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General Workplace Etiquette Guide

There are certain civilized ways of acting and treating each other that years of evolution have encouraged us to realize. Judging by the amount of mail I've received, some of us have forgotten our workplace manners.

Telephone, telephone, can you hear me?

Ah yes, the standard in every office is still...the telephone. And while cell phones, instant messaging, and e-mail have encouraged us to loosen our ties when it comes to non-face-to-face communication, there are still some courtesies worth keeping:

* Answer your phone nicely. Identify who you are. "Um...yello...?" is just not an appropriate way to answer the phone at work.
* If you have to put someone on hold, ask first. Don't just say, "Hold, please," and shut them off. "Please" is not a get-out-of-jail-free card (even my two-year-old daughter knows that). That being said, I do realize that some of you reading this may work at a busy switchboard and can't coddle every Tom, Dick, or "do-you-have-Prince-Albert-in-a-can" jokester who calls up. But you get my point.
* If you have an office with a door, close the door if you're going to have a conversation that is long and/or personal. We all have a lot of things to do (and hearing only one side of your conversation is always maddeningly intriguing).
* If we can, let's avoid having a long, private conversation on speaker phone. When I'm trying to be personal and private (that's the key word here) and you're broadcasting it to the world, that tells me something about the level of trust between us.
* When you're in the process of leaving a voice mail, don't be reading your e-mail, applying your makeup, or trying to catch the attention of someone passing by your office. (You're not as good at multi-tasking as you think you are. Do you really want recorded proof of that?)

I have my own serious list of cell phone pet peeves, but that is another column for another day, and there isn't enough space on this Web site....

To have respect for ourselves guides our morals; and to have a deference for others governs our manners. — Laurence Sterne

Read more about e-mail etiquettes.
Crabby's etiquette guide for working ladies and gentlemen