Do you remember the Golden Rule?

Also known as the “Ethic of Reciprocity,” it teaches a simple, but profound life lesson: Treat others the same way you want to be treated. It’s one of the best guidelines to remember – and practice – from preschool on. And your workplace is no exception.

When you show up for work each day, you have a job to do, results to achieve, tasks to check off your “to do” list. And while all these things are extremely important, it’s just as critical to maintain relationships, practice courtesy and common sense, and contribute to a sense of teamwork and well-being among your peers.

Here are three tips to maintaining proper workplace etiquette:

Be Respectful.

  • Use courtesy when utilizing shared areas including offices, kitchens and break rooms. For instance, if you expect others to clean up after themselves, you need to do the same.
  • Knock before entering another employee’s area. Even if it’s an open cubicle or similar configuration, make an attempt to announce your arrival without being loud or obtrusive.
  • Never criticize coworkers in front of others. Settle differences privately and quickly, before they escalate.
  • Rise above gossip. There is no good side to being the office busy body.

Be Sensitive.

  • Monitor the volume and nature of your in-person and telephone conversations. This is especially important if you work in a cubicle or shared area, where you can’t “close the door” to avoid disturbing others.
  • If you overhear a private conversation, practice “selective hearing.” Shut it out of your mind and pretend it never happened. If a coworker repeatedly carries on conversations that put you in this uncomfortable position, speak to him or her about it and if the problem persists, speak to your supervisor.
  • Discuss personnel matters only with appropriate individuals. These include human resources staff and, in most cases, your supervisor.
  • Be aware of scents. Save heavy doses of cologne or perfume for social occasions. Ask your coworkers before bringing in heavily scented flowers, and avoid foods with strong aromas, as well. Limit them to the cafeteria or break room.

Be Professional.

  • Keep personal conversations, phone calls and emails to a minimum. Use similar discretion when displaying personal items such as photographs or mementoes. Don’t overdo it or cause obstructions for others in your work area.
  • Practice “netiquette.” When emailing, practice common courtesy by saying “please” and “thank you.” Monitor your tone to make sure you come across as respectful and approachable. Avoid using all uppercase letters, which implies shouting.
  • Make sure your voice gives a good impression. Voice mail messages should be short, polite and easily understood. And when leaving a reply message, speak clearly and leave your full name. Repeat pertinent information if necessary.
  • Look and act like a pro. Dress appropriately for your work setting, and act professionally. Avoid behavior such as chewing or popping gum, which is perceived as undignified.

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