**Editor’s note: This is part of a new series on etiquette in the workplace. Read previous posts here.
“No man is an island.” We’ve all heard this before and such a broad statement has many appropriate applications. One place where this rings true in is the corporate world of business. Almost all of us have bosses or somebody to whom we answer. In a way, we represent them wherever our travels may take us. From the moment one begins working for a company, one becomes their representative. This is true 24 hours a day. Even when on a vacation, one still is ‘branded’ as an employee of such and such a company and subconsciously, people equate us with our employer. Therefore it is important to act appropriately at all times.
Part of the reason the interview process can be so extensive when applying for a position is for potential employers to be sure you fit the image the corporation wants. Having qualified, be sure to hold up your end of the bargain. Dress and behave in a way that exemplifies the corporate image. Discretion must be exercised whenever discussing business outside the office. Likewise, personal affairs must be treated with the same discretion when at the office. Learning to compartmentalize is important. Learning to discern what sorts of behaviors are encouraged within the company and which ones are not will place you on the fast track to advancement.
Rely on your company’s HR department or your immediate superior if any doubts arise. You can also glean a lot from the examples your colleagues provide. Err on the side of being conservative.
Remember that business meetings are not coffee klatches. Be well prepared for any meeting and be aware of the agenda, stick to it, and do not engage in gossip. Have your own agenda in mind when going to meetings or business social gatherings. Even if the goal is to listen or to meet three new potential clients, don’t go into any gathering without some idea in mind as to what you want to take away or contribute.
The interaction one has with one’s colleagues is the fuel that creates success in business. Just as we form primary personal relationships, too, we form primary business relationships. Both need to be nourished. Both are an integral part of one’s life. Just as you represent your family values with your actions, so too you represent the values of the company for which you work.