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We all have our own pet peeves about the behavior of colleagues, employees and managers at work, from the woman who talks on her cell phone in the bathroom stall to the man who constantly forwards cute kitten YouTube videos to the whole staff.


Office etiquette can be delicate to navigate, so it is important to make sure your own behavior is up to par. Compare your conduct to this checklist, and improve your professional presence.


1. Bring Back Common Courtesy

Sometimes our busy, fast-paced culture makes us forget the basics. Always say “please,” “thank you” and “you’re welcome” sincerely. Hold the elevator and the door for co-workers when you have the opportunity. Look people in the eye when you speak to them, and ask how they are doing (and listen to their responses).


2. Be an Email Pro

Email is becoming a bigger and bigger medium of communication in the business world. We use it to contact co-workers, vendors and clients, so every email we send should reflect the professional presence we work hard to develop in person and over the phone.


  • Use proper English, as you would in a regular printed business letter. Capitalize words where appropriate (but don’t use all capital letters), and check your punctuation, spelling and grammar for errors.
  • Include polite questions and pleasantries, but be concise and get to the point quickly.
  • Don’t use emoticons (smiley faces, etc.) for formal communication.
  • Don’t pass on email forwards to colleagues, even if you think they’re funny.


3. Keep Conversation Respectful

Make sure everyone in your office is comfortable with the topics of conversation. Be clear that there is no tolerance for offensive jokes or comments, foul language or controversial topics. Avoid office gossip and stop the rumor mill whenever possible.  Take any communications skills training that is offered.


4.  Be Aware of Personal Space

In the close quarters of an office, it can be easy to invade other people’s personal space unintentionally. Curb any behaviors that might be loud or invasive to Keep your voice down when speaking on the phone, leave the chewing gum at home and avoid bringing strong-smelling food for lunch.


5. Cut the Cell Conversations

Many people bring their cellular phones with them to work, which is fine as long as the practice doesn’t interfere with your work or the comfort of others around you. If you bring your cell phone to work, be sure to turn off the ringer or put on vibrate. Use it only for important calls that you need to answer immediately; screen all others with voicemail. Find private place to make personal calls when you have to use your cell phone, and never, ever bring it with you into bathroom.


Learn more about improving your Professional Presence in a Casual World 

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