Office Etiquette Tips
When we’re launching our first career, our biggest concern is our ability to handle the content of the job. It’s a well-justified anxiety. The next thing on our list should be our ability to become part of the office culture. While a business culture is composed of many things, an early deal breaker is handling the office etiquette poorly. It’s the thing that if done wrong, will create a negative impression that can stick with you and set your career up for a complete stall out. Clearly, that’s not what you had in mind.
Let’s look at some tips and the rationale for them:
- Pick up and respond to voicemail. In the business setting, you have to operate with a sense of urgency. Everyone is trying to get something done in a certain period of time. If you are part of the food chain and hold up work because you spaced paying attention to your voicemail, you just negatively impacted business. Not good.
- When you can‘t respond to voicemail. There will occasionally be the time when you are away from your desk and won’t be able to access your voicemail. When that occurs, change your greeting message to let people know you won’t be checking and to give them an alternative if the matter is urgent.
- Respond to email. While speaking to someone is faster and more effective, many people use email to save time, effort and avoid voicemail tag. Even if you get a high volume of email, skim each one to determine if an urgent issue exists that requires your attention. Get to the rest of the emails when time allows.
- Confirm meeting requests. If someone is setting up a work meeting, they asked you because they thought it important for you to attend. Make sure you confirm your attendance and put it on your schedule.
- Notify for a cancel. If you have had an unforeseen issue arise that will cause you to miss a meeting, notify the meeting owner at the earliest possible time. This will allow them more time to move the meeting, if they determine you are a critical attendee. This could create a cascading effect so you need to minimize how much you do this sort of thing. Work out options for coverage. Perhaps you can obtain a summary from a peer or send someone in your place. Find out if key decisions will be made that you want to give input into – consider submitting your thoughts to the group in advance or to the meeting owner.
- Don’t gossip – ever. There is no real “code-of-silence” in the work place. Assume everything you say will get passed on to someone else. That includes bad-mouthing the boss.
- Be cautious in the morning. We all have biorhythms that dictate our energy level throughout the day. A vast majority of people require some ramp-up time in the morning where they might like silence, alone time or time to drink their coffee while emailing. Pay attention to how other people function, especially in the morning.
- Don’t converse during a meeting. This can really offend some people, even if you are discussing the content with your neighbor. Stay focused on the meeting topic. Engage the information and people at the appropriate times.
- Check your spam folder. You may have people sending important emails that your server has deemed as spam. Do yourself, and people you are doing business with outside of your company, a favor and check the spam folder at least once a week for the occasional errant (but important) email.
- Pay attention to noise. Especially if you work in an open or cubicle environment, you have to ensure your noise level is low. If you listen to music, put in ear buds. When talking to someone, keep your voice lower than you might if you were in a closed space.
The basic rule of thumb is to keep the business moving and be aware of the people in your work environment. Everyone, including you, wants a job situation that they enjoy and can feel productive in. While these points may not totally make or break your career, they can slow it down if you abuse the people who are trying to work with you.
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