How professional interaction with
employers and coworkers can go a long
way toward preserving excellent
The importance of courtesy in the workplace has become the topic of many conversations among members of the campus community. New technology has set fresh and innovative methods of communicating with one another. However, with our eagerness to use mobile phones, e-mailing, texting, instant messaging, and the like we tend to forget the importance of patience and cooperation when sharing space with others.
This special edition of the OEO newsletter is dedicated to providing readers with reminders of workplace etiquette to be considered in a variety of situations.
It is true that while you are working your cubicle is your private, personal space. Yet, it is vital to remember that this space and how you treat it may still affect others. Your desktop and surrounding areas should remain clean and clutter free. This is merely a professional courtesy, besides cleanliness and organization are great habits to pick up. Maintaining order will help your job performance also, so everyone wins.
Unnecessary or excessive noise can cause concentration problems within the workplace so keep your voice down. Loud talking is highly unprofessional and can distract others from their duties and strain
relationships, so refrain from using speakerphone, keep the ringer on your phone down, and set the ringer on your cell phone to low or preferably vibrate. Professional courtesy is vital to working relationships. What one person may perceive to be acceptable behavior may be very offensive to another, so be conscious of differing customs and cultural norms. See Search and Screen Protocols for further details on cultural norms. Try to understand the norms of your workplace and adapt to them. A few suggestions to keep in mind are as follows:
few suggestions to keep in mind are as follows:
• Be cordial.
• Think before you speak.
• Never overreact to a situation.
• Be a team player.
• Be on time.
• Watch your language.
• Avoid personal calls and e-mails.
• Avoid junk e-mail during work hours
• Knock before entering the space of others.
• Avoid conflict and gossip.
• Avoid using air freshener, perfume or other scented items— many people are allergic.
• Tend to personal hygiene at home or in the restroom.
• Keep your shoes on, at all times.
• Avoid playing games, texting, or taking calls
when someone is speaking to you.
Effective workplace etiquette extends further than your cubicle or workstation. The office kitchen is very much a part of your workplace and you should be mindful of your conduct there as well. Remember to be considerate. Often in office kitchens the custodians only clean once daily, so make a conscious effort to clean up after yourself. This will eliminate the threat of bugs and/or other rodents. Help keep the kitchen functional. Replace items you use such as napkins, spoons, etc. Remove your leftovers from the refrigerator. Leftovers take up excess space and eventually create foul odor. Clean the toaster and/or microwave when you make a mess, and if you empty the water cooler replace the water. If you empty the coffee pot make more or turn it off. However, please avoid putting decaf in the regular pot without notifying someone. Alert someone when you used the last of a staple and when the trash is full, or empty it yourself.
Never eat someone else’s food without their permission, and do not smash their food either. Everyone has the expectation and the right to enjoy their lunch in the same condition they prepared it. Speaking of enjoying your food, be attentive to your table manners. Chewing with your mouth open, speaking with food in your mouth, chatting loudly are all incredibly rude and unprofessional behaviors and you never know who may be watching.
The use of e-mail correspondence has become quite the norm when communicating and conducting business. It is very popular in personal use as well. Nonetheless it is crucial to keep in mind that e-mailing for business purposes is not as lax as e-mailing a friend. Thus it is a good idea to stress professionalism whenever sending out business e-mail.
Always remember that good writing is good writing everywhere and shorthand or emoticons will most likely come across as inappropriate and amateurish. Proofread and spell check your e-mail just as you would if you were sending a letter. Remain professional, polite and appropriate and always ask if the recipient prefers e-mail before sending.
Unfortunately, many attachments are plagued with viruses, so often people are leery of opening them. Ask if attachments are welcome before including any in your e-mail. If attachments are too large they may not be viewable to recipients, so send hard copies instead.
Most people understand how important PTO time can be to those who work hard. So if you do not wish to accept or respond to e-mails while vacationing use your “out of office” function. This will inform everyone that you are unavailable during your vacation. Include the date in which you plan to return and provide backup contact information.
We all make mistakes but avoid sending e-mail to the wrong recipient. This can cause a great deal of confusion and may drive others to view you as unreliable. A good suggestion is waiting to fill in the “to” address until after composing your e-mail and attaching files. However, if this happens contact those who are affected (i.e. the recipient, the person to which you intended to send and possibly your manager) and explain your error. As much as possible avoid sending confidential information electronically.
The use of cell phones has caused a stir within the workplace and has violated countless codes of etiquette. The following are a few reminders to avoid unintentionally aggravating those around you:
• Speak quietly, your cell phone is equipped with a microphone so there is no need to yell.
• Avoid taking calls during meetings.
• Avoid holding unnecessary conversations in confined areas with others present.
• Avoid annoying ringtones, they can be very distracting.
• Avoid taking calls while being serviced, this can be perceived as rude.
• Leave your hands-free set in the car.
• Most importantly keep private calls private.
Numerous employees have faced the consequences of unauthorized use of the Internet. Some have even lost their jobs. It is extremely important to understand UITS Tech user agreements and your department’s policies on web surfing and downloading. If you mistakenly access a restricted site inform your manager and/or IT person right away.
Setting up a separate e-mail address for personal purposes, such as an iupui.edu account, and only using this address at work may be a good idea as well. Notify your friends and family of personal use restrictions to avoid opening junk mail or inappropriate content. Lastly, try to limit personal e-mail and Internet use to breaks, lunch hours or preferably home.
Social networking is progressively becoming more and more widespread. It can be a very useful professional tool when used properly. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and many others have taken the world by storm and allow us to connect and share information in ways we never could in the past.
However, similar to random Internet use, it is important to understand and adhere to your department’s policies and procedures regarding social media. Provided social networking is permitted at your workplace, it is highly recommended that you get connected. This is a great way to network with others in your profession or field of study, but avoid using it at work unless it is work-related. Through
social networking you are gaining knowledge and making a proactive effort in guiding your career, but like e-mailing there are rules to this. When connecting with people on a professional level it is a good idea to understand their social media presence (i.e. their feed, profile, activity, etc.) before accepting or sending a request. Take time out to look over each individual’s page and inspect their content. You may find that simply because they are a photographer does not mean that they tweet about photography.
So try to avoid friending or following people who do not share information relevant to you. Personalizing friend and connection requests by sending a brief message is recommended.
Your social media presence is your own; you are in control. You do not have to accept the connection request of anyone whose content you find offensive, useless or undesirable. No explanations are required, they may even offend, so simply click the ignore button. Additionally, you are not obligated to follow people on Twitter merely because they follow you. Be mindful of potential and
current employers observing your activity. The goal is to put your best foot forward and keep it completely professional, so avoid inappropriate content and conduct. Follow these principles and you will maintain a glowing social media presence spotlighting your abilities, interests and professionalism.
Ultimately, remembering to put courtesy first whether in your cubicle, office kitchen, e-mail message or while on your cell phone or on-line will take you far. So let’s continue to keep our surroundings, behavior, language and social media presence clean to continue to present a polished campus environment and reflect that IUPUI employees are professional.