Archive for November, 2009

7 Workplace Etiquette Tips to Build Teamwork in Any Economy By Rachel Wagner

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

No one would dispute that today’s gloomy economic news is a concern for workers everywhere. But, did you know that showing workplace courtesy and respect to those in your department or team is a winning way to build up your team?

Workplace etiquette pays in two ways for you and your team. First, it elevates you as an individual—and it’s a good thing to be known as someone who shows respect and courtesy to others. In fact, research shows that workplace etiquette is essential for keeping and being promoted in a job.

Secondly—and of equal importance—workplace etiquette improves work relationships. It shows your team that you care about them, their work, and their value to the team.

Moreover, when the entire team or department embraces professional workplace etiquette, your team’s stellar example can raise the bar for the rest of the organization. As the saying goes, “A rising tide floats all the boats.”

Here are seven ways you can use workplace etiquette and courtesy to set you and your team apart in any economy.

1. Attitude is everything.

Have a great attitude like your job depended on it. You may not be in your dream job or have a dream boss, but don’t wear a negative attitude on your shirtsleeve. It shows! Refrain from gossip and negative talk about anyone on your team. Rather than building you up, condescending conversation diminishes you instead. Also, be all there—don’t mentally check out by 2:00. And, show yourself friendly to everyone on the team. Research from the Servcorp Index reveals that the majority of American business professionals appreciate being acknowledged by teammates when they arrive at work.

2. Notch up nonverbal communication.

Have good eye contact to show you are listening. Look at the upper part of the face—the eye and brow area. Looking any lower on the face is too social and intimate for the workplace. Avoid crossing your arms over your chest as this can indicate you are not approachable. Give a good handshake to those on your team, not just to your clients.

3. Be timely, not tardy.

Regardless of age, job title, or level in the team hierarchy, be on time for work and meetings. Better yet, be a few minutes early. Punctuality shows your team that you respect them and their time. Complete tasks and projects on time, too; don’t let the team down with excuses.

4. Use proper tech etiquette.

Don’t leave the team hanging. Answer their emails and phone calls in a timely way—by the end of the day if possible, and no later than 24 hours. Using proper grammar and punctuation in departmental emails is just as important as in client emails.

5. Go the extra mile—it’s not crowded!

Look for ways you can help out and show support to a teammate. If he has a heavy day and deadlines to meet and you don’t, step up and offer to help. Your assistance and team spirit will be appreciated by everyone in the group.

6. Contribute value to team meetings.

Focus on the meeting, not on side conversations or on your BlackBerry. Be open to others’ ideas and points of view. Avoid a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude. It makes you appear selfish and undermines team spirit. Let others finish speaking before sharing your thoughts.

7. Show appreciation.

Everyone likes to be appreciated. Sincerely verbalize and demonstrate thanks as often as possible. Do this both publicly—when appropriate—and privately. If your boss congratulates you on a job well done and you had help from your team members, be sure to tell your boss so they can receive credit, too. They’ll be more likely to rally around you on the next big project.

Truly, nothing could be easier—or better—for building up your team than when everyone engages in workplace etiquette and courtesy. No matter how uncertain the economy, using these tips will make a difference in your own job success and promotion—and in the success of your team. Ready to float your team’s boat higher?

©Rachel Wagner Etiquette and Protocol. All rights reserved.

Rachel Wagner is a certified Corporate Etiquette and Protocol Consultant and founder of Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Rachel Wagner Etiquette and Protocol ( . Ms. Wagner provides business etiquette, dining etiquette, and international protocol training programs for companies and organizations and is frequently quoted in the media. You may reach her at 918.294.3179 or e-mail

Art for the Office

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

You might be wondering why a commercial interior designer keeps posting items about home décor. The reason is simple. Great design does not always mean high cost. There are so many ideas out there that can be modified slightly to work in office environments. Offices need a bit of “decorating” to appear inviting and not so sterile. I don’t find many people who enjoy inhabiting extremely sterile places. We spend 90% of our time indoors and often more time in the office than in our homes. Why not bring a little bit of “home” to the office while maintaining a professional look?

Art is an after thought (if any) in most offices. Art is also the first to fall to the axe on a tight budget project. But there is a reason why humans love art, it creates an emotional response. I am a big believer in using money to the best advantage and there are many ways to create an “expen$ive” look with items that are a great price (bargain shopper). At minimum, the office reception area needs at least one focal point. I would even say that every room needs at least one art focal point.

The corporate identity (brand or image) your company is trying to portray is key. Every choice you make in your interior should relate back to your corporate identity, especially visual items you select from infinite possibility. Why pass up the chance to make a statement? Why not use that opportunity to influence your clients’ perception of why they should pick your business? Try to select art images that subliminally relate back to your company corporate identity (nature with rocks = stability, trees or columns = stability, local photos = familiar, etc).

I spend a lot of time looking at catalogs and ads in the media for ideas. In fact, I have binders full of ideas that I have pulled for years. Look at things with an open mind and look for the concept behind what you are seeing. How can you adapt it to work for your specific needs? I like to look at items being sold and come up with ways to use them in a manner that they WEREN’T intended to be used. Hardware and office supply stores are most fun.

Why not use your company logos

Create privacy by hanging a “divider” from the ceiling grid. For the office you don’t want to spend time swapping out real leaves, instead use printed images that relate back to your corporate identity.

Remember you don’t always need glass for artwork. Another tip: take old mismatched frames and spray paint all one color. The unified color creates a visual group with interest. I like contrast and personally am partial to black accents, but what color do you like? Use three dimensional found objects. Do you have any promotional items laying around the office that would look fun?

Perfect office idea. The accent paint strip is fun and the recycled ceiling tile is great. Groupings are more interesting to the eye if items are in odd numbers like 3 or 5.

What found object can support your corporate identity?

Happy creating!

Suzanne Dummer Stafford, IIDA LEED-AP
Elemental Design, LLC

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Easy way to WOW your holiday party guests

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

We are moving into the holiday season. This time of year has the largest percentage of semi-formal to formal entertaining events. I am sure you have at least one holiday party on the horizon that you are planning for work or at home. One easy way to jazz up the table is to fold your napkins in an unexpected and decorative way. Napkin folding is really easy if you follow the directions. You can also use cloth or paper napkins to create this extra item to wow your guest. There are many books and sites about napking folding but here is one.

Suzanne Dummer Stafford, IIDA LEED-AP
Elemental Design, LLC

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Dedicated to improving quality of life for everyone with functional interior design.

We are ready to work magic to solve your built interior environment problems!