Transitioning to a new workplace can be stressful and filled with a plethora of unknowns.   You may be romanticizing the idea of being the charming, engaging coworker that everyone knows and loves, but this may be an unattainable goal if you do not start off on the right foot.

Every workplace has a set of etiquette rules that are essential to fostering a professional and civilized environment.  Even if you are not given explicit office etiquette commandments, these unspoken standards exist, and it is essential to adhere to the norms to ensure that you are conducting yourself appropriately around colleagues, potential business partners, and clients.  Luckily, everything essentially boils down to simply treating others with respect and being mindful and polite in general.

Sticking to the following rules will ensure that you maintain a strong reputation externally while minimizing internal conflict.


Eye contact is essential because people who cannot look others in the eye may be viewed as rude, unconfident, or dishonest.  When you first make professional contacts, stand and shake the other person’s hand while smiling and maintaining eye contact.  This will start the relationship off on a pleasant, respectful tone.

Remembering names can be tricky, and awkward situations arise in workplaces when a person cannot recall a coworker’s name.  Always make sure to provide your first and last name when introducing yourself so that you give others ample time to commit it to memory. If someone has a unique name with a questionable pronunciation, ask them right away if you are saying it correctly. This will help you avoid potentially offensive or uncomfortable situations down the line.

If you are interacting in a group and someone has not been introduced, make sure to present the person as expeditiously, as possible.  Otherwise, the situation will become uncomfortable, and the individual may feel like an outcast.

Nobody wants to feel invisible in the workplace.  You should always aim to greet any person that you encounter to establish rapport and build relationships.  Complimenting coworkers or engaging in casual conversation is a great way to break the ice and make yourself approachable.


Some tech companies have moved to more relaxed dress codes, but many workplaces still require business attire.  Your clothing and appearance act as a form of nonverbal communication that others utilize to assess your professionalism.

In the perfect world, a book may not be judged by its cover, but this is not the case in most work environments.  Being smartly dressed has been shown to boost productivity and motivate others.  Additionally, it reflects positively on your reputation, showing that you are well put together and professional.  No matter how relaxed your workplace is, always make sure that your clothing is clean, crisp, and well maintained.

If you have to attend business events where the attire is uncertain, ask around or investigate social media to see how your counterparts tend to dress. If this fails, air of the side of caution and opt for overdressing rather than underdressing.  As a last resort, opt for classic business dress in neutral colors, as this is often a safe bet.

Ditch Your Phone

We all love our smartphones, but it is possible that our cell phone affection may run afoul if we cannot put it away during certain situations. Excessive phone use can come across to others as rude or disrespectful.  Phones should be silenced and put away during meetings, as you should be fully engaged. This is also the case during client interactions.  Browsing through your phone or frequently checking it conveys that you do not value the customer’s time, sending a negative message and diminishing rapport.

Online Etiquette

As work transitions from in-person interaction to a more cloud-based, remote style, it is more important than ever to use your best online etiquette. According to an Adobe survey, the average worker checks e-mail more than three hours each day, presenting a mass amount of opportunity to make a good online impression or, conversely, to watch your digital reputation go down in flames.

It is important to maintain high professional standards when communicating online because, unlike in-person interaction, a person’s perception of you hinges solely on email.  By following a few simple tips, you will be well on your way to establishing a great online reputation.  First, proof every message for spelling and grammatical errors, as a simple mistake is enough to make the receiving party think that you are sloppy or unprofessional. Second, always utilize clear subjects so that recipients can quickly identify what your message refers to. Third, if you are cc’d on a message pertaining to a group of people, respond to everyone so that all parties are kept in the loop.   Lastly, think about who your email is addressing before sending it out.  Utilizing correct titles and tone is an important way to show respect.  As you become more familiar with the recipient, you can then use more informal language.

Nix Taboo Talk

Your favorite pastime may be discussing politics or your wild weekends, but not every topic of conversation is appropriate for the workplace.  McClain Watson, clinical associate professor of business communication at The University of Texas at Dallas, posited that “as human beings, we want to share our opinions; as citizens, we want to discuss those opinions with others; as workers, we want to keep our jobs and maintain productive relationships with our co-workers.  While our political system and culture require people to share their viewpoints and discuss difficult topics, our need to put food on the table and sustain our families mean that we need to be very careful and smart about when and how we have those conversations.”

While engaging in workplace conversations, it is best to avoid discussing politics, religion or personal relationships.  Your co-worker’s ideology or views may differ significantly from yours, creating awkwardness and resentment.  Talking about light and positive subjects, such as an upcoming vacation or a charity event, will keep you in the safe zone and ward off unnecessary controversy.

Bring Your Best to The Table

Networking lunches and dinners are an unavoidable part of business, which makes having impeccable table manners a must.  If you invite someone out to lunch, you should always pick up the bill.  If the roles are reversed and you are the dining guest, avoid ordering the most expensive item or extra appetizers, as the other party may have to adhere to a company expense limit.

Do not neglect dining essentials such as never talking with your mouth full, keeping your phone put away, placing your napkin on your lap, and chewing with your mouth closed.  Additionally, make sure that you treat waitstaff exceedingly well, as this shows that you have respect for everyone around you.

Upholding high etiquette standards will have a significant impact on your success both within your company and externally.  By following these tips, you can successfully navigate through your workplace and be well on your way to becoming the well-liked, charming coworker.