how do I learn what is and isn’t okay at professional jobs?

It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question. A reader writes:

I’m in high school, and I recently discovered your blog, and I was reading some posts. One of them was the infamous “fired for circulating a petition for a lax dress code” post. If I were in the shoes of one of the OP’s coworker-interns, and she came up to me and said that there was a petition for a lax dress code and all the interns had signed it, I almost certainly would have signed it and would have been fired with the rest of them.

I now know that petitions at the workplace are unprofessional, but I’m still concerned because next year I’m headed to college and into the real world, and I still have a somewhat naïve view of the world and I don’t really know what sorts of things are unwelcome at jobs. I’d like to avoid learning what is and isn’t rude the hard way (i.e., get fired for unintentionally aggravating a manager). So I’m asking you: What is and isn’t faux pas at professional-type jobs? How would I learn what not to do?

P.S. I have a job, but it’s at a local gas station that doesn’t have a strict dress code and it allows some goofing off. Nothing resembling a professional internship/job.

I want to throw this out to readers because I think a lot of people will have good advice on this. But I also want to note — it’s not that a petition at work would be unprofessional in every instance. It’s that in that case, the interns were essentially guests of the company for the summer and were protesting something that’s a really basic, typical expectation at the majority of companies … as opposed to asking the reasons for the dress code and trying to get a better understanding of it (something that internships are all about).

Readers, beyond that, what input do you have for this letter-writer?

how do I learn what is and isn’t okay at professional jobs? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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