By Diane Gottsman, modern manners and etiquette expert, and author of “Pearls of Polish, An Etiquette Guide for Today’s Busy Woman“
When it comes to behavior in the office, it’s important to err on the side of caution when you are establishing your professional image in the workplace.
Here are some tips and reminders to follow while you’re at work to keep your reputation intact and to avoid any turmoil with your peers:
1. You don’t always need to be “right.”
It’s unrealistic to think you will never make a mistake. How you handle it says a great deal about who you are as a professional. Don’t try and shift the blame or go radio silent, hoping no one will notice. Own your error, come up with a solution and apologize for the inconvenience it may have caused. This shows maturity and tells your boss you can be trusted to handle a difficult situation under pressure.
2. It’s not necessary to one up your coworker.
Friendly competition is healthy and challenges others to step up their pace. However, hostile competition and undermining a coworker in front of others is a bad business move. Make every effort to congratulate a peer on a job well done and keep the conversation focused on their success. Steer away from bringing the conversation back to you and your own achievements.
3. You learn more by listening.
It’s critical you don’t miss a lesson in business because you are too busy talking! If someone is taking the time to offer you constructive criticism, mentor you, or give you a piece of sound business advice, take advantage of the opportunity to listen and learn. Jot down notes to review later.
4. Don’t over commit.
It’s the beginning of the holiday season and things are going to start getting extremely hectic. Your coworkers all have great causes they support and would like to get you involved. Prepare what you will say when asked to volunteer for the toy drive, bake sale, community diaper collection, and Santa’s volunteer clean up project. Pick and choose carefully what and who you will support. Say to the others, “I’m sorry, I’ve already committed to another project but it sounds like a wonderful outreach.” Be polite but firm.
5. Know-it-alls are annoying.
If you are good at your job, there is no need to brag about your expert status. Your reputation will speak for itself loud and clear.
6. No one respects a gossip.
Being part of the “in the know” crowd may seem exciting and fun, until you are the subject of conversation. Rest assured, if they are trash talking someone else with you, they are surely talking about you when you are gone. Avoid water cooler chit chat and aspire to be the person who can be counted on to keep their mouth shut. At the end of the day your associates will view you as a trustworthy friend and coworker.
7. Keep your language clean.
Cursing in the workplace is a habit worth breaking. Even if your boss regularly uses curse words at the office, you can’t go wrong by keeping a civil tongue. If tough situations bring out the profanity, find other ways to cope.
It’s difficult to be taken seriously as a professional when your coworkers are labeling you as lacking self-discipline every time you spout off because something didn’t go your way. Just like your mother taught you, ‘Use your words carefully and play nice!’
Diane Gottsman is a national modern manners and etiquette expert, sought out industry leader, accomplished speaker, author and the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in executive leadership and etiquette training. Her clients range from university students to Fortune 500 companies, and her seminars cover topics ranging from tattoos in the workplace to technology at the dinner table and the proper use of social media. She is author of “Pearls of Polish, An Etiquette Guide for Today’s Busy Woman“.