Don’t Be That Person
10 business etiquette resolutions for the new year
In addition to those familiar pledges to eat healthier, exercise more, drink in moderation and smoke less, why not add improve a few office habits?
According to the Emily Post Institute, while 83 percent of employees believe it’s important to work in a civil environment, 12 percent report leaving companies because of incivility.
In that spirit, here are 10 business etiquette resolutions for 2015.
1. Community coffee: Shared items are a breeding ground for faux pas. If you use all but a smidgen of coffee, brew a fresh pot. Replace empty water jugs—or alert the person in charge. If you only want half of a cupcake, find a person to share it with or leave the unwanted half on a plate with a note that it wasn’t handled and is there for the taking. Finally, always clean up after yourself.
2. Get well soon (then come to work): If you aren’t sure what to do, a good rule of thumb is if you are running a fever, call in sick. Also, gastrointestinal issues are best dealt with in the comfort and privacy of your own home.
3. Culture clash: A little homework on greetings and customs could be the difference between landing a client and losing one. When planning for a meeting with clients from Japan for example, a simple Google search reveals that the Japanese often offer a small, inexpensive gift upon an initial meeting.
4. Technically speaking: Hallways, elevators, bathrooms and business meetings should be smartphone and earbud-free zones. At worst it can seem impolite, but the isolation also might deter opportunities for positive interactions with senior managers.
5. Navigating the cube farm: Respect the cubicle space of your colleagues. Rather than interrupting them unannounced, send an email or call regarding a good time to swing by for a quick discussion. Also, avoid eating smelly foods, such as tuna or “stinky” cheeses at your desk.
6. Dress for success: It cannot be said enough: What you wear at the office sends a message to colleagues and management. A popular adage to consider is to “dress for the job you want.” And with on-site gyms becoming more popular, make sure workout gear is restriced to the gym.
7. Emotional territory: Yes, it is difficult to discern tone in email correspondence; however, emoticons are best left for emails and texts to friends and loved ones. (Confession: I’m resisting the urge to insert a sadface here.)
8. Salutations and closings: Begin your emails with a greeting and a closing, unless it’s one in a long stream of responses. A formal, “Dear Mr. Broussard,” isn’t necessary, but a simple, “Hello Mr. Broussard,” (if you’ve never met or are not on a first-name basis), or “Hello John,” (if you have met and are on a first-name basis) is acceptable. Adding a closing to your signature is good form. “Cheers,” “Thank you,” and “Best,” are all adequate choices.
9. Respond, s’il vous plait: When you get an email, it’s considerate to let the sender know you received it. A simple “Got it!” works well for more casual business environments or relationships.
10. Reply all: Think long and hard before you hit that “Reply All” button. Most of the time, just say no.