I dont want to make any beginner mistakes at my entry level job. I work in the fashion industry (eyewear & optics). They value professionalism.

My boss comes to my desk and talks while I am browsing my computer. I read somewhere that when you talk, you should have the same eye level with the speaker. So I stand and talk too. Is it right? My boss looks at me a bit surprised.

  • 2
    What's your industry? What's the cultural background of your workplace?
    – Christian
    Jun 17, 2016 at 10:10
  • 1
    Would standing up be a sign of intimidation ? (like what the heck are you standing for and talking ? )
    – Max
    Jun 17, 2016 at 10:42
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    Isn't the fact that your boss was surprised when you did it a clear enough indicator that doing so doesn't match your office's culture? Anyway, if you're entry level then it's generally fine to simply ask your manager directly. They should expect some seemingly trivial / embarrassing questions from people who are new to the workplace.
    – Lilienthal
    Jun 17, 2016 at 11:41

7 Answers 7


When you have a serious talk, it's best to be at the same eye-level. This is usually when you have a scheduled meeting or expect to have a longer talk about a topic. Usually, these talks are not held next to your desk, though.

When someone just comes over to ask a quick question, standing up can be excessive. If they expect to be gone in a few seconds, they will probably not want to make you bother getting up. This is almost always the case if someone drops by your desk unannounced and doesn't start with "Can I talk to you for a moment?".

In addition, sometimes people stop by your desk because they want to see something on your screen. In this case, standing up is actually problematic because you won't be able to show.


May I offer an alternative: if one is available, offer your visitor a chair.

In my experience -- in my culture -- folks who are only visiting your workstation briefly do not expect you to get up and may prefer to remain standing themselves.

  • This is my experience as well. I would only get up if the conversation started getting a little more technical/involved, or point him to a chair.
    – AndreiROM
    Jun 17, 2016 at 10:35
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    To add on an expansion as well, most of the time the person who is walking around is setting the tone (i.e. they are initiating the conversation and are the ones doing the talking) where as the person sitting is listening more & responding to the conversation. Many body language techniques like these are utilized by managers for effective communication and interpersonal relationships. Movement is considered a very proactive response where as sitting is considered a very reactive response. If you want, you can try shifting position (stand when you talk, sit when you don't) for control.
    – G.T.D.
    Jun 17, 2016 at 21:29

I wouldn't stand; it probably would seem intimidating, or at least odd. I've been that manager stopping by and would not expect someone to stand. Definitely offering them a chair if they're sticking around is a good thing to do.

One other thing I feel I should point out, since you mention a 'beginner' and 'entry level job': make sure to give your boss (or anyone, really) your full attention if they stop by. This is a no brainer for some people but I've known plenty of others who will continue to work, look at their phone, or whatever during a conversation (and I catch myself doing it now and then). When someone stops by, push your chair away from your desk and turn to face them. Focus on the conversation until it's concluded.


Depends greatly on the situation and your workplace culture. When in situations that you do not know what the proper etiquette is you look at what other people are doing. The classic example is at a dinner party look to the wife of or lady hosting the party. Same thing applies here. When your boss is talking with other members of your team do they stand? If not then you should not.

Also if you have any medical conditions that make it uncomfortable to stand or get up then obviously your health trumps the workplace culture.


If standing up seems forced or out of place then I'd advise to stay seated. This scenario occurs frequently in my office and there are two instances where standing up seems to be appropriate.

  1. If you are shaking somebody's hand (this applies outside of work also)
  2. If there is something your manager wants you to look at something that isn't easy to see while sitting down (i.e. whiteboard, a piece of paper, etc.)

Also keep in mind that your manager probably cares much more about the conversation you are having rather than whether you are standing or sitting.


This is exactly what happened to me today at work, I'm a newbie and the Financial Director come down to introduce himself.

He dropped by my desk, a truly traditional Englishman from what I could gather. Now, I stood up like a dart, just seemed instinctual and 'kinda' gestured to sit down once he shook my hand.

So I'd say, yes, in this situation (I guess it's from the military) it was the correct thing to do.

  • what does it mean "FD"?
    – gnat
    Sep 14, 2017 at 21:28
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    FD = Financial Director
    – user44108
    Sep 15, 2017 at 7:51
  • This is a little different than the question, because this is an introduction. At least in the USA it's expected that when you are introduced to someone at work you'll stand and shake hands. However, later on if that person stops by, I wouldn't expect to stand up.
    – DaveG
    Aug 10, 2018 at 15:40

Watch others in the department; those who have been in the company for a few years. Just do what they do, and toe the company culture line.

Imo, Standing is a bit much--it almost feels confrontational. Personally, as a show of respect, I normally stand and say thank-you as they depart.

You may laugh at this, but I am an avid tea drinker, and have a small collection of teas piled on my desk. I typically have a largish French press of tea sitting next to me as I work. I always keep a few empty paper cups handy, and offer visitors a cup of tea. It's a great show of goodwill. Some chuckle a bit and decline, but those from tea-drinking cultures tend to really appreciate this offer. Then you end up sharing teas, and trying new stuff. You'd be surprised how many other tea drinkers you connect with in this way. There is a certain peace associated with tea.

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