How to Receive Visitors and Behave with Them at Your Office

Published on April 5th, 2012 by | Category: Management

Rising to Greet Visitors

A man should rise to greet any visitor, male or female, from outside his company. The exception is with a job applicant below the executive level. But many men rise anyway, especially if the applicant is a woman, as they consider that drawing fine lines of distinction between greetings for one level of employee and another is actually rude.

When a co-worker visits the office frequently, it is not necessary to rise in greeting. Nor does a man stand each time his secretary comes into the office. He will rise to greet female executives on the same level as himself or co-workers of higher rank whose visits are infrequent. In the latter case, he remains standing until told to be seated or the caller leaves. A senior officer need not rise to greet male or female junior executives or anyone below him in rank.

When an executive has a constant stream of visitors, it is impractical for him to rise and greet each one. It is a good idea for someone who sees many people in the course of a day to leave his office door open most of the time so that he can entertain callers and still continue to handle problems and questions that are brought to him by people in his company.

A woman who receives guests is not required to stand in greeting, but it is a courteous gesture to a visitor from outside the company or to a co-worker who is considerably older or of much higher rank.

Should you be on the telephone when a guest enters, indicate a chair to the caller; when you finish your conversation, rise and greet

Shaking Hands with a Guest

A man always shakes hands with male visitors. Although socially a man would wait for a woman to extend her hand, in business a handshake between a man and woman is a customary greeting. A woman offers to shake hands with the person she is calling on as a mark of cordiality, although she will usually wait for older men and women, or more important ones, to extend their hands first.

Seating the Guest

The person being visited indicates where his guest should sit and takes his own seat simultaneously or after the guest is seated.

Leaving the Office to Greet a Caller

Coming out of your office to greet a visitor before he is ushered in is a spontaneous gesture you would most likely make only for people of whom you are particularly fond, or perhaps haven’t seen for some time, or have been looking forward to meeting, or who are of some eminence.

Occasionally a man will leave his office in order to personally inform a caller that he is tied up with another visitor and will have to keep him waiting for a few minutes.

Are Shirt Sleeves Permissible?

Most companies condone men working in shirt sleeves within the privacy of their offices; however, those who do so are expected to put their jackets on when receiving a caller, unless the visitor is a very old and good friend, or when they leave their office to go elsewhere in the company. Companies with a formal business atmosphere—banks, brokerage houses and such—look with disfavor on anyone at the executive level working in shirt sleeves, even in his own office.

In more informal offices, or in offices to which plants are connected and virtually all the callers are customers or suppliers, it is considered perfectly correct for a man to work, go from office to office, and receive callers in his shirt sleeves (provided he doesn’t wear suspenders).

The attitude towards shirt sleeves is as much regional as it is a point of etiquette. In southern and southwestern states where temperatures are very high, men leave off their jackets. A white, long- sleeved shirt, buttoned at the cuffs and neck, and worn with a tie is acceptable in its place. In northern cities this attire is frowned upon as too informal, even during the hot summer weather, and no matter how high the thermometer goes a man is expected to wear a jacket to business.

Smoking When There Is a Guest in the Office

If you are a smoker, naturally you won’t hesitate to smoke in your own office. However, if your caller is very elderly, and particularly if it is a woman, it is courteous either to refrain from smoking or to request permission to smoke.

The polite guest will usually refrain from smoking until you either offer him a cigarette or cigar or tell him to smoke if he likes.

Seeing a Guest Out

Men stand when a visitor is leaving their office and usually shake hands if the visitor is a man. Frequently the man being visited escorts the caller to the door and shakes hands with him there. If the caller is a woman the man always escorts her to the door and opens it for her.

A woman is not required to stand when a caller leaves, unless the guest is elderly or prominent. However, it is a courtesy for her to do so. When she walks a male guest to the door, she lets him open it. But she performs this task for another woman.

If the callers are co-workers, the senior officer present is allowed to leave the room first. However, should he stop to talk on the way out, junior executives may ask his permission to leave.

When Relatives and Friends Visit the Employee at the Office

There’s no excuse for relatives and Mends stopping in to visit with you at the office. Of course there are special occasions when someone brings you the wallet or keys or eyeglasses you absent-mindedly left at home. But these errands shouldn’t be excuses for lengthy chats. Keep the visit brief. You may introduce members of your family to nearby co-workers, but don’t take your relatives on a tour of the office during working hours, introducing them to everyone on the staff. Never take them into the office of a senior executive unless he invites you to do so. Should a relative be accompanied by children, the little ones mustn’t be allowed to run around at will and play with computers and printers and other office machines. If they aren’t prepared to stay quiet and in one place, usher them out as fast as you can. Don’t give them a chance to become nuisances.

There may be times when you will want to show off the view from a new office, or the handiwork of an interior decorator, or perhaps a painting newly acquired by your company. By all means do so, but invite your friends and family to come during lunch hour or after the office closes for the day.

Visits by Former Employees

No matter how friendly ex-employees remain with former co-workers, they should not fall into the habit of dropping in for a chat whenever they are in the neighbor hood. When a situation of this kind develops, a supervisor or officer of the company may take the individual aside and explain that social visits during the business day are frowned upon by management and should be confined to lunch hours and after hours.

When Relatives and Friends Visit the Executive at the Office

An executive’s family has no more reason for office visits than does the family of the lowliest employee. Most executives are well aware of this. However, there are instances where an executive’s family develops the habit of dropping in at the office any time they are in the area. This can be a problem for the secretary, especially if active children are involved or frequent requests for the secretary to per form personal services. It is ill-tempered and rude ever to complain to your executive about his family and a problem of this kind can only be met with patience and good humor.

An executive should never encourage office visits from friends who are out of work, retired, or have a lot of free time on their hands. When such a visitor seems prepared to pass the time merely chat ting, say politely that while you’d enjoy spending the entire day with him you have to get to work. Make some remark, such as, “Give me a ring for lunch next week,” or “Let’s meet at the club for a drink some day soon after work,” thereby leaving the way open for another visit but not on company time.

Dealing with the Caller who Outstays His Welcome

Some people never get the idea that an interview or a meeting is over, and to a busy executive this can be an annoyance. Instead of showing displeasure, the person being visited should make it politely obvious that he considers the purpose of the meeting has been accomplished or the discussion is at an end.

He can say something like this: “Our talk has been most helpful and has cleared up most of our questions. I’ll get to work on this right away and get in touch with you early next week.” Or perhaps, “This has been a valuable meeting for both of us. Thank you so much for coming.” If a remark of this type doesn’t budge a caller, the only thing to do is rise in a gesture of dismissal, saying, “Thank you for coming. Your help has been invaluable to me.”

If it seems necessary to make an excuse, it should be enough to refer to a very full schedule.

When a Guest Has Been Wailing Long

Occasionally you may be away from your office or fled up in a meeting when an expected visitor arrives. Go up to him as you return to your office, greet him and shake hands, and apologize again for his having to wait (presumably your secretary made a prior apology on your behalf), take him by the arm and lead him into your office. This courteous behavior on your part should help to soothe any annoyance the caller had been feeling over having to wait so long.

As you escort the guest into your office, you might say to your secretary, “Please see that we are not interrupted for the next 15 minutes.” However, the guest will understand if you have to confer briefly with your secretary.

Sharing Business Space

When an office is being shared by two or more businessmen or business staffs, consideration for others is a prerequisite to pleasant relations. People who share office space or who rent desk space in an office must try to make as little disturbance as possible so that everyone can concentrate on his own work.

Loud or angry discussions in person or over the telephone are to be avoided. In fact, all telephone conversations should be carried on as discreetly and quietly as possible. The same is true for personal conferences.

In the same vein, you should be careful not to show an untoward interest in the work the others are doing, the papers on their desks, or the mail that comes for them. Make every effort not to eavesdrop on their conversations or phone calls, even if you are close enough to hear.

It is not necessary to introduce a guest to others sharing the office, unless they are to do business together or you feel they have some mutual interest that would make it worthwhile for them to know each other.

If you have occasion to answer the telephone for someone with whom you share an office, be courteous and write any message down with care. “He’s not in” or “They’re not here” makes the person on the other end of the telephone wonder what kind of people he’s dealing with. Nor is it polite to leave a message saying, “A woman called this morning” or “You got an out of town call this morning. He’ll try and call you again later.” Think what your own feelings would be if your office mates answered your phone and took your messages in this manner.

One thought on “How to Receive Visitors and Behave with Them at Your Office

  1. Benedicta Korsah

    this piece of information is very essential for all managerial personnel
    I can really say it has enlightened my knowledge
    I do appreciate the effort your outfit has done.


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