How to Conduct Yourself Properly at the Workplace

by Melinda Hill Sineriz - Updated June 28, 2018
Businesswomen shaking hands at the office

Every workplace has a set of rules. Some are organized enough to have them written out in an employee handbook. Others are more casual. Whether you’re at the job of your dreams or at a temporary stop on your career path, it’s important to make a good impression. There are some basic guidelines on workplace etiquette you can follow so you know how to conduct yourself in the workplace.

Dress Appropriately

It’s important to dress appropriately for your job. If your position has a uniform, make sure it’s clean and neat. If it’s a casual environment, avoid clothes that are worn or have holes. Many offices are business casual. This typically means no jeans, but the exact protocol for your office may vary. Financial and sales positions often require business attire. If you’re uncertain of the dress code, aim to dress a bit more formally your first day or two until you have a sense of your company’s expectations.

Be Respectful

Everyone gets frustrated from time to time at work. Regardless of how you’re feeling, it’s important to stay respectful. This is critical whether you’re dealing with customers, co-workers or supervisors. Keep your voice calm and be patient. Listen to what they’re saying and respond appropriately. If it’s a heated situation, see if you can step away for a moment to gather your thoughts. In the case of an angry or upset customer, give them a chance to vent and let them know you’ve heard and understood their concerns.

With co-workers, you can show respect by contributing to your team. If a co-worker seems overwhelmed, offer to help. Do your part to maintain common areas at work, like the kitchen and bathroom. Do your best to avoid conversational topics that might make your co-workers uncomfortable, such as politics or religion. It’s also best to avoid gossiping about co-workers or supervisors. It can be tempting, but you don’t want to end up in the middle of other people’s dramas.

You can show respect to supervisors by listening to what they have to say. If they coach you in an area, strive to improve. If you have questions about what they want you to do, ask. This doesn’t mean you have to do everything without question. If you disagree with your supervisor about an issue, talk to her directly in private.

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Be Punctual

Companies value punctuality. Everyone’s busy, and if you’re late or absent, it can impact your co-workers and supervisors. If there’s an emergency, call and let the appropriate person know as soon as possible. If you have a meeting with someone, try to arrive about five minutes early. If you’re running the meeting, try to arrive even earlier so you can prepare. If you need to leave work early, make certain to let someone know.

Communicate Appropriately

At the workplace, strive to keep your communication professional. This is especially important with email. In a professional setting, use complete sentences and punctuation when you’re composing an email. Use the subject line to let the person receiving the email know what to expect. Avoid using all caps, as this can come across as shouting. Respond to emails as quickly as possible, especially emails from a supervisor. Always keep in mind that company emails are not private. Many companies monitor email, so don’t write anything that you wouldn’t mind having a stranger read.

Be Positive

Sometimes work can be a grind. Even on those tough days, it’s important to stay positive. Jump in to help your team whenever you can. Try to make your customer’s day better. Express appreciation to co-workers who help you. If you’re having a difficult time personally, try not to bring that with you into work. Use your work as an opportunity to refocus and improve someone’s day. It will improve yours too.

About the Author

Melinda Hill Sineriz is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience. She specializes in business, personal finance, and career content. She has worked in sales and has managed her own business for more than a decade. She has also written content for businesses in various industries, including restaurants, law firms, dental offices, and e-commerce companies. Learn more about her and her work at thatmelinda.com.

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