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What are some ways to maintain proper Business Etiquette?

Proper business etiquette is an important part for any workplace environment. Maintaining proper etiquette is an excellent way to demonstrate skills that are transferable to many industries. It’s also a great way to show your drive and motivation in the workplace.

Read on to find basic office etiquette tips and guidelines:

Customer Service 101


  • Maintain a clean, organized desk environment at all times.  
  • Maintain good eye contact with guests coming into the office.  
  • Smile! Make sure you greet everyone entering the office warmly. Be enthusiastic and keep a positive attitude. 
  • Look after your body language – for example no slouching or loudly shuffling papers (especially when speaking to a guest). 
  • No inappropriate discussions/conversations/gossiping.  
  • Avoid doing school work/class/studying during your working hours.  
  • Avoid being defensive if a guest/client approaches you with a problem. Take ownership of the problem and come to a conclusion – Seek assistance from fellow employees or senior staff if needed. 

Phone Etiquette

If part of your job involves answering phone calls, it is best to stick to a script which will get the caller an answer quickly and efficiently. Here are some scripts you can follow which apply to different circumstances you may encounter.

You can follow this basic script when answering the phone: 

“Good morning/afternoon/evening, this is (Company name). How may I assist you today?”
“Sure, I would be happy to help you with that…” 

If you are confused or forget why the caller is calling, do not be afraid to ask! Consider restating the issue/topic back to the caller to have a clear direction of what service/assistance they are seeking.

Have a notepad handy in case you need to take notes down about the call. This is especially useful if the call needs some discretion of privacy.

Follow this basic script for when someone on the phone asks to speak to a specific person: 

  • Good morning/afternoon/evening, this is (Company name), How may I assist you today?
  • “May I ask who is speaking and the purpose of your call?” 
    • Don’t be afraid to ask the caller to spell their name, especially if it is unclear!
  • “Ok, please hold. I will check to see if they are in the office…” 
  • If the person being asked for is unable to speak, make sure to take a message!  

When taking a message, ask for:  

  • Person’s name and phone number 
  • Where they are calling from 
  • Purpose of the phone call 
  • Urgency of the response  
  • Date and time of the call 

Prioritize contacting the person with the message, as it could be a call they were supposed to be expecting.

Follow this basic script for when you are unsure about how to answer a question: 

  •  “I am not clear about your question. Would you be able to repeat what it is you are calling in regards to?” 
  • “Sure, please hold while I get the answer to your question.” 
  • If you need to, put the caller on hold and ask a fellow staff member for assistance. If it will be a long hold, being transparent and updating the caller will be better than to leave them holding without anything.  

Some calls may result in situations where you may have to go “off-the-script”. Be sure to be courteous and polite. Keep a positive attitude, and remember: it’s another person on the other end of the line!

When ending the call, use a standard and proper farewell:

“Thank you for calling (Company Office)! Have a great rest of your day.” 

Email Etiquette

Proper email communication is essential in the workplace. Emails in the workplace are a formal method of communication therefore it is important you represent yourself professionally. Each email should include: 

  • Proper greeting (Dear, Hi, etc.) 
  • Be specific (make sure you are clear in your purpose for the email). A proper subject line summarizes the reason for the correspondence.  
  • Stay concise (most people are very busy and do not have time for long emails, therefore, stay to the point)   
  • Reply to emails of the same topic in the same thread. Avoid the clutter of a messy inbox! 
  • After 2-3 replies in the same thread you no longer need a greeting as it is a continuation of the conversation  

Make sure to check out our page on dressing appropriately in the workplace, Why is it important to dress appropriately for a job setting? And check out our other pages on Skill Development.

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