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?Etiquette: Little rude things to avoid

By Hustle Team | April 29th 2020

Having bad manners is often linked to having poor character. So what are the things to observe when performing official business?

1. Use ‘reply all’ sparingly
This is a common etiquette problem. “Before hitting the ‘reply all’ button, ask yourself if your response is relevant to the other 10 respondents. If it isn’t, sending your mail to them is senseless and sometimes rude,” says Imani Njoroge, a Nairobi-based image coach.

Is the email from your friend inviting five of you to a small intimate dinner? Then yes, by all means reply to all. But has your colleague been bereaved or is bidding farewell to the company? Ignore the ‘reply all’ tab.

2. Praise in public, criticise privately
No one likes to be publicly critised. Imagine getting into a meeting only to hear that the way you have been balancing the books for the past month was wrong. I am sure you would have appreciated knowing about the problem beforehand so you can begin to rectify and prepare an appropriate response should the matter be raised.

Besides, public reprimands can end up being mortifying and embarrassing to the recipient, defeating the entire purpose of feedback. It is best to call someone out in private. That way, you preserve their dignity and that little gesture may count way down the line.

3. Social media isn’t your diary
You do not have to post your morning office blow-out with your colleague on Facebook. Not only is it immature, but it also places you in an unfortunate position should potential employers see your post.

Fred Nyawade, a vice president of human resources at a leading bank in Kenya, says, “Today, any serious employer will check your background, Google you, look you up on social media and check your online presence and will take note of things like how you dressed and the kind of language you use.” If anything, present yourself on social media the way you would like people to regard you.

4. Have personal conversations privately
There is nothing as annoying as having a loud personal conversation at your desk. Not only is it distracting, but it also rude and annoying. If you can’t call them back later, at least go to an unoccupied room.

5. Observe basic good manners
Always remember to say ‘thank you’, ‘please’ and ‘excuse me’. People take note and appreciate it when you are respectful and courteous to them.

6. Respect holidays
In a world where connectivity is intensive, one needs a break every now and then from technology and work. Work-life balance is only effective when you don’t call your colleague who is on leave, asking about files and reports. “Don’t interrupt someone’s personal time with work stuff. If it can wait or can be done by someone else, let them do it,” says Ramona Emmerson, an etiquette coach.

7. Bad hygiene
No one is asking that you douse your mouth in mouthwash or swim in cologne, but at least cover the basics of hygiene, especially when you work in an open-plan office. Smell fresh and clean; that is something the colleague next to you can appreciate. You don’t really want to be the office’s Smelly Tom.

8. Proper email address
For any official business that you transact, get an official-sounding email. Don’t have the ‘[email protected]’ address or ‘[email protected]’. No one will take you seriously because just like first impressions count, your email is your first digital impression to the recipient.  

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