The Business World Is a Jungle… With Etiquette
Anyone who lands a desk job can put on a suit and act like the people on TV. But is this the right thing to do? Aren’t movie characters supposed to stand out? And they don’t always do it in the best of ways. Trying some of the stunts you see on TV in real life could get you fired. So, unless you have missed the memo on office conduct, here are some pointers on how to become more agreeable at the office and even earn the title of colleague of the month.
Business Etiquette Rules You Should Not Ignore
Smile – yes, we dared to start with this one
You cannot tell a person what to feel and to force someone to smile when they do not feel like it. But smiling is not necessarily a sign of peace and happiness. It is an invitation to an honest and sincere communication. Compulsory when you are talking to a client and just as important when you are dealing with co-workers, a smile means you are willing to get things done and to please your interlocutor. A sulky, angry person will be avoided. And if everyone avoids you, how can you prove your worth and climb up the corporate ladder?
Offer professional courtesy
You colleagues will eventually make a mistake and be late in turning in a project. The worst thing to do about it is to be the person to points this thing out. For starters, stepping on bodies in order to advance your own career is only sexy in movies, when the storyline evolves and presents a certain character in a special way. In reality, you will be the jerk with no real value but who is proficient in getting other people in trouble. If you do show some human understanding and help out your co-workers, they might extend the professional courtesy. It’s always good to have people watch your back.
A relaxed attitude will only take you so far. At some point, you will have to try harder and this implies paying attention to the people you are introduced to and not only by first name. With everybody looking up professionals online, you have every chance to know about the people you are going to work with.
Remember people’s names and company positions
Get this whole human interaction down right
You sometimes see people who are natural at this. Always know when to step in, what to say, and, most importantly, when to pull a power move. You will get there, if you do your homework. This implies gaining some industry experience, making some contacts, and understanding specific group dynamics. And you only achieve this by being polite, present, attentive to what others are saying and doing, and quick to react. It takes practice, but anyone can get there.
Learn to communicate in e-mails and over the phone
With so many means of communication, we are constantly typing something to someone over some device. And we have grown accustomed to do it over the Internet. But this relaxation must not translate into sloppy business e-mails. Write full sentences, try to explain as well as you can, sign off leaving your name and your position in the company. People are now so familiar to communication over various channels that is it difficult to switch to a more formal tone.
Diplomacy and sensitivity will take you a looooooooong way
A client, a boss or a co-worker may pronounce something wrong. Unless it is of vital importance to your job, do not start correcting them, and most importantly, don’t start arguing with them about it. If you see they insist they are right, let it go. Otherwise, you will come across as stuck up. This is not your greatest battle and you can live with people making minor mistakes. Once again. This only goes for things that have nothing to do with the job and the success of your effort.
Do not scurry away to your office every morning, hoping that no one will need anything from you, hiding away from the boss. Let people know you are working on their projects and that things are progressing. Building a relationship with these people will also give you a small window to escape when you cannot meet a deadline.