As part of the Certificate IV in Frontline Management Course at MCI, we take a detailed look at Office Etiquette
How self-aware are you in your office environment? Are you aware of the impact of some of your behaviours on others in your team?
Office etiquette is about being comfortable around people – and making them comfortable around you.
People are a key factor in your own and your business’ success. An unintentional breach of etiquette can lead to conflict and unnecessary tension.
Today’s workforce is more culturally diverse than ever before and there are often no firm guidelines. Workplace culture tends to be more informal and fast-paced than ever before and boundaries between personal and work life, between appropriate and unacceptable behaviours become blurred.
How would you react in the following situations?
- You are invited to attend a meeting. After sitting there for about 10 minutes, you realise that you don’t have much to contribute to the discussion. How do you ask to leave in a professional way?
- You are in an open office and someone is talking loudly on their mobile phone during a personal call.
- You need to convey bad news to a colleague – do you call or email?
- There is back-stabbing happening in the office and you are encouraged to participate
- A co-worker has not submitted a high quality proposal to a client
When you are in a meeting and the conversation is not relevant to you, politely ask permission from the leader of the meeting to leave. Suggest that you might not have been the most appropriate person to include in the meeting, but assure the team members that you would like to be kept informed of progress. Offer further assistance if needed.
An open plan office tests the patience of many team members. It is all about building relationships, yet providing feedback in a calm and assertive way. Try using words such as:
“I understand that you had an important call to answer. I am not sure if you realized that we could all hear what you were saying. This open plan office makes things seem so loud. Next time, please could you take these calls in the break-out area?”
Avoid being sarcastic or plain mean.
Never hide behind email. If there is news that is not going to be pleasant for the recipient to hear, rather get a grip of your courage and make a phone call.
Sometimes the wording of an email might not ring true and in a conversation it is easier to work with listener and adapt according to their reactions.
It is best to be upfront and not skirt issues or resort to whispering about the situation to other work mates. Back-stabbing is passive-aggressive behaviour and not part of strong office etiquette.
If you hear about someone talking about you or anyone else behind their back, follow this formula:
Clarify what you have heard, and assert yourself. You can then seek solutions and evaluate them.
An example of this would be to formulate sentences such as:
“When I heard that you complained to others about the quality of my work… I was devastated. In the future, come to me directly if there is an issue. I will do the same for you.”
When you provide feedback to a co-worker on the standard of their work, focus on the improvements needed instead of the problems.
“One way to strengthen this aspect of the proposal is to…”
“Have you considered adding … in this section?”
Remember some of these basic guidelines:
Be switched on and self-aware of your actions, your body language and how you say things
Use common sense – if you would not like something to be done to you, don’t do it to others
Be aware of the impact of your actions – keep your antennae up and watch for people’s reactions.
There are not two social codes- one for those you admire and want to impress, another for those whom you consider unimportant. Be the same to all people.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
To get ahead, you don’t need to impress your boss alone – you need to get on well with your team members.
Manage your anger and avoid explosive reactions that you will later regret. Rather bite your tongue than make a provocative remark!
There is no point arguing and making a situation worse. Rather use some empathy and see things from the point of view of your team member. This might seem really tough, but it will allow you to control the situation and lead to a positive outcome.
Build bridges and never burn them – you never know when you will meet up again in the future.
Offer help to others and take an interest in your peers. Listen, listen, and listen.
Great relationship-building phrases for regular use with your team members are:
I want to let you know how much I appreciate your ___ every day.
Thanks for making my job easier by…
I always appreciate the way you…
Thank you for ___.
Advance along your career path through acting appropriately, sensitively and with strong judgment. Coworkers can be your allies… or your adversaries. Be sure to cultivate coworkers as allies at every level of the organization, from the security staff, to the receptionist ….to the CEO.
MCI is a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) providing Certificate iv in Frontline Management courses, certificate iv frontline management, front line management, frontline business management, frontline management courses, leadership management courses, leadership skills training courses, certificate 4 frontline management. This article was written by Denise Meyerson of MCI – http://www.mci.edu.au