By: Asa Aarons
A social misstep can ruin a promising career. Even if you’ve never been one to watch you business manners, you can bet others are watching them for you.
“Nobody ever teaches it to you. And so you’re being tested in very strange places, you’re being tested every time you leave your cubicle, walking to the kitchenette, walk around the hallways, people are judging you by something you have never learned,” says “Answers To Business Etiquette Questions” author Vicky Oliver.
Oliver is an advertising executive whose latest book deals with the hundreds of etiquette issues that pop up in the workplace. For example, how do you approach someone in their cubicle?
“Approach somebody in a cubicle from the front if you can. Don’t try to surprise them. Don’t try to read what’s on their computer. I think it’s a great idea to think of things as there’s an invisible wall there, and there’s a door, and just knock on the door when you’re walking in,” says Oliver.
See if this one sounds familiar. Someone keeps pilfering your personal snacks and beverages.
“The first step is to start labeling your food. And you would do that, you would put a Post-It on it and put your name on the beverage and afix it with tape,” says Oliver.
Next step, a business card. If that doesn’t work, take the issue up with human resources.
Oliver says casual Fridays have even become an etiquette minefield all its own.
“Even if your boss is wearing a Hawaiian shirt and Birkenstocks you shouldn’t. Because you are showing a lack of protocol, you’re showing yourself to be a slob,” says Oliver.
Good business etiquette doesn’t end at the office door. For example, there’s a right and wrong way to enter a cab with your boss.
“If you are the low person on the totem poll, you let your superiors get in the cab first,” says Oliver.
If you’re asking yourself “Is there a point to all of this?” The answer is ‘yes.’
“The whole thing with etiquette is really that it gives you confidence in these situations. And you’re able to sort of handle things with grace and poise. And that’s what you want,” says Oliver. “It’s not so much what the rules are per se, but just that you’re able to handle any little thing that happens to you so that your superiors can trust you to take on more responsibility.”
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