Advances in technology and the ubiquity of smartphones have made it easier to connect with anyone at anytime. These technologies have allowed for incredible strides in the education and business spaces, enabling more people across the world to access what they need to be more successful, like MBA programs online. It has also made working more convenient and efficient, but it also comes with an increased risk of breaching professional etiquette. As communication becomes more quick and casual, being mindful of the rules of basic professional etiquette will help reinforce a positive perception of yourself in the workplace.
Business Insider recently summarized some of these basic rules for modern communication etiquette, taken from Barbara Pachter’s book, The Essentials of Business Etiquette:
Business Etiquette: Your Phone
- When you’re with others, avoid your phone. Don’t text message or answer calls– it non-verbally communicates to the person you’re meeting with that whoever is on the phone is more important.
- When you are meeting with other people, leave your phone in your bag or your pocket. Don’t leave it on the table and give the impression you are trying to connect with someone else who is not present.
- When you’re speaking with another person on the phone, let him or her know when you have them on speakerphone so they’re aware that the conversation may not be private.
How to Properly Handle Email
- Use a professional email address, preferably one that includes your name and not any old nicknames that may be inappropriate for the workplace. Consider your personal brand.
- Avoid “Replying all” unless you really need to connect with everyone on the email thread. Ask yourself, do you really want everyone on the list to receive and read your reply?
- Be careful with humor. What you find funny, others might find offensive. When in doubt, err on the side of caution.
Instant Messaging Etiquette
- Remember that bad news is best communicated in person — or, if that’s not possible, then over email where you have the opportunity to explain it fully.
- Keep conversations brief. If the conversation is particularly involved or requires much thought, a phone call may be preferred.
Here’s How You Should Be Texting
- Shorthand and abbreviations can be off-putting to some. While common, you want your professional communications to remain professional regardless of the medium. Communicating in complete sentences also conveys intelligence.
What to Do About Skype
- Look into your camera when you’re speaking, not at the person on your screen. It may feel more natural to look at the person on your screen directly, but this will mean that they’ll see your eyes cast downwards instead of towards them.
In-Person Business Etiquette
According to Wired, even the physical spaces that we work in have changed over time. Where private offices or cubicles offered varying levels of privacy, the more open concept designs of today can encourage interruption. Forbes notes, however, that being mindful and respectful of other people’s time means approaching your colleague within their sight lines, announcing your presence with an “excuse me”, and waiting for an invitation to engage them in conversation. Calling or emailing in advance to schedule a time to meet is never a bad idea, either.
The ubiquity of electronic devices and our always connected culture offers many advantages for busy professionals. However, that makes it all the more important to conduct yourself professionally at all times and to respect the basic rules of business communication etiquette.
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