These business etiquette rules will take you far in the office, and in life. They are social and emotional intelligence hacks that will make your communication and interactions super clear and incredibly powerful.
While at the office:
Use the phrase”My understanding was…” instead of “I assumed…”
Assuming never worked in your personal life, it’s not going to work in your professional life.
Don’t make excuses, unless you are directly asked about an issue
You made a mistake. So you go to your boss with your tail between your legs and begin spewing off excuses before it even matters. You’re able to distinguish the major mistakes between the minor ones. If it’s nothing major, it isn’t worth mentioning unless you’re specifically asked about it.
Turn on the Gmail “Undo Send” feature and save yourself from ultimate failure
Navigate to the settings menu from the gear tab in your Gmail account. Under the “General” tab you’ll see “Undo Send.” From there you can set a lag time of 5 to 30 seconds before sending each email.
Never send a mean email again…with this silly (but life-saving) trick
Before sending out an email read it out loud to yourself in a mean, snarky voice. (Pretend you’re Janice in accounting or the rudest person you know.) If after you read the email to yourself in a mean tone and it’s still not offensive, it’s good to go.
On the other hand, if there is even a hint of offense, rewrite it.
Treat everyone in your office like they sign your paycheck. Because they do.
You’d be surprised who may be involved in the decision to give you a raise (or get you fired). People talk, and when they do they should have nothing but great things to say about you. From the office cleaning lady to your Chief of Staff, your demeanor should always be a kind one.
Stop saying “I’m running late,” say “I’m running behind schedule.”
You have a schedule and you stick to it. You’re not some sloppy mess-of-a-person who’s life is all over the place.
Put your phone away in meetings
Unless you’re taking notes, put your phone away. Your emails and alerts can wait. With everyone staring helplessly at their devices, you’ll stand out and look more in control by giving the person speaking the attention they deserve.
But, as always, it’s more than just respect for the person speaking. Whether you know it or not, you’re being watched– by your boss and your coworkers. You’re way more likely to stand out for paying attention and participating, then you are for mindlessly scrolling through your phone.
Don’t interrupt other people’s work
If you need to ask a co-worker a question, don’t just barge into their office. Knock first and ask if they have a few moments to talk– even if their door is open.
When you’re outside the office:
Send thank you notes individually
After a job interview, hand-deliver or mail individual thank you cards to your interviewers. Thank them for their time and reiterate what you bring to the table.
Unless you’ve been friends for years, some of your guests may not know one another. It’s not only safer to introduce them so they don’t feel out of place but you’ll save the day and look like the ultimate professional.
Show up 15 minutes early
For interviews and off-site meetings, showing up 15 minutes early means you’re on time. Those extra 15 minutes give you time to get yourself together and shows respect for the people you’re meeting with. When you show up early, you win.
Don’t just leave, excuse yourself
Etiquette experts suggest you leave when you are talking; because at that point, you have the power. Whoever is speaking is in control. And the moment you are in control is when you should make your exit.
It’s also perfectly fine to excuse yourself to catch someone you noticed is leaving, go to the bathroom, or grab food.
The best way to walk away is with a prepared “exit line.” Say “Nice talking to you” or “I look forward to working with you.”
Say your full name when introducing yourself
People forget names quickly when meeting you for the first time. If you have a common name, like ‘Jennifer’, and a unique last name like ‘Dryer,’ your new contact is more likely to remember you if you use your full name. More importantly, using your full name is the most professional way to introduce yourself to others.
Say ‘thank you’ once, almost never say ‘sorry’
Saying ‘thank you’ or ‘sorry’ too many times is unnecessary, can be seen as disingenuous, and takes away your power while communicating. Be a confident communicator by saying ‘thank you’ once and ‘my apologies’ when you absolutely have to.
Forgo the ‘to go’ box
When a host or firm pays for your meal, taking a ‘to go’ box can be seen as taking advantage or ‘milking’ a gesture. Eat your fill and leave the rest on the table, with your dignity intact.
Don’t point at people
Seriously. Pointing with one finger, especially when done by women, can be a very aggressive gesture. If you absolutely must point at someone or something, gesture with an open palm and keep your fingers together.
Are you the host? Pay the bill
Not sure if you’re the host? Regardless of gender, if you invited someone to coffee, drinks, or dinner, you are the host and it is your duty to pay. If someone insists on paying there are a few ways to politely decline their offer. Say ‘this one’s being taken care of by the firm.’ Or excuse yourself before the bill ever makes it to the table and pay it. I like to call ahead with my credit card and arrange a payment then. Stepping away or calling ahead to pay is an incredibly polished way to pay a bill.
But if someone insists on paying the bill, you shouldn’t fight about it either, so be gracious and let them pay.