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Office etiquette: a few social graces for the modern workspace
Office etiquette: a few social graces for the modern workspace

By Jay Remer

In today’s lightning fast paced business world, good communication is very important and this includes both verbal and written skills. Just because we have the ability to send messages around the globe at warp speed doesn’t mean that any less care should go into crafting their content. On most computers today, in the office software, there are spelling and grammar check options. I suggest using them all the time, but remember that many words slip by spell checks If a word is spelled correctly spell check accepts it; spell check does NOT put in the intended word and so proof reading is still very important. If you are sending an important document, it is advisable to have another set of eyes check it for this very reason. Be careful when you select which mode of communication to use when sending a message. Emails are fast and efficient and work well in most cases. An actual letter received in the mail is likely to get more attention and provides the receiver wit something to reference back to and to file. A hand written letter will receive the most attention and should be reserved for personal and thank you notes.

Handwritten correspondence always adds a genteel touch

In many instances, cubicles have replaced offices. Because the new spaces are not totally enclosed, the conversations one has with clients, while on the phone or while speaking with colleagues can be overheard. Verbal communications should be carried out keeping in mind that others can and will hear much of what you have to say. Respect for one another’s space is so important in these instances. If you are having a conversation which should be confidential, make sure you have it in a private office with the door closed. Hearing only a glimpse of a private conversation can set off the rumor mill around the water cooler like gas on a fire. But another aspect of showing this respect is that the noise from conversations, much like the news bulletins coming from a colleagues computer, are very annoying to listen to. It distracts one from concentration and is a source of stress. In a word, it is rude.

Office loud talkers are a real nuisance in the workplace

Speaking in a loud voice on the telephone or on one of the many hand held devices is also very distracting (please, loud office talkers, shhhhh). I notice this in offices, in airports and in walking down the street. Frankly, I am not interested in details of one’s private life, nor am I interested in listening to how authoritative one is or is going to be the next time so and so steps out line. I am less interested in their views on politics, religion and their private sex lives. But for some reason, since the very introduction of cell phones, many people seem to think that we all want to share in their personal stories. Guess what? We don’t! Speaking in public about private matters is generally a symptom of one’s insecurity and complete lack of consideration for others. It is a reflection on one’s own self respect. The sooner we practice these respectful ways of communicating, the sooner they will become habits and the sooner the office will be a more productive and stress free environment in which to work.

Jay Remer is the Etiquette Guy, and is certified by the Protocol School of Washington as a consultant for corporate etiquette and international protocol.

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