Manners in the Workplace: Time to be Unplugged


It doesn’t matter if you are holding a fork, a spoon or a smartphone—good manners are essential.

In the workplace, poor workplace etiquette is beginning to get out of hand. In a survey by Robert Half Technology, 76 percent of managers said bad technical manners can adversely affect employment prospects.

  • Fifty-one (51) percent of the chief information officers (CIO) said they have experienced an increase in poor etiquette, due to repeated use of mobile electronic devices in the office.

The main problem is that bad behavior rarely goes unnoticed. Those who constantly fiddle with mobile devices and headsets are sending co-workers and supervisors the wrong message.

By appearing distracted, you give customers, clients and co-workers around you the impression you’re not interested in what they have to say. Use sound judgment, by noting your surroundings when making and taking calls.

  • Seventy-eight (78) percent of executives admit someone the wrong e-mail or unintentionally forwarding a colleague a message.

With the huge amount of e-mails an office deals with, it could be defensible when the occasional email gets rerouted. The solutions are simple—slow down and focus on what you are doing. Take time to ensure all messages, recipients and subject lines are exactly what and who they should be. Make a habit of double checking everything; only then should you send emails (or messages).

Texting on smartphones poses another potential gaffe—autocorrect. When phones think you are typing a word, it will try to predict the word and enter what it thinks you are typing. Entire websites—like Damn You Auto Correct—are devoted to some of the more embarrassing text “fails” and horror stories.

The takeaway is this—don’t let your smartphone outsmart you.

  • Forty-five (45) percent of executives admitted to regularly doing other things— surfing the Internet or answering e-mails–during conference calls.

Although some people refuse to accept multitasking truly exists, employees and managers at all levels attempt it. Regardless of who is trying to do different things at once—it is still rude, especially in meetings and one-on-one interactions. Anytime you are with other people in a business setting—or even some private occasions—it is always best to power down.

At the very least, keep your device on vibrate if you are waiting for a serious call or e-mail that you must promptly respond. Don’t forget to excuse yourself politely from a meeting when you get the call.

  • When it comes to Facebook, 57 percent of supervisors and managers said they are not comfortable being friended on Facebook by the people under them; and 47 percent avoid connecting with other co-workers.

No matter how well you get along with your boss at work, managers and colleagues think it is not appropriate to be your Facebook friend. It may be better to wait until co-workers reach out to you first.

To stay respectful, as well as avoiding any instances of impropriety, periodically review your Facebook page’s privacy settings. Since Facebook updates security frequently, you should keep your page settings up to date.

Increasingly, employers are posting company guidelines regarding social media and web use. Having respectful workplace etiquette means being aware of your company policies, so you will not accidentally break rules.

Even if there are no written policies, stay mindful of how you come off to people at work. The content you post, how and when you post it can come back to you unfavorably. After all, you represent your company; there are times when inappropriate behavior can cost you quite a bit—lost clients, losing the respect of co-workers or even the end of your career.

When on the job, it is a good practice to restrict use of unnecessary gadgets, or avoid the personal use of social media. Facebook and Twitter accounts are often time stamped, so tweets, comments and status updates having nothing to do with your work can be discovered.

To be a professional, you have to act professionally—and that means there are times you just have to be unplugged.

It’s only polite.

 

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