Since I just started a new job, this was particularly helpful!
If you’ve just started a new job, congratulations! That said, being hired doesn’t mean it’s time to let your guard down. The first year is probably the most important in establishing your employer’s impression of you, your skill set, and your knowledge of basic business etiquette.
The first thing to know about business etiquette is how to handle an introduction. In most cases, your first day will involve your new immediate supervisor ushering you around and introducing you to your coworkers. Be prepared with a basic one- or two-sentence introduction that briefly describes your background. A handshake is a must in any office environment so don’t hesitate to offer your hand in a greeting.
When dressing for work, stick with standard office attire. For men, this includes dress pants, a dress shirt, tie, and a basic blazer. Finish your appearance off with a good pair of office shoes—keep them polished. Don’t wear sneakers, jeans, or a casual shirt the first day; only wear them thereafter if the office is very casual. For women a conservative, dark dress suit with a button-down blouse and low pumps is a good choice. Don’t even think about wearing a cocktail dress as office formal wear, period. If you don’t have a suit, try dress pants with a matching jacket and button-down blouse. Your first impression is very important. Don’t miss this important opportunity to impress your coworkers and supervisors.
Your body language has a big influence on how others in the office perceive you. When sitting in meetings or with others, avoid slouching or putting your feet up. This behavior conveys laziness or boredom. Business etiquette recommends avoiding crossed arms or supporting your head in your hand, even if managers are doing the same. If a meeting goes long, try to take notes on a notepad so it appears you’re paying attention.
Don’t forget your business etiquette when you attend a business lunch. Always use utensils, even if the meal involves finger food like French fries. According to the rules of etiquette, your fork should be on the left side of the plate and your knife on the right side. If you have a salad setting as well, use the smaller fork and knife for the salad. Use your spoon for any kind of soup. Avoid clanging your dining utensils on your plate and gobbling up all the food quickly. Never ever speak while chewing; use a napkin to cover your mouth while chewing and then respond when you’ve finished the bite.
Good electronic communication requires always thinking about how your statements will reflect back on the business. Even personal statements made on a social media website can come back to haunt you if a supervisor finds them. Always think first before putting anything into writing. Sometimes silence or using a phone can be safer.
Following business etiquette for the office helps you to avoid problems, and it goes a long way toward your acceptance as a candidate for promotion later on.