Friday, March 8, 2013

The Power of Protocol and Etiquette in the Workplace

Someone asked the other day, "Does anyone respect anyone anymore?" This question has been asked so many times that one begins to wonder if it is true. In today's world, social and professional boundaries are often questioned. Not only do we have to worry about cultural and gender differences, we have to be concerned with generational differences as well. Understanding the various differences takes tact and skill.

The once relied upon basics of protocol and etiquette must be re-examined and, perhaps re-tooled, in order for one to be successful in today's high-tech, low-touch world. This can re-balance business and social interactions by creating ease, confidence and success in any arena.

How would one navigate the waters of this new way of mastering protocol and etiquette in the workplace? Here are five things to remember:

1) Understand your workplace culture. All companies are not created equal. Just because your last company was more casual in its dress code doesn't mean this is true of your current company. Some companies are big on hierarchy within the ranks, whereas other companies focus on a more collaborative approach to work. Understanding your company's protocol is essential to your success.

2) Learn about the people you work with. Everyone's values, beliefs and the way they approach life in general is different than yours, period. Take the time to get to know those around you. Also, work to understand the different behavior and communication styles of others and match your style when communicating with theirs.

3) Write well. This is more than using good grammar and spelling words correctly. Proper knowledge of workplace etiquette dictates that we write in a way that will be perceived correctly by the reader.

4) Know your non-verbal cues. Body language and tone of voice constitute over 93% of communication. Being present and cognizant of your body language is key to better professional etiquette.

5) Find your voice. One of the most important of all the workplace etiquette is to be careful with your words while maintaining an assertive stance. You will always come across as confident and authoritative. Respect means being respectful at all times.

Even the most savvy business professional can forget that our behavior and manners are under constant observation. Although you may be great at your job, combative behavior, loud talking, a lack of social graces and disrespect for international differences can be seen as negative to key office stakeholders. By mastering workplace protocol and etiquette, a leader will have the tools needed to win friends and influence people, which will ultimately lead to career advancement, recognition, respect and success.

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