Even though you work day in and day out with your team doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention to your manners. Without trying to be too prissy (or substitute the Miss Manners’ column), I would like to remind you of some simple rules of etiquette that are constantly abused:
Be On Time. Nobody likes to be kept waiting. Best rule of thumb is to arrive a few minutes early, review the agenda, touch base with your teammates and start on time.
Come Prepared. You can get a lot more done if teammates can rely on each other to do smaller tasks between team meetings. Come prepared to discuss your assignments, issues, and conclusions. It’s always a nice touch to have a summary handout if you have something significant to report out.
Pagers and Cell Phones on Stun. If in a meeting with your team, turn your cell phone off or on a silent vibrate mode. If you are expecting a high-priority call, let your teammates know at the beginning of the meeting. If you need to make an outbound call, excuse yourself from the room. Make the call in private. We don’t need to hear the gory details.
Adult Rule. If you must leave the meeting, go quietly. Keep your absence brief and return as soon as you can to rejoin the team’s activities. If you know that you will be leaving at a certain time, let your teammates know your intentions at the beginning of the meeting.
Don’t Get Too Personal. Don’t complain or gossip about others, use profanity, tell inappropriate jokes, invoke your religion or reveal information that is just too personal.
Don’t Eat with Your Mouth Full. Many meetings are scheduled around mealtime or you are dashing from one meeting to another, grabbing a bite to eat. We know you need to eat. We just don’t want to see it in your mouth or regurgitated for us to see!
Go Dutch. Speaking of food, if you all go out to eat together, each team member should pay for his or her meal (unless the company or team leader is gracious enough to pick up the tab). If the restaurant can’t provide separate checks, then divide the bill evenly among all team members. Don’t quibble over a buck or two. And just remember, what goes around, comes around!
Avoid Alcohol. Unless your team is part of the food and wine industry, drinking alcohol while on company time is not appropriate. However, if you are off-site and alcohol is being served or is available for purchase, it’s okay to have ONE drink (maybe two over several hours). Not three, four or five martinis!
Offer Help. Be aware of what your teammates need and then offer help without being asked. If someone asks for help, assist your teammate if humanly possible. On the other hand, if someone offers help, don’t be stupid, take it! (But if you can’t or don’t want their help, tell them why and how they might be able to help you in the future.)
Say Thank You. If someone does something nice for you, say thank you and with a sincere smile. Or write a simple note. Acknowledgement reinforces gracious acts of kindness.
KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF, CSP is a high stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator. She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 20 years. She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action.