Rules for business etiquette

Knowing how to behave in the workplace will help you set yourself apart professionally. Here are some timeless tips to guide you along.

Whether it’s speaking to your colleagues or interacting with clients, knowing the proper etiquette in various work situations is key to making a good impression on the people that matter in your professional life. And if you’re dealing with parties from other countries, there might be extra rules you need to be aware of.

We all know basic workplace courtesies such as being punctual or dressing appropriately, but to ensure you’re always on your best behaviour, here are some other etiquette rules that aren’t quite so obvious.

Be professional at meetings

Meetings with colleagues or clients are opportunities for you to make a good — or bad —impression. Stick to the agenda and don’t go off on long-winded tangents that waste the other participants’ time. If you’re hosting the meeting, remember to thank participants for their contributions and send out the minutes of what was discussed after, so that everyone knows what follow-up actions are required.

Use email professionally

Take care in how you craft your work emails; they can reflect your professionalism. Check your spelling and grammar as you would any office correspondence. Also, be clear in your emails to help cut down on the number of messages that need to be sent on one topic. One-word answers are a definite no-no.

Keep your boss in the loop

Always ensure that your boss is up to date with important information as he or she is ultimately responsible for your actions (and their consequences). If a big problem arises that you feel you can’t handle, inform him or her immediately so that your boss becomes part of the solution. However, don’t overdo it with compliments and being a “yes man”. It wastes your superior’s time and can cast you as a person trying to curry favour with the boss.

Respect other cultures

More companies have business dealings abroad, which means it’s important that you understand the cultural nuances of the different parties you deal with; such as table manners or methods of greeting each other. Learning a few words of another person’s language will also win you brownie points with overseas partners..

Skip the gossip

Most of us like a bit of juicy gossip every now and then. But it’s best not to talk about your colleagues behind their back, as it can sour relationships and lose you their respect. If a conversation does turn to office gossip, try to change the subject. If that doesn’t work, make an excuse and leave.

Stay off the booze

While office parties and gatherings are a time to loosen your tie or let down your hair, always remember you are still in the presence of work colleagues whom you will have to see again in a professional capacity. As such, it’s best to put a cap on the number of alcoholic drinks you consume, or risk saying something you might regret the next work day!