Rules of the Trade
Some rules are unspoken –misunderstood and misinterpreted they are often grievously ignored. Professional etiquette falls into this category.
More so than any other demographic, young professionals often find themselves perplexed by the invisible hand that guides daily office communication and culture. Taught to focus on quantitative skills in the pursuit of professional development, we often find ourselves hindered by an inability to abide by the rules of the “game.”
Moving beyond cut and dry facets, understanding what etiquette is, and its cornerstone role in your development, is beyond vital. Boiled down to its elementary components, etiquette is all about smart adaptability and a real understanding of your position within your environment.
In an economy where 13% of 20 – 24 year olds are unemployed, jeopardizing your current or prospective employment as a result of inadequate etiquette is unacceptable. Whether you lack a simple knowledge of e-mail grammar or rest on past merits that become irrelevant the moment you start working, going against the well-established grain of office behavior is not only a sure fire way of being overlooked when promotion opportunities arise but also the most direct route to joining the 13 percent. It is this shrewd fallibility that should be the driving force in your day-to-day interactions with your co-workers.
As young professionals, we often make the mistake of thinking that we are cunning enough to function outside archaic rules of behavior. Falling prey to idealist disobedience, we envision our behavior not as detrimental to our own ambitions but instead catalysts of change. Approach etiquette as you may but just remember that the rules we are expected to know and follow were there before you and will surely be there when you’ve moved on.
With that in mind, it is also important to remember that following a code of behavior does not mean an acceptance of conformity. Instead, accepting etiquette is an acceptance of a system that is solely based on streamlining productivity. The personal caveats that helped you get hired, maintain a blossoming network, and develop professionally should guide your decorum at work.