In our modern world, levels of civility and etiquette have seemingly disintegrated. Perhaps people are unaware of these practices; perhaps they simply choose not to follow them.
However, we spend so many hours in the workplace with the same co-workers, that overlooked or ignored workplace etiquette can often generate co-worker resentment and maybe even a breakdown in professional relationships.
If professional relationships in the workplace break down, it certainly affects the mission and goals of the organization as a whole.
So, whether you are hearing these for the first time, or they are simply reminders of proper behavior, here are several workplace etiquette behaviors that maintain mutual respect and potentially enhance working relationships.
What Is Workplace Etiquette
Workplace etiquette is a social code, a social understanding that delineates proper social workplace behavior. It exists to maximize respect for co-workers, their communication, and their time. As a social “understanding,” workplace etiquette is not a list of hard and fast directives —some may be emphasized or de-emphasized depending upon the place of work. Nonetheless, they are manifestations of potential bad work habits.
Don’t Ignore These “Rules” of Workplace Etiquette
How many times have you been part of a meeting where someone shows up late and immediately offers an excuse for his late arrival? It seems more and more people believe showing up late to an office meeting is acceptable if the excuse is serious enough.
Newsflash: There is NO excuse for showing up late, ever. Think of showing up late to a meeting as showing up late for an interview, which is often grounds for dismissal from the interview pool.
Remember, showing up early means you are showing up on time. Showing up on time is showing up late.
What Is the implicit message the late arriver sends? My time is more valuable than that of all my co-workers sitting around the table.
A handshake is still the way to introduce yourself in a professional manner. It represents politeness and respect. It is a great way to let those you meet know they have your full respect and attention.
No matter how skilled you are at checking your texts (or even worse, Facebook or other types of social media). Everyone knows when you are doing so, no matter how skilled you believe you are at it. How do they know? Because they have tried the same tricks. Checking your mobile device is the ultimate signal that you are not listening, AND whatever is being said is not worth hearing. Listening is an active pursuit. Make eye contact, nod at salient points, and ask intelligent questions afterwards.
Get Off Your Butt
When someone walks into the room, stand. Once you stand, extend your hand for a handshake. Nothing looks lazier or less respectful than a group of people who do not welcome a newcomer. Never shake hands from a sitting position.
Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness
Mommy does not work here. Clean up after yourself. Shared spaces such as break rooms and conference rooms are just that: Shared spaces. Those who avoid cleaning are once again reinforcing the fact that “my time” is more important than “your time.” Go into any workplace with sloppy, shared spaces and you are guaranteed to find a large segment of resentful co-workers.
Don’t Be That Person
Once you achieve the reputation as someone who skips one or more office etiquette rules, it is hard to break free of that reputation. Ingratiate yourself to all your co-workers by doing what your business culture expects.
Remember, full respect is what most, if not all, workers want. If this is the case with you, understand that full respect is a multi-dimensional feeling others have for you. It is determined by many more characteristics than just the quality of your work.