Business Etiquette – Introduction

As you move deeper into the role of owner-manager, you realize that the relationships you maintain with your managers and staff can positively or negatively impact your success. Spending time to cultivate relationships with your employees can give you something to fall back on when business conditions are difficult. Practicing proper business etiquette in the workplace also provides a good example for employees to follow and encourages them to act professionally when they are with customers, which is good for business.


As a supervisor of employees, you occupy a position of authority. In the business community, people have expectations for this position, such as that you should use understandable language. Avoid slang, including profanity and local phrases that people from other parts of the country or the world might not understand. For example, you might hear three different terms for a carbonated beverage — soda, pop or soft drink — depending on where you go in the U.S. Don’t speak like you would type or abbreviate in a text message — such as LOL, or laugh out loud.


As a supervisor, guard your privacy. Don’t share too much personal information about yourself and your family in the workplace. You might caution employees about sharing too much of their personal information with you and other co-workers as well. When people know too much about you, you become vulnerable to people who would misuse that information, which could hurt you. If family members work in your business, you should also ask them to respect your privacy by not sharing your personal life with other workers.


It’s important to maintain personal decorum in the workplace and when attending business meetings outside of the office. This refers to dressing properly for meetings. Wear a business suit or career dress and jacket to formal events. Wear casual clothes such as khakis and a button-down shirt or a skirt and a knit shirt to informal meetings. When you move about any business event, people will make a first impression of you based on your attire and nonverbal communication. Watch your gestures and facial expressions, keeping them friendly and appropriate to the people in your midst. It’s not that you have to blend in, but you don’t want to stand out like a sore thumb. Be honest in what you say; people will remember if you are caught in lies or half-truths.


Be considerate of other people’s time in business. First, arrange your schedule to arrive at meetings and other appointments early. Keeping people waiting for you is considered disrespectful. Consider employees’ time. Spend the occasional long lunch with small groups or with the whole staff, using the time to build relationships. Schedule time to meet with employees one-on-one so you can give them your undivided attention and discuss their professional development. Finally, don’t overcommit yourself so you cannot focus on each task or appointment. People will respect you more if you’re true to your word by making reasonable efforts to keep all business commitments.

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