It is well known that having poor business etiquette can hinder your career potential tremendously. No one wants to work with someone who is careless and inconsiderate to their colleagues. Your bad habits could even drive away customers and potential investors. One of the biggest tips to have good business etiquette is to respect the time and space of your coworkers. Here are some ways for you to do that:
- Don’t present opinions as facts – Having an opinion and presenting constructive criticism and new ideas to your team can be productive. When you do decide to voice your opinion, make sure to specify that it is just your thoughts, open to interpretation and correction. If you present everything you say as if you are always right, then your coworkers will start to ignore what you have to say.
- Follow basic expectations of spelling, grammar, etc. – This rule is one of the most important. It is disrespectful to your coworkers if you send emails, reports, and messages to them without properly checking them for spelling and grammar mistakes first. When you don’t care enough to edit your messages before sending, you waste your colleagues time by forcing them to work harder to interpret them. Here is a fun blog showing some common grammar mistakes.
- Use virus protection – This one should be self-explanatory. With all of the options for affordable and helpful virus protection available on the market, there is no excuse not to put protective software onto your work computer. When you send files to so many people, it is likely for you to unknowingly send harmful viruses around the company. For the sake of your company and colleagues, it is better to be safe than potentially putting yourself and others at risk.
- Ask if it is a good time when using Instant Messaging – Your company works hard and uses their time productively. It is not appropriate to message your coworkers constantly with topics that are not pertaining to a current project or question. When you choose to IM them, ask first if they are available to speak with you. Then, keep your messages short and to the point.
- Watch your language – Cursing is never acceptable in a professional environment.
- Don’t use the “reply all” feature unless absolutely necessary – Nothing is more annoying than having your inbox filled with messages that do not pertain to you. Important messages then get lost in the clutter and coworkers get frustrated with you. Respect the virtual space of others and only reply to people that absolutely need to see the message you are sending.
- Don’t waste others time with incomplete or sloppy messages – When writing messages to coworkers, having a complete thought is just as important as having good grammar and professional content. In order to avoid wasting everyone’s time, make sure you have your thought complete with a statement, research backing it up, and a specific question or request that you expect them to answer or respond to. This makes sure that you get your message across clearly, efficiently, and with the minimum amount of time/space being taken up.
As you can see, there are many ways that someone can easily improve their business etiquette by being aware of the time and space they are using with their coworkers. These rules can also apply to face-to-face conversation but especially in personal email, instant messaging, and outside of the office with personal text messaging or social networking accounts. Just remember to be considerate and think before you send!
Jennifer Scheck is a professional writing student at the University of South Florida. She is currently in her senior year studying Corporate Communication.