Rule #8: 21st Century Work Etiquette

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“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” Helen Keller 

Growing up watching my father go to work in an office my observations about succeeding in business were the importance of understanding human nature to achieve your goals. It seemed to me that a person needed a great deal of interpersonal skills to get anything done. Sometimes a person can't do everything alone. 

When I started in business, people would tell me to keep everything professional and not take anything personally.  Yet, I wondered how could I not take anything personally when everything that was done was done with a personal passion to achieve results that included a product that yielded a certain level of personal pride? At the same time, I noticed there was a major focus on making sure that customers and employees were satisfied. Isn't satisfaction being personally happy while at work?

“We = power” Lorii Myers

Although articles and people will  say that business is not personal the truth is, it is. Work relationships require the same knowledge and mastery of interpersonal skills as personal relationships. If people create, sell, buy, produce, manufacture, and create products to allow for a business to exist then how could business itself not be about people and getting to know them? How could interpersonal skills not come into play while working to complete a project when it takes people to execute the work?

"Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” Michael Jordan

Beyond being hard working and having a skill for the subject matter a Sophisticate knows that being professional in the 21st Century means being personal or having interpersonal skills. 

A Sophisticate knows the golden rule of work etiquette is to focus on execution. To grow to be the best person for yourself, for others, and more importantly for the product  you work hard to  execute a.k.a. create, sell, buy produce, manufacture, and support.

21st Century Workplace Etiquette:

  • Never gossip- If you don't have anything good to say, don't say it all and especially don't say it loud 
  • Give respect first, ask questions later
  • Always have something positive to say even when it's negative
  • Give people the benefit of the doubt
  • Understand and appreciate that everyone you come into contact with has their own agenda and objectives in mind
  • Begin every conversation and e-mail with gratitude
    • 'Thank you for your help' 
    • 'Thank you for getting back to me' 
    • 'Thank you for  your e-mail'
  • In meetings make sure that everyone knows each other and is introduced
  • If you meet someone in a meeting who you may not agree with, remain silent. After the meeting, introduce yourself and/or get to know them better
  • Whatever is displayed in their cubicles or in their office has significance
    • What people have displayed are clues to who they are 
    • Be interested- Ask people about pictures or objects that they display
  • Discuss other person's well being a.k.a. care about people before you get down and care about the work
  • Apologize and take responsibility
  • Be direct but kind
  • Continue to work on your personal/professional growth as you and before you support others on their personal/professional growth
  • Never be silent if you disagree or if you believe a course of action is risky
  • In a meeting if you see someone you don't know, introduce yourself
  • When walking down the hall, smile and say hello to everyone you see
  • Never check your watch or company blackberry during a meeting
  • Don't bring a laptop to a meeting
    • A laptop can be brought when the person running it says it's okay
    • Give the team leader, your Manager or anyone holding a meeting your full attention. They are giving you their full attention so it's only fair you return their effort as a courtesy
In the end, a Sophisticate remembers that beyond the tips mentioned below work place etiquette is determined by a company's culture. If a Sophisticate understands a company's culture then she will understand the etiquette rules that apply. ;D