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Career Counselor
Mind Your Manners and Your Career

Sept/Oct 2007 In today's fast-paced work environment, it's not unusual for people to overlook workplace etiquette and protocol. However, being courteous to coworkers can go a long way toward building important relationships and paving the road to a successful career.

Often, being agreeable boils down to just a few key factors, including respecting the opinions of coworkers, offering colleagues a helping hand when needed and being polite in all of your interactions. Here are just a few courtesy "checkpoints" to help you put your best foot forward at work:

  • Value others' time. Never assume a coworker is less busy than you are. Show consideration by sticking to project deadlines, returning messages promptly and arriving on time at meetings.
  • Be courteous. Remember to say "please" and "thank you," even in brief email messages. If you sense a problem or have bad news to deliver, don't play phone tag -- ask for a one-on-one meeting instead.
  • Respect boundaries. Be sensitive to your coworkers' need for privacy. Knock before entering anyone's workspace and ask whether it's a good time to talk before launching into a discussion.
  • Give credit where credit is due. Always let your manager or team members know when you've received help on a project and be sure to praise your colleagues when they've provided valuable assistance.
  • Avoid office gossip. A key component of professional polish is being positive and pleasant to be around. Combat negativity at the office by avoiding gossip. When a coworker tells you something in confidence, keep it private.
  • Dress the part. Your attire is an important part of your professional etiquette. If your office dress code is casual, make sure your clothing is tasteful. In workplaces that require more traditional garb, stick with suits in colors such as grey, beige, navy or brown.

A positive, friendly disposition can be a valuable asset on the job. Your ability to connect with others is especially important as more companies seek individuals who can collaborate well on diverse teams.

Most people enjoy working with a polished and considerate professional. Improving your workplace manners is paramount to earning the respect of your coworkers and a prominent place in your organization.

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ACCOUNTEMPS is a specialized temporary staffing service for accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. Accountemps provides support throughout an accounting department. Headquartered in Menlo Park, Calif., Accountemps and has more than 270 offices in North America, Europe and Australia. Accountemps' Career Counselor column, a SmartPros staple for over four years, is refreshed twice a month.

2007 SmartPros Ltd. All rights reserved.

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