Social etiquette at work: Some do’s & don’ts

Social etiquette at work: Some do’s & don’ts

Learning & Development

Shital Mehra

Shital Mehra

263 week ago — 3 min read

Background: While interacting with close friends and family we can be informal; at work we need to be more mindful of how we communicate and display social skills that are in keeping with the professional environment. Eminent Corporate Etiquette Coach, Shital Kakkar Mehra in her previous article shared the top 7 mistakes to avoid at a business lunch. Here she suggests certain social etiquette to follow at work.

There are several situations at work which require us to use our social skills. While these are easy to handle when interacting with coworkers we are friendly with, it’s the one who are mere acquaintances which create awkwardness.

When a colleague…

Gets engaged or married

With a genuine smile, wish them warmly “Great News! All the best!” While it is expected that you will inquire about the wedding plans / future spouse, refrain from asking inquisitive questions about their economic status / in-laws. Offer no free advice on marriage!

Also read: Do’s and don’ts of dating a coworker

When a colleague divorces

Listen to their anguish and help them move on with life e.g. helping file their tax returns/ claims, referring them to a support group or just being there to listen to their problems as they come to terms with their new life.

Gets pregnant

Wait for the colleague to announce it before you congratulate her. A simple “Congratulations!” is adequate. Again, no horror stories about labour, free advice on pregnancy.

Also read: 10 killer conversation starters for workplace


When a colleague miscarries or loses a loved one

In such grievous situations, sympathy which is best expressed by a warm handshake and a genuine “I am really sorry to hear about this”. Never say “At least, the sufferings over” or the insensitive “It was a blessing / God’s will”. As these are tough losses, your colleague may need weeks before he/she bounces back. The best help is continued support and help with their office work while they come to terms with the loss.

When a colleague is fired

Don’t waste time analysing the reasons for getting fired; instead, motivate them by listing their unique talents, helping them update their resume and connecting them with friends / head-hunters from your network who can help them get a new job.

Office environments may vary and work appropriate behaviour can go a long way in establishing your credibility as a thorough professional.

Also read: Tips to create a compelling elevator pitch

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views, official policy or position of GlobalLinker.


Posted by

Shital Kakkar Mehra

Business Etiquette & Cross-cultural expert; Business Communciation Coach for CXOs