30 Ways to Be a Class Act at Work

The economy is down – and anxieties are running high in the workplace. Every day, I speak with coaching clients from Jewish nonprofit organizations who range from uneasy to panic about the security of their jobs. Will my funding get renewed? What if I get laid off? What can I do to safeguard my position in my organization? My clients are looking for answers – answers that nobody has. Not their boss, not their board, and not their coach. What I can remind my clients is that, in the face of uncertainty, they can commit to providing even more value in a currency that we all have control over, even in troubled times: the currency of respect — for our workplace, our colleagues and ourselves.

It’s too easy to let private concerns become public fodder, to let professionalism slide, and to give up when the going gets tough. It’s worth the extra effort to rise above the anxiety, raise the bar, and be a class act. Here’s 30 ways to do it:

  1. Respect and represent your organization’s image and reputation
  2. Respect hierarchies within – and outside of – your organization
  3. Respect your organization’s culture – and don’t confuse casual with carelessness
  4. Respect personal and professional privacy – and err conservatively
  5. Respect personal boundaries
  6. Respect diversity in the workplace – cultural, moral, political, religious and creative views
  7. Respect your organization’s property and resources
  8. Respect people’s time
  9. Smile
  10. Be welcoming
  11. Be proactive
  12. Intend to help
  13. Assume others’ positive intentions
  14. Create pleasant and agreeable experiences for everyone
  15. Be a team cheerleader
  16. Don’t gossip or pass on rumors
  17. Don’t talk about staff, volunteers, clients – or anyone – negatively
  18. Understand what “confidential” means to each person with whom you interact
  19. Model discretion and professionalism in word, deed and attire
  20. Speak softly in public
  21. Do not hold personal conversations in bathrooms, elevators or other public spaces
  22. Keep personal information personal – yours or others’
  23. Avoid slang and foul language
  24. Minimize sarcasm – especially on email
  25. Don’t assume people understand jargon or acronyms
  26. Say “please” and “thank you”
  27. Hold the door
  28. Use humor carefully, sparingly, gracefully – and only with people you know well
  29. Apologize as needed
  30. Acknowledge others’ contributions regularly

You can read more on Professional Development from Deborah here and at MyJewishCoach.com.