Good Manners and Volunteer Work

I had a reader tell me she went to her child’s school the other day as a volunteer cashier in the cafeteria. The volunteer sitting next to her talked to her the whole time about how terrible her life was going. The reader said it was so depressing to hear this woman go on and on, she had to go talk to a friend during a lull just to get a break from this woman. Is it rude to bring your personal life to a volunteer job? Here are some things to remember when volunteering.

• Treat a volunteer job just like a real job. You would not bring your personal problems to the office, so do not do that when volunteering.
• Take the volunteer job seriously. If you have a deadline, then meet it. If you are supposed to make phone calls, recruit other volunteers, or stay within a budget, then do your best to accomplish what others are expecting you to accomplish.
• Show up on time, and if you are running late, have a phone number handy to call someone to let him know.
• If you cannot fulfill your volunteer commitment, then find your replacement. Do not put it back on other people in the organization. Do you best to find someone who can do the job as well, or better than you could.
• Feel free to turn down a volunteer job. Saying yes out of guilt or because it is your best friend and she really needs your help could lead to disaster. Someone rather have you say no then do a bad job, or quit in the middle of it. Feel free to ask a lot of questions first, ask to speak to the person who had the job before you, and make sure the job meets your other goals in life.

Being a good volunteer is important. Complaining or being negative during a volunteer job, or about a volunteer job makes it a lot less fun for the other volunteers. Use it as a fun distraction from your everyday life, and feel good that you are helping others.