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10 Major Business Etiquette Dos and Don'ts

written by: Sharon Katzman•edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 4/1/2011

Trying to figure out how to fit in at the office? Make sure you are behaving yourself and following the business etiquette do-and-don’ts, and you should have no problem.

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    When you are working in a business environment, it is important to know that there are some business etiquette do-and-don’ts that Office Workers you should follow. Many are common sense, but if you are not sure, then it is best to find out or err on the side of caution.

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    Business Dos:

    Keep your boss informed – This does not mean that you have to tell your boss everything that you are doing. Rather, if you are encountering problems with a project or are not sure how to continue, you should discuss it with your boss. Chances are your boss has some ideas that will help you to proceed.

    Keep Meetings on Topic – Most people do not enjoy having to attend meetings. Therefore, it is best to keep them short and simple. It is best to send out an agenda in advance and ask people to let you know if there is anything to add.

    Return Phone Calls – The phone is usually the easiest and fastest method of communication with other people. If someone takes the time to call, then you should take the time to call them back. Even if you do not know the answer, call to let them know you are looking into it and will call them back when you have the answer.

    Give Credit to Others – One sure way to alienate your coworkers is by taking credit for their work. There is nothing wrong with taking credit for what you have done, but if it was a team effort, make sure to acknowledge the others involved.

    Follow Corporate Policies – Chances are your company has policies, such as a dress code or hours of work. To keep harmony within the office, and to keep your job, it is best to follow these to the best of your ability. If you are not able to, you should discuss it with your boss to come up with an amiable solution.

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    Business Don’ts:

    Be Late – When you are late, it shows a lack of respect for your work and your co-workers. While there are times that you cannot help it due to circumstances beyond your control, such as traffic, the alarm not going off or other reasons, there is no reason to be late just because you run out of time. If this happens to you often, then you need to change your routine to prevent it.

    Use Slang or Internet Language – Depending on your business, you may feel that it is okay to use slang in your speech. This is not acceptable as not everyone will understand what you are saying. The slang may have a different meaning to someone else, and you could end up insulting them.

    No E-mail Topic/Generic Topic – When sending an e-mail, you should always input a topic that is relevant to what you are sending. This way the receiver is able to know at a glance how important it is and they can determine how quickly they must deal with it.

    Interrupt – There is nothing ruder than interrupting someone else, especially if they are discussing a work problem. If you want to suggest something, or if you need to speak to the person immediately, it is best to wait your turn or gently say “excuse me” when there is a break in the conversation.

    Dress Sloppy – You should always do your best to make a good impression. Being sloppy makes it appear that you do not care about your job or those around you. You never know when you may be passed over for promotion or other incentives because the company does not feel you would do a good job representing it with the way you look.

    There are many other things that fall on the list of business do-and-don’ts, but this is a good start if you need some typical office guidelines.

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    Paula on Business Etiquette - More Than Just Eating with the Right Fork (May 2009). Retrieved at