Career Development

11 Tips for Practicing Good Office Etiquette

February 22, 2021

Using proper office etiquette creates an environment where individuals feel comfortable, appreciated and able to do their jobs well. Understanding what’s expected in a professional environment will help you show respect to those around you. With practice, you can make polite behavior an everyday habit. In this article, we will describe workplace etiquette and provide tips that can help you improve your business etiquette.

What is office etiquette?

Office etiquette is the customary code of behavior that you’re expected to observe in the workplace. The rules of etiquette define what manners are appropriate and what conduct you should try to avoid. 

When you use good manners in the workplace, you create an environment of respect. Coworkers are more likely to become engaged and productive in an environment where colleagues are polite, thoughtful and kind.

Tips for good workplace etiquette

Here are some actionable steps to help you present the proper office decorum:

  • Offer a polite greeting.
  • Make conversation.
  • Be mindful of others.
  • Silence your phone.
  • Give your undivided attention.
  • Keep the workplace clean.
  • Arrive on time.
  • Eat in the break room or outside the workplace.
  • Dress appropriately.
  • Meet in designated spaces.
  • Consider your body language.

Offer a polite greeting

Say “hello,” “good morning” or “good afternoon, smile and make eye contact when you see coworkers or customers. Offer a handshake and introduce yourself when you see someone new. Greet known coworkers by name, as this adds a touch of personalization. Greeting others in the workplace can help you present a friendly demeanor that makes colleagues and customers feel more comfortable around you. 

Make conversation

During your workday, you should have plenty of opportunities for conversation with coworkers and customers. Start conversations with those you know from your office, gathering thoughts and opinions on recent happenings or company accomplishments. You can start a conversation with strangers by remarking on universal topics such as current city events or the weather. Making connections with new people can be valuable. You may start a conversation with a new potential client or network with professionals who can help you advance your career.

Related: 10 Tips To Help You Network Like a Pro

Be mindful of others

Stay mindful of those around you, particularly as you’re moving around the office. Check over your shoulder when you pass through a door and hold it open if someone is behind you. Hold the elevator door for others if they’re walking toward the elevator. If you need to complete tasks for others to perform their duties, try to finish them as quickly and accurately as possible. Use “please” and “thank you” when applicable in corresponding with others. Practicing mindfulness while working around others demonstrates your teamwork and collaboration abilities. 

Silence your phone

Notifications from phones can be a distraction, especially when working around multiple colleagues or with clients. Silence your cellphone in the workplace so you don’t disturb others with these sounds. If you’re expecting a phone call, you can use the vibrate notification setting. Keeping your phone silent is especially important in meetings, but your coworkers will appreciate the effort if you’re in close proximity to them. 

Give your undivided attention

Give your full attention to others during conversations. If you accidentally speak over someone else, apologize for the error. Leave your phone at your desk when attending meetings and keep it out of your hand during one-on-one conversations. Offering your full attention shows you’re interested in the discussion and want to hear the speaker’s opinions.

Keep the workplace clean

The workplace is a shared environment that everyone should contribute to keeping clean. When you use a common tool or item, make sure to put it back in its designated area so others can locate it. Wipe down any dirty surface areas, such as tables and counters, to maintain and clean, organized workplace. A clean workplace can increase motivation and productivity within teams. 

Arrive on time

Timeliness is an essential part of workplace etiquette. Show you respect and value others’ time and priorities by arriving promptly for meetings, completing tasks before deadlines and arriving to work a few minutes before you’re scheduled. When scheduling meetings, try planning them so there’s a built-in period of time at the end that will allow attendees to get to their next engagement promptly.

Related: Time Management Skills: Definition and Examples

Eat in the break room or outside the workplace

Eating at your desk can cause distracting aromas for your coworkers. Try to eat your lunch in designated locations, such as a break room or cafeteria. When possible, eating your lunch outside the workplace is often an ideal choice. Aside from limiting distractions for your team members, eating your lunch away from your desk or workspace can help you refocus when you return to work. 

Dress appropriately

Modest attire is typically the best choice in the workplace. Even in a casual environment, it’s best to select simple and comfortable clothing. Jewelry that jingles or a strong perfume may distract coworkers from their duties. Review your employee handbook or contact a human resources representative for more information about your company’s dress code if you’re unsure of acceptable attire. 

If you’re meeting with a client, try to dress for the occasion by wearing business casual or professional clothing. You may also choose to wear attire according to their business’s standards. For example, if your client works for a financial firm, you should probably dress in business professional clothing.

Meet in designated spaces

If you’re meeting with two or more people, schedule a meeting room or use a private office for your discussion. Hosting meetings in your workspace may create noise that could distract your team members. Close the door during your meetings to reduce sounds. Use low voices for meetings and one-on-one office conversations so those around you can still focus easily.

Consider your body language

Your body language can send different messages during conversations. To ensure your body language sends the same message as your words, practice good nonverbal communication. When speaking with others, make eye contact and nod when applicable to show you’re paying attention. Smiling can show your enthusiasm for the topic. Keep your arms at your sides for a neutral pose, or put your hands on your hips to demonstrate confidence. When sitting or standing, ensure your back is straight and your shoulders are back to show you are alert.

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