Proper Business Etiquette

07/31/23 | 7 MIN READ

What Is Etiquette?

Etiquette refers to the behavior that takes place in society among professionals. When discussing business etiquette, these are the expected mannerisms that a professional portrays when interacting with another professional or group of professionals. Within business etiquette, these practices can be best described as an ethical code that is made up of expected and accepted business behaviors. All business etiquette rules apply to those you are interacting with during your professional life.

These interactions might include colleagues, employees, employers, investors, or customers. Proper etiquette helps establish strong professional relationships and a collaborate work environment. One important note is that the world and technology are always changing, resulting in different ways to execute effective business etiquette. Even with these changes and advances, the fundamental techniques hold for all professional business interactions with colleagues in your network.

Why Is Etiquette Important?

Etiquette is important because it produces a mutually respectful environment with proper communication. Creating this type of institute with correct and formal courtesy facilitates a productive work environment. Moreover, having the skill set for proper business etiquette is an advantage for anyone in the professional world. According to a study by Career Builder, 95% of executive managers said good manners matter for career advancement. Implementing the use of proper business etiquette, results in various benefits for the entire organization/company, team, and individual

Group Etiquette

Regarding the group, proper etiquette can lead to a more engaged business environment. When groups come together everyone wants to be respected and heard. By using business etiquette, you can ensure that a friendly environment is maintained. To Try and keep business etiquette among the team members, here are are some tips that can help you in the workplace:

  • Greeting everyone
  • Being polite and kind
  • Showing manners and looking appropriate
  • Being firm in achieving your goals but flexible in collaboration
  • Being open, proactive, and helping out others when needed


One-on-One Etiquette

One-on-one etiquette slightly differs because engaging with a single individual requires more attention to balance. While it is not drastically different, here are some tips to have an effective one-on-one with appropriate etiquette

  • Schedule an initial meeting
  • Make it structural and social
  • Whoever asks for the one-on-one is the spotlight
  • Use GAINS: Discuss goals, accomplishments, interests, network, skills
  • Ask for other potential meetings or network connections
  • Review your one-on-ones with notes or another meeting
  • Remain focused and prioritize your one-on-ones

Etiquette Key Rules

  1. Arrive on time

  2. Proper or appropriate dress code

  3. Pay attention to names

  4. Introduce yourself and others

  5. Maintain eye contact with speakers

  6. Show engaged body language

  7. Best posture

  8. Don't interrupt

  9. Double-check your emails

  10. Keep your workplace tidy

1. Arrive on Time

In the professional world, the trite comment holds, "Time is money!" Being punctual applies to all situations such as coming to work, attending meetings, and most importantly finishing your assigned tasks and projects on time. Arriving on time is critical to business etiquette because it tells the employer a lot about your behavior and manners. Being punctual for work meetings, you are taking reasonability and showing respect to the attendants for being considerate of their time. Being considerate will in turn lead to mutual respect. In a survey done on Harris Poll, the top behavioral reason someone was not hired or was denied a promotion was because of tardiness.

Arriving on time ties to your ability to effectively time manage. If your skills in time management are weak, you can improve them. Try to prioritize arriving on time, which can be done by accounting for internal and external tasks, bear in mind these time frames when planning.

2. Proper or Appropriate Dress Code

First impressions matter is very well-known. Making your impression can make or break an opportunity. As individuals, we are visual, so how you dress speaks about your character and personality. The same study by Career Builder found that 45% of employers said the top reason a worker is not promoted is connected to their provocative attire, wrinkled clothes, or shabby appearance. This statistic shows that positive attire is just as valuable as your words and actions. Your outfit should give a positive impression to people you meet in the workplace. Taking the extra step to care for yourself is especially important for interviews or when meeting with hiring and promotion managers. Some might introduce this standard as "dressing the part." These impressions matter more than you think, this is because those initial judgements people make about you can influence their long-term opinions. Dressing like a professional is proper etiquette that impacts your credibility. 

The best way to ensure you are dressed appropriately is to be aware or the occasion you are dressing for. With every event, there is an appropriate dress code. For example, if you are coming to work for a typical day, you want to match your dress code. If you don't know, others in your work environment are a good example to follow. You can dress similarly to others in the company and according to the company policy, while also incorporating your personality.

🔬Learn About: The Value of a LinkedIn Profile

3. Pay Attention to Names

Almost all social interactions will begin with the individuals introducing themselves by giving their names. Pay attention and memorize their names because it shows your care for them, your engagement, and your interest in the conversation. Being able to remember the names of those you speak with right away more often than not leads to people building respect for you and taking a liking towards you. This level of respect helps colleagues, employees, and coworkers feel comfortable and appreciated. For anyone, simply mentioning and remembered someone's name makes them feel important and valued as individuals. 

Understandably, memorizing multiple names is challenging, especially in larger organizations. The best way to start memorizing others' names is to repeat the person's name during your first interaction. you might even mention their name a few times in the conversation. After the conversation ends, ask for the their business cards so you can memorize their names and any important details that can be used to associate them and better memorize their name.

4. Introduce Yourself and Others

The strong ability and skill to effectively introduce yourself or others by using an elevator pitch can impact your professional appearance. Showing you can give an introduction in this way is helpful and essential for two reasons. For one, it facilitates relationships among coworkers and widens your business network. Secondly, it is beneficial for your professional growth and development; this can lead to new opportunities. Showcasing this skill should be done whenever you are meeting a new group of people or for one-on-one first time meetings. No matter the style of the meeting, start by getting to know everyone involved. You can kick off the conversation by introducing those around you and then yourself, or asking those around you to introduce themselves.

When introducing others, consider the social situation you are in at the time. Read the room and try to understand the order you should introduce individuals or when it is time to jump in to keep the conversation going. Introduce each person by saying their name, professional title, and details if applicable. Remember to keep it brief and only include context that is relevant to the conversation.

🔬Learn: How to Write an Elevator Pitch

5. Maintain Eye Contact with Speakers

Maintaining eye contact or tracking your speaker is a form of body language that can indicate your communication skills. When keeping eye contact, this indicates your interest in the conversation. Being able to keep eye contact can also build a great first impression.

Making and maintaining eye contact in an etiquette manner begins with understanding the duration of keeping eye contact. There is not one specific time, but it is advised to keep it until your speaker notices you are paying attention, but also short enough that you won't feel rude or awkward. The best way to ensure a proper time frame is trusting your instincts on this one. If it's uncomfortable, it could either be: fear of conversation or you are staring for too long. Try to adapt, distinguish the difference between these feelings, and act accordingly 


6. Show Engaged Body Language

Besides eye contact, you can also use other forms of body language to display your interaction and involvement in the conversation. you might use simple replies as a method of paying attention. Interacting with body language tells peoples that you care and value what they have to say. Most of the time, showing you care and giving your utmost attention can be done through body language.

7. Best Posture

Another aspect similar to engaged body language is the choice of posture. When you first meet someone, whether you are introducing yourself or someone else is introducing you, it is common to stand and shake hands. When standing, it is correct to stand tall with a straight back. As for the handshake, smile and give a firm handshake with confidence. The quality of your handshake can denote how serious you are about your professional career.

If sitting down, continue to hold a straight and strong posture. Decide to fold your hands in your lap, fold your hands on the table, or hold your fingers together for a power authority-like pose. If standing up, you can hold your fingertips together, fold your hands in front of you, or you can put both hands on your waist, showing high power. Pick a position that is professional but makes you feel comfortable and confident.

Handshake greeting at OC LIFe event

8. Don't Interrupt

Never interrupt or interject while others are speaking. Without a purpose or vital reasoning, interrupting others while they are talking or working is not proper etiquette. If you are interrupted, try and avoid interrupting them. Instead, continue in the conversation and show them by example how to properly converse.

It is best to practice increasing your interactions because it will help you understand when it is tie to speak and when it is time to voice your input. A critical skill of communication is being able to balance talking and listening with everyone else. If you ever find yourself in an argument, you can still initiate proper etiquette by not interrupting the other party, controlling your emotions, and conversing with balance.

9. Double-check Your Emails

Keeping proper business etiquette also applies to communication via email, slack, text, and Discord. Keeping virtual forms of communication is equally as important as having in-person business etiquette. Being skillful in writing emails in another skill you might have.

If you are not good at writing emails, tips to stay proper include: double proofreading your emails or even installing an inline grammar and spelling check tool. By proofreading email your emails or even installing an online grammar and spelling check tool, using these tools can help catch mistakes that are easily missed.

10. Keep Your Workplace Tidy

Sometimes when we are thinking too much in the workplace, we often forget to keep our area clean. We should be mindful that our workplace belongs to us and the rest of the workers also need to look around it or work around it.  Aside from caring for yourself and others, it is important to note that the cleanliness of your workspace can affect productivity. 

Keeping in mind that an organized workplace impacts both parties, let's make sure our places are tidied up. Start by placing all the essential materials you need in a section of everything you want to keep and get rid of anything you do not need. Use drawers and bin organizers to minimize clutter of smaller items. You could also implement into your schedule a weekly cleaning time for your desk. 

Trust Your Intuition

In the end, while all these tips are meant to ensure proper etiquette, you might have instincts or gut feelings about what is right. As the old saying goes, "trust your gut." If you feel like you need to lean on your intuition for effective communication, then integrate this decision. Lastly, always remember that if you do not know, you can always ask someone with more experience. 

🔬 Learn: How to Find a Mentor



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