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15 Work Etiquette Rules That Will Make You Look More Professional

15 Work Etiquette Rules That Will Make You Look More Professional

Work etiquette is key to maintaining a pleasant and effective office. All workplaces are different, but basic work etiquette is pretty universal within a country. (Of course, once you start doing business with people from other countries, you might want to brush up on their etiquette rules. For example, in China it’s considered rude if you don’t take a business card with both hands.)

So for those of you doing business in the US, here are 15 basic work etiquette tips for making your professional life enjoyable.

1. Don’t fidget in meetings

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    Tapping your foot, jiggling your leg, drumming your fingers: this is all stuff you should avoid doing. If you’re fidgeting, it makes you seem nervous or bored. Don’t send the message that you’d rather not be there.

    2. Put your phone on silent

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      Cell phones going off in the middle of a meeting? Never good. Put your phone on silent. If you find you’re still tempted to look at it, consider leaving your cell at your desk before the meeting.

      3. Eat your own food

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        This is a problem in many communal settings, from college dorms to corporate office buildings. If you didn’t bring it, or if it doesn’t have a sign that’s telling you to help yourself, leave it alone.

        4. Know what you’re going to say

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          “Um” and “Uh” have no place in the office. Whether you’re talking to a colleague or speaking to a potential client, try to keep the stammering to a minimum. Saying “um” a lot implies that you don’t really know what you’re talking about and are stalling for time.

          5. Pay at restaurants

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            If you’ve set up a lunch meeting with someone, pay for his or her meal. As the host, it’s your job to be accommodating and polite.

            6. Respect others’ space

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              Cubicles don’t make for much of a sound or smell barrier, so be mindful of those around you. Don’t eat at your desk if you can help it, and try to speak in a lower voice when on the phone.

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              7. Give a good handshake.

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                The first impression that most people get of others in work settings is through a handshake. Make sure to keep it firm and brief. This makes you seem confident without overdoing it.

                8. Offer to take out-of-towners around

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                  When people come in from another city or state for a meeting, offer to show them around town. Maybe that just means a short driving tour, or perhaps a trip to a restaurant. This makes you and your company seem more likable and friendly.

                  9. Show up on time

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                    Sometimes it’s hard to get out of bed and get going—we’ve all been there. But that doesn’t mean that it’s a valid excuse for being late to work. It won’t be the end of the world if you don’t make it on time, but don’t make it a habit. Being late makes you seem unprofessional.

                    10. Introduce yourself using your first and last names

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                      In some settings, it’s fine to just introduce yourself by your first name. But in business settings, you should always introduce yourself by your first and last names. After all, you want people to know who you are.

                      11. Don’t stray off topic

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                        When speaking to people in a work setting, try to limit yourself to work topics. This is not the time to start talking about your latest vacation, your new dog, or your family. Keep all conversations about work only. If you’re friends with your coworkers, use your lunch break to talk about non work-related topics.

                        12. Know others’ titles

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                          If you don’t know what title someone holds (i.e., Doctor), do some research and find out. It’s unprofessional to send someone an email using “Ms.” when it should be “Dr.” LinkedIn is a good place to look for this information.

                          13. Remain professional outside of work

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                            And yes, this includes the company holiday party. Even if you’re not at work, your personal life reflects on your company. Think twice before doing anything that could make you look bad at work.

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                            14. Dress appropriately

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                              If your work is business casual, that’s what you should be wearing. If something requires you to wear a three piece suit, make sure you show up wearing one. Appropriate clothing is key to maintaining professionalism.

                              15. Respect workplace boundaries

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                                It’s great if you’re friends with your boss, but don’t take it too far. Being friendly is a lot different than expecting preferential treatment. Keep it professional and try to separate your work relationships from your personal ones (even if they’re with the same person).

                                Featured photo credit: Jacob Barss-Bailey via flickr.com

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                                Last Updated on July 18, 2019

                                How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch

                                How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch

                                Most people grow up with dreams to go to college and graduate with high-paying job offers waiting for them the week after graduation. Others may favor non-traditional career paths. But the desire is the same: to find a job we love where compensation is commensurate with experience.

                                However, plans change. For instance, what started out as a dream to be a surgeon is cut short by a nasty injury and you’re debating how to transition into a new role. Or you might be facing being let go from your current employer and are anxious about “options out there.”

                                Whatever the case may be, switching careers can be intentional or unintentional. What matters is that you’re well-prepared, and the only way to do so is to learn new skills — hone in on your transferable skills.

                                Why Hone in on Your Transferable Skills?

                                There are several reasons you need to develop these skills if you want to go far in life and your career. In a nutshell, honing in your your transferable skills can lead to:

                                Better Job Offers

                                Continuous assessment and improvement of your skills widens the pool of job offers for you to make selections from. You’re no longer tethered to one industry as you’re able to lead your career by design, not by default.

                                People with transferable skills on a resume also open up opportunities for more potential employers.

                                Increase in Pay and More Responsibilities

                                You’ve heard the saying “with great power come great responsibility.” In your case, transferable skills make you more marketable to employers which could lead to pay raises.

                                Although this isn’t an automatic process– you have to be proactive about what you want in the marketplace, there is a chance that these pay raises will come with change in titles and roles.

                                A Shot at Entrepreneurship

                                Yes, changing career paths also includes the possibility of working for yourself. With these skills and work experience, you could live anywhere in the world and design a life and career you want.

                                We’ve talked about why you need to strengthen your transferable skills but what are some these skills, and how can you work on them?

                                13 Tips to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills

                                1. Update Your Resume

                                You might be surprised to know this but yes, updating your resume is a skill. The very first thing you should do while thinking about switching careers is to highlight attributes that make you very desirable candidate to employers.

                                Think about your volunteer experiences, freelance projects, and school projects. Although they might seem insignificant, they demonstrate your ability to deliver results that several companies are looking for.

                                While you might have held several positions since college, switching careers will require you to have a different type of resume.

                                There are three different types of resumes: functional, chronological, and a combination resume. However, if you are looking to switch careers you’ll want to have a functional resume. A functional resume is strengths-based that emphasizes skills that are transferable rather than a collection of dates and job titles.

                                2. Brush up on Your Communication Skills

                                Every attempt to get ahead in business and in life starts with the need to communicate effectively. Whether it is interpersonal, intercultural, or multi-generational, the ability to be seen and heard while respecting the boundaries of work relationship matters.

                                That’s why it’s one of the top skills you need to master. Strong communication skills allows you to effectively tailor your messages to specific audiences, which will make you a stronger asset to any organization.

                                To hone this skill:

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                                Pay attention to your listening skills. To communicate effectively, you need to first learn how to understand others.

                                Your ability to decode overt and implied messages, no matter how nuanced they are, is key to knowing how to foster deep relationships with others.

                                This article can also give you effective ways to enhance your communication skills:

                                How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

                                3. Learn Technical (or Business) Writing

                                Another form of communication, writing, is a skill that can take you anywhere.

                                Companies communicate a lot through written memos, emails, newsletters, and other audio-visual means. But at the crux of this all is someone or some people who are tasked with translating the organization’s vision into statements anyone can understand.

                                To hone this skill:

                                Consider taking some free or paid classes online. You can accomplish this through several community colleges or online platforms like Lynda, Udemy or edX .

                                4. Practice Public Speaking and Presentation Skills

                                No matter how intelligent you are, no one will take you seriously if you’re unable to pull off a decent level of persuasion through presentation skills.

                                Most presentation can be done through either electronic devices or require your physical presence. Your chosen career may require you to be in front of several hundreds of people or you could be charged with developing materials for presentation.

                                To hone this skill:

                                Volunteer to lead projects that give you some responsibility for putting together presentations.

                                Also, try taking courses that will improve your public speaking skills if you feel lacking.

                                These tips on public speaking would be helpful too:

                                The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

                                5. Get Comfortable with Identifying Problems and Solutions

                                Every organization has got its problems no matter how greener the grass is on the other side.

                                How to hone this skill:

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                                Practice being resourceful.

                                Do you know where to find every company policy on the intranet in less than five minutes?

                                Think about a time you noticed some inefficiency at work and proposed a solution. Think about instances where you lent your voice to a cause which resulted in improved processes for your department.

                                No matter how small or inadequate you might feel, you’ve got some problem-solving skills that some organizations want.

                                If you look for more ways to improve your problem solving skills, take a look at this article:

                                6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

                                6. Recognize Your Team-Building Ability

                                Your ability to smoothly switch careers also depends on how well you can energize your team, especially if you’re aiming for a leadership role. Unfortunately, team-building usually isn’t something you learn on the job in most careers unless you hold a managerial position.

                                The good thing is that you possibly know one or two things about team-building. Think back to moments in college when you had group projects with colleagues and had to work with 3 to 4 other strangers for months. Were you able to get past your differences and disagreements to focus on the uniqueness of everyone at the table?

                                Making a career switch might require that you work with multidisciplinary teams whether you have a deep knowledge of what the other team does or not. I can easily think of doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and social workers working closely to achieve the goals in a patient’s care plan.

                                How to hone this skill:

                                Look for collaborative projects and team building activities that excite you and challenge yourself with new possibilities.

                                Try some of these tactics to keep your team motivated as well:

                                17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

                                7. Lean into Your Leadership Skills

                                Although similar to the previous point, leadership skills extend far beyond building teams, managing time sheets and correcting behavior.

                                What I’m referring to here is your ability to develop a vision, believe in it, and inspire buy-in from everyone involved. This isn’t about knowing how to run a particular machine; it’s about how to lead a team of people with various backgrounds, experiences, and ideas of how things should be done.

                                How to hone this skill:

                                Although more complex than the rest, it all starts with an introspective look into your strengths and weaknesses. Then get a mentor or a coach who can bring out your leadership qualities so you can operate from a place of strength.

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                                Learn more about the effective leadership types here:

                                5 Types of Leadership that Help You Build a High Performance Team

                                8. Improve Your Analytical Skills

                                Are you good at taking large amount of data and interpreting them? Your skills could come in handy.

                                Organizations are looking for people to make sense of the data around them, explain how it affects profitability, and make projections based on it. Best of all? You don’t need to be an accountant to be analytical.

                                How to hone this skill:

                                Try taking data interpretation classes online or at a community college. Learning Microsoft Excel or Access is also a plus. If you’re ambitious enough, you could consider getting additional certifications to up the ante.

                                Take a look at these ways to help sharpen your analytical skills:

                                What Are Analytical Skills and How to Strengthen Them For Success

                                9. Don’t Discount Your Time Management and Prioritization Skills

                                How good are you when it comes to deciding how important tasks are, organizing schedules, and coordinating plans?

                                Should you be willing, there is a market waiting for you out there. Organizations and busy executives are always looking for talented individuals to outsource these tasks to.

                                How to hone this skill:

                                Although not everyone possesses secretarial superpowers, you can improve this skill by focusing on taking huge tasks and breaking them into smaller goals or steps in order to achieve a bigger goal.

                                Here, you can learn to prioritize to achieve more:

                                The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life

                                10. Embrace Your Creative and Critical Thinking Side

                                Although it’s often believed that creativity is for the arts and right-brained people, I believe everyone is capable of being creative. In fact, most organizations recognize creativity as a vehicle that will drive successful inventions in the future.

                                How to hone this skill:

                                Try doing something fun. As simple as this sounds, you’d be surprised to learn how much. In fact, behavioral and learning scientist, Marily Oppezzo, says taking a walk might be all you need to get your creative juices flowing.[1]

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                                Anyone can be creative, you just need the right way to train your brain:

                                What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

                                11. Don’t Stop Learning Tech Knowledge and Skills

                                Being tech-savvy is a huge plus. If you have an affinity with computers, software applications and are abreast of technological improvements, it is a transferable skill that is worth highlighting.

                                You don’t have to be a young college graduate with silicon valley dreams to work

                                How to hone this skill:

                                All you need is the determination and the readiness to learn. This article will give you some ideas on the types of skills to learn:

                                How to Improve Your Computer Skills to Get Ahead in Your Career

                                12. Build Networks and Relationships

                                You aren’t free from networking. Not at the moment. With your goal to switch to a different career, your networking skills will come in handy.

                                Fortunately for you, networking doesn’t have to be so hard.

                                How to hone this skill:

                                Attend conferences and job fairs. Chances are you already have people in your network you can move you closer to your dream career.

                                To enhance your networking skills, take these steps:

                                How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

                                Final Thoughts

                                Although there are several people with the same qualification and degree(s) you possess, what ultimately determines hireability comes down to a myriad of things such as culture fit, how teachable you are, cultural sensitivity, inter-generational awareness, and your ability to navigate uncertainty.

                                You have a chance to stand out by letting your dream companies know how these soft skills make you an invaluable asset, and how saying ‘YES’ to you is a win-win for both parties.

                                Happy career switching!

                                More Resources About Career Advancement

                                Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                                Reference

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