Business and Workplace Etiquette Treat People as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being.”
Generational Graciousness It seems that today the rule is to break all the rules! Unfortunately, when it comes to how we treat one another, some people don't even know the rules. Or maybe one generation knows them and another generation doesn't. This can lead to challenges, upsets, miscommunication and lack of fluidity in interpersonal communications.
Basics of etiquettes
The only way this challenge can be overcome is to return to a few basics that aren't so much about strict etiquette rules, but more about good old-fashion kindness. This will keep the courtesy going and make working around multigenerational mixes more productive and profitable.
The First Basic: Respect : We all want respect, no matter what age we are. Not only for what we can contribute but also for the simple fact that we have survived for any length of time. The more mature worker may feel that the years they have put in have earned them respect, while the younger worker feels their skills and newly acquired education earn them respect. Both are right. The challenge is not to think that one is better than the other in terms of who deserves more respect. The key is to know that each person, no matter how long they've worked or how adept their skill set, deserves respect, because we are all experiencing the human condition.
. Call people by their formal name when meeting them for the first time unless you are introduced to them by only their first name. Otherwise address everyone formally until they ask you to use their first name. Do this with everyone you meet, it's a sign of respect and it's ageless.
2. Introduce everyone, no matter who they are. If you want to break down barriers, between different ages groups, genders and nationalities, you need to make people feel valued. The best way to do this is to introduce people to each other whenever the opportunity presents itself. Always over-introduce and you will show your etiquette savvy and important allies too.
A few Respect Ideas
. Be the first to extend your hand for a handshake, and look the person in the eye. This small act of courtesy goes a long way in making sure all generations work well together. In today's more casual society some people have forgotten this very important gesture. Everyone needs to learn to give a good handshake that conveys the message, "Welcome! I'm open to engage in conversation with you!" If you have a wimpy handshake, work on improving it since this gesture will backfire if instead of showing your confidence and charm you show your lack of it.
Say "Please" and "Thank you"! This little courtesy is vital to show respect, make people understand you are aware of what they can and have done, and also to help you in all communications with others. When a person forgets something as simple as a "please" or "thank you" it shows lack of concern for others which is disrespectful and degrading
The Second Basic - Kindness
Anyone who thinks that kindness isn't a necessity in today's work environment isn't thinking. Kindness is one of the most important skills in dealing with people of all ages. Every living thing responds to kindness. Use this skill and good things will happen.
A few kindness ideas...
1. Ask others if you can get them something while you're up or while you're out. This will show your willingness to help others and also that you are thinking of more than yourself.
2. Pick up after yourself so others don't have to. This is a kindness no one will notice unless you don't do it and then it will not only be noticed, but talked about and resented.
3. Keep gossip or hurtful information to yourself. This is one of the most beneficial things for everyone. Gossip is not kind. Would you like someone to gossip about you?
The Third Basic - Integrity
When we make a promise or give our word we need to follow through on our word. If we are unable to keep the promise or fulfill the commitment, we must be prepared to make things right. Trust is a fragile thing...very easily broken and very difficult to regain. People who have integrity are people we can trust.
Business Etiquette Essentials
Experts suggest applying these basic guidelines to managing all business relationships:
Start with consideration and respect. No matter whom you come in contact with, that person deserves respectful treatment. Even if you dislike someone or his or her own behavior, you’ll come out on top if you consider that person’s needs and maintain a respectful manner.
Never interrupt. In casual work environments, people can easily forget basic courtesy, and interruption becomes a real problem. Remember that it’s always rude to interrupt, especially when someone is making an important point or addressing a group. Walking unannounced or uninvited into someone’s office is another form of interruption, and it makes a bad impression. “You may not need to make an appointment to see your boss or a colleague,” but you should always make sure the person is not busy when you want to talk.”
Business Etiquette Essentials
Leave gender out of the equation. Coworkers are peers, regardless of gender. It isn’t necessary to compliment a man’s attire or hold a door open for a woman. In fact, some professionals see such behavior as insulting or demeaning. “People confuse common courtesy with chivalry,” says Gregg. “If someone is struggling with a load of books, it’s only polite to offer to help. But if a guy holds a door open and says ‘After you, ladies,’ he may be viewed as a pig. The office is not the right place for chivalry.” Of course, dirty jokes, off-color remarks, and discussion of certain private matters are no-no’s, period.
Language counts. Your point won’t come across any better if you use rude, derogatory, or obscene language, no matter whom you’re addressing. Talk like a professional and you’ll be seen as one.
Be careful which “crowd” you associate with. It may be more fun to hang out with the group that talks loudly, cracks jokes, and makes fun of coworkers, but doing so could leave a bad impression with the boss. “It’s nice to fit in “especially when you have to spend so much time with the same people. But work isn’t a place where you hang out with friends and laugh it up. It’s a place to get work done
What is Professionalism?
If you talk to a lot of different people, you'll find that the word professionalism has many definitions—or, rather, interpretations. But whether your job is mowing lawns, driving a truck, managing a store, or running a large company, there are common on-the-job traits that define any working person as a true professional. In other words, the job doesn't make you a professional, but your attitude does.
Even though everyone recognizes a true professional in action, there are many misconceptions about what constitutes professionalism. If you don't take the right approach to this important issue, then rest assured: your customers, colleagues, and managers won't see you as a professional, no matter what you think about yourself.
Let's look at some popular interpretations of professionalism, and some traits that all true professionals exhibit, regardless of their occupation
FIRST, WHAT IT ISN'T
What's the greatest misconception about professionalism? It's probably the notion that professionalism is all about money.
"There are lots of people who think 'I'm getting paid, so that makes me a professional.' But that just isn't the case," says Wendell Lamb, a certified public accountant who now runs a thriving mortgage company. "They think they're professionals because they're getting a paycheck. But they continue to act like real amateurs in the workplace."
Steve Gregg, a retired human resources director, agrees. "It takes a lot more than compensation to make someone a professional, no matter what kind of job they have. It doesn't matter if you make a million dollars a year and have a corner office. Professionalism is about a lot more than money." Gregg says there are many highly trained, highly paid workers who are considered anything but professional, for lots of different reasons.
Is possessing Credentials Professionalism?
Like money, many people believe that credentials—such as diplomas, degrees, and specialized certifications—contribute to professionalism. But while credentials can help, they don't mean a lot if a worker doesn't know how to act.
"Think about a furnace repairman who comes to your home," says Gregg. "He may have patches all over his truck, showing that he's certified and authorized in this and that, and he may really know furnaces better than anyone else. But if he treats you rudely or leaves a big mess in your house, you probably won't think of him as a professional. You probably won't want him to come back.“
Lamb offers a similar example from his own experience. "We rely heavily on our computer systems," he says, "so we sent our IT manager to school to get all sorts of certifications...in networking, routers, security, you name it. He kept the computer systems running great, but everyone around here hated the guy because he was arrogant and rude. He worked well with technical stuff, but he had no idea how to interact with people." Lamb eventually had to let the person go, because his behavior was consistently unprofessional
SO WHAT MAKES A PROFESSIONAL
Money, training, and status aside, many long-time workers and managers will tell you that professionalism is a matter of attitude and behavior. It means not just knowing how to do your job, but demonstrating a willingness to learn, cooperating and getting along with others, showing respect, and living up to your commitments. It also means avoiding many kinds of behaviors that cause trouble in the workplace.
"It doesn't matter whether you're a ditch digger or the president of a university," says Gregg. "If you behave the way people expect a professional to behave, you'll be accepted and treated like one.“
The benefits of acting professionally, he advises, can be substantial.
Your managers will take you more seriously if you behave the way they expect you to on the job," he says. "Otherwise, you're less likely to be considered for promotions or important assignments. It's the people who exhibit amateurish behavior who spend their career at the bottom of the totem pole
Is this Professionalism ?
Of course, like other life skills, professionalism is something you learn; you don't just "become" a professional overnight. The keys, according to Gregg, are practice and self-awareness.
"Pay attention to your own behavior at work," he advises, "as well as the way others behave. Whom do you see as real professionals? How does your behavior differ from theirs?" Take notice of your colleagues who are most respected and whose work or opinions are most valued by others, then emulate those people
Answer the following questions
Do you truly have all the skills required to be successful at your job? If not, are you in the process of learning them? A key trait among professionals is knowing what to do and when to do it. Just as important, they know what not to do. Avoiding incorrect or inappropriate actions is crucial to your success.
Do you communicate well with others? This means more than just conveying your own thoughts and ideas. It means being able to listen thoughtfully and respecting the thoughts and ideas of other people.
Do your managers see you in the right light? "This is tough for anyone," says Gregg, "but you need to look at yourself through your boss' eyes." Does your boss approve of your attire, the hours you keep, the way you conduct yourself in general? Does the boss seem comfortable coming to you with special projects or to discuss problems or ideas? If not, you may need to make some changes. "If you think your manager has a problem with your level of professionalism," says Gregg, "by all means, talk it out. Ask for advice. Let your boss know you want to improve, and ask for mentoring if you think it's needed
Answer these questions
What's your integrity level? The workplace can be cut-throat, but if you are seen as conniving or a cheater, your image will suffer. And "never, ever tell a lie, especially to the boss," says Lamb. "I don't want my employees to lie to me, even if they think they're telling me something I want to hear."
Do you practice the golden rule? "A true professional treats others with respect, and expects the same from them," says Gregg. "This doesn't mean you have to let people step on you, but it does mean showing concern for their feelings, respecting their opinions, and being honest with them. If you think someone else is mistreating you, deal with it and tell them you won't tolerate disrespect."
Do you live up to your commitments? In any job, you agree to do certain tasks. Some tasks you must do routinely, without being asked, and management may ask you to take on other responsibilities. A real test of your professionalism comes in your ability to meet all these commitments while upholding the standards of quality and timeliness set by your employer. But it doesn't mean breaking your neck in the process. "We're all human," says Lamb. "Managers value workers who know when to ask for help, or who can admit when they're overloaded. If asking for help means that the work will get done, and that your commitments are being met, then that's a good thing. Good managers understand that the load has to be shared sometimes, and respect employees who are smart enough to ask for help."
Speak clearly. It’s annoying when someone mumbles on the other end of the line. Always assume that the other party can’t hear you well. Also, avoid tucking the phone’s handset under your chin as you talk.
Ask permission before using a speakerphone. Whether you place or receive a call, use the handset first. It’s rude to dial a number and snatch up the handset when you hear the other person answer the phone, and it creates a loud click in his or her earpiece. Don’t switch to the speakerphone without asking for permission. (“Do you mind if I use the speakerphone?”) Many people simply don’t like conversing over a speakerphone.
Always introduce yourself. Even if you think the other person will recognize your voice, and even if you know the other person uses caller ID, always introduce yourself when making a call. (A simple “Hello, Betty. This is Fred” will do nicely.) It’s also a good idea to identify yourself when you answer the phone, and people have many personalized ways of doing this. Don’t let the other person wonder—even for a second—who is on the other end of the line.
More on Telephone Etiquette
Call back quickly. If you can’t answer the phone and the caller leaves a message, make a point of calling back as quickly as possible. (Some companies have a policy of returning calls the same business day.) Failing to return a call is often seen as a sign of disrespect, and you want colleagues and customers to know that you care about them. If you can’t return a call quickly, be sure to apologize when you do call back. Never use “I’m really busy” as an excuse for not taking or returning a call. Hey, everybody’s busy, so it’s no excuse.
Avoid juggling calls. If you’re on the line with someone, avoid putting him or her on hold to take another call, unless the second call is truly important. People don’t like being put on hold.
Use the hold button politely. If you absolutely must put someone on hold, ask politely before doing so. (“May I put you on hold for a moment while I look up the information you need?”) If you think you’ll need to put the caller on hold for more than a few seconds, offer to end the conversation and call back later.
Learn how to use your phone’s features before making a call. Have you ever been disconnected while someone tried to pick up another line or set up a conference call? You can avoid time and embarrassment by learning how to use such features before actually using the phone. If your employer provides high-tech, multi-feature phones, read the manual.
More on Telephone Etiquette
Keep voice mail messages brief. Some people feel compelled to spell out every last detail when leaving a voice mail message, and this usually isn’t necessary. It takes time for the other person to listen to all that information. Besides, if you’re going to talk later anyway, why bother? Keep voice messages as short as possible. State your name and the reason for your call (in the fewest words possible), and leave a number where you can be reached. It’s also a good idea to mention the best time to call back.
Remember: When you leave a message, you’re being recorded. Many voice mail systems allow users to save messages or forward them to other people. Don’t assume the listener is going to automatically delete your message; if he doesn’t it can come back to haunt you. Never be rude or abusive in a voice mail message, and never use obscenities or make threats. And don’t make any promises you can’t keep!
Don’t use voice mail as a way to avoid talking to people. Some people have made an art of using voice mail to “screen” their calls. They almost never answer their phones, and force others to communicate with them by leaving voice mail messages. This wastes time, and it’s just plain rude. Besides, people see through this ploy. You don’t want to get a reputation as the person who never answers the phone; if you do, people will simply stop calling you, and this can be bad for your career
Fine manners need the support of fine manners in others." --- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Whether you work for a small non-profit organization, a giant multi-national corporation, or something in-between, chances are you spend many hours a day in close proximity to other people. Too often, simple misunderstandings among co-workers lead to workplace tension. On the comics page, Dilbert’s cubicle suffering provides us with a shared laugh. Unfortunately, in the real world these stresses decrease both business productivity and employee job satisfaction.
Monitor the volume of your conversations. Be sensitive to how loudly you may be speaking. Do you notice that people down the hall comment on your conversations? That might indicate your voice is too loud. Consider closing your office door and lowering your voice whenever speaking in person or on the telephone.
Keep personal telephone conversations—and emails—brief and at a minimum. Be ever mindful that others are nearby and that this is a place of business. Do not use the company telephone, fax, or email, for any inappropriate and personal matters.
In some workplaces, privacy is difficult to find. If you overhear a private conversation, practice selective hearing. Avoid the urge to be “helpful” in areas best left to the other person to handle on their own. Your best bet for being treated as a professional at work is to keep all workplace conversations professional.
Sharing professional information is wonderful, gossiping is not. Only discuss personnel matters directly with specific individuals, superiors, and management
Be sensitive to scents and smells surrounding you. Save cologne and perfume for social occasions, and ask if fresh flowers and potpourri bother co-workers before installing them in your space.
When eating at your desk or in shared areas, avoid foods with strong smells and aromas that will travel throughout the office. As great as French fries, Chinese food, and Indian food are, smelling them together in the same room and office can become unpleasant. Dispose of empty food containers and other items where they won’t contribute negatively to the office atmosphere.
Keep your personal workspace clean and neat at all times. Generally, less is better when it comes to office and cubicle decor. Use discretion when displaying personal items such as family photos and mementos so as not to overdo, clutter, and obstruct your work area.
Use shared areas with respect and courtesy. Workplace kitchens can be the biggest source of co-worker tension. If you expect everyone you work with to cleanup after themselves, model that behavior yourself. Wash and return all kitchen items to their proper place, clean spills, and wipe countertops and tables as needed. Help maintain supplies as needed. When leaving food items in a shared refrigerator, mark all items with your name and date. Remove all items at the end of your work week and toss or recycle empty containers.
Restrooms run a close second to kitchens as annoyance spots. After use, wipe the countertop and sink of any spilled water or soap. Be sure the toilet is clean for the next user. Notify the proper attendant if supplies are low or out, and of any plumbing problems.
Maintain all shared items in “like new” condition and return borrowed supplies. Leave the photocopier in working condition and be sure to take back that borrowed stapler with at least a few staples left inside. If a machine stalls or jams, take time to undo the jam or to alert the proper person to attend to it. We all expect and want to be able to use items and equipment when needed