourself.

Besides being the office postmaster, the mail room guy often manages the ordering and distribution of office supplies. So if your computer monitor is from 1998 or you’re using an abacus instead of a calculator, he’s probably the guy who can get you an upgrade.

4. Your boss’s boss

While it’s great to establish a connection with your boss, it’s even better to have one with her boss.

Why? Networking with the higher-ups is a great way to learn about your potential career path and gain valuable insight and guidance. In ten years, you could have the job that your grand-boss (get it? Your boss’s boss?) has. Learning more about it can help you develop the skills you need to one day reach that role — or it may make you re-evaluate your long-term career goals. Look at your boss’s boss as a mentor of sorts — someone to pay attention to and learn from.

5. The intern

As someone who had multiple internships in college, trust me on this one. I once had an internship where I reported to nine different people, and they all happily passed along their grunt work. If there was no clear priority as to whose work had to be done first, I chose by who I liked the most. I’d go out of my way to help the sales rep who took all the interns to lunch on their birthdays, while I’d push requests from the event coordinator with a short temper to the bottom of the pile.  Treat the interns well, and you may see a vast improvement in the quality and timeliness of the work they produce.

For more info on getting ahead at work, check out these posts:

Can You Disagree With Your Boss and Not Lose Your Job?

How You Can Become a Better Negotiator

Putting Your Foot in Your Mouth at Work

  1. “Don’t ignore the mail room guy.”

    “While it’s great to establish a connection with your boss, it’s even better to have one with her boss.”

    So in your world, females are bosses and males are low status grunts?

    Grow up.

    • Semantics! At the moment my supper is a women, so when reffering to a boss I would say she or her. Our mail person is a 19 yr old KID who yes is a boy. I don’t see any high level exect apply for mail clerk positions of any sex.

    • Kerry, Gender is tough and I never got a clear understanding. Current PC says to alternate. My traditional Catholic school said it’s always him, his and he. I think Kaitlin is writing from her experiences which is probably the best way to write. The receptionist is your girl, I don’t think many people consider a receptionist very high level (smart folks know better). To the author, The her being italicized drew attention to it. Would’ve just left that alone. The big boss’ gender was never disclosed. Regardless interesting insights from one who doesn’t understand politics, office or otherwise. It’s a necessary evil I suppose.

  2. Great article, Kaitlin. I did a recent article on business analytics, and one of the strategies I stressed was to know people in other departments that know what’s going on in their divisions. These often aren’t the leaders, but what you would refer to as “mayors” of their divisions (or Seth Godin would refer to as “linchpins”).

  3. Interesting. One other person to befriend is the person who handes the exepense reports in the A/P dept. It will make things a lot easier when you get paid quickly.

  4. Funny I try to be nice to everyone at work, I learned you never know who’s related by blood A lowly co-worker could be there because he or she has no drive, yet may carry great influence.

    I jokefullly say “I prostute my time to my employer, being all that they want me to be.” My own time even at lunch is my own time, and I do not “hang” with co-workers. I’ve seen to many “off work” things come back to bite people.

    In turn I have always advanced at work, and can more easily leave more of “work,” at the work place. Of course there are days when I yell to the top of my lungs after I pull out of the parking lot, on a bad day, to get the fustration out before I get home.

  5. Great list. :) I would add HR to this list, particularly recruitment and training…it’s a good idea to get in on the latest opportunities for promotions and continuing education.

    Karen, The Resume Chick (on Google or Twitter for questions, comments or violent reactions)

  6. Kaitlin also mentions the receptionist as a girl, a little lower on the totem pole. She also switches from guy, girl, guy, girl, to herself. And besides does it really matter? The post was great and had great tips.

    I would also suggest getting to know the office manager, if there is one.

  7. What do you mean “grow up.” This is a writer who isn’t assuming that the boss is always a man. For decades readers saw only male pronouns: “he,” “him,” and “his,” and had to think “he or she,” “him or her,” “his or hers.” Very quickly people decided that those compound phrases were too cumbersome. So progressive writers–who do not eliminate half of the population from their writing–switch up their use of the male and female pronouns. That started doing this about 20 years ago.

    You sound either new to the work force, or the English language. You grow up and — get a clue.

  8. What do you mean “grow up.” This is a writer who isn’t assuming that the boss is always a man. For decades readers saw only male pronouns: “he,” “him,” and “his,” and had to think “he or she,” “him or her,” “his or hers.” Very quickly people decided that those compound phrases were too cumbersome. So progressive writers–who do not eliminate half of the population from their writing–switch up their use of the male and female pronouns. That started about 20 years ago.

    You sound either new to the work force, or the English language. You grow up and — get a clue.

  9. Ohhh yes. Don’t you ignore us receptionists… We can make your life a living hell if we so choose!

    And DO NOT talk down to us. Or you are promised to be on our bad side.

  10. Another on the “get on the good side of” list, the IT admin/guy/gal. We control your digital life, if you hit a snag or glitch and are a jerk about it we’ll be less apt to help you quickly. Be on our good side and you’ll see how quickly we’ll jump to help you out.

  11. This is a good list and I think it should be a list of 10 people to be friends with.

    Don’t forget the IT Help Desk Team, if your system goes down and you upset them or treat them like dirt, good luck getting your data back or your system working properly in a timely manner.

    Also look at those that come in after hours and clean the office and the mess the other leave behind.

    Treat with respect and kidness can go along way with each individual.

  12. I think it’s very sexist to use the pronoun of she when referring to receptionists. There are male receptionists out there, believe it or not…!

  13. you tell her to grow up when you are the one who is trying to make her seem sexist because she did not use a male figure instead, they could have used he/she, but she did not and it is her who is writing the article and not you so just read it and take your own advice

    Grow Up

  14. What about the lowly IT Guy/Girl. They have a lot of insight into day to day operations, and generally even in a medium to large size companies get to know everyone. Meaning that people talk, and the IT guy/girl is in everyones office at some point in time.

  15. If you need this advice you are doomed. Be nice to everyone and give people the benefit of the doubt. That’s not the same as brown nosing.

  16. As someone who has been both the receptionist (Who became the fill-in for mailroom guy when he was ill) and the intern I have to say this is spot-on. I never willfully shirked responsibilities or did anything to undermine productivity if I didn’t like a co-worker, but somehow things got done a little quicker, with a smile, and superhero-like efficiency for those who took the time to know my name and be polite. A truly good rule of thumb in general is “don’t be a jerk” but if that’s too much to ask, this list is a good start. :)

  17. I agree. I noticed that too. It makes the writer come across as a disgruntled person. I won’t dare advise a guy to date THAT woman.

  18. Most interesting article. As one that is the boss’s boss, it is also helpful to develop a relationship with the Board of Directors, especially the Board Chair. This person may seem unapproachable or perhaps you might assume it is inappropriate to do so, however, as a Board Chair, I find it most helpful to have some staff on my contact list. Of course, this should always be with respect to the CEO’s position. Think about it, who does the CEO report to?

  19. You must be kidding. Someone writes in a female boss and a male “mail person”, and you automatically think it’s “on purpose”?

    There’s a darned good chance that you’re one of the very few who picked up on that; of those few, even fewer care.

    Political correctness for the sake of whiners is a waste of time and effort. I get tired of “he or she, him/her”, in an effort to “keep it fair” and make everyone happy.

    Quit your cryin’. Get over it. Move on.

  20. I like this story. I’d like to see a similar one and more techy driven in respect to Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) or SLC for some. Geeky yes but ‘I’ would find it interesting to know who are the people in this group you’d pay attention too the most. Just a thought.

    As said. I like this… :)

  21. I am a receptionist and I try to be nice to everyone but some people think that being a receptionist is the lowest form of employment. What these people don’t realize is that the receptionist can really screw with their day…oh, you have an appointment w/…, I’m sorry but…

  22. Whether real or perceived, rubbing elbows with your boss’s boss is more likely to get you your walking papers than a promotion. Nothing angers bosses more than failure to follow chain of command or “going over their heads”. Good luck following this advice.

  23. I would have to say the IT guys or gals are people you should know well also because if we know you and you are nice to us and you need a password reset its done before I get off the phone if not it might be the end of the day. I try to be nice to everyone because I know your problem is important to you.

  24. The CEO reports to Rush, the spouse if any and the shareholders. Oh and it pays to be in good favour with all forms of government.

  25. Another person to make sure to know is someone in your IT group. They can help you with computer issues and when you befriend them you have access to fast service and a wealth of computer technology.

  26. Ah yes. The receptionist is the gatekeeper. They have the key and know who goes in and who goes out. The gatekeeper is like the drill sargeant. If you are bad, you are going down sooner or later. So extract the insecurity. You are in a power position but wield it wisely.

  27. Good ideas, but getting in tight with your boss’ boss may easily make your direct boss think you do not value their opinion or that you don’t take them seriously in that position.

    The first time you call the big boss and ask a question your direct boss should answer, or when you come back with a “your boss said” may be the last promotion you get under your current boss.

  28. this story is a whole bunch of bs. you say the receptionist is the gatekeeper and a person to kiss there ass? well i was a receptionist and the criminals and the perpetually late are still there and guess who is out of a job. u guessed it me. or maybe its because they crippled me. and am on a cane for life. do still gets around just fine considering. my strong back is used up so now they “eliminate my position”.

  29. You didn’t mention the IT guy. I can meak or break even further. Have an old CRT monitor. I have discertion on who gets the used stuff. I also have to prioritize the fixes. You get the picture. While my goal is 100% of the people up and happy, reality is not always the same. Someone always has to lose.

  30. EVERYONE hates the IT dept. There is nothing worse than an arrogant, lazy, computer DWEEB!! No point in playing nice. If they actually fixed your computer issues they would be out of a job. It is in their best interest for you to have IT problems.

  31. Seriously? The best thing some people have to do with their day is argue over non-issues of pronoun use and sexism? It’s the 21st Century, people… get over it. Have the self-satisfaction of recognizing the *potential* oversight in usage, but being a bigger person to not allow it to offend you. Seriously… there are bigger, better and truly important things to accomplish in the world.

  32. YES!!! I am the receptionist and I so agree with this. As my duties as the receptionist, I also do reports for the 38 staff in our office-so I concur with the intern comment too – I definitely prioritize based on personalities and just their general attitude towards me. I once told my grumpy boss that he would get his typing requests back faster if only he would smile, that made him laugh and we’ve gotten along great since!

  33. It’s funny how some people find something to complain about in every situation. I don’t know about the writer’s “world,” but at my workplace, my boss is female and the mailroom worker is a guy. This is not an unusual scenerio. Great article, but as someone mentioned, we should at least make an effort to treat our coworkers with respect, regardless of title (unless they’re jerks, then you might want to avoid them).

  34. Sounds like Pete has some control issues. What are you afraid of Pete? Afraid your boss will find out some pertinent info from your employees? Like how much time you spend looking at internet porn on company time?

  35. Enjoyed cutting up with the mailroom guy–fantastic sense of humor. I was more than glad I didn’t look down on the guy–learned later he was the boss’s brother!

  36. What a bogus article! Ya be nice or decent to everybody. You remember the fable of the lion with a thorn in his paw, and the mouse? Be nice to everybody, and watch your back without being paranoid. You can’t receive respect and care unless you give it, unless you want to rely on intimidation, which may come back to bite you in the rear. I hate “drama queens” (male or female), but I listen to them, murmur appropriatedly, and don’t get involved. You have one mouth and two ears, listen at least twice as much as you talk. Learn the lay of the land.
    Ain’t no-one perfectly good, nor perfectly bad. Manipulate, for the overall good, not just your own immediate needs.

  37. And don’t forget about the company pet. If you don’t befriend it, the DOG, it will probably bite your leg and hamper you from getting your work done. I think it’s childish to think that the boss couldn’t be a girl… I’d rather my boss be a girl than a guy, unless she’s, you know, a dog.

  38. There was a time when I was Employed.

    Yet,it was great knowing People around the Company being a Mail Clerk, yet, there was brown noise full of lies, old fashion. fussy nosy busy bodies.

    However, times change, I have been gone for 13 years already. there’s hardly anyone left, yet, the guy that I use to word for is still their, but is impossible to reach him. that is okay, he has been busy busy, and not trying to ignore former co workers, but here is being fair about it. if he calls on one then everyone, or one is enough, so it is the timing and preference.

    I recall that there was clowns making noise at lunch time and they were not mail clerks, they were office workers. that was part of the problem. trouble makers.

    Well, just like saying; Times and People change Post War 1, 2. and that goes for Post 09-11 and so on and so on and so on. yes, I must agree it is nice knowing people around the office, but, there is always one person that seems nice, but is a back stabber.

    And or. in their group of people that have no clue whom is stabbing whom in the back.

    Hay,if I am not perfect wring this note to people. and I know that their are polite people that gives advise. but, there are those that must be bossy, how about letting others here know how perfect you are. I mean, I read polite and non polite comments. I am just making a point. and therefore, am not pointing fingers.


  39. ” Kerry Soileau | Aug 4, 2010 | Reply

    “Don’t ignore the mail room guy.”

    “While it’s great to establish a connection with your boss, it’s even better to have one with her boss.”

    So in your world, females are bosses and males are low status grunts?

    Grow up. ”

    Oh brother, I PRAY you are just joking around. Lighten up.

  40. I’ll second that ! Freda – just treat me bad one time and you will forever be the last to know anything or get your call thru

  41. Hey Kerry,

    The article is not trying to declare that only one sex holds the roles it describes. It’s common practice for writers switch off between male and female pronouns in such pieces, because, both sexes are in the workplace in a variety of roles. The author also referred to the receptionist in this article as a ‘she’, but that doesn’t make all receptionists female in the real world either. Have a nice day!

  42. Why do you have to “pretend” to be nice to key people in the office? Why can’t you just be genuinely sincere? Your article promotes being fake to people in order to get your way.

  43. The Travel coordinator is another person to be on good terms with. I once had an employee who was insufferable. They got connecting flights rather than non-stop, middle seats on every flight and the worst airlines that flew where they was going.

  44. Trust me…the IT person is the most important person to be on good terms with in your office. Especially if they like to talk and have a lot of spare time.

    And hey, why does my boss have to be a woman? :)

  45. Also, don’t forget the person/people who physically cut the checks, whether AP or payroll. It’s always good to be on their good side.

  46. I am an intern right now and have been here a year now, only going into my second year of college. The intern section is very true. In my case I don’t usually do the grunt work, I am full functioning as everyone else, but I do often choose who I work with depending on my relationship with that person. We cant always get everything done that everyone wants, so you are better off if you go and chat up your intern and get to know them better. I became the go-to guy for things to be done and people were fighting for my time. (Figuratively fighting)

    Interns might be part time and low on the chain, but much like other random positions around companies, we keep things going smoothly, we pick up the slack from other employees.

  47. why do i have to suck up to people or be their “friend” to get them to do their jobs. i try to be customer service oriented to everyone at work.

  48. Whatever happened to just doing your job and treating others with respect? Maybe that’s a naive notion now. I am a secretary, and a good one, but I’ve heard myself referred to as “the girl”. I’m 40 frickin years old. I’ve seen too many hot-shots who think it’s my job to do anything they don’t want to do. Remember the ‘delegating’ craze? If I can do my job and theirs, I want a portion of their salary. Maybe I’ll make friends with the HR people =-)

  49. How sexist to assume a receptionist or secretary is female.

    I’ve been an Executive Assistant for most of my 25-year career and agree, it’s a good idea to be on my good side. However, as others have stated, an overall “be good to people in the office” is never a bad idea! (No matter how difficult they can be.)

    Another good tip… be on your boss’s spouse’s good side!

  50. The maintenance man (or woman) belongs on this list because someday you will need something fixed. Don’t forget the security guard either.


  51. I was just thinking that. I do A/P and if you’re not nice to me your check might be “in process” much longer than the checks for people who are nice to me…

  52. “She’s your girl”??? In a professional business article, you actually referred to a corporate receptionist as “a girl”? Do alot of companies out there habitually hire young women under the age of 12 as their frontline representatives? How dare you insult all of the hardworking women who maintain order and corporate process for their firms while being gracious and hospitable to guests and clients? How dare you treat them, in print no less, inequitably because of their gender? There is simply no excuse and this should be stricken from your article immediately.

  53. curious that no one mentioned my dad’s favorite: the people who do payroll. even if you have direct deposit, they can make getting your proverbial paycheck a living nightmare if they hate your guts.

  54. One person that no one has mentioned yet, is your PAYROLL PERSON!!! They know ALL of your business and can make things easy or hard for you.

  55. Are you kidding? I was a receptionist and I had MAJOR input on hiring someone. If they treated me like crap, they didn’t get the job. Also got a CEO fired for having me to work on the side that was not applicable to the company. NEVER underestimate the Receptionist. I was surprised about the intern.

  56. It is always best to just be a all around good employee and let your work ethics speak for itself. I am a corporate trainer for a law firm, and while yes the Training& Developement department has a large in put on employees, that should not be a reason to chummy up to mme. Personally, I don’t care if you are family, a good friend, or simply trying to be friend me, in order for me to put in a “good word”. If you do not have admirable work ethics & skills, I will not give you a good recommendation to the Department directors or management. Sorry, but my intergrity comes before you brown nosing me!

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  58. Plus, the intern was usually CEO’s relative or his mother slept with some high position VP. Man, do you think it is so easy to get an intern job these years? It’s all about “American style relationship”

  59. I myself am a receptionist and most of the office workers here prefer to come to me for things instead of the office manager. I get things done for them that would in the end just sit on the office managers desk for a few days and in return show their appreication, so I can more willing to help them out when needed.

  60. in case you didnt notice, the author scrambled up he’s and she’s. there was also a female receptionist and a male boss earlier on in the article.

  61. How wonderful to have someone try to help us in this economy – every positive tip I read I put to use – thank you, Kaitlin, for succeeding in being helpful to thousands who read this today and carry this wisdom forward. I benefited!
    Sharon Roni Ellis

  62. I agree with the types of politics played in offices. However that just point out the truth that governments and courts deny. No matter how conservative or liberal a person is. They all become hypocrites when it comes to this subject. I see discrimination every week on my job. Our human resource manager pics and chooses which people advance. She even conspired against a woman in a sexual harrassment complaint with the EEOC. Politics is how america works.

  63. The recetionist can also not get you hired. A guy was rude to me on the phone and when he came into the office. After his interview, the company president asked me what I thought, and I told him of the guys behavior with me. At the next all staff meeting, the joke was made that I made the hiring decision for the engineering department.

  64. So true! IT is the group you want on your good side! And BTW, I have two women bosses, and the mail room person is a male also.

  65. The receptionist huh…she’s your girl huh? What a sexist article…the receptionist could be a man you know…and the boss could very well be female…you corporate pigs!!!

  66. Add the cleaning crew to this list. Even if they are a contract crew or work for the building owners. While in elementarty school I learned it’s important to be polite to everyone but it’s best to befriend the janitors and cafeteria ladies.

  67. Boss’s Assistant is also a good one. Their job can be very demanding and they are often referred to as the Boss’s Secretary when they are actually an assistant. There is a difference.

    As far as the gender thing, quit being so sensitive. I highly doubt it was a “dig” at either males or females.

  68. I’m glad so many have mentioned the IT guy. It really is a worthwhile investment of time. Not to mention, they’re likely to take the time to show you a few things, or explain a few things the nicer you are to them.

    I’m glad that the list mentioned the receptionist as well. Some of us are in the job we’re in because we’ve done what you’re doing and decided that the stress that makes you a crab-a$$ to everyone, ALL the time, isn’t worth whatever the position is paid.

  69. Cozying up to your boss’s boss can look like you are trying to undermine your boss. I had an employee who was all smiles and charm to my boss, but a prima donna PITA to manage. In some circles, it’s called “managing the manager”. If you are going to cozy up to the boss’s boss, just make sure you do it for the right reasons.

  70. Interesting article – I’d definitely add the secretary and computer operator as well. The former because s/he is very much involved in day-to-day stuff, and can help you when needs arise. I found that I could also help them with Word, Excel and PPT tips (I’m in computing).

    The computer operator (or DB admin) can also help your job requests go more smoothly … and ensure you’re not put at the end of the list.

  71. Pete – I disagree. Establishing a connection with your boss’s superior does not mean you have to ignore the chain of command or go over anyone’s head. Obviously, you have to use common sense but it can be done as long as you aren’t doing it to supercede your supervisor’s authority. It can be as simple as serving on a committee with him/her for something for which you are both interested.

    Really, though, to someone else’s point, you should be nice to everyone at work.

  72. in today’s economic state, you should be nice to everyone. However, that is a fantasy. Be nice to no one. I say this because everyone is out for themselves only! No one will ever help you, they will only stab you in the back, steal your ideas, and fuck you over every chance they get. I have seen this, and experinced it several times in my career. Company values are shit nowadays. People are shit nowadays as well. Your career is only what you make of it, and then the company you work for still has you by the balls. You want a promotion? Well then either become black or a women and it’s yours….no questions asked. Your a white person? With a degree? A hard worker? Well, then enjoy your time at the bottom because that is where you will spend your entire life. This is the truth, You don’t have to like it, you just must accept it. Your opinion means nothing to me, and your feelings mean even less!

  73. Please don’t be one of those fake nice people either! People can see through that! Be nice and respectful to everyone and you’ll go far! =)

  74. Issues much Kerry? You’re probably the one who needs to grow up, and maybe see a therepist if this article upset you in any way shape or form.
    As the receptionist/office manager, you are right on in this article!

  75. How about the administrative assistants? Admins usually control the receptionist and the bosses life.

    Admins have a lot of influence and power and we know how to use it. We usually have the boss’ ear, we usually know who the players are, who the boss wants to see and who the boss doesn’t want to see. We know who is sleeping with whom, what kind of gift the boss likes, the spouse’s name and what gifts they like, the boss’ kids’ names and, when it’s a good time to see her/him, what mood she/he is in, etc. Plus, I also know where the bodies are buried.

    If I’m not happy with you or if you have done something to disrespect me and my position, I can make your work life hell – and you won’t even know it. Want to see the boss? “I’m sorry but she/he is booked solid. How about next week?” This message delivered to you on a Monday. That important phone call you’ve been waiting for from a client? “I’m sorry but so and so in just finishing up a call. She/he will be right with you.” I can keep that person on indefinite hold until they finally give up and hang up – knowing full well that you’ve been available the whole time. And I don’t even have to tell you that they called. Or if I chose to take a message, you may not get that message until Friday afternoon at 4:55p.m. – when it’s too late. That report you asked me to prepare before deadline? That could go to the bottom of my pile with an explanation such as, “Oh, did you want that today? I just got so busy it completely fell through the cracks. So sorry. Oh, well. Have a nice weekend.”

    Bring all this to the boss? I’ll just tell the boss that I’ve noticed you’ve been having some issues and that I have done everything in my power to assist you but you just can’t seem to get it together.

    If I’m happy with you, your calls go through first, your reports are done in pristine condition and on time, your meeting with the boss is scheduled at the perfect time of day, when the boss is most receptive.

    So be nice to the admins too. We can make or break you if we want.

  76. Oh yeah… Definitely make friends with the IT person. Every office job I worked for I always seemed to make friends with the IT people- and they always take care of you too. Mainly they’ll usually “look the other way” or not get the memo if the internet access is restricted.

    I think the moral of this article is to be nice to EVERYONE at work. You never know how far it’ll take you on any level! :-)

  77. I have been a receptionist for 16 years at the same company & love it. Some folks say they would not like my job, but I love it. I also do the shipping, mailings,office supplies & catering. It’s good to see The Receptionist” on the list because it’s a position nobody talks about. People like to hear a voice when they call a company, not number choices. Thanks for the recongnition.

  78. Kerry:

    I don’t think the author was trying to say that males were “grunts”, but was instead trying to use a happy medium between the male and female pronouns. One could easily make the argument that the receptionist being labeled as a “her” was a lowly position. The use of the pronouns here is irrelevant. The point behind the article is what matters.

  79. This is true!! I started working @ my company 10yrs ago as a caregiver. I have always been pretty friendly and have no problem speaking freely to anyone. After a year or two managers from different depts. began asking me to help out in their depts. Before I knew it, I was qualified to work in at least six depts. Now I work in Administration at the same facility. That just shows that a friendly smile can go a long way.

  80. If your company has a dedicated purchasing/parts person…be nice to them.

    It can be the difference between needing to stay on hold for hours with a repair person or using their contacts to speed up the process. It can also help in your personal life as well, as they often get discounts and know of vendors that don’t deal with the general public.

  81. The only people you need to know is the IT dept, as no one can do their job without a computer anymore.

    Be advised most people treat IT/IS very poorly thus IT views everyone as incompetent ignorant brown nosers, so good luck getting on their good side.

    Unless you’re hot, than you’re automatically on IT’s good side. Complain all you want, it’s true.

  82. Being kind to the receptionist is also good if you are coming in for a job interview. If you’re a jerk, you can be guaranteed that she will tell HR or the hiring manager about it.

  83. yeah i agree with the IT guy. i play hockey with 2 of them at my work and can get anything done pretty much as soon as i ask. not too mention an email deleted that was sent to the wrong person and would have been really bad had they gotten back to their desk to see it.

  84. I totally understand that business is all about relationships. However, that approach can come back to bite you if the relationships go sour. (they always do) So don’t depend on relationships to springboard your career. The safe approach is to work hard, be professional, be reliable, never gossip, and never share your ideas with anybody but the people who are in the “need to know”. Also, be confident in yourself. Get away from sending only emails… make the effort to talk to colleagues face to face. Shake hands with them. Your older colleagues will appreciate that. Never talk badly about anyone, even if you feel the same. Office relationships change all the time and people who were once enemies, suddenly become friends. Just remember that everyone is always jockeying for positions and will turn on you if their own career depends on it. In my opinion, this article is idiotic.

  85. I would recommend being sincerely nice to EVERY receptionist, irrespective of whether it is at your office or someone else’s office. A person’s character can be revealed by the way he/she treats (1) receptionists/secretaries, (2) nurses, and (3) waiters/waitresses.

  86. Pete is absolutely right. It’s good to make sure your boss’s boss knows who you are and stuff, but don’t offend your immediate boss by getting too close to the higher ups in the company. Definitely follow the chain of command.

  87. This is a very informative article. I believe that every one needs to be treated nice and with respect in a any organization; whether small or large.

  88. Miss Mel I agree. I will bend over backwards for the ones that treat me with kindness and say good morning. The ones that turn their nose up, it is not my fault if your calls get dropped.

  89. Agreed. People at every level can detect insincerity (and that’s what this article seems to promote). It’s important to treat everyone with respect even when you don’t need something from them. This is the kind of behavior people notice.

  90. Well, let’s not jump to conclusions here. Perhaps the writer is going by her own experience. I do get where you’re coming from though, but the basic idea is there… stop nitpicking all the little details and focus on the main idea.

  91. I too find it funny that people are griping and whining about little things such as saying “she” for the boss and “guy” for the mailroom person. This article was not written to offend anyone or to assume that the receptionist is always female or anything of the sort. People who automatically get upset or try to criticize and see more of the negative in things rather than the positive in things should be less judgmental about others and maybe have some more insight into their own self as to why they are seeing more of the negative instead of the positive. Is there a reason you take it so personally? Yes, the writer could have thought more carefully about those of you that may be offended by using such terminology instead of he/she etc., however, I do not think that this article was about being politically correct.

    I too found this article to contain some useful information for those that may not know any better or just are not naturally nice to everyone they work with or around. Some people, like myself, would consider most of the information common sense but there are some things that people may not have considered.

  92. WHERE ON EARTH did the author “mention that the receptionist is on the low end of the totem pole”?? Readers, pulleeeze stop infering that which is not implied. LEARN THE DIFFERENCE, and your critical thinking / writing skills will improve; and then you can get promoted too!

  93. My sister took a job as a receptionist in purchasing for one of largest mining companies in the U.S. When opening were posted she applied and moved up, in 4 years she became a senior buyer,the president of one of their main suppliers called to give her congrat’s and asked if she knew their salesmen. In the four years she worked there,when he would come by he would brush her off and didn’t ever speak to her! And told him so. The next day the president of that company flew out and told her how sorry he was and that the salesman in question no longer worked for them.
    Be nice to everyone you never know where they will end up.

  94. I like the article, but it was a little obvious, if you work in an office and have no idea of who has the inside track, then most likely you won’t last. KL made a good comment too, IT can hook you up with the software you need without going through hurdles.

  95. Good points, but sexist language ruins the writing. There are other ways to write it than using compound phrases like “him and her”, and switching back and forth is just stupid and calls attention to the fact that you’re trying not to be gender-specific by being gender-specifc.

    The least sexist part was the female boss. The “guy who’s been there the longest”, the “she’s your girl” receptionist, because of course she couldn’t be a grown woman, and receptionists are always female. “The mail room guy”

    The points made here are valid and correct. The writing, however, is not. The sexist writing detracted from the points being made. Sorry.

  96. Unfotunatly alot of people in our office get walked all over for being nice to everyone and giving the benefit of the doubt. I say try to be nice to everyone while being suspicious of their motives. Sadly, I really go to work to make money not friends. Although, I have a few wonderful coworkers.

  97. As a receptionist I can tell you that being nice to me goes a long way.

    The people that are not nice to me, make me nervous that I’m going to say/do something wrong, so when their clients come in, I’m more likely to say “hello, they’ll be right with you, and have a seat.”

    However clients of people I like (don’t make me nervous), get a much better welcoming, small talk, coffee, water, the whole works. It’s not done on purpose, but I’m more comfortable with people I know, I know what their expectations are and how to achieve them. Needless to say their sales are up!

    Also if your applying for a job, be nice to the receptionist, I’m friends with all the bosses, (the people that will hirer you), if I don’t like you or get a bad vib from you, they ask me and I’m honest with them.

    Just saying… it may not be the top office position but powerful in it’s own way!!

    On a secondary note, get over yourself!! The whole he/she was alternated, it wasn’t meant as a dig to any one sex vs the other!!! I hate having to be so PC all the time.

  98. My fellow receptionist friend,
    First of all we are the most important person in the office, for without us what are they. We see and hear it all AND know everything. I have been at this job for 18 years this year I love love love what I do I know my firm depends on me daily for everything.

  99. “There’s a darned good chance that you’re one of the very few who picked up on that; of those few, even fewer care. ”

    That is exactly what’s wrong with the world. People just don’t care, and they don’t think critically about things. But that doesn’t make it okay.

    It isn’t about political correctness. The point is losing the valid points of the article in the subterfuge of gender stereotypes.

  100. We really ought to cozy up to everyone in the right way since we are supposed to love our neighbor as ourself and to esteem others gereater than ourselves. In His immeasurable love, God sent His only begotten SON for the salvation of sinners, setting the ultimate example of love and mercy. He saved me from a sinful and reprobate life. Christ Jesus the Lord is a wonderful Savior and His love is incomprehensible. I am just a sinner that sees an opportunity to post the good news of salvation from the coming wrath and just judgment of the one true, supremely righteous, and absolutely holy God. I seek the salvation of the reader of this message, but salvation is of the Lord. But I do know this: that there is only one way out of this mess called sin, and it’s thru Jesus Christ: faith alone in Christ alone. I encourage all who read this message to pick up the Bible, the Treasure above all treasure given to men and women to inform them of the way of salvation for their souls. I especially encourage the reading of the Gospel of John.
    He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. –John 3:36
    PS. catholicism is not Christianity.

  101. I was a secretary for 13 years and I tell you there is absolutely NOTHING like the secretarial grapevine. News travels like wildfire on it. If you’re an asshole to your admin assistant, trust me that they all will know your name…Be nice to your secretaries, people. They hold your productivity in the palms of their hands!

    And yes, I agree with being nice to your IT people. It isn’t their fault if your computer doesn’t work up to snuff. But if you bitch them out, they’ll happily let you wait another hour or two…

  102. Why not just be nice to everyone? I know there are some people that are just impossible to get along with, but just being coridal to them wont hurt.

  103. Good list but you forgot the Graphic Designer. Need something scanned? Need a logo or graphic quick? He or she is “the man”.

  104. Yeah I was a little taken a back by the fact that she used such stereotypical language. It make the article sound unprofessional and slightly sexist.

  105. Don’t forget the IT guys. I know they sometimes smell a bit funky and don’t have the greatest people skills, but if you get on their good side, chances are when you need your computer fixed, phone upgraded, printer unjammed, they’ll get to it faster.

    However, if you get on their bad side… it might just take 3 weeks for them to repair your computer! And forget even asking them on how to setup your home computer to get your work e-mail.

  106. great article, ALWAYS BE NICE TO YOUR RECEPTIONIST! he/she has way more say in things then most people think. you will be amazed by the differences you see in clients when they are greeted by a person that thinks highly of you as opposed to someone who just sees you as “another jerk with an office”

    i would also like to add someone that it might be good to be nice to, the people in your I.T. department.
    even if your department is very large, odds are you’ve been mentioned in off the record chats in the server room. Should you have a technical problem, It can easily be the difference between a 20 minute fix up, and waiting a week for the department to address your support ticket.

    I am a system administrator and i can attest to this

  107. Kerry, the writer seems to have just used a boy, girl, boy, girl format here to avoid just the kind of attack that you still felt was called for. The receptionist is a female. Should I, as a female, get upset that this pronoun was used? Relax.

  108. You forgot the most important one: the custodian/people who clean up while you’re sleeping.

    When I became a public school teacher in Harlem my mother, who was a teacher for decades, instructed me to find out what my custodians LIKED TO DRINK. Suffice it to say, after a case or two of Miller Lite, my classroom was consistenly spotless, all year long, to the shagrin of my fellow teachers, some of whom had been there years and years.

  109. While you should be nice to everyone, ALWAYS kiss up to the admins. They are the ones that can make your work life easier or extremely difficult.

  110. My mom always said “be nice to everyone” and I have followed that motto. Because of it, I landed two jobs due to it. Both people that helped me one was a receptionist who RAVED about me and the other was a Temp who no one talk to but me.

  111. I always maintained good relationships with everyone, especially those mentioned above. However, I was always fired, ormy consulting contract was always terminatedprematurely WITHOUT ANY explanation or reasons… I never ever violated any rules… never ever late… Always innovative. I never confronted any fellow employee…. yet, my contract would be terminated without explanation to the extent I wish I was an a***ole or a troublemaker to deserve being fired.
    I once was denied a promotion to aposition where I was the only fit for it, yet the director hired a highschool dropout and that highschool dropout talked to me in shock that they chose him over me (I have a Masters in Computer Engineering from a prestigeous school)….

    Can anyone explain, please?

  112. Being the receptionist didn’t help me! I was the last person hired (and also the most expendable when it came to laying people off) so I was the first person let go when the company began lay offs. Even though the entire four years I was with this company I begged the managers for busy work (the stuff nobody had the time or inclination to do) and still, after doing the work of four people–yes, they had to spread my work including the phones to four other people who still email me on a daily basis to tell me how much they miss me. Maybe my manager should have read this article.

  113. I find this article sexist for the following reasons:

    A. “The [GUY] who has been there the longest”

    B. “The receptionist is the company gatekeeper.
    [SHE] knows . . .”

    C. “The mail room [GUY]”

    D. “. . .with your boss, it’s even better to have one with [HER BOSS].


  114. Who gives a rat’s a** if she used “her” or “him”?! If you have half a brain, you know that outside the article in the real world it could be either one. People are way too sensitive these days and need to grow some thick skin on their sensitive parts!!!

  115. I’ve worked in IT for 15 years now. I ran an IT department in Las Vegas for 7 years. Here are some of the things that I have learned.
    Always work well with your Administrative department! They normally run the Mail Room, Security, Customer Service, Buildings and Grounds, the Front Counter and have the budget for moves when the office needs to be rearranged and you require extra part-time staff to get the job done.
    Getting to know all of the Supervisors, Managers and Directors in your division is a must. When you need something from them, they’re willing to pull strings for you or use their authority to assist you; when you have done the same for them in the past.
    Sucking up to one’s boss or their boss does not help. Getting the job done, putting in a little un-paid personal time and pulling off a job perfectly or close to while making it look like no big deal goes a long way.
    As for interns; don’t waste your time with the High School interns. They make you look bad every time. They spend too much time checking their personal e-mail, hitting on the staff or breaking stuff like glass unicorns around the office because they just don’t care. I had to write an apology letter to a guy once for his glass unicorn being broken when his monitor was replaced. Yes, I did say a guy.
    Finally, when starting a new job, it is always a good idea to learn from the guys/gals that have been there longer than you. They can teach you the ropes and in a new job, that’s the only way that you will learn the ropes. Just make sure that they don’t already have a friend in mind to replace you, in case they can figure out a way to make you look bad. In this job market, you always need to watch your back. Nobody is watching your back as much as you are.
    If you like my comment, you can write me at

  116. In regards to the ridiculous people who nitpick about the author’s pronoun usage:

    A very quick and easy Google research can provide you the following statistical info for 2009:

    Only 26% of mail room workers were female.
    96% of reception positions were filled by females.
    69.5% of medical and health managers were female
    73.8% of tax examiners and collectors were female
    69.4% of social and community service managers were female
    66.8% of human resource managers were female
    56.5% of advertising and promotions managers were female
    54.7% of financial managers were female
    On the other hand, less than 20% of CEOs and other upper management positions were filled by women.

    So, in response to your snide remarks about “her world”, the answer is: Yes. In her world, and YOURS, if you live in the U.S., the chances are your receptionist and middle managers will likely be women, while your mailroom, IT personnel, and “boss’s boss” will most likely be male.

    Does the advice Grow Up include accepting the world you live in? Or should the author do as you obviously do and pretend we live in some fantasy land where every work postion is filled by exactly 50/50 proportioned genders? Sounds not it’s not the author that needs to Grow Up.

    BTW, I agree totally that “the IT guy” should be high on your list of those to befriend. As one of the only 23% of females that work in the IT department, I can tell you that we have ways to make your life smoother than you know, if we like you. It would be unprofessional to delay doing our jobs just because we don’t like you, but I will definitely bend over backwards to be quicker if I DO like you.

  117. Get over it! We have he and she, him and her. If you want to, I’m sure the author will let you interchange them. Does that make you feel better now, little one?

  118. Who cares if she used “her” or “him”? If you have half a brain, you know that outside this article in the real world it could be either one. People are way too sensitive these days and need to grow some thick skin on their sensitive parts.

  119. Be honest! Be nice to everyone and try to get along with everyone. You will go much further than just honeying up to co-workers for your own advantage. If you think the boss doesn’t notice you are brown-nosing, you are mistaken. Likewise, if you are sweet talking the receptionist to get HIM or HER on your good side when you don’t give a bleep about them, they will know that!

  120. It’s well and good to have this list (and I agree with all of the people mentioned), but don’t discount your boss’ assistant nor your boss’ boss’ assistant. Guess who gets right in to see the boss, when there’s a queue? Right, the one that his assistant SAYS is next.

  121. Let’s not forget the janitorial/housing keeping; it will make a big difference in how well & how often your office is cleaned (or bathroom). Also depending on where you work, the cafeteria staff. They will always feed you well!

  122. You forgot to mention IT. I agree with being on the secretaries good side, not only in your company but any company. If you need to get in for a doctors appointment. It is not the doctor who does the schedule but his secretary.

  123. Can’t believe you missed this one, but a lot of your readers caught it:

    The SysAdmin folks. They are probably the most important if you work at all in a tech firm.

    Once you have an ‘in’ these guys, you can get help without having to log a ‘ticket’ – you can simply send them an e-mail or drop by their desk. They are crucial for hardware and software upgrades or new installations on your machine so you can continue with your work.

  124. I picked up on The female boss. she put it in italics… delibritly drawing attention to it. this whole article could have been written without the use of any pronouns.

  125. I’m an executive office administrator (receptionist category) and it is true you should respect us like any other person you work with because if you don’t we pick up on that stuff. Usually those of us that hold this position are very detailed oriented and in the know so play nice because we have a silent bite ;)

  126. This is a great list but after adding a few more folks like the IT person, Office Manager, etc you may as well say just to be cordial with everyone in all depts. Thats what I do and it has worked well for me!

  127. You all that are talking about the sex issue needs to get up to date. That is so late history. You all sound like these people that still play the “sexist” card or the “black” card. History is History. Let it go :)

  128. I’ve had several hiring managers who always ask the receptionist and admin what they thought of each candidate who comes in for an interview. If the candidate was rude or unprepared or dismissive- they didn’t get called back. You can tell a lot about a person by the way they treat those in subordinate positions.

  129. Hello

    I dont mean to disrespect anyone but in my opinion / experience I would like to say why do not we try and be sincerely nice to everyone regardless of their position or gender or if they return the pleasantries. Just treat all people as you would like to be treated.
    Instead of trying to suck up to only those who we think can help us get ahead the fastest at that point in time. GOD BLESS!!!!

  130. Come on people, we all know that the article is “relaxed”. Meaning it was not meant as concrete evidence. In no way was it intended to mean that ALL bosses are women or that ALL mail-clerks are men. You are reading way too much into this. And by doing so missing the whole point of playing nice with your coworkers whomever they may be in order to promote yourself in said business. Simply put the author is suggesting not to ignore the people in positions that may not DIRECTLY help you advance, but may have great value indirectly otherwise.

  131. How about the organization’s ethics expert? Oh yeah… if the organization had an ethical business culture, “cozying up” to influential people wouldn’t make any difference.

    It would be nice if career sites would stop enabling and encouraging corruption in the workplace. Business culture is inefficient enough without pushing the limits of crass favoritism.

    What this article is talking about is nothing more than bribery, but with social affection rather than money, and it’s just as crooked and just as corruptive of business processes and economic dynamics.

  132. The secretary? Hah! The last company I worked for the secretary hated everyone unless you did something for her. The dispatcher built custom cabinets in her house, and that changed him from “I hate him” to “He’s my good buddy”. Someone else mows her lawn. And the boss used her to downsize the company, and find justification to let the higher paid employees go, of which I’m one. I had to sit and listen to her private life on the phone 8 hours a day, including being on her period, and other health issues. I know my experience may not be the norm, but I am so happy to be away from that cow.

  133. thank you. yeah what about the IT guy wana talk about holding keys ha we hold all of them and know everything about everyone. well everything interesting any way. browsing habits, Pa$$w0rds, gosip,(not that we care), but yeah the IT guys are the puppet masters in a way and the right one has acsess to everything muhahahahaha

  134. 1. I honestly don’t think it matters about the ‘he’ ‘her’ etc. Just let it go :)

    2. Another person/people I would add is the Payroll department. Now, someone mentioned HR, but Payroll and HR aren’t necessarily the same (in my company, we have Payroll and HR). It’s good idea to be nice to Payroll because they have an opportunity to screw up your paycheck by ‘accidentally’ reducing your hours, or ‘forgetting’ your overtime hours meaning you either have to wait until next payroll or jump through hoops to get it in this payroll. Especially if they are a larger company where it would be easier to let errors slip through.

  135. COMPLETELY forgot Security. What happens when you need to pick up a file and drive to the office on the weekend and forgot your card? Yeah: Security makes it happen.

  136. You are right about receptionists…be nice to them because they often know everyones little secrets. I work at the front desk, but I also handle A/P, expense checks, mail, room bookings and many other things. A couple of other examples to add to the ones in the story:

    If you are disrespectful and ugly and your expense report is due at 5 pm, try turning it in to me at 9 am the next day….nope, gotta wait until the next check run.

    I am the first person to get to the office and I know exactly who is always on time and those employees who are consistently late. If I am friendly with you and I know the boss has an early meeting I might warn you the day before so you make a point of getting to work on time. OR, if the boss shows up at the office early you might get a text from me warning you to get to the office.

    Finally, I can usually tell you if the boss is in a good mood or not so if you are nice I might be able to tell you that today is/isn’t the day to ask the boss for that raise.

    Best trick is to be nice to EVERYONE in the office, everyones job serves a purpose in the company and you never know when your underling may be your boss one day!

  137. the principles are the same…male or female…so where they were used in the article didn’t really bother me…what bothers me is why we can’t just be decent to everyone we work with…we either need to learn or know who we can trust…and then go with that. Don’t kid yourself, a genuine relationship goes a long way…those people know when you’re using them for your own purposes. It’s instinctive.

  138. A lot of very usuful information in this article if your willing to get past your own gender hangups. The article is well written with dispersing he/she thoughout the article. We all know he/she can be found in every position whether low or high on the totem pole. Ms. Madden has offered some valuble guidance in this article referring to “Positions” to get to know and I for one choose to listen. Thank you Kaitlin

  139. Oh god, look at how many people are whining about gender roles. Get over yourselves, most receptionists are females and he did refer to the boss as a female, so he was at least trying to be partial. I agree with what most of what was written and I also agree with many posters mentioning the IT guy. That’s one person you need to keep it cool with. One other person to be cool with is maybe someone in HR.

  140. they forgot to mention the timekeeper! I am also the administrative assistant AKA receptionist. Rule of thumb when working for the government: “Don’t piss off the person who does the timesheets!”

  141. Totally agree with the IT comments. Having worked at computer companys and having married a computer network engineer, I can tell you that you should ALWAYS be nice to the IT person. Got stuck with the crappy “sticky” keyboard, IT guy can get you a better one. New computers are being passed around….guess who often times has a large say so in who gets the new stuff…IT guy!!

  142. I want to add: it is important to be respectful to the cleaning person/janitor. A good relationship there can make a difference.

  143. To all those who are held up by IT. If they take there time start copying more people when you e-mail and ask how it is going. I bet you will get some quick results seeing as more times then not there the reason stuff isnt working properly to start with.

  144. Don’t be a complete tool. I’m pretty sure this is not what the author meant. Maybe she “Oops, did I just say she?” MAYBE they are basing this off of THEIR workplace. Moron. YOU grow up.

  145. When you work for someone else besides yourself, you have to be phoney baloney. Pretetend to like the ceo even if you cant stand them. Kiss a lot of corperate but and you will climb up the later of success.

  146. Interesting article. You should always be friends with the receptionist or gate keeper. They are the ones that can make or break it for you.

    Being in the adminsitrative world, I can make it easy by helping someone with task that I know the answer to or I can just say that I am not sure and let them figure it on thier own. We are not lowly little creatures that sit at a desk and are always suppose to be nice. We are the ones that know how to get the job done when you are still back there dreaming it up.

    Give all of us a break and realize we are the “Real” bosses of the office whether you like it or not.

  147. As a teacher, I can tell you that in any school, secretarial and custodial staff are the glue that holds the campus together. They practically run the place, do the hardest work for the least pay on the site. Always treat secretarial and custodial staff with the respect they deserve! It comes back to you in so many ways.

  148. This is a great article and oh so true but what about when your 2 bosses hire their kids
    who have no experience, make life so miserable for the people they want to replace they end up getting fired or quit. This is a sorry state of affairs.I can remember when these same kids were young and nice kids. they come to work if and when they want. Are very mean to people at times and want their asses kissed.

  149. As the receptionist/mail room clerk/unofficial IT/event corrdinator/”guru” of the office I think this list is great other than the IT dept being left off. I may not be the one with the clients coming in to see me but if my job was being done the office could not function. Just because I may answer phones, order the lunches for meetings, do the mail and order supplies, etc… Does not mean I do not have a brain. I will have people treat me like I am some sort of lower employee that does not know anything, but yet who is it that fixes your computers? Who is it that makes sure you get your paychecks and office supplies and mail? Who is it that you come to on how to fill out paperwork or to answer your compliance questions? I know when people are coming and going, what their habits are, whether they actually rsvp to meetings or just show up. My wealth of knowledge from everything from office policies and procedures, compliance procedures to just simply different people’s habits and when people are coming and going is beyond just answering phones or sorting mail. If you treat me with respect I will make sure your IT issues are dealt with ASAP, I will be more than happy to assist you with paperwork and I will make sure to order an extra lunch for you even if you don’t rsvp to a meeting… Politness goes a very long way.

  150. Assuming the receptionist is female, the mailroom person is male, the person at the company the longest is male, etc. is perpetuating gender expectation & bias in the workplace. The author tried to be ‘creative’ in the article & assume the boss’s boss was female. But the correct way to handle it is to be non-gender specific.

  151. Are you kidding, forget those guys. The one invaluable resource to me has been the IT person who has gotten me and many others out of some fairly serious issues concerning the most important part of our jobs, data.

  152. Know the recptionist… “Need someone to cover for you when you sneak out of the office for a coffee break? She’s your girl.” If you want to ever get a message from a client or a conference room scheduled, do NOT refer to her as “your girl”. She (if it is a she) is a professional and deserves the same respect you would show any other woman in office. If you have such disregard for the position, sit your pompus butt down in her chair for a week. You will have to deal with people like yourself and will probably not make it beyond Tuesday afternoon.

  153. @Kerry Soileau:
    well she’s probably basing it off her own previous work situations, and there’s nothing wrong with having a guy in a mail room and a woman as the boss. What if she had written it vice versa? Would that mean women can only be receptionists and mail room low status grunts? (The answer is no). And I think your comment is a little insulting to people who do work in the mail room.

  154. as a receptionist, i certainly agree. when people come in for interviews, i always report how they treated me and how they behaved while waiting…several people have been extremely rude to me and probably figured i just answer phones and wasnt important lol! i get along with everyone, so if you cant treat me well, nobody at the company will want you there…

    i cover tracks, i repay favors, on Administrative Assistants day i make out like you wouldnt believe. i hear conversations, know whos getting fired before they even know it…its tough at times but its very true…u play nice with me, your job will be much easier!

  155. Good article. I would add a person in the following areas as well: IT (for those inevitable problems), Facilities (get things moving/cleaned/set up), Security (for the times you forget your key), all admins (they are the gatekeeps for their teams), Purchasing (for quickly moving on contracts for vendors), HR (inside scoop of the company), the manager of an onsite diner (for those last minute snack requests for meetings).

  156. Eeeesh, the article was not meant to be sexiest, only to give you tips. It has great points, take those in and stop being overly sensitive.

  157. I always make sure to get on the good side of the department secretaries. I do computer support, and I would tell them that if they needed help with their computers, come to me. (I would also give them training and sometimes write spreadsheets for them.)

    In return, they would make sure that my paperwork for expense accounts and the like was done properly, that my requests for vacation time was handled expeditiously and so on. It is very much a symbiotic relationship.

  158. I would add, “The Money Person”. I can’t tell you how many times having a solid relationship with them helped as they cut me slack when I turned in receipts late or was more receptive to occasional requests for additional money for my department.

  159. I actually a person that is “good to know” at work. I am a Program Support Assistant (a clerical position). I provide support to several departments at a non-profit that provides support and advocates for people with Developmental Disabilties. I’m also grouped in with the receptionist, and cover for her as needed.

    I book conference rooms for people, hold keys to several agency vehicles (and if I have one, and you need it, I can set you up with a car!), I perform all the administrative duties for my section of the office, and am happy to help when asked. I’ve taught my supervisors how to format letters properly, typed up big monthly reports and other very interesting documents, and know everything exciting that’s going on around here.

    I work with some very wonderful, cool people, and have never felt so appreciated in my life. One of the professional staff that works here was so appreciative of me typing a big report for her, she took me out to lunch to thank me. I say it’s my job, but its the little things that matter to the people that work here.

    I came from a negative situation (as many of the people here can relate to), and have never felt better about myself. I don’t come home at night emotionally taxed or angry with the world anymore, and haven’t in six months.

    Being clerical support isn’t the lowest common denominator here…every job is important, and the highest of the heirarchy at my agency let us know it everyday.

  160. yes to all suggested people but don’t forget the IT person – there is nothing more important than to have someone skilled in tech that can help clean out your computer when you download a virus ….

    Also – don’t underestimate a receptionist. Anyone who considers their job to be lowly is stupid and arrogant. Receptionist keep the office running and organized. They hold one of the most important administrative positions but are not compensated appropriately for all that they do.
    Also, if any of your offices are like mine, I can guarantee that the receptionist has the boss’s ear – ALWAYS. The boss depends on them to keep them informed of what goes on in the office and also relies on their ability to welcome clients and provide the nuances of service that can make or break the clients perspective.
    Thus, don’t mess with the receptionist and be sure to keep them in mind at holidays and other occassions.

    former receptionist that is now regional client relations coordinator

  161. To Kerry Soileau – you should be flattered by her article. Men like you that are in manual labor, low-end and low-paying jobs are recognized in a positive way in her article. Your comment clearly reflects your status in life and that you are overwhelmingly insecure about it. I think you are the one that needs to grow up…or at least grow a pair of balls!!!

  162. This is so true, as a receptionist, I know, whomever is nice to me, I go out of my way for, rude, and you will be on hold forever.

  163. Become buddies with your Boss’s Boss and you immediately become the talk of the restroom as the office suckup, especially if you are new there. This is one move to be performed very carefully if you need to interact with other office mates throughout the day.

  164. I can’t argue with these answers! It’s all very true. I’m only 21 and still in college. I have been working at a company for 6 1/2 years now. New employees always come to me even with my short period of time for advice. You bet I give the workers the scoop on who to watch out for, how to handle a situation, and to make the best choice. The receptionist really is the one to judge your work performance. Remember, they can report you for not doing well, or be the extra help you may need. I know the names of our mail carriers and they walk the packages in while they could just leave them out in the rain. Being friendly and a little small talk can really make a difference. My boss’s boss is our owner. Lets just say from being friendly, having outstanding performance, and keeping a smile I get treated like a king. I get time off for any vacation, pick my own hours, and the amount of work I do is less. Motivation, a clean cut appearance, take care of your work and make it better than expected, treat everyone fair, be honest, and a smile can make your work life better than you can ever imagine. I may be young, but I know that creating a relationship with everyone at your job really is the ticket for success! “Let the world know you’re here in the best way you can!”

  165. It goes without saying, networking is critical at all levels. Just saying Hi in an elevator to someone you don’t know can establish a connection that could make a difference.

  166. I liked her article. What she doesn’t state is that you should be “cozy” with “friends of bosses” in the company. What she may not realize is who is BFF in the company!

  167. Sounds to me, Kerry, that you are the one with the growing up to do. Stop nit-picking simple word choices like “mail-guy” and “her.” I noticed the same thing as I’m sure many other readers did as well but to be offended by that is a bit ridiculous. I’m sure the witer was just going off of personal exp. & wasn’t insinuating that EVERY mail-person is male while every boss is female. Why do people feel they must always complain about SOMETHING? Great article though. Definate food for thought.

  168. @ Kerry

    Where I work, the mail room person is a guy and my boss is a woman. Perhaps the same is true for the writer of the article.

    In your world, this isn’t a possibility?

    I don’t see you taking exception to the fact that the receptionist was assumed to be female.

  169. I work in a office with a bunch of women and work there for many years. I hate when a person that nickpick on me and get underneath my skin. She told the boss that I tried to make changes on a special project. Which I didn’t. I have done this items over the years. I email my boss and told him, that she is jealous, causes trouble and want the center of the attention.What the best way to get along with this person?

  170. This is a great list. I would have to say that for the teaching profession, you may want to place janitor in the position of mail clerk and media center specialist in the place of intern. Everything else is dead on. Wow! Good thing I was able to make these connections.

  171. in response to those who are upset by the ” her boss” or the female characteristics to this article, never once did the writer say that males are below females, it simply says that was the first gender the writer was thinking of. most likely the writers boss is female, you say to grow up i say stop worrying about small things like her or him and get a life, seriously. men and women can get the same jobs if they have what it takes.

  172. I think IT “person” needs to be on that list and high on that list! Being thankful, appreciative, and nice gets my computer work done by the end of the day…not at the end of the week. God bless the IT dept! Couldn’t live without them!

  173. You mean to tell me that you read that whole artical and the only thing you took from it is that the author alternated male and female roles. Most likely didn’t put one minute of thought in it. So who’s sexist?

  174. Be nice to the JANITOR. We see all, we hear all, because we are “invisible” (until there’s a mess to pick up). The bosses won’t even remember your name 10 minutes from now, but the (in no particular order)

    1. Reception
    2. IT
    3. Janitor/Maintenance
    4. Mail room
    5. Security

    personnel know what’s going on. Be nice to them, and at times other than when you WANT something.

  175. Don’t forget about the janitors. I have seen first hand how life is much better when you respect the janitors. Even remembering their birthdays or important dates is a great way to establish a strong relationship.

  176. I agree about also being nice to the IT people. I sure did appreciate them when I was working in an office, and I always told them so. The IT people rock!

  177. so what is so wrong with the idea of a female boss? males pretty much are low status grunts. face reality and You grow up.

  178. So true about the receptionist!! I myself am the Executive Admin and if you are mean I make sure to misdirect your calls ;) just saying

  179. An earlier comment mentioned being nice to everyone because you never know when one of them might be a relative. Too true! And if you get on a family member’s bad side, it won’t matter how good of a job you do. Blood is thicker than water most of the time.

  180. You forgot the tech guys. Always keep the tech support happy. So when you break something they don’t put your request to the bottom of their fix-it list.

  181. Neat article. I might also suggest someone from housekeeping/custodian… they tend to have keys to everything, they know when the carpets are being cleaned and can give you a head’s up, etc. As a teacher, I know how important these folks are to a school. (Think: how fast can the vomit get cleaned?)

  182. Don’t forget the janitorial staff! If you are lucky enough to see them at work, it’s important to say hi and do the whole small-talk thing. They could make your work-life hell or a nice, clean place be in with a little schmoozing;)

  183. To mirror quite a few others, THANK YOU for putting Receptionist on this list! I have to say though, the people that come across my door are not the people that will be reading this article, so the hope that this would benefit me at my company is lost. *sigh* For some reason, once people get into a very high executive position, it seems they feel like they no longer even need to acknowledge my existence. Only 1 of them anymore makes a point to say hello to me, because I did a project for the COO, who had to get on their case for not getting information to me on his schedule so I could complete the project.

    It’s not that receptionists will be unwilling to help out when needed; I do my job to the best of my ability. But boy, does it put me in a downer mood that I’ve been there for more than a year and see you 2+ times a week for regular meetings, and you still can’t remember my name, say hello, or even smile when you walk in the door! (we have feelings too! And tend to be smiley, happy people, that’s why we’re up front!)

  184. I would call this a generic list for someone who is just starting out, because once you are settled in your position you really need to know 1) what do you have that makes you valuable to the company, and 2) Who is it that is more influential. Then, do your best to contribute to success of your team/branch/ division/company, and maintain a very good relationship with the influential people in the firm. You have it made from there on.

  185. I am the IT guy. Being polite and friendly gets you a lot of help. But get to the point and don’t ramble with idle chatter because I’ve usually got complex technical issues I’m trying to solve in the back of my mind even as we speak. I can either tell you, “I’ll make a trouble ticket and one of our tech staff will get to you as soon as we can.” or I’ll throw it right on my plate and bump it up to the next thing I get to instead of the bottom of my list. Donuts usually work on me.

  186. I’ve always heard keep your boss’s boss happy. I take that to mean, know what expectations and demands have been placed on your boss and do your best to support those goals so he looks good and reduces his stress and pressure. I would be very careful about how much time and energy you spend engaging your boss’s boss. Doing that could complicate your working relationship with your boss.

  187. Yep, this list is spot on as well as being nice to the IT ppl and the person in HR in charge of reimbursing your business related expenses.

    I used to run the mailroom, made sure all the office equipment worked, and ordered supplies. And, you can bet if you were a jerk to me, oops, forgot to put that thing you needed on the supply order, wait til next week. Next week rolls around and I’ll conveniently forget you asked got anything to begin with. Karma bites.

    Be nice to everyone because you never know who might become a supervisor next week. ;)

  188. Kerry,
    I don’t think it was meant to be taken so literally. I find it ironic that you are telling her to grow up while acting like a whiny baby. Sounds like you could take your own advice and mature a little.

  189. You never thought about the receptionist? How funny. Being a legal receptionist for 20 years, co workers realize it is best that they get on our good side. The point about receptionists was dead on, let me tell you.

  190. “people who make their life on people guts are like ones making home in a mud pond”

    lots of IT fellows and receptionists came out of the hole; jumping to create their importance….. ok fellows heard of you…….will treat you good….

    if you pick everyones tits or testicles then you may be taken weak, its good to play hard ball sometimes, no matter who you play it with among the 5 or 10 of them, we are social animals so sometimes hook someyimes crook works.

    for higher-ups you are only good if you bring money, business, goodwill, work and then smaller ones will automatically follow your needs.

    if you establish you social status even higher than the higher-ups then they will be happy to become a step for your feet.
    if you are good real world player (like cheese player who play everyone),

  191. Really? Look around. Maybe YOU need to grow up. Why are you offended by a woman who is in a power position? Have you ever seen a guy work in the mail room? Sounds like you have issues, and need a good anger-management therapist. Good luck with that.

  192. I have a really really good suggestion. How about you do good work, be honest as possible, as fair as possible, show up on time, and oh did i mention do good work?

    All this worrying about everything and everyone else isnt really going to make you into anything more than a busybody. Be a pro or go home.

  193. The first one – the person who has been there the longest – is EXCELLENT advice. There is one of those anywhere you work, and they are invaluable fonts of knowledge.

    Add me to the list of people who disagree completely with the suggestion that “your boss’ boss” is someone you should be chummy with. Be polite and pleasant to EVERYONE…but DO NOT EVER approach your boss’s boss to make conversation, ask questions, whatever. I can’t think of a faster way to get yourself booted from the job, and rightfully so. No one would trust you if you did that, not even your boss’ boss, who clearly knows chain-of-command rules or he/she wouldn’t be at that high position. The boss’ boss would wonder “what’s up” – why can’t you talk to your boss directly? They would be on the phone with your boss the second you left the office (maybe before even, by having an assistant e-mailing your boss while you are THERE, your boss would be ticked off…newbies out there, DO NOT follow that bit of bad advice. Yikes, scary!

    #2 The receptionist, secretary, office assistant, exec secretary…whatever the title…you know who he/she is. A quick “How are you,______(person’s name)?” or “Is your Mom doing better?” if he/she was out for a week to care for their ill parent is IMPORTANT. Don’t treat this person like an “It”. You needn’t waste their time with too MUCH small talk, but always remember:THIS IS THE PERSON WHO HAS MORE DIRECT ACCESS TO YOUR HIGHER-UP THAN ANYONE.

    As someone else said, treat everyone kindly. You really never know who is related, went to the same high school, started working the same year as, goes to the same church with, has kids who play together with…whom.

  194. @Pete – Assuming that networking with higher ups is the same as “rubbing elbows” (or kissing butt, sucking up, etc..) means this article is not meant for you. Getting a business card or some contact information is the easiest form of networking, and definitely among the most effective forms. If your boss saunters over and wonders why your cavorting with his boss, come up with a simple excuse (like “hey, I found out this guy also likes X-brand of whiskey” or “he goes to the same church”).

  195. …or instead of devoting 3/4 of your time on the clock kissing up to everybody, treat them all fairly, stand your ground, and *do your job* well. That very last point will keep your end covered more than anything.

  196. SEXIST MUCH? ok the receptionist isnt always a woman, just as the ‘mail room guy’ isnt always a guy. Please be more general next time when addressing the gender of a certain occupations. YOu know what they say about assuming….

  197. Here is a novel idea: Why don’t we do our jobs that we’re paid to do? Maybe it’ll keep the boss from “needing” to layoff people.

  198. I agree people should follow the chain the of command at work. But, I don’t think “establishing a connection” to the boss’s boss is the same as going over the boss’s head. When I think of going over someone’s head, I think of trying to resolve a problem at work.

    Perhaps a person should get all the info they can from their immediate boss first before cozing up to the boss’s boss to be on the safe side.

  199. Really, sincerely be kind and pleasant to everyone you can stand to be. I don’t like the “cozy up to” implication that you are using people. It is certainly true that you will benefit from being honestly appreciative of those whose positions are lower than yours. Depending on what kind of work you do, the printing department staff, maintenance, and the audio-visual techs can save your butt…or not. Send thank yous for big projects completed well, and cc their bosses – especially if they help you out in a pinch. I don’t use them, I just really know that I can’t do my job without their expertise, whatever it is. The don’t receive enough kudos, and they appreciate the acknowledgement. And, I truly appreciate them!

  200. As far as using he or she when referring to different positions, it is possible the writer is drawing from her own experience. I doubt it was on purpose. I cannot remember having a job where my boss was a man. I have had at least two positions where my boss and my boss’s boss were women.

    I am aware that he/she is the accepted form of writing. But focusing on the words he or she misses the point of the article.

    It doesn’t matter if our bosses or co-worker are men or women. It doesn’t matter what position they hold. We should treat everyone the way we wanted be treated.

  201. What about the I.T. person?? If your nice to the I.T. person (or dept) any problems you have with the computer will be pushed towards the top of the list… working in I.T. for over 20 years, I would go out of my way to help the person I liked first… your monitor works but the brightness is starting to fade — I like you – I get a replacement for you most times without even a trouble-ticket, I didn’t like you – deal with it until it dies then you have to call the help desk for me to come out… laptop running slow — I like you – let me see what’s bogging it down and I’ll take care of it, I don’t like you – so the computer is slow – might be an overload on the network, sorry…

  202. You need to grow up and stop overreacting. The writer probably has a female boss and a guy in charge of mail, so that’s why its written that way. No big deal

  203. This article is so stupid. Start your own business. You don’t have to be friends with anyone in the office. Matter of fact, keep your work at work. Stop socializing and brown nosing. Stay productive. You are working to make money, not friends.

  204. Why do space filling reporters always seem to assume that workplaces consist only of cubicle land?

    There are some of us out there doing the actual work. No amount of paper and pixels in the world can equal the goods and services produced out in the field, whether it is raw materials, construction, factory production, service, or agriculture.

    I mean no offense. There is work to be done, no matter the job. But seriously… MSN reporters need to unplug once in a while and see how the other half lives. Few offices exist for the sake of being offices. They usually control, collate, or analyze something going on “out there”.

    As an example…my own occupation puts me in no direct contact with receptionists, interns, or mail room guys. My boss’s boss comes ’round once in a while, and anyplace is going to have the guy that has been there the longest, no matter the job.

    It just seems that every time some MSN reporter wants to do a “workplace” article, it always has to do with an office.

  205. Actually, my job is just like that. Health insurance company where there’s 90% women. They have the power. And yes, all the people that haul all the mail carts around, they are guys. Girls can’t carry those huge bundles. So actually, you should grow up, because if you were grown up you’d know that not every office is from the late 1950′s.

  206. Why is it people are so worried about office politics instead of doing productive work, I will tell you because America doesn’t care about hard work anymore infact work is a four letter word worst then the “f” word, instead America is more rewarding to those that do no work than to those that work their heads off. Bosses want their subjects to have as brown a nose as posible, they don’t care if you do anything as long as you stick your nose as far up their butts as posible.

  207. Another queue is to be nice to the receptionist when you show up for an interview. I have been at the front desk when potential new hires walked in and I would let the hiring bosses who was super nice and those that treated me like crap. The ones that were not so nice were never hired. Of course, they had no idea that I was a manager just filling in for a break or a sick day.

  208. I agree with Carol. You should be polite and courteous to everyone at work. Why do people think you only have to be respectful to people who can get you something, the custodian is no less a person than the CEO. I usually say hello to everyone I encounter during my day, not just when I need something. Guess what when I do need something people are always accomodating

  209. I was nice to my Boss’ Boss and my Boss found a way to fire me or more politly lay me off due to the economy. I know it was wrong but he did it legally. I know what it was because they hired a someone else to do my job and called his job a different title but he did the same work. I was not protected by that Boss’ Boss because I was nice. Although, I did get a raise not too long before I left. I was not too nice i was just polite and paid attention when he talked to me. I never went to his office or made an effort to look him up in any way. I was just polite with a smile. Should I ever do this again? Was this a one time event? Scared to try again.

  210. Hey.. u missed out on your colleagues, afterall its them who manages the show in your absense, and when we need some help in finishing a task. So being in good books of your colleagues is also an important factor

  211. Wow, does this mean that you should be promoted over a more experienced worker because you kissed ass with the boss? I just fired one of these sociopaths. Not because he knew my boss but because he tried to use that relationship to get other employees fired. In firing him, I can say that all of my employee’s are happier and I have set an example in our workplace. That is, “This company does not tolerate Mark York’s”. Mark York is an individual who worked for an IT company and planted elaborate fake stories about his bosses that forced all of them to retire, be fired, or transferred. It took 2 years to find out that all of these stories were fictional.

  212. We need to remember that we don’t have friends at work. Loyalty is based on where you stand on the ladder and only then will it go so fare. We are all trying to get ahead in this world no matter if we are a he or she. We will do what it takes.

  213. I’ve been a teacher for a long time… and the number one person to make friends with is the custodian…. he holds the KEYS to the world…and if he’s your friend—- great services, your room is always cleanest, if you need anything – they’ll be right there, and If you need to get in after hours or early….. always happy to help….
    Make them your enemy….. not good!!!!!!

  214. It’s scary to realize how many people think it’s their right to make another person’s work life miserable because they don’t like them. We all need to do a good job for the sake of the company. Not getting people their messages, reports and phone calls etc in a timely manner can be detrimental to the company. I had no idea so much pettiness was going on in the work place.

  215. Ladies and Gents…you don’t have to get to know anyone or kiss any one group or individuals butt. The most simple way of getting anything in life is to treat everyone that you come in contact with the same…with RESPECT. Try it sometime and see if it doesn’t work for you.

  216. Great article Kaitlin,

    I would add one more – the Janitor or cleaning crew. No one has more access to every office (nbo matter what level), conference room, desks, flip charts, meeting notes, etc. than the Janitor does. That person could be the “most in the know” in the company. They also will keep your work area clean!

  217. Oh, how clever! You said “Her boss”. I guess that’s OK. But if you said “His boss”, you’d be male biased. Is that about right, idiots?

  218. Pingback: Freshers Yaar! » Blog Archive » An Easy Way to Feel Powerful at Work

  219. Pingback: 5 People to Cozy Up to On The Job « Daily by Morin

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