Professional office etiquette isn’t as simple as it once was. Now there’s email etiquette, office meeting etiquette, and more.
Business Management Daily’s business etiquette tips will help you main professional etiquette at all times. Our office etiquette tips will help you put your best foot forward.
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If you're managing an office, chances are that you're the kind of person everyone's always looking to for help. From your boss to your colleagues ... your kids to your spouse ... you're the "go-to" person to solve problems, answer questions and get things done. But there's one problem with this situation: When you need a problem solved or a question answered, who's there to help you?
If you've received an invitation to a party at your boss’s home, yes, you do have to RSVP, attend, dress appropriately, mingle and send a thank-you note afterward, says Barbara Pachter, a leading expert in business etiquette and communications. And turn off your cell phone!
Question: “Last year, our company celebrated the holiday season at a bar near our office building. This event was basically an “alcohol fest” that began after work and continued late into the evening. I never drink alcohol because my father died of alcoholism. Also, I really don’t care for the taste. However, I’ve found that when I decline a drink, people regard me as strange. Sometimes they become insistent and insulting, saying things like “What’s wrong with you?” or “Are you in recovery?” Apparently, I am the only person in this entire group who doesn’t drink. It hurts to be called an oddball, so I’d like to be less conspicuous. I was a new employee at last year’s party, but this time I want to be prepared.” —Abstainer
Q. Our company intends to provide gift baskets to valued customers during the holidays. Are they deductible and tax-free?
When the Chicago offices of marketing agency Upshot burned down, some of the employees spent a year working out of a local bar. Safely ensconced in new digs, the staff still likes to drink together—so they tap a keg in the office at 5:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month. It's part of the perks conceived by a group of employees who call themselves “Pulse,” which recommends ways the company can liven things up.
Workplace noise is a pet peeve for one in five employees, and it can even damage productivity. But is it a peeve worth escalating to human resources? Most HR workers would say that employees should resolve the noisy co-worker issue on their own.
Question: “I am the office administrator for a small nonprofit that shares a building (and a boardroom) with several other nonprofits. Due to scheduling conflicts, we occasionally hold a meeting off site at a board member’s office. The board member’s administrative assistant always provides invaluable help in coordinating meeting details (and sometimes goes above and beyond by staying late to make sure everything is set for our meeting), and I would like to acknowledge that help beyond a simple “thank you” e-mail. Would it be proper to send a small token of thanks (such as a gift card) to another administrative professional?” — Stacey
Question: “I work at the front desk, so when I need to take a day off, I rely on four people in my office to cover for me. They answer phones, disperse mail and faxes, and do their own work at my desk. When I need coverage, I send an e-mail to these people asking what times they’d like to volunteer to cover the front desk and I thank them for volunteering. I send a reminder the day before I take off, again thanking them for helping.
When I return, one of the volunteers expects me to thank her again for helping, and she complains about this to my boss and other co-workers. She has commented that it appears I’m ungrateful because I haven’t thanked her in person for covering the front desk. Is it really necessary for me to bend over backward and thank her in person?” — Liza
Have an important meeting coming up? Need some etiquette and protocol tips to help you shine? It really is all about how you present yourself. Self-promotion is key in moving up the business ladder, and manners never go out of style.
Question: “My husband had cancer surgery six weeks ago, and I have been on leave from work to take care of him. Although there are 30 people in my office, only three have contacted me to see how we’re doing. I’ve always had a good relationship with my co-workers, so I’m extremely hurt and disappointed by this treatment. I can't seem to get beyond these feelings. When I return to work, I know people will ask about my husband. Since they weren’t there when I needed support, I have no desire to discuss his health with them. How should I handle their questions?” — Angry Wife