If you’ve been following the recent Hollywood sexual harassment scandals against Harvey Weinstein, Les Moonves, Chris Hardwick and more, you know that lack of professional etiquette cost them their jobs, billions in business funding and worse of all, it cost them their reputation!
Professional etiquette in the workplace plays a big role in maintaining proper relationships with your colleagues. Your manners at the workplace or what is professionally referred to as ‘professional etiquette, elevate the quality of your life at the workplace. Johann Kasper Lavater once said, “In nothing do we lay ourselves so open as in our manner of meeting and salutation.” This goes to show that people judge how you conduct yourself in the workplace.
Professional etiquette both applies on a personal level and when working in teams. You should always aim at creating a positive impression at the workplace by equipping yourself with these soft skills. In recent times, these professional skills have been referred to as ‘power skills’ as they have been known to break or make careers.
Professional etiquette definition
Professional etiquette is a code of conduct in regard to interactions among member in a professional setting. This code of conduct is unwritten. When you practice professional etiquette, people feel comfortable and meetings flow smoothly.
Professional etiquette tips
The first handshake
How you handshake a professional when you meet them for the first time is important. It can determine the success of a working relationship or friendship. The handshake should be firm. It is also important to maintain eye contact and be standing while you do so.
You should stand up to greet newcomers at the workplace or at a business event. This is regardless of the gender of the person you are meeting. In the 21st Century, women have equal footing in the workplace and should, therefore, be treated with equal amount of respect. When a client or an important business executive walks in, stand up and greet them. You should stand behind your desk to give yourself the proper posture and room to extend your hand when greeting them. Stand up both when they are coming in and when they leave. This shows respect for the person, and they feel welcome. This also portrays you as a well-mannered professional.
Apologize if you are unable to stand up
Sometimes, circumstances may not allow you to stand up when an executive person comes in. For example, you may have an injury. You may also find yourself seated at a table that doesn’t have enough space that allows you to stand up. Before extending your hand to greet the person, apologize to them. An alternative way to counter this would be to lean forward. This is acceptable.
Keeping eye contact in a business set up communicates to the other person that you are alert. If they are saying something, it shows them that you are listening. Not keeping eye contact means that you are uninterested, which is rude and unprofessional. Keeping proper eye contact also shows that you are sincere and confident. In most occasions, it gives the person who is talking the confidence to speak more as they feel valued. As you stand to meet the person, keep eye contact. Add a smile while you’re at it! 🙂 Focus on the space between the nose and the eyes after the initial greeting. Too much eye contact may seem intimidating which brings discomfort.
This, combined with eye contact, leaves a lasting impression. Everybody is out here trying to feel valuable. When you genuinely listen to people, they feel valued. When you deliberately listen, you will realize that people will share more of their wisdom which you can use to secure your next job or expand your business. This is also a way to build professional networks as it communicates that you can take instructions. The next time you are in a professional set up, try paying attention.
Proper body language
In a professional set-up, your body language speaks a lot about you. The right gestures leave you feeling accepted and valued. Wrong use of body language can leave people feeling confused. Imagine your boss giving serious feedback while laughing. Wouldn’t that totally confuse you? Your body language is all about your body posture and how you express yourself. For example, don’t put your hands in your pocket while addressing people. It is rude.
Before you start a new job, find out the acceptable dressing for your workplace. Some workplaces only allow a certain type of dress code. It would, therefore, be rude if you rocked up at your workplace dressed in a completely different style. Call someone and ask them. Better still, in this technology century, check out their website. The proper dressing also shows that you respect your business and customers. If you look smart and confident, other people will also feel confident about you. First impressions matter!
Make sure you do not do all the talking when you first meet people. A good first impression would be to listen to the person. Experts suggest that you should also say your name slowly and clearly when you first meet people. To impress them even further, say their name while maintaining eye contact. Paying attention and speaking clearly and loud enough is also a good first impression tip!
First impressions matter. If you behave professionally and observe the above tips, you will find yourself at the top of your professional ladder. Go a step further and teach other people at the workplace on the above conduct by using the proper means of giving professional feedback. Let’s meet at the top, happy, networked and well mannered!