The way you present yourself to others in the workplace matters. Setting a professional tone is crucial to building new relationships and ensuring you have a positive, successful experience in the workplace.
First Impressions Matter
Impressions are formed about an individual within seconds of meeting them, this makes it doubly imperative to present yourself as a professional. Whether you mean to or not, communication is both verbal and non-verbal. Be mindful of your body language and how it will be perceived by others. A good rule of thumb is to stand straight, maintain eye contact, and smile! Take the time to know the workplace dress code and oﬃce policies before your first day. Arrive on-time and be prepared to get stuck in.
How you treat people says a lot about you. Don’t make value judgments on people’s importance in the workplace or speak negatively about your coworkers, even if you ﬁnd yourself frustrated over a certain situation. Be thoughtful about how you interact with your supervisor(s), peers, and subordinates as well.
Communication is Key
Communication is an important part of workplace etiquette. It’s sometimes not what you say, but how you say it that counts so be mindful of how you communicate with your colleagues in meetings and one-on-one conversations. In regards to email, be sure your correspondence inside and outside of your workplace is written clearly and free of spelling errors. Remember, email is a permanent record of any conversation so never put anything in writing that you would say to someone’s face.
Understand your Work Environment
The values, policies, and procedures of a workplace can be diﬃcult to discern at ﬁrst. If you are in a larger organization with a structured human resource division, you may have access to an HR Manager or in-house trainings to keep you informed of your organization’s expectations. In a smaller workplace setting, some of that knowledge may come from observing others and asking questions of your colleagues when needed. Lastly, observing the atmosphere and actions of others can help you understand what’s appropriate and what’s not, and how to best navigate the workplace while maintaining your professionalism.
As the global market grows, the need to understand multiple international standards of business etiquette is also growing. If you take a job or internship in another country, be to research the proper etiquette, culture and customs for both that country and the organization you plan to work for.
Be Personable Yet Professional
Sharing information about your personal life is your choice, but be cautious when it comes to what you share; some colleagues may be more open than others and might choose to keep their personal life private as well. Similarly, you may want to limit personal calls, emails, and other non-work related tasks to after work hours. Within your workspace, it’s okay to add personal touches but remember that your colleagues will see the space and consider it a reﬂection of your professional self. Lastly, getting to you know colleagues is a good thing but always be respectful of others’ space. If you need to discuss something with them, don’t just walk in; knock or make your presence known, and always oﬀer to schedule a meeting for later in the day if they are busy in the moment.