Allí donde fueres…

Hay algo que de forma consciente he intentado transmitir siempre: educación.

Siempre intento acabar mis emails con un gracias. Siempre pido las cosas por favor. Me interesa mucho el lado polite de los ingleses porqué no cuesta nada decir las cosas en positivo, sin herir, es decir: con educación.

La responsable del Departamento de Administración de un Hospital (que, sé de ciencia cierta sigue las normas de etiqueta sanitaria a rajatabla) me comentaba hace cierto tiempo que una Secretaria recién incorporada no se había tomado la molestia de fijarse en las normas "no escritas" de vestir ni en la forma como el resto de sus compañeros se dirigían a los Directivos del centro.

Hoy he leído un artículo aparecido en Forbes que plasma una frase muy importante en nuestra carrera. Y no cuesta nada. 

What’s the one piece of advice that everyone should follow regarding workplace etiquette?

Be on time. If you’re late, you’re starting your interaction off on the wrong foot, and recovering from a mistake–especially a mistake right at the beginning–is hard to do. Being late doesn’t show how important you are. Instead, it is the mark of a person who at the least is disorganized or at worst is disrespectful of the people he or she is meeting.

What’s the biggest etiquette mistake that business people make?

Treating co-workers in a demeaning way or acting in a superior way. Examples include: interrupting someone, not introducing someone, not including a person in a conversation, whispering, talking in front of a co-worker in a language the co-worker doesn’t know, taking personal credit for work a team did, acting like you’re the boss of your co-workers when you’re not.

Since it’s summer, let’s talk about company picnics. What should we know to conduct ourselves properly?

Have a good time. Converse with the other guests. Use the opportunity to get to know people you don’t ordinarily interact with. Beware of thinking that because it is a social event it’s OK to let your hair down. Dress appropriately, not in the skimpiest, tightest, most revealing clothing. If people focus on your clothing rather than on you, then the clothing is probably inappropriate. Beware of overindulging in food or drink. Enjoy the food, but don’t pile it on your plate like it has to last you for several days. Limit your alcohol consumption or, best yet, choose to stay away from alcoholic beverages altogether. Especially in the hot sun, you could quickly become inebriated. You don’t want your boss to remember you for your inebriation rather than for the great person you really are. Like it or not, the reality is that the event is still a business function, so treat it as such.

Cursing seems to be on the increase in the workplace. What do you think and should people curse at work, in meetings or in front of clients?

The problem with cursing is you never know when it might offend someone else. And if you inadvertently offend someone, their focus turns from you and what you have to offer to why you are so rude. Once I gave a seminar and in the middle of it I said, "Oh my God, what a great question." In an evaluation, one participant wrote, "How dare you take the Lord’s name in vain." At the moment I made my comment I lost the opportunity to build a relationship with that person and have him or her be interested in what I was teaching. I’ve learned to be more careful.

What’s the one thing that recent grads should know before starting their first job?

Understand the culture of the workplace you are about to enter and respect that culture. Don’t walk in trying to change it. If men wear coats and ties, then as a man you should wear a coat and tie. If women are wearing closed-toe shoes, don’t show up in sandals or open-toe shoes. To learn what the culture of the new workplace is, be observant and be willing to ask questions: "Does our manager like to be addressed as Ms. Smith or Jane?"

Does the corporate culture largely dictate what etiquette is important, or is it the same no matter where you work?

In terms of being a considerate, respectful and honest person, etiquette is the same. In terms of specific nuances of how things are done, it varies from office to office. It may even vary from department to department within a business. The best example is clothing. In general, it should always be neat, clean, free of stains or odor and in good repair. But clearly the jeans and a pull-over shirt culture at Ben and Jerry’s is as acceptable as the suit, tie and white shirt culture at the most conservative financial institution.

No one seems to use titles anymore when addressing people in e-mails, via phone or in person. Should we be that casual with everyone, or does it depend on the person you are addressing?

If you don’t know the person, it is best to err on the conservative side and use title plus last name. When you first meet someone, it is always easy and comfortable to say, "It’s a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Jones." Ms. Jones can either let the use of Ms. stand, or she can say, "Please, call me Tanya." That approach is preferable to calling her Tanya and discovering later on that she prefers Ms. Jones.

A little common sense goes a long way. If the person is older than you, if the person has a higher position than you, if the person has a special title (like Mr. Ambassador) you would use the title plus last name.

Fuente: The secret to career success