Etiquette at the workplace

Contrary to what's generally presumed, politeness and proper decorum are not outdated issues in the workplace. With every popular form of human communication from the traditional landline to the cell phone and email, becoming increasingly available and almost mandatory at the workplace, we as users have a growing responsibility - that of maintaining the prescribed etiquette and reduce discomfort to those around us. Find out what are some of the things that are 'done' and 'not done' at the workplace.

"Being polite sets the tone for work relationships, how you interact with people and how people perceive you"... "Take charge of what is yours, maintain proper decorum at all times and always treat others the way you want to be treated" - Paula K. Morning


Telephone Etiquette
Many things have changed over the years, especially in the evolving world of business. One thing has not changed though, and that is the need for proper telephone etiquette in the work place. Proper telephone technique involves some basic common sense in which everyone who works for an organization should use.

Here are some basic guidelines for proper usage of telephone:

  • Identify yourself immediately to the other person.
  • Focus yourself clearly on the purpose of the call and the person you are speaking with; don't try to do things like opening a mail or talking with someone in the room in the course of your telephone conversation
  • Don't eat or drink while you are on the phone. You may not be aware of how well the person at the other end of the line can hear you chewing or swallowing; the impression you leave will not be a good one. Be prepared before you dial - know the reason for your call and be ready to discuss
  • Place your call during normal business hours. Your call will not be well received if you wait until five minutes before closing
  • When leaving a message for someone you have called speak slowly and clearly. Leave your name, contact number and a brief message
  • If you need to transfer a call, explain the reason for the transfer to the caller. Monitor the line to be certain that the transfer was completed successfully
  • When you call someone, ask if they have a moment to talk with you rather than assuming that they have enough time to talk to you
  • All incoming calls should be answered in a timely manner
  • If you get the wrong number, apologize to the person who answers the phone--do not just hang up. This is especially important nowadays when people have Caller ID's on their phone lines. All they have to do is to check their device to find out who just rudely hung up on them
  • Sometimes you may be required to answer someone else's phone while they are away from their desk. The best response is to take a message. Be sure there are phone message pads and pens where you will answer the phone. Ask for the caller's name, contact number (repeat for accuracy), reason for the call and the best time to return the call. Add your name or initials, and the date and time of the call to the message


Cell Phone Etiquette
Usages of cell phones are on the rise. Having a cell phone allows you to conduct business from virtually anywhere at any time. While they have helped make our lives easier, at the same time many people agree that they also create an unwanted intrusion in our lives. Almost everyone seems to be on the phone! Whenever a new communications technology becomes popular, it becomes a part of our daily lives. Organization needs to have certain guidelines to ensure polite usage of these technologies/devices.
So to make everyone's life easier in our organization the following guidelines has been put up relating to cell phone etiquette


In Office Premises:

Let It Vibrate
If you have your cell phone turned on in meetings, workshops, workstations etc. set it to vibratory mode. If you have to attend to a call, excuse yourself and answer your phone in a private corner.

Don't Shout
If the background noise is disturbing, go to a quieter place. If the problem is a bad connection, talking louder will not help so just end the call and try again from a place where the reception is better.

Choose Your Spot
When choosing a spot to take or make a call, make sure you are far enough away from other people & that they are not forced to listen to your conversation.


Set the ring tone at a low level with a tune that is soft, gentle and not annoying. The more crowded the situation, the quieter and softer the volume of voice and ring.

Remain Human
Some employees seem incapable of speaking on their cell phone in a normal tone of voice. Perhaps they are subconsciously worried that the party on the other end cannot hear them very well, so they double and triple their volume.

Keep business private
Many personal and business conversations contain information that should remain confidential or private. Before using a mobile phone in a public location to discuss private business or issues, make sure that there will be enough distance to keep the content private. Some stories, some issues and some conflicts should be saved for times and locations that will allow for confidentiality.


Keep a civil and pleasant tone
Others might overhear a conversation, so be careful to maintain a public voice that will not disturb others. Reserve conversations that involve tough talk or emotional tones for more private settings. Do not fire employees, chastise employees, argue with a boss or fight with a spouse on the mobile phones in public settings.

Judicious and appropriate use of your cell phone can be a valuable business asset. Make the most of your calls by projecting the same professional impression on the phone that you would in person.