Basic Manners and Office Courtesies


For you to connect with customers/clients, work effectively with co-workers, and ultimately succeed in your job, it is essential to pay attention to common courtesies - they make a difference in creating relationships and making lasting positive impressions!


Top 10 Common Office Discourtesies

  1. Not returning phone calls, voice mail, or email in a timely manner.
  2. Showing up late to meetings or answering cell phones during meetings.
  3. Visiting co-workers; inattentive to their work demands.
  4. Clogging the email system with lengthy messages.
  5. Borrowing co-workers' office supplies and not returning them.
  6. Setting the copy machine for special copy features and not changing it back.
  7. Using the last piece of paper in the printer or copier and not refilling paper trays.
  8. Not cleaning up office kitchen after use.
  9. Taking the last cup of coffee and not making more.
  10. Playing the radio or CDs too loudly or constantly.


To avoid discourtesies toward your co-workers, keep in mind the following:


Basic Manners

  • Say "please," "thank you," "hello," "Good Morning," and "Good-bye." It's so easy, but many take this for granted.
  • Smile and look interested in others - make eye contact, and listen! Project a positive, cheerful attitude.
  • Be a class act! Demonstrate a well-mannered, appropriately dressed, professional demeanor.
  • Show up to work on time. Be punctual!
  • Do what you say you will do and in the time frame you said you would.
  • Open doors (regardless of gender).
  • Respect others' time.
  • Offer to assist!
  • Compliment others; give credit when due.
  • Write thank-you notes, or even thank you emails!


Language Tips

  • Speak well of others or keep quiet! Stay away from office gossip.
  • Be aware of slang, and avoid foul language or sarcasm.
  • Explain acronyms and jargon.
  • Be careful where you hold conversations (elevators, hallways, restaurants, etc.).
  • Power robbers such as "I hope," "I guess," "maybe" and "probably" undermine credibility.


Use Technology Appropriately

  • Cell phones: Never take/make calls or check texts during meetings or when having a face-to-face conversation with someone at work. If it's an emergency phone call, however, you may say, "Excuse me, but I need to take this call," and step out of the room to hold your conversation in private. Don't hold private conversations at work unless you are on your break, and do so in a private area.
  • Telephone: Always answer the phone in a positive tone of voice. If scheduling an appointment, double-check spelling of name, dates, and times by repeating this information to the caller or person you're calling.
  • Speaker phone: Don't use this feature unless it's a conference call. Pick up your phone—if not, the person you are talking to will wonder if someone else is in the room with you, listening.
  • Conference Calls: When conducting a conference call including several people, introduce everyone present to the person you are calling.
  • Email: Conduct a spell check before sending, keep the length short, and use a subject line. Be careful about clicking on "Reply" or "Reply to All"—make sure you know to whom you are sending the email, or to whom you are responding. Also, if you'll be out of the office for a few days, set up an auto response stating this, and include the date you will return and respond to your emails. Don't forget to turn off the auto response when you return!
  • Voicemail: When leaving someone a message, say your name and number slowly at the beginning and again at the end. And, on your office phone voicemail, if you'll be out of the office for a few days, change your message to reflect this. Don't forget to update it when you return! Also, make sure your personal voicemail (for example, on your cell phone) is professional as well.
  • Fax: Include a cover sheet containing the number of pages being faxed, the name of the person the fax is intended for, and your name and phone number.