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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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                                Maggie Heath

                                Maggie is a passionate writer who blogs about communication and lifestyle on Lifehack.

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                                Published on January 7, 2021

                                How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

                                How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

                                Some people see the trees for the forest, and some see only the forest, meaning they lack strong attention to detail. But even if you’re one of the people who take a macro rather than a micro view, true professionalism requires balancing both.

                                If focusing on the fine points is not your forte, you will benefit from training yourself to pay attention to details. You will profit by saving yourself time, effort, money, and credibility.

                                Why Training Yourself in Attention to Details Pays Off

                                You add value to your organization when you make the effort to ensure that you performed your work thoroughly and effectively. This is why job postings often list “attention to details” among the required skills.

                                When you present your supervisor or client with well-completed, high-quality work the first time, it maximizes your value and minimizes wasted time. Detail-oriented people are also more adept at catching mistakes that could lead to costly blunders.

                                Moreover, attention to detail is an indicator of possessing other in-demand employee qualities, such as organization, thoroughness, and focus. In some professions, such as accounting, engineering, medical research, and more, you can only excel if you have trained yourself to pay attention to details.

                                In other professions, possessing strong attention to detail is the very quality that will get you promoted to a position where you will be asked to consider the big picture.

                                Finally, if you are the “go-to” details person, everyone else on the team can relax a bit. They know the project is in good hands and will likely throw you more projects as a reward. This will ultimately lead to your advancement.

                                3 Important Aspects of Becoming More Detail-Oriented

                                Here are the 3 important things you need to learn if you want to remedy your lack of attention to detail:

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                                1. Respect deadlines
                                2. Understand the work-flow plan
                                3. Build in time to mess up

                                1. Respect Deadlines

                                Deadlines lend all projects a finish line. One smart idea is to take the given deadline and work backward from it, calculating when your piece of the project is due. Then, if you stick to the proscribed schedule for completing the mini-projects that you have, you will never miss a deadline.

                                One important note on this: It is smarter to stick to the deadline and turn in work that merits a “B+” than to blow the deadline with “A” work. Chances are, through revision and suggested changes from others on the team, you can bring up your B+ work to an A later. But if you disregard deadlines, you will lose the respect of your boss and fellow teammates.

                                2. Understand the Work-Flow Plan

                                Your team is developing work in conjunction with other teams who have projects and deadlines of their own. When you grasp the whole work-flow plan, you may be able to either add insight to the greater project or to your own smaller piece of it that others at the firm will consider valuable.

                                3. Build in Time to Mess Up

                                You can expect that “what can go wrong will go wrong.” Don’t overpromise on deadlines. Something likely will mess up, but when it does if you built in the time to fix it, those around you won’t freak out.

                                Chances are, you already give your attention to several details. Take heart. You can do this! You can overcome your lack of attention to detail and become more detail-oriented.

                                For starters, consider this: Most people take the time and put in extra effort into the activities or undertakings that matter to them most. Training yourself to become more detail-oriented can mean adopting a similar pattern of behavior.

                                Apply the same attention you give to your appearance. Are you a meticulous dresser? Do you pay attention to how you pair patterns and colors, and how you accessorize a particular outfit?

                                This is the same system to use when you lack attention to detail with your work. Give every item careful consideration so that each one contributes to the perfectly pieced-together whole.

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                                Assemble the ingredients the way you do when you cook. Cooking and baking from scratch require close attention to details as you measure and add each ingredient in sequence, and you time everything so that the meal comes together at the same time.

                                Similarly, your work product requires you to gauge whether all the ingredients have been added and that your final product is delivered on time.

                                Organize your business network like you do your social contacts. If you follow a broad base of friends and acquaintances on social media, you can apply similar skills to stay up-to-date on details associated with business acquaintances.

                                When you meet somebody who could be influential to your career or a resource for improving your skills, follow that person on social media. Respond to their posts to keep the lines of communication flowing.

                                12 Tips to Help You if You Lack Attention to Detail

                                Teaching yourself to take note of important details involves sharpening your perceptions and thinking ahead. The following tips will help you adopt these practices. Master these habits when training yourself to become detail-oriented.

                                1. Learn to Listen Well

                                You will pick up relevant information and needed nuance when you apply the skills of active listening. In conversations, train yourself to make eye contact, give your undivided attention to the speaker, and ask pertinent follow-up questions.

                                Training yourself to pay better attention to details in conversations includes learning to fully concentrate on what others have to say. If you find it hard, there’s no harm in taking notes on what they say.

                                2. Pay Attention to Social Cues

                                Make a point of noticing body language and facial expressions that provide insights into how others perceive a situation. Social cues offer details that give you an understanding of how words and actions impact others. The infamous character Michael Scott of the television show “The Office” epitomizes the consequences of not paying attention to others’ body language.[1]

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                                3. Follow Rules

                                Rules and protocols usually come about from lessons learned and are put in place to avoid further mishaps—whether from a safety or efficiency standpoint. If you’re given step-by-step procedures to follow, check them off as you go. Also, return to the rules at the project’s end just to make sure you adhered to them all.

                                4. Take Notes

                                Note-taking is a way to boost your retention and gives you something to refer back to when you need to keep track of pertinent details. You will also heighten your focus as you listen for relevant information. Review your notes shortly after the meeting or conversation and highlight the content that you intend to apply.

                                5. Prioritize What Needs Your Attention Now

                                When you have a full slate of work that demands your attention, take a few moments to sort assignments from most to least urgent. Keep a calendar, spreadsheet, or project planning software up-to-date with schedules and deadlines to help you stay organized.

                                As you tackle each urgent assignment, give it your full attention so no details are missed. Give yourself ample time—especially if you tend to be someone who waits until the last minute—as rushing can make you overlook important details.

                                6. Have a Detail-Oriented Assistant Check Your Work

                                If you lack attention to detail, then it makes sense to seek help from someone detail-oriented. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Just be sure to credit your assistant for their help once the project is completed.

                                7. Learn the Rules of Writing Well

                                English is a difficult language, and grammar, punctuation, and spelling can all sabotage you unless you pay attention to detail. When in doubt, look it up. Free to use website services such as Grammarly can help.

                                8. Proofread Before You Hit Send

                                Nothing is perfect in its first draft. If you lack attention to detail, then put in the extra effort before submitting things. Before you send off any written work, check carefully not only for misspellings and incomplete sentences but also for improper tone, inappropriate colloquialisms, and inconsistent formatting. When your written communications are error-free, they will have their intended impact.

                                9. Minimize Distractions

                                It is impossible to stay focused when colleagues carry on conversations nearby or your mobile notifications ding you throughout the day. Do your best to limit distractions.

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                                If you are working where there is a lot of noise or side activity, try wearing noise-canceling headphones or seeking out a quiet corner. Disable your notifications when you need to focus, and resolve to only check them after you have completed your assignment.

                                10. Take Breaks

                                It may sound counter-intuitive to stop and take a walk, but it’s necessary. Walk away from the screen. Moving from one task to the next across the span of your workday is a recipe for brain fatigue. Give your brain a recess time when you come to a natural stopping place or after you complete one project and before you start the next. These short pauses are necessary for sorting through all the details needed for coming up with successful solutions.

                                11. Make Time for Reflection

                                At the end of a workday, take a few minutes to go over the day’s events in your mind. What was said or relayed in conversations? What is the status of the projects you worked on? What else occurred that you should pay attention to? Could there have been any details you might have missed that you should address tomorrow?

                                12. Keep a Detailed To-Do List

                                This simple organizational tool is your best ally for getting your work done on time and for paying attention to the details. If you are pressed for time (and who isn’t?), write your list to coordinate with dayparts.

                                Allot a certain number of hours to complete each task, do it, and then check it off. Nothing feels more rewarding than completing all the tasks on your list. But if you can’t finish them, then carry them over to the following day.

                                Final Thoughts

                                Details may seem small, but they can become a lot larger when they are overlooked. If you know you lack attention to detail, commit to training yourself to embrace the many facets that can help you consistently excel in the tasks you set out to accomplish.

                                When you begin to catch your mistakes in advance or apply the tidbits of information you gathered from paying close attention, you will know that you have trained yourself in the fundamentals of becoming detail-oriented. After that, you should start hearing the phrase “Great job!” more often.

                                More Tips on Boosting Your Attention to Detail

                                Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

                                Reference

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