What is good workplace etiquette? While it varies from office to office, there are some general guidelines for how to communicate at work. Here are some practices to adopt at your job or internship.

Do follow good email etiquette

Keep it concise. People are busy and receive a multitude of emails every day. If they open your message and it’s a mini novel, it’s likely they’ll close it if they’re busy or just glance through it. Also, be specific with subject lines and be careful with “Reply All”. Before you hit “Reply All” in a large group email, think about who really needs to be included. If your response is only meant for one person, or a smaller group, select “Reply” instead and include people individually. And be careful with company wide messages you don’t want to “Reply All” to those!

Don’t overly depend on technology for communication.

With so many new advancements in technology, it seems like there’s a new communication tool popping up every single day. These tools we use (e-mail, Slack, texting, other workplace messengers, etc.) make communication easier than ever, but at the same time, they can also disconnect us. It can feel alienating if everyone is just messaging one another from their computers or phones. That is why face-to-face communication is vital to any work environment. There needs to be a balance. When you’re communicating with your team face-to-face, it not only allows you to gain a better understanding of who you work with and who they are personally, but it improves workplace quality and overall engagement for your staff.

Do be respectful

You should always speak to your co-workers in a respectful, polite manner. Even if you disagree or are having a difficult discussion, always live by the golden rule—treat them the way you’d want to be treated. Don’t raise your voice, don’t be rude, and don’t curse. The same goes for your body language: don’t cross your arms or roll your eyes. These send a message that you are closed off, not listening, or being dismissive.

Don’t interrupt

In meetings, or in one-on-one conversations, always wait for your colleague to finish speaking before you begin. Be courteous to your co-workers and let them finish their thoughts. Interrupting someone is rude and tells your co-workers that you believe what you have to say is more important than what they have to say. Likewise, if you need to talk to a co-worker, but you can see they are busy, don’t interrupt them. Wait until they aren’t typing, on the phone, or speaking to someone else. You can always send them a message and ask them to chat with you when they have a few minutes. If they have a ‘do not disturb’ setting on their messaging, or a focus time hold on their calendar, you should wait before sending them a message.

Do ask for—and accept—feedback

Most organizations have a formal review process every six months or year. But you don’t need to wait for the review cycle to ask for feedback from your manager. If you don’t have regular one-on-one meetings on your calendar, ask your manager if they are open to this. This way, you can have real-time feedback on your projects and performance and there won’t be any surprises during review time! Do your best to not take criticism personally, and don’t become defensive during these conversations. Rather use them as a point of reference to improve and do better in those areas.

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