Proper Business Etiquette (With Communication Tips)

Updated September 30, 2022

Proper business etiquette is a learned skill you should develop over the course of your career. In this article, we discuss what business etiquette is, how you can improve your business etiquette and tips for different communication types at the workplace.

What is business etiquette?

Business etiquette is a set of behavior guidelines you're expected to follow in your workplace. These guidelines determine what manners and actions are appropriate at work. When you follow proper business etiquette, everyone can communicate better and be more productive.

Business etiquette may address these issues:

  • Dress code

  • Communication

  • Interoffice relationships

  • Respect

    Read more: A Guide To Business Etiquette

How to improve your business etiquette

Every workplace has some standard of business etiquette. Use these tips to improve your business etiquette:

  1. Introduce yourself

1. Introduce yourself

When starting a new job or meeting a new coworker, it is courteous to introduce yourself. Do this by saying your name while giving them a brief yet firm handshake.

After you learn their name, make sure to remember it. One way to do this is by repeating their name after they say it. For example, you could say, "It's very nice to meet you, Julia." After they walk away, you can write their name and job title down to reference later.

2. Dress appropriately

Before your first day of work, make sure you know your office's dress code. More offices have implemented laid-back dress codes. If this is how your workplace is, remember to still dress in a way that helps everyone feel comfortable. It's best to observe how your manager dresses and follow their example. Also, when meeting with clients, you may want to dress more formally.

Read more: Your Guide To Business Professional Attire (With Examples)

3. Be prompt

Make it a habit to arrive at work on time. Give yourself ample time before work to get ready for your day. Also, leave early enough in case traffic is slow on your way to work. If you happen to arrive late, you should work late to compensate for the time lost.

4. Focus on work

While at work, it may be tempting to look at your phone or personal email. It is best to refrain from personal communication during work hours and focus solely on professional tasks and communication. This shows your manager that you're dedicated and can also help your coworkers finish tasks if they rely on you.

5. Establish a means of communication

Learn how your team communicates. For example, some teams prefer to use instant message apps to discuss projects so everyone can refer to the details later. However, if you have a quick question, it may be more appropriate to ask it in person. Ask your coworkers what their communication preferences are and observe what they are already doing.

6. Let others speak

Give everyone time to finish their thoughts while they are speaking. Then you can offer what you want to say. When everyone gets a chance to speak without being interrupted, they feel like what they have to share is heard and valued.

7. Show respect

Always treat all of your coworkers with respect. This includes the following examples:

  • Greet them each morning.

  • Listen to their ideas.

  • Get to know them.

  • Ask them how they're doing.

  • Invite everyone to work events.

  • Remain neutral during a conflict.

  • Only say positive things about them.

    Related: What Is Respect in the Workplace?

8. Keep conversations work-appropriate

While at work, you should keep conversations appropriate. Talk about work-related or uncontroversial topics. Also, use appropriate language to be professional.

9. Be mindful of volume level

Many people need quiet work environments to be productive. To help, make sure to silence your phone and desktop notifications. If you enjoy listening to music, use headphones at an appropriate volume level. Also, when talking to coworkers, keep your volume low and talk in a common area away from others' workspaces.

Related: 10 Key Tips for Proper Etiquette at Work

Business etiquette tips for different communication types

Each form of communication has different business etiquette to follow. Here is the proper business etiquette for some types of communication used at work:

Instant messaging

Many businesses use instant messaging (chat) apps to communicate. When using instant messaging, remember that your coworkers may not be able to instantly respond to your messages. If they are completing a task, refrain from repeatedly messaging them. If something is urgent, it may be best to address it in person.

Instant messaging tends to be a more casual way for employees to interact. However, make sure you are using it for its intended use, which is typically only work-related messages. If you are unsure of what is appropriate to discuss over instant messaging, ask your manager.


When using email, make sure to address who you are writing to. Also, close the email with a polite send-off.

The level of formality in your email varies based on who you are sending it to. For example, an email with a coworker may be more casual than an email to your supervisor or your clients.

Here is an example of an appropriate work email to a coworker:

"Hi Caroline,

I have received the reports from David yesterday, and I would like to schedule a time with you to discuss them. I have sent you a calendar invite so you can select a time that works best for you.

I look forward to finishing these analytics and starting our new projects for the second quarter.


Kendall Green"

Phone call

Though many people have caller ID, it is polite to briefly introduce yourself at the beginning of the call. Also, state the reason you are calling right away.

When talking on the phone at work, be mindful of those around you by keeping your volume low. If you need to discuss sensitive information, make the phone call in a private room with the door closed.

Here is an example of a phone call introduction:

"Hi, Kim, this is Jasmine Nelson. I'm calling to confirm that we are still meeting about the new marketing campaign this Tuesday. Does that day still work for you?"

In person

When talking to coworkers in person, check that it is a good time for them. If your work uses an instant messaging app, you could send them a brief message to see if they are available to talk in person before approaching them.

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