Basic Business Etiquette - Needed Now More Than Ever

We have to work with each other. We have to, day after day, share space, work flow, ideas and goals. Sure, we may not appreciate everything about one another, we may not even like each other very much, but we’ve got to make it work to get the job done. Being conscious of etiquette in the workplace can go a long way towards accomplishment, and humanity.

Business etiquette is not far different from “regular” etiquette. The setting and characters in the drama may change a bit but we’re all still people. Well, mostly…looking at you Siri & Alexa. What we call etiquette is really a slim framework of civilities that act as social lubricant in our forward motion. 

Here are five of the most important etiquette points to remember, regardless of position, status or income.

1.  Timeliness - Nobody like to be kept waiting. Make your appointment and keep it. Sure, alien invasions happen and traffic gets backed up, but frankly, who cares. Time is a valuable commodity, so treat it as such. 

2.  Politeness/Manners - Hopefully your mom taught you about “please,” “thank you,” not talking with your mouth full and holding the door for someone. People may not notice when you thank them, but they sure notice when you don’t. Being polite is the acknowledgement that you are not in this world alone, that we exist with other people. And these people would be very happy not to see your partially chewed microwave burrito when strolling into the lunchroom for a Snickers. 

3.  Listening Skills - Your ability to listen well may be one of the greatest soft skill/etiquette agreements. Let the person speak. Listen to what they’re saying and how they’re saying it and THEN form a response. Try not to talk over them. Do your best not to pre-judge what you think they’re going to say. Hear what they’re saying as they’re saying it. 

4.  Space Management - No, this is not a division of a new branch of the armed services. Space management is literally that, managing the space that you personally operate in during business hours. Maybe you have your own office - bully for you! Mostly likely you share space with another person or several other persons. No matter the case, be mindful of the spread. Keep your stuff in your area. That includes supplies, tchotchkes, food and garbage. We all have our personal space bubbles and in business, we are frequently called upon to share those bubbles. Be respectful.

This brings us to the last, most important etiquette point.

5.  Treat Others As You Would Like To Be Treated - Yes, The Golden Rule is golden for a big, honkin’ reason. It’s our mirror and one of the most important human skills to grow. If you don’t want to be yelled at, don’t yell at others. If you can’t find a way to be on time, you’ll be uninvited (and fired?). If you want your ideas and opinions to be valued, you must listen to others and appreciate the contributions of the people you work with. This is quid pro quo in its purest and most human form. Honor it. Be honorable.


LB Adams is the Founder of Practical Dramatics, headquartered in Charleston, SC.  Her company provides a wealth of soft skills training events that utilize theatre strategies to help humans grow more profitable conversations with other humans. To find out more about a Business Etiquette workshop, please reach out to us at 843-771-0753.