Business etiquette can seem overwhelming when entering the workforce for the first time. Etiquette, or good manners, is a crucial skill you need to have in today’s business world in order to succeed. Mastering the art of being considerate in both your personal and business relationships can be the determining factor in getting a job, a promotion, or even the opportunity to be considered for such things.
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If you have taken the time to learn these skills, it reflects positively on you, your company, and clients. The following are quick office etiquette tips that will walk you through the most basic and common etiquette situations you will experience as you start your career.
Even though your mom always taught you, “Never judge a book by its cover,” that's exactly what someone does when they see you for the first time. Whether you like it or not, people will make instant judgments within 10 seconds of meeting you and, most of the time, you haven’t even opened your mouth yet.
When meeting someone for the first time, always rise, smile, and look them in the eye. When shaking hands, have a firm grip but not too hard and only shake long enough for both of you to say your names. Do your best to repeat his or her name back within the conversation; this helps you remember and it shows respect to the other person. Stand up straight, do not slouch and walk with an air of confidence.
Remember, you are an adult now. Crazy and silly ringtones may have worked while you were in college, but now they can be a professional liability. Make sure your ringtone is professional and not offensive.
Cellphones have no place in meetings. It is extremely rude to take a call while in a meeting. If it is an emergency or you are expecting a crucial call, make sure to tell the attendees beforehand. Excuse yourself, make the call brief and then return to the meeting. If you need to leave your cellphone on the table, place it face down so you are not tempted to play with it or be distracted during the meeting.
Texting can be a great method of quick communication but it can also be extremely distracting and overused. Never text during a meeting; or worse yet, during a conversation. You want all of your attention on the person you are with. Always use correct grammar and punctuation when you text. Using short hand is unprofessional.
Make sure your e-mail address is professional and recognizable and always have a subject line. Have a signature at the bottom with your name, business title, and contact information. You can also include a link to your website. Be careful of how you word things, and correct grammar and punctuation are expected.
Never use an e-mail to deliver bad news. Don’t berate anyone, gossip, or spread rumors through e-mail. Replying to all is very easy to do and cause major problems if someone sees something you don’t want them to. If the e-mail is going to be very long, add an attachment that the recipient can print off and read later. Keep your e-mails brief and professional.
Employers, potential employers, clients, and legal authorities are all using social media to learn more about their employees or people they do business with. This has caused people to lose jobs, opportunities, and business. Like it or not, it is a brave new world.
Never post something that you wouldn’t want splashed on the front page of the news paper. Once it is out there, whether it is a picture, story or comment, you can never get it back! Do not tag people in unflattering or unprofessional comments or pictures. Don’t get too personal on these sites and do not ever vent about your boss or job – not if you want to keep it that is.
People are attracted to those who are happy, smile often, and are confident in everything they do. Even if you are terrified inside, don’t let it show. If you are unsure of something, ask. Knowledge is power! Be calm, cool, and collected and you will be able to get through any situation you might find yourself in. Now, go out there and change the world!
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