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Observing basic guidelines about how to behave in an office creates a productive and professional work environment. Most rules of workplace etiquette come down to common sense, courtesy and pride in one's work and appearance.
If in doubt, overdress for the office when you start a new job--you can adjust accordingly once you know the workplace better. Shirts, ties, smarts pants, long skirts and blouses make a professional impression. Keep jewelry and makeup to a minimum. Keep your hair and clothes tidy and your body clean and smelling fresh.
Address senior colleagues and executives by their last names and title, such as "Mr." and "Mrs.," unless told otherwise. Speak respectfully to co-workers and maintain appropriateness by saving off-color jokes and arguing over non-work-related opinions for outside the office. Others may treat as abuse or harassment what you see as a joke or a harmless opinion; most offices have codes and rules in place to prevent this.
Remain honest and follow the company's rules with integrity, even when selfishness, gossip and back-biting seem a quicker way to advance your career. Keep company information confidential. Avoid becoming embroiled in "office politics" by dealing with conflicts and disagreements using standard procedures and through the appropriate managers and senior colleagues. Resist taking matters into your own hands.
- Columbia College: Office Etiquette Guide
- "The New Office Professional Handbook"; American Heritage Dictionary"; 2001
- businessman smile image by Alexey Klementiev from Fotolia.com