What sets one apart from the rest at work? Is it being appropriately dressed, or exemplifying immaculate conduct? Is it the aura of being in control, or that of someone bankable? Is it an empathetic nature, or the best reaction to a sticky situation? Or a combination of all of it, maybe!
Exemplary professional etiquette is an unwritten code of conduct that governs interactions among colleagues in a business setting. This is an important part of soft skill training programs because it creates a professional, mutually respectful work atmosphere, and improves communication, which translates into better customer relationships. Simply put, it’s a complete win-win!
Here are the basics of professional etiquette for success:
1. Ace the ‘first impression’ game.
Most business soft skills training interventions highlight this aspect: introducing yourself with your full name helps set you apart from the crowd and also makes it easier for people to find you on professional networking sites so you can stay connected. With a firm handshake thrown in, you are all set to take your networking game to the next level.
2. Be on time, every time.
Punctuality is something that most soft skills training companies in India are having to grapple with. It’s needless to say, being on time, you respect everyone else’s time, and command the same from others.
3. Be on your best conduct, especially during meetings.
Mobile phones need to be placed on silent mode. Besides being prepared for meetings, limit yourself to the most important questions during the meeting and then follow up with an email after it ends, so as to not delay others. Also, when you’ve been sitting for a while, it’s natural to be tempted to fidget. Instead of appearing restless, try to appear calm and composed at all times.
4. Let your work station mirror your impeccable personality.
Get rid of any clutter and keep personal items off the work desk. Avoid eating at your desk so as to not risk irritating a colleague who might be sensitive to pungent odours.
5. Keep all things personal and professional, mutually exclusive.
While it’s good to socialize, walking into someone’s workstation unannounced is avoidable. Personal calls during work hours are best avoided, unless there’s an emergency. Ensure mobile phones have neutral ring tones, and do not speak loudly, lest you disturb colleagues.
6. Acknowledge emails promptly and reply to everyone on emails only when it’s necessary.
It’s always a great idea to send an interim reply to emails. Also, use the ‘Reply to All’ option with caution. If the email thread gets more specific, remember to remove people who don’t need that information.
7. Follow up unanswered voice calls with a message.
Avoid hounding someone with multiple calls; instead, simply send a message mentioning the purpose of the call, in brief.
8. Praise loudly, blame softly.
Here’s something most corporate soft skills training sessions don’t teach: constructive criticism is best when shared in private, since nobody likes being called out for a faux pas in public. Simply put yourself in the shoes of the other person and you would instantly have a lot of clarity as to how to proceed, when faced with a tricky situation.
9. Be kind – it costs nothing!
Spread smiles: there’s nothing wrong with holding doors open for one another, showing appreciation to team members and complimenting colleagues on a task done well.
10. Make a conscious effort to be genuine at all times.
A simple practice of establishing eye contact during conversations goes a long way, and one confident and sincere ‘thank you’ is sufficient to strike a chord with just about anyone in your professional network.
Follow these business etiquette rules to get ahead in your career!