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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 September 20, 2018

                                How to Be Happy at Work and Find Fulfillment in Your Career

                                How to Be Happy at Work and Find Fulfillment in Your Career

                                If you’re going to spend 1/3 of our life at work, you should enjoy it, right?

                                Trust me, I know that’s easier said than done. Difficult coworkers, less-than-desirable tasks, or even just being in the wrong position can all lead to a lack of enjoyment and fulfillment in your work.

                                But what if I told you it doesn’t have to be this way? Or better yet, if you struggle with all of the above (and then some), what if I told you that enjoying your work and finding fulfillment regardless of those obstacles is possible?

                                Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you because I was there too. Before implementing the tips below, I struggled to get through each day, much less find real fulfillment, in the office. Now, even after the toughest days on the job, I still come away with feelings of pride, accomplishment, and fulfillment. The best news is, so can you.

                                If you’re ready to make those hours count and find happiness and fulfillment in the office, then read on to find out how to be happy at work and find fulfillment in your career:

                                1. Discover the root(s) of the problem

                                For this first step, we’ll need to think back to 8th-grade physics (humor me). We all know Newton’s 3rd law, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” When you think about it, the same can be said outside of physics, and we see this law play out in our daily lives, day after day.

                                Simply put, all the issues we deal with in the office (and life in general) affect us in a noticeable way.

                                If you’re appreciated at work, like the work you do and receive frequent praise, promotions, or raises, then this will probably have an altogether positive effect on your life in the office.

                                But what if we reverse this? What if you feel under appreciated, get passed up for promotions, or get denied raises? This is sure to affect the way you feel at work on a negative level.

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                                So, before you can implement the steps of feeling happy and fulfilled at work, we first have to discover the reasons why you don’t feel that way already.

                                Think about it, write a list, or make a mental note. Run through all the reasons you’re dissatisfied in the office, and don’t hold back. Knowing the exact obstacles you’re facing will make overcoming them that much easier.

                                In fact, as a side-challenge to this article, I recommend picking the top three reasons contributing to your dissatisfaction at work and using the following tips to tackle them.

                                2. Practice gratitude for an instant uplift

                                Did you know the simple act of feeling grateful can increase your happiness and make you more fulfilled at work?[1]

                                Well, it’s true, and it’s scientifically proven.

                                Dr. Lisa Firestone notes that practicing gratitude “reminds us of what we lacked in the past.” Meaning, it serves as both a boost to happiness and a bit of a wake-up call that things have been or could be, much worse.

                                Trying to conjure up feelings of gratitude can seem almost impossible when your work situation seems bleak, but hear me out: There are incredibly easy ways to get started and it doesn’t involve trying to “force” yourself to feel grateful about things that stress you out.

                                For an instant pick-me-up, try this:

                                Find a loose piece of paper, a blank sticky note, or anything you can write on, be it physical or digital. List just three things that you are absolutely without-a-doubt thankful for in your life.

                                Now here’s the trick: Don’t just list what you’re grateful for, you have to list why you’re grateful for them, too.

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                                For example, simply saying “I’m grateful for my kids” will probably make you feel good, sure, but what if we could amplify the warm, fuzzy feeling into real, lasting motivation?

                                Instead, write the reason you’re so thankful for your children. Is it because they make you laugh and forget about other stressors? Or maybe they help to remind you of why you go to work every day in the first place?

                                Whatever your reasons may be, jot them down and keep your list somewhere you can see it while you work. A quick glance at your gratitude list throughout the day can provide powerful, positive motivation to keep going.

                                Bonus:

                                If you can find just three things to be thankful for that specifically relate to your job, and list why those things make you grateful, your list can also help you find fulfillment in your work itself which can give you an even bigger boost of positivity throughout the day.

                                3. Take meaningful time for yourself

                                We all know creating a strong work-life balance can be crucial to feeling satisfied in our jobs, but rarely do we ever address how we’re spending our time outside of work.

                                Many of us survive a 9-hour work day and commute home only to find ourselves busy with our personal to-do lists, running a household, and taking care of a child (or 2 or 3, and so on).

                                If you spend all your time working, whether in the office or within your household, you’re going to feel drained at some point. This is why setting meaningful time for yourself every day is highly important.

                                Look, I get it: I don’t know anyone in the working world who can shun all responsibility for a 3-movie marathon or happy hour with friends whenever they feel like it. But finding time for yourself, be it just 30 minutes to an hour, can really make a difference in how you feel at work.

                                This works because you’ll have time to actually relax and let the day’s stress melt away while you enjoy something just for you. The to-do lists and stressors will still be there after you’re refreshed and ready to tackle them.

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                                No time for me-time? Try this:

                                If you have a busy household, you’ll need to capitalize on a block of time you know will be completely uninterrupted. The easiest way to do this: try waking up 30 minutes to an hour earlier than usual (or push bedtime back an hour if you’re a night owl, like me) and take time to do something you enjoy.

                                This could be reading with a cup of tea, catching up on Facebook, spending time on a passion project—anything! As long as it’s meaningful to you, it works!

                                Bonus:

                                Starting your day with meaningful time for yourself can set you up to have a positive mood that lasts well into office hours, and having your me-time in the evening can give you something positive to look forward to during the day.

                                4. Get productive and feel accomplished

                                Don’t you just love the feeling of checking the last item off of a hefty to-do list? That’s because self-motivation can be a huge driver of positivity and success.

                                When we accomplish something, no matter how small, it makes us feel good, plain and simple. Applying this tactic to your daily work can be the motivator you need to find fulfillment during the daily office grind.

                                While there are tons of steps to get more done at work, I’ll share my personal favorite: Prioritizing.

                                Now, many people handle prioritizing differently. Some like to tackle the little tasks first so they can spend focused time on the big to-dos. Others like to knock out the big items first and get to the smaller ones when they can.

                                No matter which camp you’re in, you may be missing one crucial step: Time management.

                                So how’s this work? When you factor in the amount of time your priorities will take, it can transform your productivity ten-fold.

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                                Say you have three top priorities for the day. You might jump into the smaller ones or the bigger ones depending on your preferred method, and then find yourself out of time and bringing work home with you at the end of the day.

                                This is prevented when you factor in time. Knowing how long each item will take, or deliberately setting specific blocks of time for your priorities can help you accomplish more in the same 8-9 (or 12) hours that you typically spend at work.

                                Try this:

                                Take a look at your priorities and consider how long they should take. Pop into your Google calendar (or Filofax, whatever works for you) and schedule time to work on your priority items around any important meetings or events of the day.

                                The most important thing to remember is to stick to your dedicated time.

                                Often, when we know exactly how long we have to work on something (and honor this time limit), we’re motivated to get more done on time to avoid taking work home at the end of the day.

                                The bottom line

                                There’s no need to waste 1/3 of our lives feeling unsatisfied at work. Luckily, you now have the tools to get started, take back your time, and become happy and fulfilled at work again.

                                The only question is — which tip will you try first?

                                Featured photo credit: Ellyot via unsplash.com

                                Reference

                                [1]Psychology Today: The Healing Power of Gratitude

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