As we enter a new year of conference calls, email chains and break room chats, it’s important to remember that practicing good business etiquette is a major piece of maintaining a healthy culture. Business etiquette is not only knowing what to discuss at a business meeting, but how to present yourself and allow others to feel comfortable around you. Read on for our tips on navigating workplace communication and professional relationships. We’ve also included our resolutions for a better workplace!

Understanding the Work Environment

Our work environment is filled with different cultures and socio-economic backgrounds. When our colleagues come together for discussions and brainstorming sessions, whether they’re in the same physical space or via Teams or instant messaging (IM), be respectful of others’ opinions and circumstances and practice business etiquette.  This will help meetings run smoothly and be successful in achieving set goals. Establishing, encouraging and practicing business etiquette will have a positive impact on customers, vendors and colleagues.

  • Respect others’ time. Be on time. If you are running late or for some reason cannot attend a previously committed meeting, let others know ASAP.
  • Keep a positive attitude. No one wants an Oscar the Grouch in the workplace.
  • Practice active listening. Read this article to learn more about how to practice it.
  • Ask when uncertain about feedback or instructions.
  • Clean up after yourself, especially in communal kitchens and conference rooms. Ensure that conference room/office furniture is left the way you found it.
  • Treat people as you want to be treated.

Communication is Key

In the business world, virtual communication is more common than ever. Whether communicating through the phone, text messages, instant messages, e-mails, or virtual meetings, proper business etiquette still comes into play.  Even though online communication tends to be fast and convenient, it comes with its own set of challenges.

Phone Calls

  • Answer the phone in a professional manner, regardless of whether the call is internal or external. Be sure to introduce yourself with your name and company name.
  • If the call is legitimate but you cannot assist the caller, take his/her name and number and attempt to find the person within the company who could return the call. At the very least, ask your supervisor.
  • If you will be away from your desk for an extended period, consider changing your message or forwarding your phone to your cell.
  • Check your voicemails regularly.

Text Messaging/Instant Messaging/E-Mails

  • Respond within 15 minutes. If you are unable to respond promptly, be sure to apologize.
  • If you will be away for an extended period of time, create an away message in Outlook and Teams.
  • Be clear and concise in emails and IMs.
  • Do not leave the subject line blank, and be sure the subject line is relevant to the content of the email. If the conversation/chain has switched, consider beginning a new conversation with a relevant subject line.
  • Be patient. Give your recipient(s) time to respond before sending follow-up messages. Inversely, be sure to kindly follow up if the recipient has not replied to a high-priority message or sent an important deliverable.
  • Use proper spelling, grammar and punctuation. Use a resource such as Grammarly if you’re unsure of grammar or spelling.
  • Try to avoid writing in all caps or using excessive exclamation points.
  • Proofread emails/messages before sending. Do a quick tone-check (especially if the message is going to a client).
  • Be cautious of using “Reply All.” Always edit the recipients to make sure the message is going to relevant parties.
  • Do not forward an email with absolutely no instructions or comment. Assuming the recipient(s) know what to do or how to react will only cause confusion.
  • Acknowledge receipt of an email, even if it is simply a “thank you” or “received.”

Video/Phone Conferencing

  • Unless you’re dressed for success, keep the call on audio.
  • Ensure your workspace is quiet, uncluttered and free of background distractions.
  • Mute your microphone when not speaking.
  • Speak loud and clear, especially if driving.

Following these business etiquette tips in 2020 will ensure healthier communication and a more respectful corporate culture.