Communications etiquette for today’s workplace

By Rachel Wagner

We live in a world filled with iMacs, iPads, and  iPhones.

And in today’s workplace, your communication etiquette is constantly being observed. People are getting an impression of you, often without you even realizing it.

Every part of your communications—technological (texting, email, social media)—verbal—and body language—must send a message of professionalism.

In this post, let’s look at a few tips on being tech savvy at work. Just because you have email doesn’t mean you should use it for all communication. You still have a phone, right? Use email for short messages, sharing brief information, requesting something, or for attaching documents. Pick up the phone or have a meeting if what you need to communicate requires brainstorming or a lengthy discussion, or is sensitive or potentially negative in nature.

Ask preferences of your boss and people working in the field. Do they prefer that you email, text them, or call? Don’t assume their preference is the same as yours. Ask.

And speaking of phones, a word to Millennials, please set up your voice mail on your mobile phone. Even though texting might be your preference, there is a working world out there that still communicates via phone—including hiring managers.

Respond to emails in a timely manner. In our microwave world, it’s not courteous to leave people hanging. So, respond to emails by the end of the day if possible, and never longer than 24 hours. It prevents the sender from emailing again to see if you got the first email. If you’ll need to dig for the requested information, at least acknowledge the email and send a quick response that you’re working on it and when you hope to have it to him.

Remember that emails are never private. Remember that time you wrote back an angry response after you got that snippy email from a co-worker? You never know who gets a forwarded or Blind Carbon Copy. Ask yourself how you would feel if your email appeared on the front page of the local newspaper. Also, delete doesn’t mean delete. Even if you delete it from your Trash, most companies have sophisticated software that can retrieve old emails from company servers.

Keep your phone stashed away at business socials and business meals. According to Pew Research, 67 percent of mobile phone owners find themselves checking their phone for messages, alerts, or calls—even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating. Don’t be this person. Keep 100 percent of the focus on the people you’re with. It shows courtesy and respect to others and makes you appear more confident and professional (And, nothing speaks ‘nervous’ or ‘disengaged’ like someone who continues to glance at his/her phone every two minutes!)

Social Media for Grown-ups. At work, use social media sites like Facebook only during a lunch break, preferably on your personal smart phone versus your office computer. Why? Because all sites you visit on your office computer can be tracked.  Keep Facebook posts geared to family and friends. This is where to post pictures of your vacation, kids and grandkids…and oh yes, those cute cat videos and babies dancing.

For work-related posts, use the professional social media site, LinkedIn.  This is the appropriate site to advertise job vacancies, share a new company initiative, or highlight job-related awards and company news. Inappropriate posts include venting about coworkers, your boss, or your company.

This article first appeared at Etiquette Trainer.