Take Advantage of Small Conversations at Work: Basic Etiquette Rules

By Kariëlle Samstad

Small conversations give you a great opportunity to know who’s who at your workplace. Whether you are waiting for the elevator, the copy machine, or you are in line at the cafeteria, the people with whom you interact will show themselves and they will get to know you better as well.

Use these moments to your advantage with the following recommendations:

– Limit the word “I” to the minimum. Tell your story in the short version and ask the other person to tell his or her story. Show interest in what he/she is saying asking questions about the subject.

– Make others feel important, listening carefully and looking at them in the eyes making them feel they have your undivided attention.

– Keep conversations during meetings exclusively related to work. Personal issues can wait for a more appropriate time.

– Avoid whispering. It sends the message that you are gossiping or being secretive, which will affect your image at work.

– If you start a conversation and the other person seems distracted, do not insist. Let it go and wait for some other time.

– If you are talking to someone in a language that is not English and other people come along to join you and they do not speak your language, switch to English and include them in the conversation. Make them feel welcomed and not as intruders of something that is non of their concern.

– Be considerate with other people’s time and space. If they are busy, don’t take it personal. If there are others around, like in a cubicle setting, don’t speak loudly. If necessary, take the conversation elsewhere.

– Keep your conversations short. Don’t talk and talk just because you feel comfortable.

– Disagreeing with someone doesn’t mean to start a fight and generate resentment over the subject. Be polite all the time expressing your views and also listening to the views of others.

– Watch your vocabulary. Use words that are appropriate for a business environment, and avoid colloquialisms, slang and trendy words.

– Always, always, think before you speak. Don’t get too personal or touch subjects that are painful to others. Observing reactions gives you the clues you need to continue the conversation, change the subject, or finish the conversation.

The way you conduct yourself during these small conversations speak volumes about you, both in a personal and in a professional way. Believe it or not, these small talks set the way for future promotions, or not, more responsibilities, or not, a fast advancement in your career or not.

This is the reason why you should pay attention to these moments, always being respectful and considerate to others, and treating them the way you desire to be treated.

© Kariëlle Samstad
Etiquette at Work