It is National Business Etiquette Week, a chance to enhance your personal brand by practicing polished professional manners. Here are 20 ways to celebrate:
- Sending someone a hand written thank-you note.
- Taking a colleague to lunch to say thanks for all he or she does to help you be successful.
- Volunteering to get the mail from the mail room because you’ll be near there anyway.
- Paying full attention during meetings by putting your cell phone away.
- Cleaning up after yourself when using the office kitchenette.
- Being on time and prepared for meetings.
- Keeping your private life out of the office and off of social media.
- Respecting the opinions of others and disagreeing when necessary without being disagreeable.
- Making introductions when you know not everyone has met.
- Presenting yourself everyday perfectly groomed and appropriately dressed.
- Being cross-culturally literate.
- Sharing credit where credit is due and acknowledging the contributions each person on your team makes to the success of your endeavors.
- Pushing the elevator buttons for everyone when you are the one standing closest to the panel.
- Sending an on-time rsvp to business invitations.
- Practicing Mom’s maxim, “If you don’t have something good to say, don’t say anything at all.”
- Completing assignments on time.
- Offering to help others who are swamped with deadlines.
- Eschewing foul language.
- Respecting your office administrative assistant for the professional he or she is and acknowledging that person’s role in helping you achieve your agenda.
- Avoiding gossip and mean-spirited office conversations and refusing to listen to sexist, racist, or other demeaning comments or jokes.
The Protocol School of Washington (www.psow.edu) has declared June 4-10 National Business Etiquette Week with a theme of “Toxic Workplaces: How to Resurrect Civility in Business.” Bravo to them because we could all use a reminder about now. Incivility is rampant. It is an insidious poison that degrades our relationships with individuals and nations, and erodes our own happiness. Incivility breeds incivility but the good news is that civility is contagious and far less stressful than living in a constant state of self-absorbed, aggressive snark.
National Business Etiquette Week and its theme prompted a healthy discussion in the university events office, not only because we are the keepers of campus protocol, but we are often the face of the university to alumni, donors, and our community. We are expected to be considerate, after all, that is our job. The flip side is that we are also the recipients of rude behavior from entitled guests who fail to r.s.v.p., announce dietary restrictions as meals are being served, demand to know why arrangements aren’t tailored to their personal preferences, arrive late, show up to adult occasions with children in tow, or worst of all, r.s.v.p. and then don’t show up at all. Through it all, we must maintain composure and treat everyone with unfailing politeness. It’s not always easy. Our conversation led to the consensus that business etiquette boils down to showing respect for others (even when we disagree with what they do or say) and treating them the way we would like to be treated. It’s thinking more about the other person than ourselves. We created lists of the behaviors we don’t like, and the positive behaviors that we do like. Thinking about business etiquette helped us re-focus on what we can do to make our world more respectful. I hope you and your staff will take the time this week to do the same.
Here is our list of every day ways we can be part of the solution.
We pledge to respect others by:
- Affirming that race, religion, politics, and sexual orientation have no bearing on our ability to be polite. Everyone has value as a person.
- Being on time. Doing so shows respect for colleagues and guests.
- Being prepared for meetings by having the items we have been assigned completed or ready for discussion and all needed materials with us.
- Returning all messages promptly, including e-mails.
- Keeping our inboxes clean. (Nothing says “disorganized” or is more frustrating than hearing a “this inbox is full and cannot accept messages” recording on cell or office telephones.)
- Eschewing foul language, especially the once taboo but now ubiquitous “f-bomb.”
- Dressing professionally which means wearing clothes and accessories that are appropriate for the office, modest in styling and that cover cleavage, tattoos, toes, and upper arms. For men, it means shirts with collars and trousers on a casual day, coat and tie otherwise.
- Keeping the office kitchenette and break room tidy. No dishes in the sink, litter or spills left behind on surfaces or in the microwave, and only fresh food stored in the refrigerator.
- Keeping private life private by not talking about personal problems in the office or online.
- Treating coworkers with a cheerful attitude and a sincere willingness to help accomplish goals.