Learn Etiquette, Not Just English: Four Tips to Communicate Politely at Work

When learning English, as with any language, there are a lot of details to keep in mind. Communication is more than sentence structure and vocabulary. These four office etiquette tips may be helpful to keep in mind in the workplace.

1. W.A.I.T. (Why Am I Talking?)

People in a workplace

A good way to filter when to speak is to think, “Why am I talking?” Before joining a conversation, it is important to first consider the context. Is this a private discussion or a sensitive topic? Is there something important to add, without making anyone feel uncomfortable? This applies to meetings as well as the water cooler and the break room. Everyone should feel confident to speak freely while remaining professional about timing and content.

2. Be Personable, Not Personal

There is a difference between being approachable and being overbearing. Showing interest in what others have to say is important while sharing personal information can sometimes cross a line with a co-worker or an employer. Even if it is appropriate for the workplace, it is often best to stay on task and keep chatter to a minimum. Whether discussing movies or telling light-hearted jokes, if it can’t be said in passing or in front of the boss, it may be something to save for after work.

3. All Conversations in the Workplace Should Be Inclusive

Anyone would feel uncomfortable with others whispering around them and not including them in conversation. Speaking in a foreign language around those who aren’t also fluent can have the same effect. Everyone nearby should be brought into the conversation purposely, and the topic should be welcoming.

4. All Language Should Be Professional

While emails can feel somewhat casual, all language at work should be formal. Employees should avoid slang and abbreviations. Unless otherwise instructed, email or phone should always be used rather than text message.

Learning English is rewarding and fun. Using language skills properly can be helpful in finding a job and being successful within the company. Being multilingual is a great skill, and mastering the art of language makes an employee an asset to any team. At ALCC American Language, we strive to create an inclusive learning environment where students from around the world can come together to learn English reading, writing, and speaking skills, as well as TOEFL preparation. View our schedule online to find a class suited to your skill level.

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