When it comes to business, there are a few critical mistakes that can cost you valuable contacts and relationships. Simple things that you may do around your friends are serious faux pas in the workplace. Here’s a look at a few major business etiquette mishaps to avoid.
Texting On the Sly During a Business Meeting
If you’re in a meeting—whether you’re leading it or merely a sit-in—devote your full attention to the conversation. Answering a phone call, or even texting under the table, may offend clients and co-workers.
Using Text-Speak in a Formal Email
It’s easy to get in the habit of using acronyms and abbreviations you commonly use when texting your pals. But that same lingo doesn’t fly in the workplace. Make sure you’re using professional language in all written business communications.
Casual Wardrobes Gone Wrong
If you’re not sure of the dress code for a function, ask. When in doubt, err towards the more professional side than the casual. It’s better to be slightly over-dressed than drastically under-dressed.
It’s wise to invest in at least one professional outfit for the occasions when you need to kick the wardrobe up a notch. Lean towards the conservative side and avoid items like short skirts.
Tick, Tock: Eyes off the Watch
Looking around the room and appearing distracted are rude behaviors during a business meeting. Avoid looking at your watch and gazing around the room—try to make eye contact with the other people in the room.
To Gift of Not to Gift
Gift-giving in the office can be awkward. Stick to a reasonable budget when giving a gift to a superior or co-worker and use vendors such as pricegrabber.com for the best deals. Avoid personal items and stick to gifts that are applicable to the workplace.
Running Late Can Cost You Your Reputation
Always arrive on time to meetings. Clients and vendors want to work with reliable partners—showing up late damages your credibility, leaving a poor impression.
Skip the Negative Gossip
Even if you’re not the perpetrator of gossip, you should steer clear of any bad-mouthing conversations in the office. Being privy to negative gossip about co-workers and clients can lead to awkward encounters and distrust.
Follow-Up Fails: Stay on Top of Responses
With the mass influx of emails to your inbox each day, it’s easy to push them aside and think you’ll respond later to non-pressing queries. Always offer a response in a timely manner, ideally 24 to 36 hours. If you’re dealing with clients, failing to respond in the early stages of the relationship will start you off on the wrong foot.
Office environments have different cultures, and what’s acceptable in your workplace may not be in another. Always err on the side of caution when it comes to business etiquette. You’ll rarely lose contacts, vendors and clients for being ultra-respectful, but it only takes a small mistake to destroy a valuable business relationship.