Office Resources: Professional Office Etiquette
Article brought to you by: Phillip Donaldson
Imagine handing a book to two very different people at your office. The first person snatches it out of your hands and turns away without another word. The second person instead receives it graciously, with a large smile and an expression of sincere gratitude for your thoughtfulness. Which person would you be more likely to think highly of? Etiquette and good manners make a world of difference in how we interact with other people, as well as how they perceive us. In the workplace, there are many different aspects when it comes to etiquette. The way in which we approach an interview, a business luncheon, email correspondence, or even phone conversations all require certain standards of etiquette. This guide will help you to navigate through all the different areas of business and office etiquette successfully.
At a job interview, candidates are always worried about making a strong first impression. One of the best ways to go about this is by putting yourself in the interviewer’s shoes. How would you like a candidate to present themselves? Punctuality, neatness, and professionalism are a must for interviews. Always give a firm handshake while introducing yourself. Prepare by researching about the company and the interviewer. While it is good to show that you are confident, do not be overconfident and boast or lie about yourself.
General Office Etiquette
Many employees have to share a common workspace with their colleagues. Even if they have their own cubicle, it is not an entirely private space. Be considerate of your co-workers by eliminating sensory irritations, such as loud music and strong smelling perfumes or foods. While it may sound shocking, many employees complain about having to cope with distasteful habits of the workers around them, like clipping nails, attracting bugs by keeping old food at their desks, or speaking loudly on the phone. Quite simply, keep your space clean, perform personal grooming in the bathroom or at home, and treat your co-workers considerately.
Business Luncheon Etiquette
For many people, attending a business luncheon (or dinner) can be a rather nerve-racking affair. Always make sure to arrive on time, or even a little bit early. Before the meal, make sure to turn off your cell phone, or at least set it to the vibrate mode. Greet your fellow diners politely and offer them a business card if you are meeting them for the first time. Before this meal you should familiarize yourself with how to eat properly with a formal place setting. If the meal is taking place in a different country, or with foreign guests, brush up on their cultures and customs to avoid accidental offense. Eat small bites and don’t speak with food in your mouth. It is usually customary for the person who has organized the meal to pay for everyone, unless arranged otherwise.
Office Meeting Etiquette
No matter who has called a business meeting, it is always best to go prepared. Organize your notes and any research that might be needed so that you can talk authoritatively and confidently. Make sure you are on time or call if you are running late. If you are meeting people for the first time, shake hands and introduce yourself, and pass them a business card. You should also introduce any others who are accompanying you by mentioning their full names and titles. Allow each person to speak without cutting in, and give them your full attention before replying. It is good manners to send all attendees a follow-up email after the meeting to summarize and proceed with the decisions that were made.
When answering the phone, never simply answer by saying “Hello,” or worse still, the perfunctory, “Yes?”. Instead, greet the other caller by saying something like “Good morning, John speaking,” or “Good afternoon, this is John Smith at XYZ Company”. Find out the purpose of the person’s call and then help them accordingly. If they are phoning for someone else, jot down a detailed phone message with their contact details. Always inform them before transferring a call or putting them on hold. Before hanging up, ask whether they require any more assistance. If you leave a voice message for someone, keep it brief but relevant.
There are many little things that can set a well-mannered person apart from others. Greeting people, thanking them, or even holding a door open for someone are all a few ways to make others feel valued. A large aspect of personal etiquette lies in demonstrating respect as well as kindness towards people. It isn’t simply one-sided. Good manners tend to rub off on others, and in time encourages them to act likewise.