E is for Etiquette

Written by Do I Editorial

Etiquette. In the din and bustle of everyday existence, this word with 3 es and 3 ts and an i, q, u, in between is slowly getting lost. Magic words like Please, Thank you, Sorry that we all learnt in kindergarten are being forgotten. Mr A walks around with his headphones on, Miss B is the master of multitasking. Mr C is too casual at work and Miss D thinks the office is her home. Have you also forgotten the basic etiquettes?

 1. The master of Multitasking?
She thinks she is the goddess with the proverbial eight limbs – she can email, SMS, answer phone calls at the same time! You want to laud her for being such an awesome multitasker. Wait, you have not heard it all. Emailing, texting and answering phone calls at the same time can help you hurry through work chores, but it is considered bad manners when you are in a face-to-face conversation with someone, specially at work. Put your phone on silent mode; text messages and phone calls can be attended to after the conversation is over. Bosses love multitaskers, but do not multitask during a face-to-face conversation.

2. Take the headphones off:
At workplace, he is Dr Spock. No, he does not have large ears, but he sports a headphone all the time. Agreed, headphones are convenient hands-free device, but you certainly do not need it inside the office or when you are sitting with a friend in a café. Take the headphones off, use it only when needed.

3. Too casual is a no-no:
In office, Friday dressing is fine, not looking/behaving like a martinet is much appreciated, but being the back-slapping kinds is a big no-no. Yes, there is a fine line dividing casual from too casual and the ‘casual meter’ varies from one office to another, but never cross the limit. Like Mr A did. He walked into the office in flip-flops, his hair dishevelled, his shirt creased, an earphone stuck in his ears… Offices are not college corridors, maintain the decorum.

4. Phone manners:
It is the age of mobile phones and people spend umpteen hours on the phone. However, in this maze of a million phones, basic phone etiquettes are conveniently being brushed under the carpet. If you are an early morning person, do not assume everyone else is as well. Do not make work-related calls (unless it is an emergency) at 7 in the morning or past 8 in the evening. If your colleague is not answering a call, do not inundate him with a hundred calls. Instead, SMS saying you are trying to reach him. Mention the reason. When you call, check with the person whether he is free to talk, do not start blabbering soon after the formal ‘hello’. If you promise to call someone, call at the mentioned time. If you cannot, SMS and inform that you would call later.

5. Email etiquette:
“Mting in eve. Wd b gr8 if u hv file rdy.” Mr A sent this email to his colleagues for the evening meeting. Well, it is no hieroglyph that his colleagues could not decipher. But Mr A mauled all rules of email etiquette. Yes, emails have made our work lives easy and quick, but it is no child’s play, follow its rules. Official emails should never be written in SMS language, nor should it masquerade as an essay. Keep it short, succinct. If you are heading out of station or for long meetings, activate the Out of Office reply. Suggest alternate numbers for urgent matters. Do not sleep over emails. Respond as quickly as you can. When not required, do no cc/bcc emails.

6. Please. Thank you. Sorry.
Please. Thank you. Sorry. These are some of first magic words Mr A was taught in kindergarten. But the moment he joined a job, he forgot all about them. He would never thank his colleagues for lending a hand in the tedious project; a ‘please’ never preceded his request; he never apologised for his mistakes. Put simply, he knew not what politeness was. These magic words might not get you a project or a pay hike, but politeness always pays.

7. Are you Mr Latecomer?
Whoever said “Punctuality is the art of guessing how late the other fellow would be” must have had a gigantic funny bone. But punctuality is no joke, it tops the list of any workplace’s Ten Commandments; being late is the biggest etiquette blunder. Every morning Mr A hurries to work, gets invariably caught in traffic and is the perennial Mr Latecomer. He’s the ultimate latecomer without qualms; he offers no apologies even when he reaches late for a meeting and keeps 10 others waiting. Forget the adage: Better late than never. The new mantra is: Better early than late.

8. Office is not home, stupid:
Miss B has no concept of office being different from home. She spreads her belongings beyond her cubicle, she is too loud; on a happy day she’d even put her feet up and have long conversations over the phone. During office hours, she chats with friends, calls her mom, discusses investment plans with her wealth manager, even rattles off the dinner menu to her domestic help. Miss B is oblivious that the office is not her home. An office is an office. It is not your home, stupid.

9. Are you Mr Lunch Time Pile on?
Ask his colleagues and they would tell you that Mr A has another name. He is the Mr Lunch Time Pile On. He never carries tiffin from home. That certainly is no sin. However, during lunch time, he grabs one morsel from one cubicle and another morsel from another cubicle. You’d never find him in the office canteen. When he does, even there he is a pile on. He never orders a meal for himself; instead, gets his fill from the plates of others. When his friends order together, he never pools/foots the bill. Any surprise then that he is the unbeatable Mr Lunch Time Pile On.

Preeti Verma Lal

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