Manner Monday: Business Etiquette Q&A

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Every Monday Blogging4Jobs invites our resident Etiquette Expert, CareySue Vega (@Etiquette101), to share tips when it comes to etiquette in the workplace during our own Manner Monday segment. This segment is for the practitioner who is focused on creating a more etiquette-friendly environment. 

Q – “How do you deal with people who don’t seem to have a conversation filter? I don’t have time for so much small talk, and frankly they would do their job better if they talked less too.” – Linda

A – I get it! I sometimes don’t have time to eat lunch – much less stop for small talk. But realistically, most of us have the need to socialize at work, whether it is for brainstorming or just taking a much-needed break.  When we get to know one another on a personal level, we create a connection and a bond that helps the entire team to be successful. And truthfully it would be a pretty boring job if we just came in and did our job without ANY social interaction.

So often though, WE don’t think about our colleagues and the impact our small talk makes on them:

  • ‘are we interrupting?’,
  • ‘are they on a deadline and we’ve interrupted their thought patterns?’.

You could say to them, ‘I’d love to hear more about your plans for the weekend, but I’m on a deadline right now. Maybe we could catch up during the lunch break?’

And if someone out there is thinking ‘oops’ this may be ‘me’ they’re talking about here…

  • Eye Contact and Body Language speak volumes.  Did your co-worker make eye contact with you and does their body language say ‘let’s chat’?  Or are they politely saying ‘not now’ by their lack of eye contact or body language.
  • If your colleague has their head buried, don’t interrupt.  Come back later.  When you do return, don’t immediately barge in with ‘I need’; ask if they finished their project.  How can you help them?

Q – “I have a co-worker who uses her cellphone in the bathroom to avoid taking personal calls at her desk. It is so uncomfortable to hear someone talking in the next stall. Help!” – Shari

A – Yikes. We all understand that personal calls happen and take place during office hours – it’s part of life. But those calls should not happen in the bathroom. Who wants to be on the other end of that call and hear the toilets flush – yuck. Her supervisor needs to tackle this one and tell her to take the calls someplace other than the bathroom. And if you’re her supervisor, there is no way around this one; just address it and tell it’s unacceptable.

Q – “I know my coworker loves her grandkids, but why do I have to see all their latest pictures? Is this an endurance test I just can’t avoid?” – Mark

A – I’m going to say, yes, it is. This goes back to the first question we tackled – getting to know your coworkers and building relationships. Sharing pictures of grandkids is part of the process.

The next time she shows you a picture, smile, make a nice comment, then move on and get back to what you were doing. Just don’t linger and act like you want to see more pictures.

Bottom Line…

The key with Business Etiquette is to treat others with the same respect we wish to receive… we’re so busy and overscheduled and it’s all about ‘me’ and what I need. We need to ask ourselves;

  • Am I treating my coworkers with respect?
  • Am I being courteous?
  • Or am I being overbearing and selfish?

Different things bother different people.  Being a bit sensitive and aware of your co-workers will go far in creating a corporate atmosphere and culture that will make everyone happy to come to the office.

If you have a question you would like addressed in a future Manner Monday, please leave a comment below. Or feel free to send an email if you wish to remain anonymous!

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