Date posted: 23/09/2016

What is business etiquette?

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If you're just starting out it's useful to know the ins and outs of working in the business world. Even if you have the right skills and knowledge, if you get your business etiquette wrong, it could cost you your job.

So what is business etiquette?

New employees often fail to establish themselves because they don't understand that etiquette rules in business differ from those in other settings. Knowing the difference is essential.

Business etiquette is about interacting with people, conveying the right image and behaving appropriately. It doesn't mean you can't be yourself. Just remember you're working in a more formal environment than uni and need to act accordingly.

Knowing the three R's of business etiquette is a useful guide: Recognition, Respect and Response.

Recognise other employees

Make a point of using people's names when you see them, even if you don't deal with them regularly. It shows you're interested in them and remember them. Writing down the names of people you come across in meetings is a good way to help remember them. And if you do forget a name say something, such as, "I'm so sorry. I have forgotten your name", rather than try to hide the fact that you forgot. Also, if you find out about colleagues birthday, make it note of it. A simple "Happy Birthday" goes a long way.

Respect other employees

Treat everyone with respect and courtesy whatever their position. The receptionist you say hello to each morning could be an important source of help further down the track. And the IT Manager will be a welcome friend when you need help urgently.

Also show respect in meetings by being on time, and thanking colleagues when appropriate. Small things make a difference and are remembered. Needless to say, if you do make a mistake, apologise.


Always return phone calls and emails. Even if you haven't got the answer they're looking for, let them know. Don't leave people waiting and wondering. Remember to also use appropriate salutations in each email. Using greetings such as "Hi" or "Hello" helps soften up the message, and are great to help build relationships.

Make "please", "thank you" and "you're welcome" part of your everyday vocabulary. These simple words can make all the difference in how you are perceived by others and how you make others feel.

The 3 R's are not an exhaustive list of to-dos, but rather just a great way to start - we are sure that you are doing most of these already. If you aren't, then it's a great time to start.

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