Business and Office Etiquette

Business and Office Etiquette

By Tina Hayes and Indigo Silva

If etiquette should be displayed anywhere, it is in the office or workplace. Many professional institutions including Harvard University have conducted studies that have led to this conclusion: Getting a job, keeping a job and getting promoted is based on 85 of one’s soft skills and 15 of one’s technical knowledge. What does this mean? The only things standing between you and your dream job are your etiquette skills and knowledge.

Office etiquette can be broken down into two basic categories: Behaviors and Manners and Good Work Ethic. Within these categories are rules to follow to make sure you uphold proper etiquette practices within your workplace.

Behaviors and Manners

The golden rule applies in the workplace as it does everywhere else. Treat others how you wish to be treated. Do not use your position at work as a way to bully people. You never know when you’ll need a good reference. Start each day with a good attitude. Take it to work with you, whether you are working part-time or full-time. Never bring a negative attitude into the workplace; always remain positive. Along with keeping your attitude upbeat, avoid put downs and criticisms. Never use foul language within the office or gossip about others, even if they are in different departments or companies. If you have an issue with something or someone, take it up directly and appropriately with the necessary person.

Dressing appropriately is a major part of behaving properly in the office. The workplace is not the place to “express yourself.”  You are being paid to represent the company you work for. Appropriate dress expresses to those around you that you are a professional.

Good Work Ethic

Take pride in your work. Strive to be the best at whatever you do within the workplace no matter how big or small the task is. Always show up on time and ready to work; this proves to your boss and co-workers that you are reliable. Work with integrity, always showing honesty and sincerity. Be a good team player; remain on positive terms with those around you and offer help to your co-workers. 

Make sure that the virtual you is just as professional as the real you. Bad email etiquette can be just as destructive to your career as bad business etiquette. Use spell check, keep attachment sizes small and respond to messages (by email or phone) within 24 hours. As some etiquette experts say, “tame your technology.” Cellular phone usage should be limited in the workplace. When it is on, keep your phone with a light and low ring, vibrate or silent. You don’t want your device to be a distraction to others.

Last minute tips to remember and take with you to the office:

  • Be courteous of shared work spaces, including breakrooms and restrooms. Keep the lunch areas clean by cleaning up after yourself and being cognizant of microwaving smelly foods (fish, greens, etc.).
  • Take time to celebrate special occasions in the office. It shows that you’re a team player and care about whatever it is that your colleagues consider to be important to them.
  • Do not steal office supplies.
  • Use common courtesies daily. “Thank you, Please, Excuse me.”
  • Pronounce your colleagues names correctly. Do not hesitate to inquire if you don’t know how to pronounce someone’s name. Never refer to someone as “Honey” or “Sweetie.” These terms are inappropriate for the workplace.  

A solid display of proper office etiquette will be sure to help you maintain or acquire a job so be sure to keep all of these etiquette rules in mind the next time you are in the workplace.

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Tina Hayes is the founder and owner of The School of Etiquette and Decorum in Antioch, CA. As a passionate instructor dedicated to providing quality and professional etiquette training to her clients, Mrs. Tina Hayes promotes the awareness that social presentation and behaviors are important to be successful in today's society for all ages.