Business manners, etiquette, and rules about self-expression (e.g., tattoos, grooming, hair dye, etc.) should be common sense. But ask anyone in your human resources department and you’ll find that it’s not.

Self-expression is perfectly OK. It’s what makes you uniquely you. But it’s crucial to understand that how you express yourself makes an impression on everyone else — from co-workers to clients to executives and beyond.

Like it or not, people are judging you. Your educational background, skills, and trustworthiness are all assessed according to your appearance within seconds of an initial meeting. Proper etiquette, professionalism, and basic good manners are all instrumental in making the right impression.

From what to wear (or what not to wear) to how to present your best face to the corporate world, here are some tips on how to best conduct yourself as a professional administrative assistant.

1. Dress Code

The company dress code should be viewed as the acceptable minimum, and you should always strive to go above and beyond. As the face of your company (and your executive), you should definitely be exceeding the standard.

Don’t “dress down,” even if it seems that the rest of the team is doing it. It’s OK for you not to follow suit. When it comes to the dress code (and manners in general), you want to set the standard — not just follow it!

It’s tempting to say, “But I’m just an admin!” Remember — you are not “just” anything. You’re representing yourself, your executive, and your company!

2. Tattoos/Piercings/Hairstyles

Self-expression is important for everyone. However, when it interferes with your professionalism, it’s a problem.

If you have visible tattoos, it’s best to cover them. If this means wearing long sleeves even in the sweltering heat of summer, then do it. While tasteful tattoos and piercings are becoming more acceptable in the workplace, it’s better not to take the chance.

The same goes for hairstyles. While you may be able to rock a bright blue mohawk on the weekend, think about how it will impact your professionalism. Clients (and your executive) may be put off by your counter-culturalism.

3. Language

Everyone lets a curse word slip every now and again. However, if your vernacular leans more toward pirate than professional, you may be setting the wrong tone.

People who normally use more “salty” language typically don’t even know they’re doing it. However, those who don’t use the more colorful words will certainly notice – often to your detriment. And those who don’t curse typically view those who do as having a lower emotional intelligence (EQ).

Make an effort to watch your language, not only in the professional setting, but in your personal life as well. The sooner you kick the cursing habit, the better!

4. Workspace

You may be the pinnacle of professionalism at work, but if your desk is an unqualified disaster, it will negate some of your better qualities.

Make sure your workspace is organized and under control. Remember, your desk is a reflection of you!

Need a quick makeover? Check out this article, which will help you get your desk looking fantastic in no time flat!

We all need to mind our manners — but it’s especially important when you are the face of your company as an admin! No matter how you present yourself to the world, if your manners are lacking, people will definitely notice. Keep these tips in mind and remember that you aren’t just representing yourself — you’re also a reflection of your company, team, and executive!

© 2016 Julie Perrine International, LLC

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Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity. And request your free copy of our special report “From Reactive to Proactive: Creating Your Strategic Administrative Career Plan” at www.AllThingsAdmin.com.