From saying “please” and “thank you” to not talking with your mouth full, some etiquette rules won’t ever change. These are easy ones to follow. Unfortunately, guidelines for the workplace are not as clear – and seemingly always evolving.
Have you ever sent an email to the wrong person? Surfed the Internet while on the phone? Posted unflattering pictures? In our personal lives, these may not be a big deal and can usually be easily fixed if there is a problem.
However, in business, these etiquette faux pas can have far more serious consequences. In fact, in a Robert Half study, 61 percent of human resources managers said technology etiquette lapses can negatively affect a person’s career prospects.
As you launch your career, keep these tips in mind:
Stay in the moment
Just like in the classroom, constantly emailing or texting during meetings and conference calls sends the wrong message: you’re unfocused, indifferent and even rude. Unfortunately, many professionals fail to remain engaged in the activities at hand – 45 percent of executives surveyed admitted doing other things during virtual meetings, for example.
People can tell when you’re distracted. To avoid making a bad impression, stay focused on the discussion and turn off – or at least away from – devices that may distract you. You’ll get more out of the meeting while giving others the courtesy of your full attention.
Choose your friends wisely
If you’re tempted to issue an invitation to your supervisor or the president of the firm to friend you on Facebook, stifle that impulse. In our survey, 57 percent of executives said they’re uncomfortable with requests for friend status from subordinates. And nearly half don’t even want to be friended by coworkers.
This doesn’t mean that employers never visit Facebook or other social media sites, though. If you rely on social networking for both business and personal communication, use the same discretion you would in person. Create a separate list of work friends, and adjust your settings to limit what the group views. And don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your boss to see – on your own profile page or anyone else’s.
Think before you tweet…
If you are permitted to tweet or post at work, be prudent and professional. Make sure your tweets are interesting and relevant to your followers by offering value rather than opinion. For example, share links to relevant articles or online resources. On the flip side, don’t complain or post negative information about your employer.
…or hit send
How common is it for workers to forward confidential emails by mistake? Very, according to our research. In fact, 78 percent of executives surveyed said they’ve hit “send” when they shouldn’t have.
Such slip-ups are more likely to happen when you’re dealing with emails to multiple recipients. Carefully consider whether you need to reply and if so, to whom and what you want to say. Also, before sending emails, proofread them to ensure they are free of errors and convey your intended message.
Leave the smiley faces and LOLs to others
If you use instant messaging for work, keep your messages short, focused and grammatically correct. Be careful with humor – sarcasm and irony don’t come off well and can easily be misinterpreted – and use emoticons and clever abbreviations sparingly.
Today’s technology has opened up communication avenues, and potholes, that never existed before. Common sense and learning from others’ mistakes can help you avoid the most glaring errors. Employ discretion, tact and decorum in your workplace behavior, you’ll be able to use technology to your advantage and keep your professional image intact.