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5 Simple Rules of Business Etiquette

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 - 09:11

The funny thing about business etiquette is that you get points for having it, but no one will actually tell you that you weren’t promoted because you didn’t have enough of it.

It’s like one of those sneaky unmentionables like smelling good or having nice teeth – we will compliment you on the good and not mention the bad.

To quote the Wall Street Journal (March 2014), “likable people are more apt to be hired, get help at work, get useful information from others and have mistakes forgiven”.

In modern day business one of your most important assets is your ability to be liked. It is almost impossible to have a positive impact on customers, culture and, dare I say it, revenue, if you have annoying habits or are just plain annoying.

So what is the skinny? In my book, Etiquette Secrets: A Simple Guide to Mastering the Art of Modern Manners, I’ve dedicated an entire chapter to the subject of business etiquette, but here are my top five tips to help you get along.

1.  Dress well.  There is a direct link between dressing well and the perceived quality of your work and let’s not forget that the way you look is helping to shape your ‘personal brand’. Ensure your brand is well perceived by showing a polished and professional image.

2. Make ‘after you’ one of your things.  Especially at the lift. This is simple good manners and shows that you are considerate of others, which always goes down well. You’re also using this to acknowledge others, and show that you are not just stuck in your own selfish bubble. Trust me, this will take you a long way.

3. Don’t steal food from the office fridge. This really ticks people off. Seems obvious, right? Wrong! Stealing food from the office fridge is listed as one of the most common irritations in the workplace. Don’t do it. If you really need to take something, make sure you ask permission first, but I would always recommend fending for yourself when it comes to office catering.

4. Resist being addicted to your mobile – seriously – just because it makes a noise does not mean you need to drop everything (it’s probably eBay or online betting anyway).

5. Finally, remember the workplace is now gender neutral – give way to those senior by position and try to do it with a smile. You will be remembered.


Hear more from Anna Musson and find out what she will cover in her Personal Branding and Professional Etiquette Workshop at AIM Sydney on Thursday 18 September.


Etiquette Secrets: A Simple Guide to Mastering the Art of MannersAnna Musson AFAIM, author of Etiquette Secrets: A Simple Guide to Mastering the Art of Modern Manners, works with many of Australia’s top 100 companies in finance, professional services automobile, IT, consulting and retail sectors. She also trains many of our sporting rough diamonds including the AFL, Australian Rugby Union, the NRL and our Olympic athletes at the Institute of Sport. 

Anna is a regular on Sunrise, The Morning Show, The Project, and on 3AW, 4BC, 2GB, 2UE, and the ABC network.