Good business etiquette is important in any work atmosphere. Not only does it make you more professional, but it can also improve communication, create a respectful work environment and translate into better relationships among your co-workers and clients.
As the job industry adapts to a digital world, business etiquette rules must evolve as well. Here are some modern business etiquette guidelines to remember.
Social Media Etiquette
Social media and digital platforms are pervasive in most people’s daily lives, so it’s not a surprise that they are influencing how people deal with each other in the workplace. It starts before you get a job – your hiring manager is likely looking at your social media platforms before you get an offer.
Once you get a job, your social media profiles are still important. Even though they are personal accounts, an employee is considered an extension of the company so it’s important that you avoid posting inappropriate content that would reflect negatively on you and possibly your employer.
For example, LinkedIn is a more business-focused platform. If you have a LinkedIn account, it’s best to publish professionally appropriate content such as career updates or industry-relevant articles. Other accounts, such as Facebook or Instagram, are more focused on social interaction and allow you to choose a private or public setting for your posts. If you have a public profile, you’ll want to be more careful about what you share, but remember – regardless of your privacy setting – to avoid inflammatory content you’ll regret later.
Also, most companies have policies on social media usage. You’ll want to limit social media scrolling, engagement and posting to break times, if at all, depending on your job.
How to Address People
Something as simple as remembering a person’s name can hold a lot of weight in the business world. When addressing someone by the correct title and name, you can make the conversation appear more genuine and help develop a stronger relationship with that person.
Make eye contact during an introduction. This shows that you are engaged in the conversation and listening to what others have to say. Other practices when addressing or meeting new people include:
- If someone introduces themselves with their title, continue to use it when addressing them.
- If someone doesn’t remember your name, help them out and offer a self-introduction.
- Speak clearly and at an appropriate volume.
Email has become one of the most common communication methods in the workforce and has grown even more – along with other, similar communications platforms like Slack – since companies began implementing work from home policies. Although U.S. employees spend more than a quarter of the workweek reading and sending emails, there are plenty of professionals that don’t know proper email etiquette. This can lead to mistakes others may perceive as a lack of professionalism.
Some general, but necessary guidelines to follow include:
- Have a clear subject line: People usually decide whether or not to open an email based on the subject line. Make sure it’s concise and effectively shows what your email is about.
- Use a professional greeting: Especially if the email is to someone you’ve never met or a client, it’s important to use a professional salutation. “Hey” or “What’s up?” is too casual and not appropriate. Try using greetings such as “Good Morning/Afternoon,” “Hello,” or “Hi.”
- Proofread your emails: Make sure you’re re-reading your emails before sending them off to a client, boss or another colleague. This can help you improve your writing by catching missed typos, avoiding lengthy sentences and improving the readability of your message.
- Pay attention to your tone: It can be difficult to understand the tone of someone’s message without hearing it in an in-person conversation. To avoid appearing abrupt or upset, read your emails out loud before sending them, avoid negative vocabulary such as “wrong” and try adding “please” and “thank you” when making a request.
Video Call Etiquette
As businesses continue to work remotely, video calls have become a popular alternative to meetings you’d normally have in the office. Whether a video conference is with a co-worker or an important client, some general rules to remember include:
- Don’t do other work: While on a video call, you really shouldn’t be clicking through other tabs on your computer or working on other projects. People can usually tell if you’re not paying attention and it’s disrespectful to others on the call.
- Mute your audio: When you’re on a conference call with multiple people, it’s important to remember to mute your microphone when you’re not speaking. Even if you’re alone in the room, background noise can be distracting.
- Check your surroundings: Before hopping on a video call, make sure you have an appropriate background. If you’re in a messy room, take the time to clean up beforehand or at least have the mess out of your computer frame.
- Don’t forget to check your audio settings: Nothing is worse than sharing great ideas that no one else can hear. Make sure you check your audio settings before the meeting and unmute yourself when you’re about to speak on the call.
- Make sure you have good lighting: When on a video call, make sure your face is well lit by turning on lights in the room or closing the shades of windows that are behind you.
A company’s dress code can establish unity and a professional work environment. Make sure you’re following company dress code policy, especially during an interview. Wearing the right attire can help make a good first impression.
If you’re not sure what to wear, a good rule of thumb is to dress one level above what is expected in the office. The three most common dress codes are:
- Business Professional: Traditional work environment where suits and dresses are the norm.
- Business Casual: Less formal than traditional business wear, but is still intended to give a professional impression.
- Casual: Professional dress not required; jeans and t-shirts are likely OK.
While many people are working remotely these days, remember not to show up to a video call in lounge or workout wear. Even if you’re working remotely, it’s still important to make a good impression when talking to clients or employers.
Having a positive attitude at work can assist in boosting company culture, increasing work productivity and building client and coworker relationships. Some common tricks to demonstrate and nurture positivity in the workplace are:
- Show your enthusiasm: It’s true when they say positive energy is infectious. Be passionate about your work and don’t do any task halfway. This helps not only motivate others to do the same but also shows your commitment to the work.
- Foster collaboration: Collaborating with your peers can not only help you be more efficient, but it can also lead to new, creative ideas.
- Be helpful: If you notice a colleague is overloaded with work while you’re having a slow week, see if you can assist them in any way. The more helpful employees are, the more people want to work with and be around them.
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