5 Business Etiquette Rules You Should Never Break
In the business world, your reputation not only affects how far your career progresses, it also impacts how your company is perceived by others. This is why it’s essential that you maintain a high level of professionalism at all times, whether it’s at the workplace, on business trips, or in networking scenarios. Here are some of the most important business etiquette rules you should never break:
1. Introduce Yourself professionally
When you first meet someone in a professional situation, it’s easy to forget his or her name soon after, especially when you’re constantly encountering new people. The best way to prevent awkward situations from arising later down the line is to always give your first and last name when introducing yourself, so it’s easier for people to remember. Similarly, ask the person you’re meeting what his or her second name is and repeat the name back to help you log the information in your brain. Also, never forget to maintain eye contact when you are meeting someone for the first time, as this is a symbol of respect and acknowledgement.
2. Don’t Interrupt
While in some countries it’s considered normal to interrupt during meetings or conversations, it’s actually regarded as one of the rudest things you can do in the UK. There will be times when a great idea or a counterpoint comes into your head when you’re listening to someone, but always make sure to wait until he or she has finished speaking. Make a note of your idea so you remember your thought process. If you interrupt someone, you not only run the risk of looking disrespectful, but you also can throw the person speaking off-balance, and others in the meeting won’t thank you for it.
3. Be punctual
Arriving late for meetings is a huge faux-pas in the workplace, as it can suggest you don’t value the time of everyone present or that you simply don’t want to be there. Unforeseen circumstances sometimes can arise, which can affect your punctuality, so a general rule of thumb is to aim to arrive there 5 or 10 minutes early. If there’s no way around it and you know you’re going to be late, make sure you inform everyone as soon as possible so they’re aware of the situation.
4. Be respectful
It goes without saying that you should be respectful to all those around you, but this often can be challenging when you are dealing with different personalities. It’s important to remember that not everyone shares the same political or religious views as you, so it’s best to avoid these topics in conversation. No matter how frustrated you get with others in the workplace, make sure you speak in a neutral tone and never raise your voice or speak in an aggressive manner, as this can alienate you from your colleagues. Although you may get to a point where you feel very comfortable with your coworkers, you still should refrain from using vulgar language at work.
5. Use your phone sparingly
Staying off your phone in this digital era is extremely challenging, particularly as it’s the device you use to manage your bank account, send e-mails, and keep in contact with friends and family. In the workplace, though, you need to keep your phone usage to a bare minimum. This is especially true for meetings, as being glued to your phone indicates a lack of focus, so the best thing to do is to keep your phone on silent and keep it out of sight.
Nowadays, a huge amount of business is conducted online and e-mails take up around 28% of the average worker’s week, so it’s important that you brush up on your digital etiquette, too. When it comes to e-mails, always check your grammar and spelling before sending or replying to others, as any mistakes can reflect badly on your company and can make you look unprofessional and sloppy. If you receive a group e-mail, you need to ensure you reply to everyone, rather than to individuals, as this can lead to a breakdown in communication.
Cultivating a strong sense of business etiquette will help you foster excellent relationships with your coworkers and also will enable you to network easily and successfully. If you follow these business etiquette rules every day, you’ll be sure to contribute to a more harmonious work environment and stand a better chance of advancing your career.
Irma Hunkeler is head of Operations at digital marketing agency Re:signal. Her experience includes working for clients in different industries such as travel, retail, recruitment, technology, and charitable institutions. Extensive networking and meeting professionals across different industries allows her to collaborate with industry experts for her writing.