Prime Minister David Cameron was well and truly caught out this week, whispering to Michael Bloomberg, the former New York mayor about a private conversation he had with the Queen. Usually the consummate professional, Mr Cameron was overheard by Sky News cameras as he told Mr Bloomberg that the Queen had ‘purred down the line’ after he phoned her to say Scotland had voted no to independence. Downing Street declined to comment on the embarrassing conversation, which is unlikely to have gone down well with the Palace.
We’ve all done it though. How many of us have had a moan about our boss by the office photocopier, thinking we were out of ear shot, or complained about a colleague not realising they’re behind you in the queue for coffee.
These kind of indiscretions, although seemingly harmless, can cause repercussions. We all know that is important to do your job well, but being able to conduct yourself in a professional manner is equally crucial to career progression.
As a recruiter, here are a few top tips in workplace etiquette to help you to avoid careless conversations in the workplace:
- Sharing professional information is great, gossiping is not. Only discuss personnel matters directly with specific individuals, superiors, and management and try to avoid putting anything contentious in writing. Email can be a very powerful tool and can go viral very quickly… we’ve all seen comments magnified out of all proportion on social media!!
- Steer clear of discussing taboo subjects such as politics, religion and sex at all cost.
- Shouting and/or interrupting shows a lack of respect and is not appropriate workplace etiquette– don’t do it!
- Remember, communication is a two way process. When someone is speaking, listen to what they have to say then respond. If you are not clear about what they have said, ask for clarification.
- Swearing may be a part of normal life for some of us, but it should not be commonplace in the office. Swearing in the workplace can be a disciplinary offence, leading to a written warning and potentially to an employment tribunal.
- When speaking to customers on the telephone, give them your undivided attention. Do not multitask, they will sense it.
- Be modest and don’t brag about previous achievements. Let your work do the talking.
- Don’t be indiscrete. Think about where you are and who could overhear what you are saying. Making comments that are tactless and hurtful to others can be detrimental to your career.
- Keep information confidential. If you contravene your workplaces rules of confidentiality you could find yourself in breach of your employment contract and ultimately could be dismissed. Try to not breach the confidence of your colleagues… you don’t want to gain a reputation as someone who can’t be trusted!
As Mr Cameron’s gaffe proves, even the most high profile individuals are prone to forget workplace etiquette and make the odd mistake. But even the odd mistake can have consequences. Always remember that common sense, respect and courtesy are the best rule of thumb in any work environment!
By: Mike Swetman