Office Etiquette – 10 Tips for Professional Behavior in a Work Setting
Today’s blog is a bit unconventional compared to our typical content, yet it’s so important! We’ve all been on the receiving end of poor etiquette at the office. From office gossip to emails that rival novels, poor methods can misconstrue intent and frustrate coworkers. So, today I’d like to share ten simple tips for upping your office etiquette:
1. Pay attention to the interests of coworkers – Show a genuine interest by listening to understand, not just to hear. Learning more about those you spend the majority of your time with is crucial because it helps you foster relationships and establish bonds that make your team stronger.
2. Share credit for good work – If you have worked on a project with others, give credit where it’s due. Making a point to highlight the successes of others builds appreciation and trust. Whether a quick verbal “kudos” at your next team meeting or Skype/Teams shout-out, complimenting a job well done is always a positive thing.
3. Offer a helping hand – When you observe a teammate struggling with a project, client, or deadline, extend a lifeline by offering to help. Even if their issue is outside of your typical scope of work, you might find that you can help them navigate through a solution. And if not, you lend a listening ear that they might need to help them sort things out.
4. Stay home if you’re sick – This one seems self-explanatory, but when we have a plethora of tasks to accomplish and deadlines to meet, we tend to convince ourselves we’re “not really sick”. After what we’ve all experienced during the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to recognize when we need to stay home due to illness. The good news is that with technology, many employees can work from home until well again!
5. Avoid gossip – This tip is straightforward in theory, but it can be hard to recognize. When we hear the word gossip, we often envision teenage bullies blatantly talking negatively about others. In an office setting, this can manifest through conversations about your coworkers’ personal lives, unsuccessful business transactions, or disappointed clients. No matter what the negative topic of conversation might be, avoid it like the plague! Try to see the positive in everyone and think about how you’d like to be treated. If involved in a conversation that turns to gossip, try to redirect. If that’s not possible, excuse yourself! You will be better for it every single time.
6. Practice Attentiveness – Whether in meetings or individual conversations, being present in the moment is important for a number of reasons. It allows you to understand and retain more information, build connections with the speaker, and more. You can demonstrate attentiveness and alertness by nodding, responding to questions thoughtfully, and minimizing distractions.
7. Be a good communicator – Keep your teammates informed by communicating with them regularly and providing updates at the appropriate times. When collaborating on projects, it can be easy to forget the small details. Did that client email you back? Have you forwarded that email to the appropriate parties? Did your guest speaker confirm the meeting date and time? Have you sent out that calendar invite? The key here is not making an assumption that the team knows what you know.
8. Practice Email Etiquette – Email is one of the most frequent methods of communication in a business setting. Simple ways to make sure your emails are polite include: confirming that you have received emails, only using “reply all” when necessary, waiting a few hours before sending a response when you have been triggered emotionally, keeping your emails short and to the point, and making sure your subject line is clear.
9. Proofread – No matter what you’re working on, check, check, and double-check for spelling, grammar, and typos. If it’s an important email or a communication that is client-facing, it can also be helpful to have a coworker review the material to have an extra set of eyes on it. A small error can make a big impact on how someone perceives your message.
10. Focus on the positive – We all have positive and negative experiences, views, and characteristics. Seeing only the negative in a situation leads to feelings of resentment, confusion, and discord. Focusing on the positive elements of coworkers, projects, and your role can completely shift your mindset and perspective. As we coach in our FLP Team Series, your brain believes everything you tell it. Make sure you focus on solutions and the positive as much as possible.
Practicing these ten tips can help ensure that your coworkers’ perceptions of you are professional and positive. While you’re more than likely already practicing many of these, it’s always a great review. We encourage you to try to be extra intentional over the next few weeks and adopt these intentional behaviors. You will find that your perceptions, relationships, and mood can be greatly impacted.
All the best,