Quite simply, proper office etiquette refers to an unwritten code employees should follow in order to be successful in the workplace. It’s a set of norms widely accepted as appropriate behavior. Office etiquette may include having good manners and being courteous of others, as well as using workplace technology in a suitable manner.
Here are a few tips for good office etiquette:
1. Dress Appropriately
If the dress code is business casual, make sure you clarify what is and isn’t appropriate. Business casual has become the norm for many employers, but many people are still unclear on what this means. For some, it means khakis and polo shirts, casual pants, casual dresses, and so on. Some companies have a business casual policy that excludes jeans or open-toed shoes.
Some companies have one dress code when you’re working in the office and another when you’re meeting with clients. The generally accepted rule is to dress like the client or one step above, but double-check with your supervisor.
One of my first managers always told me to “dress for the job you want.” This is good advice and has been helpful throughout my career. If you’re dressing like your manager or the people in the next hierarchical level of the company, you’re probably appropriate for the workplace.
2. ‘Please’ And ‘Thank You’ Are Still Magic Words
When we were children, “please” and “thank you” were referred to as “magic words” that were to be used when we were asking for something and then, in turn, receiving something. Although we’ve all outgrown the reminders from our parents, these words have certainly not lost their enchantment. In fact, these words are so important almost every language has some equivalent with similar meaning.
Please and thank you still have a prominent place in the business world and you should use them at every opportunity.
By using common courtesies, you demonstrate you respect the people with whom you’re dealing. Even if you don’t work in a customer service job, keep an attitude of customer service. Your colleagues and, more importantly, your superiors will begin to realize you’re a go-to person if you’re almost always pleasant.
3. Be A Team Player
In many workplaces and career fields, there is an expectation you will work with other people on projects during the course of your employment. It’s sometimes tough to get along with varying personalities and that’s precisely why clear communication is so important. Part of office etiquette is working well with others and communicating effectively. Take time to listen to other people’s points of view. You may not always agree, but it’s likely you can learn something new by being open to other perspectives and respectful of other people’s opinions.
Here are a few additional office etiquette tips to encourage positive working relationships:
- Be friendly and encouraging to co-workers.
- Be responsible – if you say you’re going to do something, do it. If you’re unable to complete a task for some reason, make sure information is communicated to all team members who would be impacted.
- If you share an office, be considerate. Find out how your office mate works and be respectful. For example, some people need to work in complete silence, while others enjoy background music. Make sure you’re not inadvertently making your office mate crazy with your personal habits.
- Understand people are unique and dwell on their positive qualities, not their negative qualities. It’s acceptable to not be friends with everyone, but try to at least be professional and cordial in your interactions.
- Rise above office gossip. No one wants to earn the reputation of being the office busybody.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate! Your co-workers are not mind readers, so make sure you’re communicating with them and your manager on a regular basis.
Proper office etiquette isn’t hard to learn, but it’s a skill you should constantly practice and improve upon throughout your entire career.
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