Whether you are starting your first internship or have many years of professional experience under your belt, how you present yourself to others in the workplace matters. Setting a professional tone is crucial to building new relationships and ensuring you have a positive, successful experience in the workplace.

Make a Good First Impression

People often form impressions about others within seconds of meeting them, so it’s important to ensure you present yourself as a professional. Be aware of your body language and how others may perceive it. A good rule of thumb is to stand straight, maintain eye contact, and smile! Make sure you know the workplace dress code and office policies ahead of time. Arrive on-time and be prepared for important meetings.

Avoid Gossip

How you treat people says a lot about you. Don’t make value judgments on people’s importance in the workplace or speak negatively about your coworkers, even if you find yourself frustrated over a certain situation. Be thoughtful about how you interact with your supervisor(s), peers, and subordinates as well.

Communication is Key

Communication is an important part of workplace etiquette. It’s sometimes not what you say, but how you say it that counts so be mindful of how you communicate with your colleagues in meetings and one-on-one conversations. In regards to email, be sure your correspondence inside and outside of your workplace is written clearly and free of spelling errors. Remember, email is a permanent record of any conversation so never put anything in writing that you would say to someone’s face.

Understand your Work Environment

The values, policies, and procedures of a workplace can be difficult to discern at first. If you are in a larger organization with a structured human resource division, you may have access to an HR Manager or in-house trainings to keep you informed of your organization’s expectations. In a smaller workplace setting, some of that knowledge may come from observing others and asking questions of your colleagues when needed. Lastly, observing the atmosphere and actions of others can help you understand what’s appropriate and what’s not, and how to best navigate the workplace while maintaining your professionalism.

As the global market grows, the need to understand multiple international standards of business etiquette is also growing. If you take a job or internship in another country, be to research the proper etiquette, culture and customs for both that country and the organization you plan to work for.

Be Personable Yet Professional

Sharing information about your personal life is your choice, but be cautious when it comes to what you share; some colleagues may be more open than others and might choose to keep their personal life private as well. Similarly, you may want to limit personal calls, emails, and other non-work related tasks to after work hours. Within your workspace, it’s okay to add personal touches but remember that your colleagues will see the space and consider it a reflection of your professional self. Lastly, getting to you know colleagues is a good thing but always be respectful of others’ space. If you need to discuss something with them, don’t just walk in; knock or make your presence known, and always offer to schedule a meeting for later in the day if they are busy in the moment.

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