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  • Writer's pictureJaya Koilpillai Bohlmann

Minding our manners

Updated: Oct 24, 2018

When you walk through the fabled doors of Tiffany & Co., (  especially the legendary one on Fifth Avenue in NYC, it changes you. You stand up straighter, feel more proper, say please and thank you more, smile graciously to everyone around you. Something about the sight of all those proper table settings and jewelry given to mark special occasions makes you just want to behave.

I like this feeling. I like order and structure, and gracious behavior. And not just on special occasions. And not just in social situations. I am a firm believer in etiquette in the workplace. Here are my top ten “rules of workplace etiquette”:

  1. When someone is speaking, don’t interrupt. Even if it’s an informal meeting, even if they are your friend, even if they wouldn’t mind, even if you’re agreeing with them or adding to their point. Wait your turn.

  2. When someone has asked for your attention, give it fully. Turn to face them and look them in the eye. If it’s a phone conversation, turn away from your email, iphotos, browsers on all devices. Attention is a gift. Give it freely.

  3. Don’t air personal grievances publicly. We all have conflicts with each other from time to time. These are best dealt in private, behind closed doors, out of earshot of others. In public, don’t roll your eyes when someone speaks because you’re mad at them, or put down their ideas because they hurt your feelings yesterday. Settle it, and leave it behind you. Definitely don’t blog or Facebook about it!

  4. When getting settled for a meeting, let the person who has organized the meeting decide where everyone sits. It’s not just about hierarchy – maybe the meeting organizer has reasons for seating choices – or maybe they won’t care. Either way, it’s good manners to leave it up them.

  5. Knock before entering – whether it’s the CEO’s office or your officemate’s cubicle, they will appreciate the respect.

  6. Monitor the volume of your conversations, especially in hallways and common areas, but everywhere.

  7. Practise selective hearing if you overhear personal conversations – if they’re not talking to you, it’s none of your business.

  8. Don’t gossip. It contributes to a petty and unprofessional environment, and is unattractive.

  9. Don’t make it all about you. In the workplace, you are there to contribute to a greater good, a collective effort. Don’t hijack meetings and projects by turning attention on your individual needs and goals. Don’t make the boss spend all of her/his time on you alone.

  10. Do make people feel special. Remember their birthdays, say hello every morning, say thank you for every single thing, large and small, listen to them. Kindness is the cornerstone of etiquette.

What do you think? Are these good tips? Do you have any to add?

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