“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw

There’s so much buzz going around these days on developing the proper ‘netiquette’ when posting on the worldwide web that I wonder if we’ve overlooked the workplace where real professional etiquette is in danger of going the way of the dinosaur.

Professional etiquette isn’t solely what type of clothing you wear to the office although I do think that it is a very important factor. A favorite saying from my friend, Debbey Ryan, the Queen of Networking is, ‘Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.’

In this past month alone, I have had several requests for coaching and guest speaking on this very topic. Professionals don’t have a clear cut vision of how they’re supposed to act or communicate with co-workers, clients, and team leaders. They struggle with unreal expectations and workloads. And to add to the confusion, we now have 4 generations of folks in the workplace. Most of them are suffering from severe communication breakdowns due to the fact that the majority of communication is being conducted via email and that, my friends, leaves a lot of room for misinterpretations to occur between the lines.

While I think that the internet is the greatest thing since sliced bread, I also think it is one of the most abused areas of professional etiquette. While it may be faster, it is not always the best. That is why it is very important to be very clear about what it is you want to say and how you want to say it before you say it. 

Here are 5 simple rules that I think will calm some of the chaos and confusion in the workplace:

Rule #1: Be respectful. If your message is very important, deliver it in person, or at the least via the phone. Do NOT rely on emails or text messages to inform others of crucial pieces of information or worse yet, reprimand them about something they did or did not do, because I can guarantee you that at some point electronic messages will either become lost or be misinterpreted.

Rule #2: Set Boundaries. If you’re not getting your work done during the day then take a look at where your time is going. Yes, I know that this may go against the idea of having an ‘open door’ policy, but that phrase doesn’t mean that people should be able to waltz into your office any time they like. By setting Open Office Hours (Follow Up/Questions/Meetings) and Closed Office Hours (Email/Phone Calls/Paperwork) you will find that you will be both productive and creative.

Rule #3: Learn how to present powerful ideas and handle difficult conversations. If you’re due for a salary increase and it doesn’t happen, don’t sit and stew about it for weeks on end until you’ve worked yourself up into a towering inferno of suppressed anger. Schedule (there’s that word again!) some time to talk to your supervisor and go to the meeting with a clear-cut action plan. And stick to it! Many times we are so angry because we believe that our needs are being overlooked that we fail to maintain our objectivity when discussing our expectations with our boss. Face the issue head on and be ready to justify why you believe you are definitely due for that raise or promotion.

Rule #4: Bypass the office gossip mill. Water cooler chit chat is always going to happen, but you don’t have to be a part of it. If you have a disagreement with someone, have a conversation with that person to clean it up. Remember that the person you cut down with harsh words or make fun of today could very well become your boss tomorrow! Nothing good ever comes out of idle gossip unless your employed by the leading supermarket tabloid publication.

Rule #5: Find a mentor to inspire you. Charles Caleb Colton once said that “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” and he was right! If you want to be a great manager or team leader, then observe how your favorite one acts, dresses, and behaves in general. I’m not suggesting that you literally stalk them at work; just take note of how they conduct themselves and try to incorporate their positive actions into your own business demeanor. Ask this person if they would consider becoming your mentor. Believe it or not, most people are flattered when asked this question and usually say yes to the request.

If you follow these 5 simple rules to effectively communicating with your team, leaders, and/or managers, I can guarantee you that you’ll have less confusion, more productivity, and see better results in your relationships and endeavors.

Cookie Tuminello is the ‘go to’ coach for CEO’s, executives, business owners, and organizational leaders who want to unleash their potential, attain big goals, and create productive, powerful, and fulfilling lives. She provides powerful tools and tactics to engage, inspire, and energize them to attain amazing sustainable results. Receive her complimentary ezine and report at www.cookietuminello.com        
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