Charm School for Career Professionals

A client once shared with me their horror at a colleague’s behavior. Upon learning they were a candidate for promotion, this fellow colleague evidently pushed their good standing too far. They acted way too familiar with coworkers and behaved as if they were above working with clients. As you can imagine, this didn’t result in a promotion. What it did bring about was a stern lecture from their supervisor on professionalism, followed with a reassignment. This individual failed to leap the simplest hurdle on their way to promotion—good behavior.

Our mothers were right. It’s so simple that we often fail to grasp it—being nice can take us far. Even a smile can launch tidal waves of good energy flowing throughout the office. Still, it’s hard to always be nice under workday stress and project pressures, so how do career professionals evoke charm while getting the job done? Here are a few tips from the etiquette professionals:

Take time to say “Hello.” This is easy and won’t take but a second. A polite greeting, smile or even holding the door for someone is a courtesy we all appreciate.

Say “Thanks” and “Thanks Again.” Seriously, could this get any easier? Gratitude is thoughtful, inspiring and demonstrates good manners.

Watch your Email Language. Avoid snarky, rude, or easily misinterpreted messages. Yes, we are all way too sensitive when it comes to email, that’s why if it’s better said in person, speak up!

Act, Don’t React. Before retaliating against the mean-spirited, take a moment to cool down and consider the response, even if that means waiting until the following day.

Consider the Third Perspective. Every conflict has a third side—that of an impartial observer. So what would they say? Who’s at fault here and which of us should step up and repair the breach? Everyone! But we can’t control another person’s actions so we need to be the bigger person. This takes courage  but trust me, courage will get noticed.

Be Nice. Despite the fact that it is not always easy, being nice gets us far in life. Take the story of the colleague who lost the promotion. People (and clients) want to be around those who are optimistic, hopeful and pleasant. If this doesn’t naturally, then there’s work to be done!

Get a Coach. A big part of Career Coaching is working together on leveraging professional interpersonal skills, developing strategies to calmly address conflict and building a reputation as the professional everyone wants to work with. We can all use a little coaching from time to time and yes, it’s a lot easier then charm school!



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