This is just as much of a pro­fes­sion­al New Year Res­o­lu­tion as it is a thought piece. The past year has been a huge growth year for me both per­son­al­ly and pro­fes­sion­al­ly. With this growth, I have expe­ri­enced a hand­ful of “learn­ing moments” that have made me stop and think about what I am doing and how I am pre­sent­ing myself to the world. Much to my sur­prise, I have found is that there is a com­mon thread in a lot of these moments: man­ners. Whether it was good man­ners exhib­it­ed by a col­league that I admire, or my own bad man­ners that caused dis­ap­point­ment to some­one I respect, I have real­ized that my moth­er was right all these years: man­ners shape a sit­u­a­tion and can speak loud­er than words. To be clear, I am not refer­ring to your usu­al “Ps & Qs” (although that helps regard­less of where you are), know­ing which fork to use at a din­ner par­ty, or hold­ing the door for some­one with their hands full. Man­ners in the work­place are less obvi­ous and require a lit­tle more thought. Since those of us who work in tech spend most of the work­day look­ing at a screen, there is a whole new set of habits that shape our “pro­fes­sion­al man­ners”.

I am the first one to admit that man­ners aren’t real­ly at the fore­front of work­place con­ver­sa­tions. Talk­ing about man­ners can lead to con­ver­sa­tions about work eth­ic, co-work­er respect, and oth­er seem­ing­ly deep top­ics that tend to make peo­ple uncom­fort­able. How­ev­er, hav­ing good man­ners in the work­place not only makes you feel bet­ter about your­self as a pro­fes­sion­al, it helps boost your rep­u­ta­tion to your clients (and cowork­ers) as a whole.

Here are three tips that you can start doing instant­ly to achieve work­place man­ners that your mom would be proud of.

#1 Be careful how you say “Yes!”

Self­ish­ly, this is num­ber one because it is my biggest pro­fes­sion­al res­o­lu­tion. All too often, I will want to please who­ev­er is ask­ing of the favor, no mat­ter what my sched­ule says. How­ev­er, if I were to be hon­est with myself, instances where I would nor­mal­ly say, “Yes! I will do this ASAP”, should actu­al­ly be answered with “Yes, I can fit this in this week.” Tak­ing a step back to be com­plete­ly real­is­tic with your band­width low­ers your over­all to-do list-anx­i­ety and ulti­mate­ly helps you cor­rect­ly man­age expec­ta­tions.  

 #2 Make scheduling easy for the other person

As the Oper­a­tions arm of Price­less Misc, I do a lot of sched­ul­ing. Cal­en­dars change con­stant­ly and when try­ing to sched­ule a meet­ing between you and anoth­er, being con­cise about your avail­abil­i­ty is a sure-fire way to get that date locked with lit­tle back-and-forth. There are many tools to help groups of peo­ple find the most con­ve­nient meet­ing times, how­ev­er, sched­ul­ing one-on-one meet­ings don’t usu­al­ly hap­pen through a pret­ty plat­form that does all the work for you. One of my favorite ways to set a meet­ing with some­one is to give them your avail­abil­i­ty right off the bat. Send­ing an email that says, “See below for a hand­ful of dates and times that I am avail­able” allows the read­er to pick the slot that works best for them too. An email that only says, “Let me know what works best for you” (GUILTY!) opens the door for at least 3 more email exchanges before you final­ly land on a date. Show­ing the receiv­er that you are accom­mo­dat­ing yet spe­cif­ic from the get-go sets the stage for max­i­mum effi­cien­cy and mutu­al respect going for­ward.

#3 Always introduce your guests, no matter what

The pre­vi­ous two were things that I need to get bet­ter with. This tip how­ev­er, was inspired by an instance where I was on the receiv­ing end of bad work­place man­ners. In short, I was with a group of col­leagues and we were vis­it­ing with anoth­er group of like-mind­ed indi­vid­u­als (at their office) to talk about ideas, com­mu­ni­ty out­reach, and help each oth­er solve busi­ness solu­tions. The host­ing group began the morn­ing like any oth­er per­son would, with intro­duc­tions. It just so hap­pened that my group of col­leagues con­sist­ed of one man, and two oth­er women (besides myself). We were all sit­ting togeth­er and when the intro­duc­tions began, the host turned to my male col­league first. He said his piece and when he was fin­ished, with­out skip­ping a beat, the host turned to anoth­er new (also male) atten­dant and asked for his intro­duc­tion. At first, I thought that maybe the host was mix­ing up the order of intro­duc­tions so I polite­ly wait­ed my turn to tell this new group of friends who I was and what I was doing there. Much to my dis­ap­point­ment, the host nev­er turned back to me, or my fel­low female col­leagues. Even though the con­ver­sa­tions that fol­lowed through­out that morn­ing were awe­some and inspir­ing, I left with a bad taste in my mouth. No mat­ter how cool I thought the host was, I was insult­ed and my view of the host (and their group) were jad­ed. Mak­ing the effort to intro­duce your­self, or some­one you are with, is a small, but very appre­ci­at­ed ges­ture. Say you are out to lunch with a client and some­one walks by your table that you know, but your client doesn’t, and that per­son stops to say hi and catch up for a moment. The 10 sec­onds it takes to intro­duce that per­son to your client is more impor­tant than you think. Even though your client may nev­er see that per­son again, bring­ing them into the fold val­i­dates your client as a per­son and shows them that you respect their pres­ence, no mat­ter where you are.

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