The manner in which we conduct ourselves at work matters just as much as how good we are at doing our jobs.
Even the most competent individual may struggle to progress if they speak, act or come across the wrong way with those they interact with daily. Here are six common workplace etiquette errors and what you can do to avoid them.
1. Failing to Adapt to Those Around You
You don’t need to completely altar your personal identity, however, knowing how to adapt to your environment is a professional skill worth learning. How you behave in front of your close friends may differ from your demeanor in front of your most valuable client. It’s important to be “real” but use discretion when getting too comfortable.
2. Letting Your Guard Down
Always exhibit a professional, mature, well-mannered version of yourself at work, and above all, try to avoid careless lapses. A single misplaced comment, joke or light-hearted jibe may not cause a stir among friends but incur serious consequences at the office. Off colored jokes are never acceptable, but calling a family member a nickname such as “Sammy” instead of “Samuel” is totally different than getting too familiar with a boss or client.
3. Getting Involved in Gossip
Being social animals, we form important relationships in our work space. Personal conversation with colleagues is expected and encouraged, but it’s critical not to cross the line. Keep everyday discussion minimal and avoid turning your workplace into a social club. Never allow idle chatting to interfere with what you’re paid to do, and avoid the quagmire of “office gossip.”
Forming cliques, whispering about colleagues or spreading rumors can create a hostile workplace. Don’t make anyone outside the group feel uncomfortable. It can damage your prospects as well. Managers notice employees who spend all their time chatting, and they’re unlikely to reward anyone who has a negative impact on morale. Being likable is more likely to boost your career.
4. Taking Credit You Don’t Deserve
A corporate office can be competitive and challenging environments. Everyone is looking for the next opportunity to get ahead of the pack. Promotions and plum assignments come to those who stand out- but only for the right reasons. Taking credit for other peoples’ work is a major breach of business etiquette, and if discovered such actions will brand you dishonest and untrustworthy.
If your peers or those in management form a negative impression, your opportunities for advancement could be limited. If you deserve the credit, by all means claim it. But if someone else is responsible make sure to give them their due plaudits.
5. Poor Electronic Manners
A lifetime of social interaction gives most of us a solid foundation in how to behave when dealing with people face-to-face. But most of us view the digital experience differently. Social rules and habits have become lax, and people get comfortable saying things they would never say in person.
We spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen, especially at work. With so much interaction taking place electronically, we need to remember to carry over our good manners. A key example would be responding to emails in a timely fashion. A tardy response is rude, demonstrates a lack of dependability and gives the impression that you just don’t care.
6. Using the Wrong Body Language
The way we move has a significant impact on the way we are perceived by others – and nowhere is this more imperative than in the workplace. Your demeanor sends a message your co-workers may not be consciously aware of, but nevertheless interpret. They know instinctively when you’re angry, happy, relaxed or stressed out.
The tendency to stomp, slouch, or cross your arms tightly might send a different message, but the underlying theme is lack of emotional control. If you want to be professional, be consistent and don’t let off steam, unless it’s in the privacy of your own office.
You may also like Mistakes Entrepreneurs Cannot Afford to Make. For more of Diane’s etiquette tips read her posts on Inc., subscribe to her articles on The Huffington Post, “like” The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook, and follow her on Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. Order Diane’s forthcoming book, Modern Etiquette for a Better Life here.