The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Local Business

July 2, 2014

Susan Miller: Minding your manners in the 21st century workplace

What makes a person succeed at work? Intelligence, hard work and the ubiquitous but elusive "people skills" all contribute to a person's success. But is it possible that a more subtle skill set could help an applicant land a coveted job or help an account rep sign a valuable piece of business?

In "The Etiquette Advantage in Business" Peggy and Peter Post of The Emily Post Institute deliver up 21st century workplace advice, whether it's tips for helping an individual seeking her first job or a seasoned executive communicate in a technology minefield.

Despite the word "Etiquette" in the title, the book is not really about what fork to use at a business lunch, but about everyday behaviors at work. It also addresses the challenges of working in today's unique work environments, helping people manage the privacy concerns lurking in a cubicle jungle and advising telecommuters and freelancers to "just say no" to working in their jammies

But my favorite parts of the book deals with those awkward situations that arise in every office. For example: You open the copier and find a co-worker's resume on the glass. Should you:

• Discreetly place it in the shredder?

• Walk away and pretend you never saw it?

• Take it to human resources and suggest they prepare a recruiting ad?

• Return it to its rightful owner.

Kudos if you selected option d. According to the authors, the correct response is simply to return the private document to its owner and say, "I think this is yours."

Of course, technology continues to present conundrums for employees. Most people recognize the importance of keeping their smartphone out of sight and silenced during business meetings and dinners. But what is proper protocol when a call is dropped?

According to the Posts, the person whose phone dropped the call is the one responsible to call back from a stronger location as quickly as possible. Unsure whose phone was at fault? Assume it was your phone and try calling back.

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