Jan 16, 2009

Lifestyle - Mind your workplace manners -- it pays

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Manners maketh the businessman, with a global survey finding Americans and Britons to be the most easily insulted by lack of workplace etiquette, while Australians are among the most offensive.

The survey, by Australian-based international office space provider Servcorp, listed the top five most offensive workplace behaviors as not saying hello or good morning, not offering office guests a beverage, speaking loudly across the room, using swear words and taking calls on mobile phones.

The use of stationery without permission and asking colleagues about their personal lives were also deemed insulting.

The poll then revealed the United States and Britain to be the most sensitive nations in the world, despite 60 percent of respondents believing Japan has the strictest work etiquette.

English and American businessmen were also more easily offended than their colleagues in the Middle East, Japan and China, nations with cultural traditions spanning centuries.

Almost 25 percent of Australians, however, thought it was perfectly acceptable to swear -- something the majority of Japanese and Middle Easterners found deeply offensive.

Nearly all Australians polled also said they would not think twice about addressing their boss by their first name, something Chinese business people found very rude.

Australians also regularly talk loudly at work, take personal calls and ask too many personal questions, the survey showed.

"Being aware of potentially offensive behavior is a key factor to Australian business success abroad," Taine Moufarrige, Servcorp's executive director, said in a statement.

"Australians are very natural in their business style, perhaps more so than any other country in the world," she said, adding that the survey, which was sent to some 700 businesspeople in 13 countries, was commissioned to help Australians.

The survey found that although they are not easily offended, Australians were more ticked off than their international colleagues by business people who don't buy drinks and who don't offer guests beverages.

(Writing by Miral Fahmy; Editing by David Fox)

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