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  Office Etiquette - Mahita Suresh's Advice On Etiquette
Do You Know Your Business Etiquette?
Mahita Suresh

Mahita Suresh works with various educational training institutes to set the curriculum for training in Business Etiquette. She also imparts active training in the field and regularly writes tips on Business Etiquette for

We might be really savvy where to come to being efficient at our jobs. But most of us don’t know the first thing about work-related etiquette? Don’t scoff at the idea yet. Business Etiquette Expert, Mahitha Suresh, requests you to step into the shoes of your customers and colleagues, and evaluate your own behaviour from their perspective…

How Do You Deal With Personal Calls?

Most companies frown upon personal calls being made in the office, but it happens anyway, sometimes with unpleasant consequences. If you are going to make personal calls at work, find out what the company policy on this is.

• Find out if personal calls are allowed, and if there is a charge for this. Even if you are allowed to make free calls, don’t push your luck by sitting on the phone, exchanging gossip or discussing cricket scores!

• Long distance love is expensive; don’t fund it from your company telephone kitty. Most companies keep detailed accounts of numbers dialed, and you could be in for a reprimand, as well as a big bill at the end of the month.

• When receiving personal calls in the office, keep them short. You get paid to work!

• Your colleagues need not be a part of your telephonic conversation. Keep your voice as low as possible. Shoo!

How Chivalrous Should I Be?

The rise of the feminist movement, and the increase of women in the workplace, have left in their wake a whole generation of confused men for whom old codes of conduct towards women don’t apply any more. This confusion is apparent especially when it comes to opening doors and using lifts. ( Hey, if you’re a woman, ready this anyways!)

• In the workplace, gender is not important; consideration for a fellow human is. This doesn’t mean that you have to hold doors open for the whole office to troop in; just that you shouldn’t walk through first, not caring if the door slams in the face of the person behind you.

• It is perfectly acceptable to allow a senior executive to precede you, and to hold the door open for a colleague whose arms are laden with books or files.

• In a lift it makes sense that the person nearest the controls asks others for their floor and selects the appropriate buttons, and that the person closest to the exit leaves first.

• When you have a client, guest, or very senior executive with you, and you are closest to the lift, enter, and hold the doors open for them, and unobtrusively, make way for them to leave first.

Handling Errant Colleagues?

If something can go wrong, it will! (Murphy’s Law) Unfortunately, faulty services and products are an inescapable part of life, and the best way to deal with them is not to pretend they don’t exist, but to complain, in an effective manner.

• Making a complaint about a person, especially someone you interact with on a regular basis, is a sensitive issue, so be careful how you handle this.

• Target the behaviour, not the person. Discuss the issue with him first. If there is no change or clarification, then go to the appropriate higher authority.

• At a restaurant, if sending back food, do so while there is more than just a spoonful left in the dish! If you have to complain about inedible objects in your food, or about poor service, do it quietly and discreetly, away from your guests.

• Make complaints promptly. Keep records of letters, of whom you speak to and what kind of action is promised. Be firm and follow up on them patiently. If nothing works, find out who the highest authority in the organization is, get his contact information, and threaten to complain to him. This always gets results!

Are You Contributing to The Spam Menace?

Would you give strangers personal information about your friends? No? Now stop and think how often you might have done exactly that every time you sent out or forwarded emails.

• If you send forwards, don't splash the recipients' addresses all over the page for all and sundry to see; you never know where an email will end up! Type your own name in the 'to' field, or leave it empty. Enter your recipients' names in the BCC (blind carbon copy) field.

• When you receive an email, it might come with a long list of email addresses already in it. Clean up the mail before you hit 'forward'. The easiest way to do this is to cut and paste just the message.

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Other Articles By Mahita Suresh

How Do I Eat My Spaghetti?
Do You Have Impeccable Table Manners?
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