Social Etiquette at Work

We have all spent time working next to a grumpy employee. They can make the day feel much longer and, frankly, also make you want to work elsewhere. While you can’t require someone to be smiling non-stop, you might suggest they maintain a pleasant attitude while at work. Of course, you also then need to remind employees of the best way to give you their complaints or concerns because no workplace is perfect for everyone.

An Employee Handbook usually tells employees what conduct is considered unacceptable. However, less is said about proper or preferred conduct. There are a lot of little things employees (and managers) can do to make your company a more enjoyable place to work, such as:

  • Say please and thank you, even to coworkers and direct reports.
  • Smile at coworkers and management, even if they don’t smile back.
  • Wait to answer your phone until you have excused yourself so others don’t feel unimportant.
  • Look at the person you are speaking to or who is speaking to you.
  • Remember people’s names and use them.
  • Handwrite a thank-you note to a coworker or direct report who has gone out of their way for you.
  • Unless you are using it for work, keep your phone on mute.
  • Be punctual so you are not keeping others waiting.
  • Respond quickly to call and meeting requests so they can be finalized easily.
  • Be considerate of those working close to you and keep the noise level down when working.
  • Dress for the type of work you do and that fits the company’s culture.
  • Clean up after yourself when using any shared area, such as a conference room or kitchen.
  • When upset or angry, wait a day before saying anything or sending that email or text in response.
  • Knock before entering someone’s office.
  • Whenever you have time, help a coworker who is struggling to finish a project.
  • Save grooming (hair, makeup, etc.) for the restrooms.
  • Bring up controversial topics on your personal time, not at work.
  • Say you’re sorry when warranted.
  • When in a group, don’t ignore or leave out someone during conversations.
  • Take the time to return calls.
  • Be a congenial coworker, not someone who brings down the mood of others.

We are often so rushed throughout the day that we forget basic courtesy when dealing with our coworkers. Consider how much you’d enjoy working in an environment that included the above behaviors, then decide how best to implement at least some of these in your workplace.

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