3 Tips to Good Business Etiquette

These days popular sociological theories tend to adhere to the view that there is really not that much that separates human beings from animals – we are still savages merely reformed ones. This seems to be at face value quite reductionist but also inherently false. There are, it seems, several aspects of humanity that make us distinctly different from animals – our higher senses, self-awareness and interpersonal skills put us at the top of the biological totem pole. But the way we treat and behave around each other also factors into who we really are. In the civilized world, this would be simply called Etiquette. Etiquette is basically a certain intangible benchmark that governs or dictates acceptable or appropriate standards or norms of social behavior.

These standards also apply to the world of trade, commerce and economics that drive the industrialized world today. Business Etiquette then governs social behavior within the boundaries of corporate culture. There is after all an appropriate way to present ourselves, communicate, interact and do business with others. Professional Etiquette is paramount to harmonious corporate relationships within the civilized industrial world. In this article we will look at just three keys traits to having good workplace or business etiquette:

Personal Impressions

The manner in which we carry ourselves speaks volumes of who we are and what we value. We seem to intuitively understand this. Before we attend a professional meeting we make sure that we are wearing appropriate and professional business attire. One must make sure to be well groomed and clean. Standing up straight with a warm smile and a genuine handshake are qualities of authenticity and confidence. Eye contact is also crucially important because it communicates attentiveness and interest. This makes a good first impression.

Positive Communication

When talking to a person, addressing them by name a couple of times within the first few minutes of the conversation is considered very professionally personal. This demonstrates genuine interest and a personal connection with the person we are talking to. Occasionally nodding politely also indicates an interest and attentiveness in what they are saying. In professional settings it is generally considered appropriate to avoid personal questions or topics. The threshold for this appropriateness however varies from culture to culture. This is another reason why it is considered appropriate to avoid personal issues altogether. Giving each other the space to talk without interrupting each other is also just as important.

Communication etiquette also applies to non-personal communication. It is considered appropriate to return e-mails and voicemails as soon as possible. Voicemails must be polite and to the point. E-mails must avoid spelling or grammatical mistakes. Business etiquette also implies that one must not use slang language or pop-culture terminology within a professional E-mail correspondence. It is also better to avoid unnecessary exclamation marks, words in bold or underlining, as these can seem overtly aggressive and rude.


Generally a meeting is the environment or setting where the dynamics of professional etiquette will converge. One must never arrive more than five minutes early to a meeting as the person might not yet be ready for you as they might be still preparing for the meeting or doing something else. One must definitely not be late to a meeting, as this can be considered rude and unprofessional. This is also considered discourteous because it leaves the other people involved waiting for you to show up and this implies a lack of respect for other people’s time. If one must leave the meeting prematurely it is appropriate to explain why you need to leave, to make sure that everyone understands why one’s reason warrants the necessity to leave the meeting early.

Business Etiquette

Business etiquette is in essence about building relationships with people. In the business world, it is people that influence your success or failure. Etiquette, and in particular business etiquette, is simply a means of maximising your business potential.

If you feel comfortable around someone and vice versa, better communication and mutual trust will develop. This comfort zone is realised through presenting yourself effectively. Business etiquette helps you achieve this.

Business etiquette revolves around two things. Firstly, thoughtful consideration of the interests and feelings of others and secondly, minimising misunderstandings. Both are dependent upon self conduct. Business etiquette polishes this conduct.

Business etiquette varies from region to region and country to country. For the international business person, focusing too deeply on international business etiquette would leave no time for business. However, there are some key pillars upon which good business etiquette is built.


Your manners and attitude will speak volumes about you. They will point to your inner character. If you come across selfish, undisciplined or uncouth your relationship is unlikely to prosper. Appropriate business etiquette promotes positive traits.


A reputation for delivering what you say will deliver goes a long way in the business world. Remember, a reputation for integrity is slowly gained but quickly lost. Understanding a particular country’s business etiquette provides a framework in which you can work without fear of crossing boundaries in terms of agreements, promises and contracts.


Your character refers to what you as an individual bring to the business table. Proper business etiquette allows you to exhibit your positive qualities. For example, knowing when to be passionate and not emotional or self-confident without being arrogant. Just through learning another’s business etiquette you demonstrate an open-mindedness which will earn respect.


Sensitivity and consideration underlie all good business etiquette. Being prepared for foreign ways and methods and responding thoughtfully is achieved through experience and business etiquette know-how. By avoiding misunderstandings and misinterpretations through business etiquette you lay foundations for a strong business relationship.


Avoiding thoughtless words and actions protects you from negative consequences. Impulse often leads a business person astray. Business etiquette encourages the careful thought of the interests of others and choosing acceptable forms of expression.


Dressing appropriately, standing and sitting in the right place at the right time, good posture and looking physically presentable are all elements in making a good impression. Business etiquette teaches you how to suitably present yourself and what to avoid.

Analysing, understanding and implementing the above will help you recognise what business etiquette is and how it should be employed within the business world.

For the international business person business, etiquette acts as a key. It locks the doors of poor communication and misunderstandings and opens doors to successful business relationships.

Why New Hires Need Business Etiquette – And How They Can Get It

The transition between university life and a professional workplace isn’t always seamless. Adjusting to a major shift in workplace culture, protocol and dress takes time and effort. That said, with training, seminars and resources, recent graduates and new hires can be well equipped to jump right in to a professional environment -and your company can help them to do so.

Why Do New Hires Need Business Etiquette?

For those who have been working professionally for years, many aspects of professional life come as second nature. But for those just entering the workforce, certain protocol can be new territory. Notable examples:

Dining Etiquette

When dining for business, there are many more guidelines to follow that simply dining with family or friends, at home or in a restaurant.

Business dining often takes place in a more formal setting, which requires know-how of more extensive table settings and flatware as well as behaviour.

Additionally, the question of alcohol may come up, in which case it is not always obvious to a new hire that alcoholic drinks should only be ordered if the host encourages the order, and if so, no more than one alcoholic drink should be consumed in a business context.

Finally, keeping good conversation going throughout the meal is an art in and of itself. The savvy diner will not engage in controversial discussion, and will discuss business matters only when it seems appropriate to do so.

Interview Etiquette

Before a young person is even a “new hire,” they’ve got to get the job first! No matter how impressive a resume may be, poor interview etiquette may detract from a candidate’s chances of landing a job.

Punctuality is absolutely essential for a job interview – even if a candidate is only 5 minutes late, many employers will simply write off that opportunity. That said, a fine balance is necessary; in other words, getting to an interview too early can be awkward, especially in small companies. Arriving approximately 10 minutes in advance is a safe bet.

A handwritten thank-you note after an interview is indispensable. Coming prepared with other hard-copy materials is also helpful as well; for example, a copy of a resume and cover letter for each staff member conducting the interview, and a business card or reference letter if applicable.

Professional Dress

The expectation for professional dress and image, even in business casual settings, can be vastly different than on a university campus. It can help new hires immensely to have the dress code outlined right at the start of employment and to have an idea of the differences between business formal, business and business casual dress codes.

How Can New Hires Acquire Business Etiquette?

New hires can learn the basics of business etiquette and professional image right in your company.