5Etiquette andProfessional MannersMonkey Business Images/shutterstockIt is important to practice professional etiquette whenassisting patients in person and on the phone, as well aswhen working as part of a team.M05 BEND4203 03 SE C05.indd 5420/12/18 9:05 PM

The Significance of Etiquette 55INTRODUCTIONThis chapter highlights the importance of using professional manners and avoiding unprofessional ones. Manners, and the lack thereof, say much about a person and can communicateboth favorable and unfavorable characteristics. Several aspects of etiquette are well worththe attention of all allied health students entering the health care industry. Once identified,each point of etiquette is described in light of how it communicates various messages atthe practicum site. This discussion also demonstrates how correcting these tendencies cancontribute to professional development while you avoid behavior-related pitfalls during thepracticum. The chapter concludes with Self-Prep Questions, a Role-Play Scenario, and aReadiness Checklist.CHAPTER OBJECTIVES Identify the general meaning of the termetiquette. Identify the importance of appropriate etiquette in the allied health practicum. Identify at least three aspects that your posture can communicate. Name at least six additional manners thataffect how others view you professionally. Explain the appropriate way(s) to deal witheach of those six additional manners. Name at least four distracting behaviorsthat affect your professional demeanor. Explain at least one possible solution foreach of those four distracting behaviors. Identify five ways to retain a “clean” imagewithin social media.The Significance of EtiquetteEtiquette generally refers to the various manners and behaviors prescribed byand observed in social life. How do you carry yourself? How do you portrayyour work ethic? How can others see that you are committed to your work andconcerned about the welfare of patients and customers? These traits are allcategorized within the context of your personal etiquette. It speaks to othersabout you in many ways: how you work, whether you genuinely care, whetheryou are a committed worker, and so on. You can show utmost respect for others and professionalism through your personal set of manners, and it is crucialto recognize which manners, habits, and gestures are not acceptable in anyprofessional setting, even while you are a student. Every person has his or herown unique set of manners that includes positive and negative (or unfavorable or unprofessional) aspects. Sometimes socially unacceptable behavior isperceived as acceptable. Many people, even those who are highly educated orhave a long history of successful work experience, may benefit from tweakingtheir manners a bit to optimize their professional demeanor.Students have been permanently dismissed from their training sites forbehaving in an unacceptable manner, as well as for their attitude issues. Thus,M05 BEND4203 03 SE C05.indd 5520/12/18 9:06 PM

56CHAPTER 5 7 Etiquette and Professional Mannersthis entire chapter is devoted to the single topic of etiquette. Both acceptableand unacceptable manners are discussed. Self-presentation through posture,verbal manners, and professional language is analyzed, and basic tips onbehavior are included.Several particular aspects of your character say much about you, yourconfidence, abilities, and interests. For example, I worked with a student whowas dismissed from two different sites for the same reasons. She had no problems arriving on time or doing as she was instructed, but her unprofessionaldemeanor and etiquette were more than what the managers at the two practicum sites were willing to tolerate. In this case, the main issues were not smiling (appearing grumpy), waiting to be told what to do (not taking initiative),slouching when sitting, leaning when standing, chewing gum, and showingan overall disinterest in learning. This combination communicated that thisstudent was not motivated, did not care about the staff or patients, and didnot appear to have the potential to be a productive worker. The site managersindicated that this style simply does not work in a health care setting.In summary, even if your skills and techniques are superb in the classroom, personal aspects matter during the practicum just as much as your technical competencies. In addition, it is important to pay attention to etiquette asyou prepare for job interviews—it determines much of the interviewer’s firstimpression of you.Etiquette for Allied Health Student-Traineesand ProfessionalsSeveral aspects of etiquette that will be important to focus on during yourpracticum include the following: Posture Verbal manners Word choice Avoiding distracting behaviorsPostureYour posture says much about you. It reflects your confidence level and yourattitude, as well as your interest in what is happening around you. If youslouch in chairs or lean frequently on desks and countertops, do you think thepeople around you will perceive you as a confident and effective or productive worker? Actually, they will wonder what is wrong with you and may eventhink you are experiencing physical discomfort or pain. Patients will thinklike that, too, and this will have important implications. Patients need to feelthat they are being cared for by a high-quality and confident health care team,not by people who drag themselves around and twiddle their thumbs or whoM05 BEND4203 03 SE C05.indd 5620/12/18 9:06 PM

Etiquette for Allied Health Student-Trainees and Professionals 57appear not to know what is going on. Patients and others who have businessat the practicum site are more comfortable and satisfied with staff memberswho show interest, demonstrate care, and carry themselves professionally.A poor or negative attitude can often lead a person to slouch, and thelook of slouching or dragging oneself about tends to repel people, especiallyif this posture is a chronic habit. Typically, this posture also reflects boredom,unproductiveness, and even lack of a work ethic.There is a general correlation between attitude and posture (of course,with the exception of any medical condition affecting the spine/vertebrae).Thus, changing one’s posture comes more easily to those who make a conscious effort to change the underlying perceptions and attitudes that originallyled to persistently slouching and leaning. (To review the importance of attitudes and perceptions, see Chapter 4.)Disinterest in performing everyday duties and learning as you work caneasily convince others, including facility managers and physicians, that youmay not be truly committed to your chosen career field. As a student-trainee,demonstrating a lack of interest in your practicum will not serve you wellwhen it comes to your evaluation by the site manager or the opportunity toinitiate professional contacts and relationships to jump-start your career. It isvery important to assess your behavior to ensure that you actually are communicating what you want to about yourself during the practicum.Verbal MannersThe level of professionalism you display with your verbal manners and associated tactics also affects how others view you professionally. These mannersand tactics include how you speak to others, your listening skills, ability toapologize, manner of addressing conflicts, and generally how you treat others.Consider the following specifics: Using manners as a mechanism of showing a favorable attitude wasdiscussed in Chapter 4. The use of good manners should become naturalfor professional people hoping to be successful. It shows considerationand respect for other staff members, customers, and patients. Speaking like a professional practitioner is another direct indicator ofhow professional you are in your field. This skill involves understandingand applying vocabulary pertaining to your specialty and avoidingthe use of unprofessional fillers, such as uh, um, and like, whilecommunicating. (See the next section for examples of casual andimproper phrases and their professional translations.) Keep a medicalterminology book or medical dictionary handy so that you can easilycheck your use of professional medical terms. Your work team andpatients form a more respectful perception of you and are confident inyou when you speak professionally.M05 BEND4203 03 SE C05.indd 5720/12/18 9:06 PM

58CHAPTER 5 7 Etiquette and Professional Manners During the communication process, it is of utmost importance to steerclear of any tendency to interrupt when someone else is speaking. Thistendency is sometimes irresistible, such as when you are convinced thatthe message being communicated merits correcting. Correcting or adding to somebody else’s words or comments mustbe done tactfully. Never correct a team member or engage in aconfrontation in the presence of a patient or customer. It is a known fact that not a single person is perfect, and therefore, if youhappen to make a mistake or handle something incorrectly, admit yourfault and apologize. Also, state your intention of not making the samemistake again and, if possible, thank the person who pointed out yourerror. We tend to despise people who constantly correct us, but thesecorrections and what we learn from them build us professionally. When addressing conflicts, the best approach is to address them assituation related rather than person related. In other words, focus on theproblem’s aspects and seeking a solution rather than on anyone’s faultsand communicating your opinions to others. Engaging in the latteris a sign of immaturity and lack of professionalism. Also, addressingconflict from the situation-related viewpoint helps in reducing oreliminating further interpersonal issues related to the issue at hand. A reliable and relevant rule of thumb, often referred to as the goldenrule, is to treat others the way you wish to be treated. This meansextending courteousness, forgiveness, encouragement, empowerment,compliments, recognition, and the like to others at the appropriatetimes. Aren’t these what you hope others will extend to you?Word ChoiceIt is important to employ grammatically proper, professional, and politelanguage in any professional setting, especially in allied health professions.Would you like to be acknowledged and respected as a professional? If so,your wording and tone of voice are as important as the array of other factorsnoted. Table 5-1 7 provides a short list of selected example phrases, along withthe appropriate way to say the same thing in a professional environment. Youwill see that a few of these focus on the matter of tone, whereas others addressproper use of the English language. As other phrases come to mind, perhapsyou will recognize them and be able to think quickly of the more professionally acceptable wording and tone.Avoiding Distracting BehaviorsSome distracting behaviors and conditions should be avoided while in theprofessional environment. The following points delineate a few of them thatare important, along with some recommendations.M05 BEND4203 03 SE C05.indd 5820/12/18 9:06 PM

Etiquette for Allied Health Student-Trainees and Professionals 59Table 5.1 7 Word ChoiceUnprofessional Wording and PhraseThe Professional AlternativeWhat? Huh?Pardon? Excuse me?Yah.Yes.Nah.No.What’s up?How are you?What do you need?How may I help you?You ain’t got . . . ?Do you not have . . . ?I ain’t . . .I do not . . .I don’t understand anything you just said.Please clarify what you mean.We don’t got none.We don’t have any. In a medical facility, pharmacy, hospital, or billing office, and especiallyduring the practicum, you should never chew gum. In fact, the officeor facility rules for staff likely include a written policy against it.It is offensive to some staff, customers, and patients, and the act ofchewing gum does not fit the image of a clean and sanitary medical orprofessional environment.It is important not to have bad breath when working in close contactwith others, but this can be achieved though proper dental care and notby chewing gum. A thorough brush, floss, and rinse are appropriatebefore work. Breath mints after snacks and lunch also are useful. Somefoods, particularly sulfurous foods such as garlic, cabbage, and onions,should always be avoided before working around others, as these causebad breath. At times other than during a formal break, snack items shouldbe consumed where designated and out of the sight of patients orcustomers. Food, wrappers, snack bags, soda cans, and the likediminish the image of a neat and sanitary medical environment. Onoccasions when a snack or tray of food is provided in the break area,you should demonstrate appropriate etiquette by taking a reasonableor small amount, even if you are very hungry. Be considerate of otherswho may come along after you for their portions. The best behavior is towait until the regular employees have had their chance to take what theywould like before you. This is simply the courteous and respectful wayto act in this situation. In addition, be sure to clean up after consumingfood or drink on site. Another very important point to consider is that a practitioner whoworks in very close proximity to patients and customers should neversmell of cigarette smoke while on duty; this is highly offensive to someM05 BEND4203 03 SE C05.indd 5920/12/18 9:06 PM

60CHAPTER 5 7 Etiquette and Professional Mannersstaff members and patients. This particular odor also works against thegoal of a clean and sanitary working environment. Do not appear tired. If excessive fatigue is an issue on any given day,it is important to find ways to cope rather than showing such obvioussigns as constantly yawning or resting your head in any way. Be sureyou allow yourself enough nighttime sleep, as you will likely work fulldays during the practicum. While at your site, if necessary, ask to take abrief break, go outside, and take a three- to five-minute walk in partialsunlight to re

Keep a medical terminology book or medical dictionary handy so that you can easily check your use of professional medical terms. Your work team and patients form a more respectful perception of you and are confident in you when you speak professionally. M05_BEND4203_03_SE_C05.indd 57 20/12/18 9:06 PM. 58 CHAPTER 5 7 ETiquETTE And PRofESSionAl MAnnERS During the communication