Workplace Manners: 14 Dos and Don’ts for Acting with Class

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With new technology and multiple generations in the workplace, the rules for workplace manners are changing. There are new rules to consider, and many of the old ones have a new twist. Your manners in the workplace have a direct impact on how others perceive you and your level of professionalism. Below are some DO and DON’T guidelines that will leave people seeing you as a class act.

1.  DO introduce yourself when meeting new people. DON’T wait for another person to remember your name. DO offer your name, make direct eye contact, and use a firm handshake.

2.  DON’T assume nicknames. DO ask, “What would you like me to call you?”

3.  DON’T ask for a business card so you can remember a name. DO say, “I want to spell your name correctly,” and be prepared to write. That gives the person a chance to hand you his or her card, but saves embarrassment if the person doesn’t have one.

4.  DO greet coworkers when you see them, but DON’T linger in common areas. The noise created can distract others.

5.  If you are maligned in an e-mail, DON’T reply to all; DO call the person who made the remark and say, “I believe I was copied on something you didn’t have a chance to edit.”

6.  DON’T end your e-mails with a quote. It annoys those who read on mobile devices. DO allow the message “sent from a mobile device,” since that may excuse any fat-fingered typing errors.

7.  DON’T pump up the volume on your MP3 player. If you see someone nearby mouthing the words of the song to which you are listening, DO turn it down and apologize.

8.  DON’T apply perfumes or colognes at work. Many people are scent-sensitive, and the aroma may be overwhelming to someone else. DO put on your perfume or cologne at home or in your car.

9.  DON’T complete your personal grooming in public. On a recent train trip, I was exposed to someone applying nail polish. The smell was overwhelming, and watching her clean debris from under her fingernails was quite disgusting. DO your grooming at home, or duck into a restroom when you arrive to make any minor adjustments.

10.  DON’T microwave or eat something that smells so strong the people down the hall know what you’re having for lunch. DO consider that your coworkers may not want to smell what you’re having.

11.  DON’T start a conversation with dumb jokes or filler sentences. DO start with an opener that means something. Instead of, “I wanted to touch base with you” (which is stupid and overused), try, “We have an opportunity to save $30,000. Would you like to discuss that now or later?” Guess what? People will be a lot more interested in what you have to say.

12.  DON’T dial calls on a speakerphone. You’re implying you think you’re too important to pick up the phone and conduct business in private. DO ask for a headset at work if you need your hands free.

13.  DON’T allow your cell phone to ring audibly in the office. It’s obnoxious and distracting to others. DO use the vibrate function.

14.  DON’T use your cell phone during business or social events. It implies that you believe the call to be more important than the event you’re at or people you’re with. If you must take or make a call, DO quietly remove yourself and speak in private.


When it comes to good workplace manners, if you show respect and act professionally, model good workplace manners, and treat others with respect, you’ll be admired and seen as a professional. That means more respect and reorganization from your peers and higher-ups.

Agree? Disagree? Add your insightful comments here.