Six Basic Rules of Business Etiquette

Children learn that the golden rules of life such as saying “please” and “thank you,” are common courtesies that will allow them to excel socially. The same is true within business environments. An individual who exhibits politeness and decorum is often rewarded with success in his chosen field. There are, however, additional formalities he must learn to assure that he is viewed by superiors, peers and customers alike as a pleasant and cultivated professional.


Perhaps the easiest way to exhibit professionalism is to consistently be punctual. On a daily basis, one must arrive at the office on time, ready to work. This action alone speaks volumes to both managers and peers, demonstrating the individual’s seriousness regarding her work. She must also be prompt when meeting with others: supervisors, clients and prospective employers. Excessive tardiness means that the nonoffending parties must wait, often at the expense of their own promptness to their next appointment. A professional who is regularly late for appointments gives the impression that she does not respect the value of other people’s time.


In addition to arriving on time, business etiquette dictates that an individual must be prepared to conduct the business at hand. She must have all resources such as reports, sales brochures and other documents ready for use. If interviewing a potential new employee, she must have all questions for the candidate prepared. Failure to do so makes her appear sloppy and unprofessional.


An individual who wishes to be taken seriously in the work place must dress appropriately for his environment. If his office culture is to dress in formal business attire, he must wear a jacket and tie at all times. On the other hand, if his industry dictates a t-shirt and jeans, he would look pretty silly dressed in a tuxedo. By wearing appropriate attire for his line of business, he ensures that everyone he comes in contact with will take him seriously.


An individual’s attitude and deportment exhibit just as must about his seriousness as his wardrobe does. Excessive use of slang, profanity and other offensive language is an immediate sign of unprofessionalism. Additionally, the spreading of gossip and communication of private or confidential information does not win him any points with colleagues and customers.

Email Formatting

When communicating with colleagues and customers via email, a professional should use the same greetings and salutations she would use in standard correspondence. “Dear,” “sincerely,” “please” and “thank you” go a long way in ingratiating herself in the receiver’s good graces. Additionally, she must never type emails in all capital letters, as this is akin to yelling as someone.

Communication Appropriateness

A professional must be mindful of the subject matter of all spoken and written conversations. Telling crude jokes and sending profanity laced correspondence is not only offensive to some, but is often against corporate policies. A reciter of inappropriate stories may be accused by human resources of creating a hostile work environment. Likewise, a sender may think an email is amusing, but it may get a receiver in hot water if it contradicts his employer’s electronic communications regulations.

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