Office Etiquette: Nine Ways to Strengthen Work Relationships

Channel your burst of New Year's enthusiasm by investing some time in building relationships with those you interact with on a daily basis. Your positive energy may have a ripple effect as your acts of kindness inspire others to do the same.

Here are a few of my suggestions:

  1. Don't keep people waiting. If an off-site meeting starts at 9:00 am, and you are the designated driver, make sure you are in the parking lot well in advance to collect your passengers. This allows you to reach the destination on time and stress-free. Account for traffic and weather. It is bad form and poor etiquette to disrupt those who arrived a few minutes early to meet and mingle before sitting down to begin.

  • Return your texts, calls, and emails. If a coworker leaves you a phone message, or sends you a text or an email, office manners dictate you respond within the same work day. Even if you don't have an answer, acknowledge their message and let them know when they can expect to hear back from you with a follow up reply.
  • Be mindful of those who could use extra help. When time allows, lend a hand to a colleague who is struggling with a deadline. You might also offer to answer the telephone while someone else prepares the conference room for the meeting. A frazzled coworker may welcome the opportunity to take a short break and get some much-needed fresh air while you step in and answer the telephone or stand watch over an extensive office delivery.
  • Treat an intern to lunch to share your professional wisdom. Offer a part time college student the benefit of your knowledge and treat them to a working meal. The etiquette of an invitation is this: you invite, you pay, and you leave the tip. Make it clear that you will cover the cost of the meal as a business expense.
  • Compliment a coworker publicly on a job well done. Next time you attend a staff meeting, make it a point to acknowledge a teammate that is deserving of praise. Share their accomplishments and let the group know how their efforts made a distinct difference. Set an example of support and camaraderie for others to follow.
  • Curb the gossip. When you hear someone say something negative about a person who is not present, speak up in a polite but firm manner. You might say, "I am uncomfortable discussing this issue without the benefit of Suzanne's input. I'd prefer to change the subject and talk about something else." Doing so shows confidence in yourself and respect to those on your team.
  • Pay attention to the interests of your coworkers. You may not be fascinated by your associate's scuba diving stories, but taking the time to listen shows a genuine attempt to engage. If it's a bad time to talk, say, "I'm sorry I'm on a tight deadline and can't give you my full attention right now." Offer an alternate time to connect, saying, "Let's catch up at lunch if you are available." Making an effort to exchange thoughtful conversation shows respect for those you work alongside on a daily basis.
  • Allow your coworkers to see another side of you. Sharing too much private information can be detrimental, especially when it is an uncomfortable topic such as severe illness or a difficult divorce. On the other hand, allowing your colleagues to get to know you better opens the door to connect on a deeper level. It's much easier to work with those you can personally identify with.
  • Don't forget your manners. "Please," "Excuse me," and "Thank you" are small courtesies that leave a lasting impression. Speak with the same deference to coworkers as you would your best client. Be mindful of your tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language. Both your words and actions send a message - make sure it's the one you intended.
  • For more of Diane's etiquette tips, visit her blog, connect with her here on The Huffington Post, follow her on Pinterest and Instagram and "like" The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook.