Do Manners Even Matter At Work?

Published On: April 11th, 2019Categories: BusinessTags: , , , , , 6.3 min read
Woman at a desk

Guest post by Jessica Marventano

Many years ago I worked at a law firm where one of the partners never ever held the door open for anyone coming through after him. Never. Not even if your hands were full.

He also wouldn’t even make the courtesy move toward the elevator “open door” button if he saw you coming. He would just stare at you as the doors closed right in front of you.


This type of rudeness makes the day so much more unpleasant, and sometimes downright unbearable, doesn’t it?

The bad news, unfortunately, everyone has – most likely – worked with a rude person at one time or another.

It’s easy to be distracted when you work with someone rude. They throw you off a bit. Instead of focusing on your projects you waste precious time fretting about their rude behavior toward you. And if you work with an outright office bully, you try to avoid them at all costs – you want to escape their toxic wrath. You start shutting down and checking out when bullies are in your midst.

The good news is that organizations are starting to take note. When organizations have a reputation for rudeness, they find it hard to keep let alone attract top-drawer talent. They know productivity goes down. It hurts their bottom line.

We all pay the price for workplace rudeness – because, unfortunately, rudeness is contagious. One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch so it is important for you to reflect on your own behavior.

Are you sometimes rude at work? Most of us would say “of course not,” but it is good to have a refresher on some basic rules of business etiquette to make sure we are putting our best, polished and polite foot forward every day. While we may not be intentionally rude, we may be rude nonetheless.

The rules of business etiquette will help you become well-mannered at work. You gain a quiet confidence when you know what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. You aren’t paralyzed by insecurity.

With this confidence comes the freedom to focus on both making others feel welcome in your presence and on the work agenda at hand. In no uncertain terms, knowing the rules of business etiquette is a key component of your professional success as you help spread civility and kindness.

Business Etiquette Tips For Success

Master these three top business etiquette tips and you will add to your professional success:

Tip #1:  Properly shake hands.  women shaking hands

Shake hands when you meet someone for the first time, when you enter a room and approach people you know, or they approach you, and when you exit a conversation. Don’t wait for the other person to extend their hand.

When a handshake is appropriate, make sure you are the one extending your hand first, it shows confidence and approachability. A handshake is the physical greeting that accompanies your words.

How To Make Sure Your Handshake Sends The Right Signal:

  • Face the other person, lining up your shoulders, hips, and feet with theirs.
  • Smile, as you extend your hand with your thumb up and fingers straight and out.
  • Let the other person grip your hand and connect (palm to palm) for a complete handshake.
  • Grip their hand so that you achieve web to web contact – the skin between your thumb and index finger.
  • Your handshake should be firm – no dainty handshakes in the business world, ladies!
  • And no hand-hugs either, where you envelop the other person’s hand in both of yours. That signals insincerity and insecurity, particularly if you do it to someone you just met.
  • Do two to three graceful pumps with your hands clasped together and then release. Done – easy, breezy. Practice makes perfect.

Tip #2:  Don’t get tangled up in telephone tech trouble. phones

There is no doubt that technology is integral to our work day. It is important to make sure you use technology in a way that conveys you are well-mannered.

Too often, people think they can short-circuit manners and civility on tech devices because they are supposed to be quick and easy.

However, focusing on manners and etiquette on tech devices is critical because there are so many more opportunities for misunderstanding. The person you are communicating with can’t get the full picture.

Rarely can they hear your voice, understand your tone, see your body language, or easily tell when something is a joke. Things get lost in translation.

How To Keep Your Telephone Manners On Speed-dial:

  • When speaking on the phone, speak clearly, slowly, and loudly so that the other person can easily understand you.
  • Smile when you talk – you sound more pleasant. Really, it’s true.
  • Watch out for the overuse of speakerphones. It can irritate and distract your colleagues who are working nearby but are not part of the call.
  • And, please, don’t be that person who walks around on their mobile phone using the speakerphone simply because you don’t feel like holding the phone to your ear. Buy earbuds already!
  • If you’re out in public and take a call on your cell, try to be discrete. Go off to the side and cup your hand over your mouth so others don’t need to suffer through half a phone conversation.
  • Lastly, when you are in the presence of others your primary focus should be those in your physical presence not those on the other end of your tech device. When you are constantly distracted with calls and texts you are sending the rude message to those you are with that they are not important.

Tip #3:  Help make business meetings more manageable.

If you are in the professional world, chances are you attend way too many meetings. While we can’t help you get out of going to meetings, we can help you make the meetings you attend more productive and pleasant.

woman on phone during meeting

You may think no one notices when you’re on the phone during a meeting. But trust me, they do!

How To Put Your Best Foot Forward In Meetings:

  • Arrive early so you can find your seat and get settled. This is also a good time to try to connect with colleagues before the meeting officially kicks off.
  • Go to the meeting prepared so you can contribute and then speak up! You were invited to the meeting so make sure you show your value.
  • Show others at the meeting respect by paying attention when they are talking. Make eye contact, nod your head to show you are listening and don’t interrupt them and don’t get distracted with your tech devices. You may think no one sees you glancing under the table at your iPhone – they all see you. If you bring a laptop or iPad into the meeting make sure you use it only for the meeting and not for unrelated tasks – like surfing the Internet or checking emails. That is just rude.

Follow these tips and your colleagues will love working with you. And you will reap the benefits from having a reputation of being well-mannered.

About the author: Jessica is a power politico by day and manners and kindness expert on the side. She and her mom have launched the successful game, The Kindness Kingdom, and just released their book, “The Marvelous Millennial’s Manual to Modern Manners.”

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  1. janice sisemore April 13, 2019 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    Great advice for workers. I am retired but remember those days

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