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Workplace etiquette is the code of ethical behavior regarding professional practice or action among the members of a profession in their dealings with each other. Utilizing etiquette in the workplace can ensure that everyone feels comfortable while being productive. The following information is intended to highlight a few main areas in which etiquette should be considered. Please note that each person’s unique identity and culture can influence what it is they may see as ethical. Considering who you are and the company’s expectations, this can sometimes be difficult. If you have questions or concerns about workplace etiquette, please schedule a career counseling appointment.
- Seek and speak of the good in all who you work with.
- Treat all with courtesy and respect (co-workers, supervisor, office guests, etc.)
- Respect the privacy and personal space of others both in their space and in community areas.
- Develop a reputation for honesty and integrity.
- Take responsibility for mistakes, apologize, and present a solution.
- When someone compliments you for something done as a group, always give the group credit.
- Keep noise to a minimum; limit use of speakerphone, and keep personal music low.
- Be sure to tidy up after yourself.
- Lying, cheating, or stealing.
- Eating other people’s food or “borrowing” small amounts without permission
- Using profanity, telling dirty jokes, racist jokes, or sexist jokes; additionally, discourage those who attempt to share them with you.
- Taking part in office gossip and rumor spreading.
- Making disagreements personal – focus on the situation (not the person) and be open to compromise.
- Take care of communal property (copiers, fax machines, kitchen equipment); fix what you can or alert the person in charge of such duties when necessary.
When in the workplace, it is important to project an appropriate image; present your best self.
- Attire that is within the dress code for your place of employment.
- Neat, pressed, clean clothing without tears, rips, or hanging threads. All buttons, snaps, or hooks should be on the garment and hems sewn in place.
- Clothing that fits appropriately.
- Clean, workplace appropriate shoes you feel comfortable walking in.
- Casual clothing (denim, casual, knit t-shirts), unless your company approves of casual attire.
- Attire that may be overly revealing.
- If wearing a tie, make sure it matches and extends below the belt line.
- If wearing perfume, cologne, or aftershave, make sure it is subtle.
- If wearing accessories (necklace, earrings, and bracelets), make sure you keep it minimal.
- If wearing nail polish, make sure it is not chipped.
- Consider keeping a toothbrush, breath mints, and deodorant in your desk for hygiene necessities.
Planning and Time Management
Good time management skills begin with planning and preparation. Having your work tasks strategically planned out can keep you on task, enhance your productivity, and increase your ability to meet deadlines on time.
- Be punctual.
- Utilize some sort of task management method (to-do list, electronic calendar, planner, bullet journal, etc.)
- Have a pen and paper handy to write down your thoughts or helpful information as it occurs to you.
Schedule times to take breaks throughout the day, as permitted by your employer.
- Taking excessive or unpermitted breaks.
- Pulling co-workers off-task frequently for non-work-related conversations.
- Know the purpose of the meeting, prepare, and actively participate.
- Be mindful of the time, stay focused and on-task
- Make note of action items assigned to you and develop an execution plan for completing those tasks
- Interruptions by being on time and silencing electronics
Interpersonal skills are the skills used by a person to interact with others respectfully. Knowing how to respectfully interact with others in the workplace can be vital to completing tasks and projects.
- Project a positive attitude towards everyone with whom you interact.
- Keep good relationships with everyone in the office.
- Utilize questions to clarify information to avoid misunderstandings.
- Sharing too much personal information, including religious beliefs, political beliefs, relationship issues, health issues, financial information, etc.
- Complaining and those who frequently complain.
- If someone is confrontational with you, avoid the confrontation. Take time to cool off before you respond and focus on possible solutions, not problems.
- Only express dissatisfaction after you have taken the time to determine if the complaint is worth mentioning; additionally, be mindful of the timing and approach of your delivery.
- Attempt to remember the names of those to whom you are introduced.
- Say “hello” to others in the morning and say “goodbye” at the end of the day.
- Be mindful of your volume, tone, speed, and expression.
- Choose your words carefully and avoid using um, like, you know, etc.
- When being introduced to someone, stand up, smile and make eye contact, greet the person, and shake their hand. When you introduce two people, state their names and provide a little information about each.
- If you have difficulty remembering names, in your first few days on the job, or when you meet someone for the first time, jot down their name(s) until you remember them.
- If engaging in small-talk – when appropriate – keep it light and be inclusive of all
- Smile when you speak on the phone, it can make you sound more pleasant
- When placing a phone call, make a few notes beforehand regarding what you would like to speak about and take notes during the conversation.
- Every time you make a call, announce your first and last name and where you are calling from unless you are very familiar with the recipient of the call.
- Explain the purpose of your call and ask the person if they have time to talk; if the person is busy, ask when would be a good time to call again.
- When answering the phone, state the name of the company or department you work in, your name, and end with a question of how you may help.
- Example, “Purchasing Department, this is Alex Smith—how may I help you?”
- Record a voicemail greeting that includes your name, department, company, and request for callers to leave a message.
- When leaving a message for someone, state your name, department, and company first, leave a brief message about the purpose of your call, and, finally, repeat your name and a number you can be reached at for a return call.
- Use your cell phone sparingly, reserve usage for important or urgent calls.
- Turn your ringer off.
- Let non-urgent calls go to voicemail.
- Using your phone to scroll through social media during work.
- Texting frequently during work.
- If making/taking a call in an area where others are working, be mindful of your volume and try to keep it as brief as possible.
- If you must make/take a call, find a private place to do so, if possible.
- When sending emails, until given permission to use a first name, use titles (Mr., Ms., Dr.) to address email recipients.
- Begin messages with a salutation (Dear ____), end messages with a valediction (Sincerely).
- Make sure your message is free of misspellings, grammatical errors, punctuation mistakes, and typos.
- Use “Please” and “Thank You.”
- Be mindful of the recipient’s time and keep your messages informative yet concise.
- Sending confidential information electronically.
- Writing in all uppercase or unnecessarily using exclamation marks; it’s similar to shouting.
- Using abbreviations, unless the recipient is fully aware of the abbreviation’s meaning.
- The more serious the message you need to communicate, the less appropriate e-mail is as a medium.
Sharing and/or receiving positive and negative feedback can be uncomfortable. It is important to keep in mind that sharing and receiving feedback is part of and vital to one’s professional improvement.
- Utilize a positive feedback method or technique when sharing feedback with others.
- Be mindful to focus on the situation and not the person.
- Offer solutions and recommendations on how a person can improve.
- Ask your boss to point out areas for improvement and growth.
- Receive constructive criticism, and evaluations, with an open mind and use them to learn and grow.
- Share positive feedback with colleagues when they have performed well.
- Utilizing a condescending, degrading, or aggressive tone.
- Being vague with your feedback; offer specifics.
- Addressing things in which a person has no control over changing (i.e. it may not be their job).
- If it is unclear as to why a person is not performing to an expected standard, have a discussion with them and avoid making assumptions.
- If you disagree with feedback or criticism you are receiving, gather proof to prove your case and present it in a timely manner to the appropriate parties.
Having a good mentor is an excellent way to help you learn the ropes and maximize your career potential. A mentor can open doors by empowering you and helping you develop and work toward professional goals.
- Find a mentor who is experienced, working in the field you are in or would like to be in, and willing to set time aside to be of assistance to you.
- Prepare for interactions with your mentor to make the most of your time together.
- Come to an agreement with your mentor regarding expectations of interactions.
- Keep questions appropriate and within the work context.
- Be respectful of your mentor’s time and availability.
- Requesting more of your mentor than their time permits.
- Moving too quickly into a personal friendship.
- Utilizing your mentor as a personal recruiter or job hunter.
As you gain experience in the world of work, you may consider advancing to higher level positions. Going about this process in an ethical manner can make the difference between obtaining advancement or being passed over.
- Be aware of the work that is going on around you because these could be your areas of potential future growth.
- Invest time in networking with other professionals within the organization to learn about their jobs and departments.
- Learn about the company’s training program and professional development opportunities; take advantage when applicable.
- Make sure that you understand your role in contributing to the bottom line of the company and keep your eyes focused on the big picture in addition to the details of your job.
- Asking for a raise because you need more money; ask for a raise because you are worth more money.
- If discussing a promotion with your supervisor, highlight what you could bring to the job; know the market for your skills, do not mention personal issues as reasons for why you should be given a promotion.
- If your work load permits, take initiative and volunteer for additional projects.