Etiquette is a fancy word that has different meanings to different people. The dictionary defines it as, “the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group.”
Business etiquette on the other hand is more focused and professional and usually depends on the industry and culture of an organization. Since there are so many views and expectations, and assumptions for this important and usually unwritten business concept, let’s break down business etiquette into five sections.
The 5 Business Etiquette Types
An image consultant might say that workplace etiquette is all about the appropriate way to behave in a particular office setting. Common courtesy is usually something we learn at home and school, then as we grow as people and professionals. Understanding that different industries and cultures view workplace etiquette differently is understanding how to behave while at work.
For example, the banking industry requires employees to adhere to a strict dress code, office protocols and other formal expectations. On the other hand, the digital marketing industry is a more relaxed environment, and less formal office requirements. Take a look at workplace etiquette tips:
· Respect is key in an office environment. Refer to the Golden Rule and treat others the way you would like to be treated. How do you figure out what your workplace etiquette is? Here are a few tips:
· Make a Positive First Impression: You only get one time to make a first impression. When you meet someone for the first time, smile and be pleasant. Say hello to colleagues at all levels and departments within the organization. A simple wave, smile or nod shows you are part of the team and acknowledge their presence.
· Return Shared Items: If you share office space and equipment, always leave the area looking the same if not better than when you arrived. If the paper in the copier is out, add paper. If the stapler is out of staples, refill it.
· Keep It Clean: Make it a point to leave common areas looking the same if not better than when you arrived.
· Keep Private Issues Private: Avoid heated, controversial topics, personal political views or relationship problems or religious beliefs. Similarly, limit non-work-related tasks during work hours. Avoid office gossip.
Business Meal Etiquette
There are a few rules you should be aware of when dining with colleagues and clients. In a nutshell, keep in mind:
· Place the napkin on your lap
· Wait for everyone to decide what they want to order before ordering
· Be mindful of the cost of what you order.
· Wait until everyone’s food has arrived before beginning to eat
· Chew with your mouth closed
· Do not reach across the table. Ask others to pass the condiments to you. Pass from left to right.
· Avoid dominating the conversation. Ask questions. use eye contact and listen. Allow others to respond first, then offer your input
· If you leave the table, excuse yourself first. Place your napkin on your chair.
Professional Behavior Etiquette
As you get more and more acquainted with what your work’s professional expectations are, you will ease into a new professional comfort zone. Be mindful to:
· Arrive on time. It is important to arrive on time or early.
· Keep a Professional Appearance: Follow office dress codes.
· Dependable: Always do what you say you are going to do, be consistent.
· Display Calm Behavior: Refrain from allowing emotions to effect work. Avoid anger and stay calm.
· Accept Input: Consider colleagues’ input as constructive and valuable feedback that will help you grow.
Communication just might be the most important and crucial part of your professional etiquette. Professional relationships depend on effective communication skills and methods for successful outcomes. Take a look at tips for communication etiquette:
· Person to Person: It’s important to pay attention and show interest in what someone is saying to you. Maintain appropriate distance, neither standing too close nor too far away. Maintain eye contact and speak clearly at a comfortable volume.
· Email: Steer clear of sending an email impulsively. Answer emails as soon as possible, avoid using exclamation marks and capital letters, use proper spelling and grammar, and never write anything you wouldn’t say to the person, face to face.
· Telephone: Keep personal calls to a minimum. If you are with a colleague or client and must take a call, respectfully excuse yourself from the conversation. Speak at a comfortable, professional tone and volume. During conference calls mute your phone when not speaking.
· Texting: Texting is growing in popularity within the business world. Texting, like email messaging for business, should follow similar etiquette as emails. Reply as soon as you can, avoid using exclamation marks and capital letters, use proper spelling and grammar, and never write anything you wouldn’t say face to face.
Sometimes it seems like our entire day is swallowed up by meetings. This may be true, but they are an important part of collaboration, team building, and strengthening business relationships. Take a look at a few things to consider when meeting in person and virtually.
· If you are initiating the meeting, prepare and distribute an agenda with the meeting invite to help others prepare for the discussion. If you receive an agenda and invite, prepare for the meeting.
· Consider the time of the day. If the meeting is at 12 noon, offer lunch
· Start the meeting on time and follow the agenda
· Give everyone the opportunity to speak and provide input
· Take notes to show your interest and for follow up
· Refrain from side conversations during the meeting
· Stay on time and be mindful of schedules.
Virtual Meeting Etiquette
Virtual meetings have opened the door to new opportunities, removed logistic barriers, and more. Just like in-person meetings, agendas should accompany invitations and preparation is necessary beforehand. Virtual meetings are just as important as meeting in person and should be kept professional. Take a look at tips for virtual meeting etiquette
· Before the meeting, make sure all equipment works, your background is appropriate and free from distractions
· Wear dress code-approved clothing
· Log in on time to respect others’ schedules
· Look into the camera and avoid multitasking
· Mute your speaker when not speaking