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About Business Etiquette

Business etiquette changes over time. For instance, there was a time when women were not allowed to wear pants to a business meeting. The strategy is to keep pace with the times and read literature regarding the topic.

Today, there are not as many strict clothing guidelines, but there are still some social faux pas. Overall, etiquette incorporates behavior and appearance. This translates to interoffice workplace matters, business presentations and introductions to new people, to name a few.

Business Etiquette


Staying Informed

Closing a sale could depend on your ability to establish a good rapport. The product or service does not always sell itself, so you may have to put in some extra effort to make the right impression. This is where etiquette can be useful. Sometimes there are certain nuances that are specific to a career environment that are not acceptable elsewhere. Being aware of the social norms for business partners is the core issue behind business etiquette.

Reading industry-related magazines and books can help immensely. “Entrepreneur” and “Inc” magazines offer modern advice for business professionals. They provide expert opinions on workplace and business matters. For a more hands-on approach, contact an etiquette coach by checking with local community centers and nonprofit business assistance groups.



Part of business etiquette includes exhibiting the correct behavior in various situations. According to the Grad View website, when you take a cab, you should make sure your client or boss will step out of the car on the curb side and won’t have to get out in traffic or slide across the seat. This establishes that the client or boss is valued and important.

When dining out for business, your table manners become important. You should know how much to tip a waiter and when to season food. The behavior will indicate your social status, education and your competency to handle the job. Typically, the tip rate is 15 percent of the total bill, and you should season the food only after tasting it.

Brush up on other table manners, such as the correct use of cutlery, wine glasses and napkins. Making a good impression with proper etiquette can go a long way, and set the business relationship off to a good start.



Knowing what to wear and how to appear are vital to sealing the deal. Wear something conservative to avoid any distractions. Dark colors work best because they denote seriousness. Bold colors may be out of place, but you can always loosen up during a later meeting, if appropriate.

Bring a light briefcase or portfolio bag to finish the polished look. Avoid chewing gum during any meeting. Confirm the meeting a day before, and arrive 15 to 30 minutes early. It may be that your client arrives early too, so be ready for small talk. Maintain a well groomed appearance that presents you as a professional.

For more information about appearance, contact a local university career center for tips. They often offer assistance to alumni, and sometimes to the business community. They are great resources for mock interviews and other interpersonal skills that deal with outward appearance and behavior.


Workplace Matters

Workplace matters can lead to harmony or hostility, and technological developments have led to a whole new set of etiquette rules.

Knowing the best method to forward an email or to carbon copy (CC) someone can avoid problems. For example, if your coworker was not informed that the email was copied to other personnel, she may accidentally hit “reply all.” The conversation could be classified, and then there is a problem due to oversight.

Always mention that the email has been shared with others in the body of the email. Don’t forward an email with information regarding the previous recipients of that email. Always avoid using “all caps” for emails and short one word responses. All caps are considered shouting, and one-word answers come across as lazy.

Over the phone, remember to state your name and department when answering business calls. Never tell the caller that they are interrupting you, and make an effort to assist. Return voice mails promptly to let the caller know that his call is important. For more information, see Cyborlink in Resources for global workplace etiquette guidelines.


Business Presentations

Presenting a plan or idea can be one of the best reasons and ways to learn business etiquette. Stand in the proper place where everyone can hear, and make sure you make the presentation within the time constraints. Set up early and do a quick run through.

Another aspect in a business meeting that may arise is the introductions of superiors. You need to know how to properly introduce someone when in a social situation. For example, rising to greet someone as they approach you and extending your hand is commonplace. However, introducing the most important person first is something that can be missed.

Business etiquette will help hone your contact management skills. If you meet someone new at a meeting, collect her business card and put the information onto your contact database. Follow up within 48 hours, unless a specific date is agreed upon. The faster the response, the better prepared and professional you will appear. Always ask for the other person’s card and always have yours available to give out.


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