Knowing how to operate in the workplace can be a tricky endeavor. It is important that you operate in a professional manner without coming across as too uptight or strict. You must be able to determine where the lines and boundaries are when it comes to personal space and work relations. Here are a couple of tips and guidelines to help you remain professional at the workplace at all times.

  1. Appearance is Everything

Maintaining a clean and polished exterior in the work environment is probably the most important aspect of workplace etiquette. Dirty, wrinkled and stained clothes give the impression that you are not hygienic. Your co-workers and supervisors may not want to interact with you as your lack of concern for your appearance can be considered as offensive. Studies show that many mangers will not promote workers who do not keep their attire at a professional level.

Know the dress code that your organization follows and match your attire to it. Your workspace should also be kept clean an organized. If you are working in a cubicle or open setting, messy workspaces can distract and insult your co-workers who may normally keep a clean workspace.

You should clean up after yourself in all common spaces. Never leave copies that you do not want at the copying machine and ensure that your waste goes into the bins and not at the side of them when you dispose of it. Your co-workers should not have to clean up after you.

  1. Manners Maketh Worker

Politeness and courtesy are almost mandatory in the work place. Respect for other workers in the organization removes unnecessary tensions. There are many differing personalities and backgrounds in the workplace; it is imperative that you try to be as polite and well mannered as possible to avoid offending anyone else.

Learn the names of your co-workers and try not to be too familiar. It is always safer to always be professional instead of trying to figure out the time and place to be informal.

Everyone in the organizations holds great value. It is important that you notice, respect and develop amiable relationships with everyone including support staff and janitorial staff. Your co-workers and supervisors can observe your interactions with people in the organization. How you relate to others says a lot about you as a person. Ignoring or excluding other co-workers because of your personal likes/dislikes is very disrespectful. Not allowing someone to present because you do not like their style of dress or not inviting someone to a meeting because you do not like their accent is impolite and does not reflect well on you.

  1. Posture and Body language

How you physically relate to others can often be overlooked in the workplace. Being aware of your body and the messages you may send is important to ensure that others around do not feel uncomfortable, disrespected or irritated. When you are meeting someone for the first time, ensure that you are standing straight, maintaining eye contact and showing attentiveness in your posture. First impressions count-you must appear professional and focused upon meeting someone new.

When someone comes to speak with you, turn toward him or her to show that you are paying attention to what they are saying. If you ignore people with your body language, it demonstrates a lack of interest and it may seem like you are ignoring them. Try to maintain a smile throughout the day (regardless of what you may be internally feeling). This avoids you seeming unapproachable to your co-workers and ensures that they do not feel uncomfortable when speaking with you Be alert and interested in your work tasks, as you do not want to seem lazy or idle.

  1. Keep Annoyances to a Minimum

In an office space, there are many different people doing varying jobs at the same time. Keep this in mind throughout your workday to ensure that your activities do not annoy or disturb the other workers. When you are on your phone (personal call or wok related) try not to speak too loudly. This is distracting to other workers and it is best to move to another location if you must speak loudly. Respect others’ workspace by knocking before you enter to speak with them, even if they work in a cubicle setting. Keep a reasonable distance from individuals and their workspaces to avoid seeming overbearing and inappropriate.

Food is one of the most overlooked “annoyances” in the workplace. Sounds and smells of different foods can affect the people around you. Try to move to the kitchen or take a five-minute break outside if you must have those crunchy chips. Be aware that the smell of your peppermint tea or onion rings may be overpowering and can affect your co-workers if you eat it at your desk.

  1. Be Appropriate

While close and amiable work relations are encouraged, you must ensure that you are still appropriate. Engaging in gossip and office politics may seem to be the best way to become close to others in the workplace, however, if you want to maintain a level of professional integrity you need to avoid involving yourself in such discussions.

Divulging your personal information and your social media accounts with your co-workers may seem like a good way to bond and connect with them, however, this sort of activity is not office appropriate and may negatively skew their opinions and views of you if there is information about you that they do not approve of or agree with.

Do not follow the crowd. Be your own person and avoid falling between the cracks in the office. The group of individuals you wish to follow may be the group that management has had their eye on for a long time. You do not want to be caught up doing things that culture of the organization does not support.

Avoid butting in when things do not directly concern you. While an office space may be open and you may be able to hear most conversations, it is wise to avoid interfering in others’ affairs. This can be for your benefit as well in the event that there is a problem surrounding that particular issue. You do not want to be identified as a participant when there is a problem. In addition, butting into others’ conversation may irritate them and make them uncomfortable. It is best to join the conversation only when you are asked.

It should go without saying that you must not take other workers’ items and belongings without first asking for permission. Taking others’ food and drinks is absolutely disrespectful and unkind. You do not want to be caught engaging in such an activity as it can completely destroy your reputation and trustworthiness in the office space.

  1. Communication

You should follow the professional and standard procedure for the different modes of communication. When you are replying to e-mails that have been sent to a number of people, ensure that you do not ‘reply all’ if your response does not concern everyone. When you have told someone that you will return his or her call, ensure that you do so within 24 hours. You must make time to follow up when you have promised someone that you will contact him or her. In your writing, remain as professional as possible. (U do not wanna seem like u hav no idea how to b professional.)

In terms of communication amongst your peers, try to remain as honest and truthful as possible. If you have an issue with someone or something that they may have been doing, ensure that you go directly to them to speak about your problem rather than speaking about the issue with others. If word spreads about your issue with the individual to him or her, he or she may feel insulted and there may be resultant animosity and tension between you. If you must use the company’s phone to make a personal call, remember to keep it as brief as possible. Your conversations should still sound professional on your end and the content of your conversation should not be questionable if overheard by a colleague.

  1. Meetings

Meetings have a protocol of their own. When you are given a time for a meeting, try to arrive neither early nor late. You need to give the chairman of the meeting their full time to prepare before the meeting and you also need to avoid wasting their time if you arrive late. If you must leave the meeting whether temporarily or permanently it is important that you politely explain where you are going or what you need to do, so that the other participants do not feel as though you have placed a low value on the meeting itself.

Meetings are a good forum for brainstorming and hashing out ideas, however, you should refrain from arguing and making statements that may offend or embarrass the other participants in the meeting. The use of cellular phones during meetings is distracting whether it be texting or taking calls and it may appear once again that you do not place a lot of value in the meeting you are attending.

  1. Do Your Job

You have been hired to work and it is integral that you excel in your work activity. The greatest service you can do for an organization is to perform well in the capacity they have hired you to do. If you have been struggling to keep up with the other courtesies of the workplace, your work itself should still be at a professional standard. Remain efficient and focused and keep your distractions to a minimum.

There are times where you may not have many things to do, however, it is still important that you appear busy and focused on the job as you do not want to be perceived as lazy or lax with your work which can destroy your work relations as well as your reputation.

Having good work etiquette can greatly increase your chances of likeability in the office space. Your co-workers will respect you and the work you have to do and you yourself will benefit from the work relationships you will develop with them. The following links can give your more information and insight on how to operate in the workplace.