Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Do Manners Matter at Work?

By Tamara Dowling, CPRW

Employment, Job Vacancies, Employment Jobs

Manners do matter at work. However, they are slightly different from good manners praised in social situations. In social situations, good manners aim to help those around us feel comfortable. At work, good manners facilitate good working relationships and enhanced efficiency.

In your social world life, you want to be liked. The working world is all about the bottom line. Things move more quickly. Sure, you need to cooperate with people to reach goals. However, you also must maintain a certain level of power to get heard and effect necessary changes.

You do not interrupt in social settings. However, in a business meeting, you may need to interrupt to get your ideas on the table.

In a social gathering, it is uncouth to boast about grand achievements. Modesty is preferred. Business people will tell you that if you don't "toot your horn" nobody else will, and you may be overlooked. Don't take it to an extreme, but you've got to self-promote to survive.

Many times in a social setting, we politely apologize for things that are not our fault. We step aside quickly and take blame in order to comfort the other person. However, in business, saying, "I'm sorry" takes a different meaning. With it comes responsibility and liability for the problem. While you should always be honest, you should not go out of your way to grab the blame.

There are several fundamentals of etiquette that apply to business and social life. We'll list a few ways to break them below. If you do, you'll be remembered for the wrong reason -- on and off the job.

Poor Table Manners

Wiping your hands on your clothing, burping, elbows on tables, talking with your mouth full, being over indulgent with food or alcohol

Inappropriate Welcome

Failure to greet someone, weak or no handshake, failure to introduce an associate

Poor Listening

Not paying attention to a speaker, talking while the presenter is speaking, asking a question just covered by the speaker

Poor Dress and Grooming

Sloppy appearance, gym or party dress for business, revealing clothes

Poor Telephone Behavior

Not returning calls, eating while on the phone, slamming the phone down, long hold times, load talking or belligerent tone

Inconsiderate of Common Space

Leaving your mess out in a common space, leaving dirty coffee mugs in conference rooms, leaving stapler or copier empty after using the last of the staples or paper

Inappropriate Behavior

Scratching, flossing teeth, yawning or coughing with mouth uncovered, playing with hair, putting on makeup, cleaning fingernails, playing with change in pockets, adjusting undergarments

Disregard of Others Time

Interrupting people at work, keeping people waiting, not showing up for a scheduled appointment

Not Paying Your Fair Share

At a restaurant with peers and not paying enough to cover your entire meal -- drink, meal and tax


Reading others faxes, email, computer screen, or mail

In summary, did you see any behavior that you've witnessed in the workplace? I am sure you did. We all are guilty of an accidental infraction. Make it a habit and you may find yourself being passed over for promotions or no longer included in client presentations or luncheons.

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