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Business Etiquette

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 maintain professional etiquette at all times. Our office etiquette tips will help you put your best foot forward.

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Question:  “Last year, a woman in our company wore a red satin corset, tight skirt and eight-inch platform heels to the holiday party. Although this outfit was not particularly revealing, one of the vice presidents thought it was “trashy looking.”  She believes employees should dress conservatively at business functions because they are still representing the company. Our executive team did not object to the “corset outfit” and prefers not to dictate what people should wear to office parties. However, the offended vice president, who is one of our top salespeople, refuses to attend any function where this type of dress is allowed. As the HR manager, I need some advice on how to resolve this issue.” —  Caught in the Middle




Problem: "I'm in charge of turning on the dishwasher each night before leaving. To some, this translates to my also being in charge of cleaning up after everyone. Several memos have been distributed ... but have not been successful. Any ideas? I'm tired of being known as the office maid. My name is not Hazel!"

We’ve all been told a thousand times that to increase our influence and effectiveness, we need to write personal thank-you notes. Here’s the right way to do it, as evidenced by a 1991 note from George H.W. Bush to Goldie Hawn.

Lavish office parties are as distant a memory as mimeograph machines for most workers. This year, as companies cinch their belts a little tighter than usual, how are you handling the holiday office party? Administrative professionals weighed in with their suggestions on our Admin Pro Forum:

Question:  “I know that applicants should send a thank-you note after a job interview, so I normally fax a letter within one or two days. However, I have some questions about the process. When I’m interviewed by several people, should I include all the names on one letter or send an individual note to each person?  If I send separate letters, can they all have the same wording or should each one be different? Finally, if interviewers fail to give me a business card, what do I do if I’m not sure how to spell their names?” -- Puzzled

Technology is blurring the lines between work and leisure and revealing real tensions between Gen Y, Gen X and baby boomer employees. A recent LexisNexis survey reveals divergent ideas about what is and isn’t an appropriate use of technology and software in the white-collar workplace:

Whether you're dining with peers at a convention or meeting with a vendor, lunch etiquette can keep you from marring your image with a faux pas. Here are five etiquette rules for business meals, according to Robin Jay, author of The Art of the Business Lunch:

Move over, Google. Microsoft grabs tech headlines this month by adding zippy new features to its Internet Explorer browser. Here are four cool tricks that will save time for you and your employees.

Q. How should I address a woman who uses two last names, such as "Geneva Besmer Silverstone"? By her maiden name, her surname or both?

What's the proper procedure for a group of business people approaching a closed door? ... Should I tip when picking up a carryout order for the office? ... How can I compliment a co-worker who recently lost a lot of weight without offending her?

Soon after Gary Lizalek was hired at a Wisconsin medical firm, he informed the company that he believed, as a matter of religious faith, that he was three separate beings. The company fired all three Lizaleks. He sued, saying the company failed to accommodate his religious beliefs.

As many companies cut back on expenses and, in some instances, cut staff, how do you maintain your edge and ask for what your department needs without immediately seeing your request denied? Tell a tale, become a storyteller and see your words make an impact.

It's not unusual to be asked to help pay for celebrations at the office, such as birthdays and baby showers. Avoid asking colleagues for too much too often by keeping in mind these guidelines from OfficeTeam:

Q. I'm training a new team member, and every time I clarify or correct something she has done, she immediately becomes defensive and short with me. How should I give her direction so it doesn't spark a defensive reaction? What should I do when she reacts that way?

Your co-worker gets handed a pink slip, and now you feel awkward. So awkward, in fact, that you’re tempted to do nothing. But that’s the last thing you should do. Here's how to deal with the situation:

If reaching for reference materials in your office requires moving a handful of beads you brought back from Mardi Gras, your personality may be overpowering your professional image. Personalizing our office space is tempting, but everyone should strike a balance.

Knowing whether or not to tell your CEO that he has spinach stuck in his teeth is one sure test of your etiquette skills. (Answer: Tell him, but discreetly.) How would you handle the following two difficult or embarrassing situations?

If you've noticed a lack of "cubicle etiquette" around the office lately, distribute the following "good neighbor" checklist to your co-workers. Example: Don't be an office prairie dog. Instead of popping your head over the top of a partition, walk around it to see your neighbor.

Your boss asked you to prepare a spreadsheet for a meeting the next day. It took a couple of hours and some shuffling of priorities, but you did it. When you arrive at the meeting, though, your boss handed you a spreadsheet that someone else created. Should you tell your boss how frustrated you are?

If your boss is typical, he’s looking for ways to tell the team “thanks.” Appreciation is one of the few, affordable ways to retain and motivate. Help him put sentiments down on paper with these tips:

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