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Workplace Communication

In an era of Casual Fridays and work-from-home colleagues, how can you maintain effective office communication in a changing business climate?

We’ll steer you through changes in business etiquette, and help you successfully navigate through the new realities of workplace conflict and office politics.

I’ve long preached that employees should not enjoy an expectation of privacy in information they voluntarily place on the Internet, including social networks like Facebook. Now according to one federal court in Indiana, it is also fair game for employers to use social networking information when they have to defend against harassment and discrimination lawsuits.

Fighter pilot Rob “Waldo” Waldman had survived six-hour combat missions in Iraq and Kosovo, so he figured that ferrying an F-16 from Spain to South Carolina was no big deal. Right? Wrong. The problem was 3,500 miles of ocean and Waldman had claustrophobia. Fly or abort?

What makes the Internet useful is also what makes it so undeniably distracting: There’s no end to what you can find online. Luckily, a few browser add-ons that work with Firefox can help make web surfers more productive (all available at addons.mozilla.org).

You’re as dependable as a Swiss train: You never miss deadlines, never show up late and always complete even your worst projects ahead of schedule. In return, you’d hope management would offer its appreciation once in a while. Here’s how to get the recognition you deserve without looking as if you’re seeking attention.

September brings with it a “back to school” feeling that can be sated only with a seminar or course. And there’s no easier, more affordable source for online learning than iTunes. Check out iTunes U to find free courses or talks from major universities.

Q. Admittedly, this is an odd-ball question. My HR department just received a complaint from an employee about risqué e-mails that some of her co-workers were trading back and forth. Coincidentally, the employee who complained is also slotted for termination because of poor performance and attendance problems. Is there any risk in terminating this employee in light of her recent complaint?

A reader recently wrote asking about the usage of “per.” It’s common to see sentences such as: “I’ve attached a copy of the contract, per your request.” Some reference books point out that “per” is correctly used to mean “by the,” as in “per hour.” And other guides recommend using more familiar English words.

Q. Is it OK for me to consider information about a job applicant that I learn by using Google, viewing Facebook pages and reviewing Twitter feeds?
You want to improve teamwork. So you reward group performance, praise any signs of collaboration and prod loners to become joiners. That’s a good start, but why stop there?

Stop yourself before saying any of these words, which can make you sound noncommittal, undependable or untrustworthy: 1. “Try.” 2. “I’ll get back to you.” 3. “We’ll see.” 4. “I guess … ” 5. “If.”