Clean work space, no gossiping display class in the workplace. Etiquette and social protocol is more important than ever before, especially with our growing global economy and society. Etiquette is important for anyone in social settings where presence and poise are essential. 

Did you know manners become second nature when taught at a young age? Typically, people are taught manners from a very young age, so they can grow up accustomed to basic rules of conduct about appropriate behavior in social situations.

Children are taught it is not polite to stare, to make rude personal comments, to point, or to disparage the dinner selection. During childhood and adolescence, usually people absorb “life” skills about how to treat others, from diverse cultures and societies, and how to behave appropriately in diverse situations or social settings.

What is the difference between etiquette and social protocol? Etiquette and manners both are critical “life skills” to functioning in society.

While the two concepts both involve rules of social (behavior) engagement, both differ slightly one from the other, and involve different types of skill sets. Generally, manners involve behavioral guidelines, such as how to treat the elderly, superiors, boss and colleagues.

Etiquette, on the other hand, typically is a specific code of behavior. It is knowing the appropriate manner to address a queen, president or an officer/official.

Knowing and using etiquette can mean the difference between getting hired or possibly getting fired. Also, it can be the difference between how people will embrace you and possibly open doors of opportunity to you. Etiquette is not out of style … it is style and the cost of not knowing and using it can be severe.

Is it time to refresh your knowledge of business etiquette?  Once a few months or years have gone by, it is possible to get a little too relaxed in the office with basic etiquette protocol and social skills. Here are a few quick tips to help you stay sharp in office etiquette.

1. RESPECT – No matter how acquainted you become with coworkers or superiors, never lose respect.Sometimes, people have a difficult time with drawing that respect line. Just because you may attend lunches, business conferences and/or after hours events by no means should this be mistaken or misconstrued as the right to relax your respect gauge. At the end of the day … it’s business whether in the office, or not.

2. LOUD TALKING – This is often the biggest reason for coworkers to get a little irritated with each other.  Voice tone can play a huge role in disrupting the workspace. Just imagine, you’re trying to get a critical report completed and your coworkers are speaking what seems to be at the top of their voices.

This would not only make it extremely difficult to concentrate, it can be annoying. Be aware of your surroundings and conscientious toward your office neighbors. Loud music in the office space can be just as distracting, if not more so, as voice tone.

3. PERSONAL CALLS – Yes. We all have them. However, there’s always a way to do things.  When you’re speaking with someone, you want the courtesy of their attention and the same stands true if someone else is speaking to you.

Should a personal call need your attention, and you have the ability step away, it is always in good taste to politely excuse yourself and step outside the meeting so your conversation is just that— personal. Oh, and taking a call on your cell phone in the office restroom is … well, not personal.

4. NEAT & TIDY WORKSPACE – Of course the office will be cleaned by the company’s nightly cleaning team; however, the key here is it’s the company’s cleaning crew, not yours. It can be quite distracting and not to mention a possible privacy breach if your desk and workspace is consistently left messy.

Additionally, if you keep your personal workspace less than tidy, what does this speak to your work and your organization? To keep the mess monster at bay, each day put on your calendar a few minutes to do a quick tidy up before you leave the office. This way you can come into the office the next day to a neat and tidy desk.

5. GOSSIP – This can become quite serious very fast and actually can lead to a visit to the Human Resources Department for causing a hostile work environment. It is never in good taste to discuss another co-worker’s personal or workplace business with other coworkers.

If a coworker is going through a difficult time that you may know about, the last thing that’s needed is to have the workplace all abuzz over the private issue. Additionally, if a person tends to gossip this may speak volumes about his ability to keep company business private.

Rose Hedgemond is CEO of Avenues of Excellence and an etiquette and social protocol professional. Do you have an etiquette or social protocol question?  Email her at or follow her on Facebook at Rose Hedgemond and Twitter @AOE_IN).