10 Ways to Be More Professional

There’s no reason for you to adhere to Mrs. Snooty Mannerkins’ Guide to Fork and Spoon Etiquette for Prim Lads and Lasses, but acting professionally is good sense. To ensure that you’re not dismissed as a slobby fool by peers and bosses, keep these 10 “I learned this the hard way” tips from us staffers in mind.

Cough Drop: Your best friend might not mind hearing about the latest thing you’ve hacked up from your throat, spewed forth from your mouth or had oozing from your body, but talking about your sickness is sure to make your class or cubicle neighbor sick of you.

No Service: As wonderful as it is having your friends and the Internet at your fingertips, lay off the cell phone when you’re in a meeting or class. There’s nothing as frustrating as having someone who was engrossed in their iPhone the entire lecture wasting everyone’s time by asking questions that have already been covered.

Smile and Nod: Business-function speakers and droning professors can be boring, but at least pretend to listen. If you’re obviously tuning them out, they’ll tune you out too.

First Responder: Answer phone calls, return emails and respond to Post-it note messages. It sounds obvious, but when you get “busy” it can be easy to blow people off, which will only leave a bad impression.

Business too Casual: If you’d wear your outfit to a frat party or spring break, you need to change before showing up to work.

Lay it on thin: People aren’t toast, so don’t butter them up. You’re only insulting yourself and the person you’re buttering up by being the yes-man. Plus all your classmates and coworkers will hate you.

Scratch and Sniff: Your odor should be like Goldilocks’ porridge — just right. You don’t want to be putrid, but don’t go too far to the perfumy side either. In other words, put on some deodorant so your pits don’t stank, but lay off the cloud of Axe.

Nuked Leftovers: Think twice before reheating fish in the work microwave. It’s surprising how bad it can make an office smell. Same goes for other pungent dishes.

Golden Rule: Treat people with respect, consider others before taking action, and care enough to take pride in your work so your coworkers and classmates don’t have to pick up your slack.

Pat on the Back: When working as part of a group or team, give credit where it’s due. Acknowledge others’ contributions, but don’t be afraid to point out what you bring to the table.

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