Have you been noticing a fundamental decline in workplace etiquette over
the last 10 years or so? If you have, then you’re not alone. Good manners, graciousness – the things we used to call ‘common courtesy’ have definitely been on the decline according to the experts. There are mixed theories as to the cause of this, but the consequences are abundantly clear. It is impacting workplace satisfaction, productivity and teamwork.

Want to stand out at work? Here are three absolute musts for the 21st century. They apply any time you’re in a meeting, workshop or group discussion:

1. Turn off the PDA
Mobile devices such as Blackberries, Iphones, etc, are wonderful things, but unless you’re a surgeon on call, it is absolutely inappropriate to be checking them when you’re meeting with people. If you are expecting an urgent message, the appropriate thing to do is to advise the host in advance. This gives him (her) the opportunity to decide whether or not he wants the disruption in the meeting.

2. Engage
Make the effort to let the people know you are engaged in the meeting. Look interested. Make eye contact. Ask questions. If you appear detached and bored, you come across like you don’t care. That message is a sure-fire way to limit your chances for workplace success.

3. Champion
Look for positive things you can take out of meetings and workshops – things that you can apply and champion in your environment. Don’t be one of those cynics who always goes back to his desk grumbling about how stupid the meeting was.

We’ve all met people who are so entirely self-absorbed that they simply don’t care about what those around them think. These are the same people who can’t figure out why their careers haven’t progressed more quickly. It’s not a coincidence. You do not want to be perceived as one of those people.

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