Office Etiquette: How to Survive in an Office Full of Men

Today’s post about surviving in an office full of men is written by Vanessa Burke. Vanessa is an aspiring freelance writer, Arkansas graduate with an English degree, and a faithful Razorback.

After college, I spent a few years freelancing and was desperate to get around people again. There is only so long that anyone should remain professionally isolated, and I had reached my maximum capacity. Luckily, one of the companies that I had been freelancing for was starting to hire full-time writers, so I applied.
A month later, I relocated and walked into an office full of men.
Now, I had been forewarned that I would be the only women in the office, and had always been the only female roommate throughout college so I knew what to expect – or so I thought. However, if you aren’t used to being “one of the guys” and are about to start working in an office full of men, here are a few pointers to help you enjoy the workplace.

Working in an Office Full of Men: A Women’s Guide

Remain Assertive

Acting meek or clueless will not get you anywhere. Men generally don’t like to waste their time with cryptic words. If there is something you don’t understand, come out and say it. If there is something you want, come out and say it. They will not be offended, and you will get whatever you need to do your job successfully which is a win-win situation.

[Related Post: How to be an Assertive Woman at Work]

Don’t Be Afraid to Joke

As the only girl in the office, you will receive a little bit of heckling – and there is no harm in it. In fact, learn to dish it back. I started referring to the office I work in as “the Frat House” much to my co-workers’ enjoyment. There is no harm in joking around, and it generally helps keep the dialogue open.

Expect Some Rough Housing

No matter what the age, you can expect guys to rough house – even in an office. I’ve seen soccer balls kicked down the hallway, yoga balls tossed, push-up contests, pull-up contests, and darts thrown dangerously close to people. You might as well get used to it. While you shouldn’t get involved, a laugh, head shake, or eye-rolling is always appropriate.

Learn to Work Anywhere

If the game is on, we’re working at a bar. If the office is too loud, I’m at the cafe downstairs getting work done. When you work in an office full of men, you have to remain flexible and willing to work just about anywhere and under any circumstances. While it isn’t always ideal, it definitely keeps things interesting and leaves me wondering what will happen next.

[Related Post: 5 Ways to Stay Energized When Working Long Hours]

Allow Yourself to Be Treated as a Lady

This is one that I struggled with, but have learned to accept more gracefully. Even though they will belch, rough house, and do pushups in front of you, the men in your office will still treat you like a lady by allowing you to go first and opening doors. Allow them to do so, and always mind your pleases and thank yous. Your work space may seem like Animal House at times, but allowing chivalry and manners is never a bad thing.
So do I regret my decision to work in an office full of men? Would I now go back to school to get a more normal career as a nurse or pharmacy technician? No, Ma’am. In fact, the frat house in which I work now references to me as “House Mom” – a poke I am more than okay with accepting, and it has also afforded me several professional opportunities I otherwise wouldn’t have had.

Final Thoughts

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there from time to time. While working in an office full of men may not be every woman’s ideal, stepping out of your comfort zone to do so can have some definite professional advantages – not to mention, it’s drama free.

Ladies!  What are your thoughts?  Do you work in an office full of men?

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