August 2, 2017 | By

24 Tips for Office Etiquette Training — The Thriving Small Business

I admit that I have been in the work force for a long time. However, it is disheartening to see the deterioration of basic etiquette and professionalism in the workplace.

Some say it is just “this generation.” I am not convinced – because I see it in all demographics.

I believe it is a symptom of a culture that is modeled from the top down.

Employees model the behaviors of leadership and an organization’s culture is built off of the behaviors of those who lead the organization.

Office etiquette and professionalism is important because it lays the foundation for productivity, efficiency and cohesiveness.

24 Tips For Office Etiquette Training

1. Knock First

This may sound elementary, but I’m amazed at how some people don’t think twice about walking through a closed door without knocking first.

Taking the time to knock first demonstrates respect for the person on the other side of the door.

2. Be Nice

Simply being nice to other people can have a significant impact on the work culture. Many people are dealing with life’s challenges, making it so important for us to be nice to each other.

We spend a good portion of our lives with co-workers, so let’s just be nice!

3. Answer the Phone

I am always surprised when I see someone in a conversation, their phone rings, and they simply allow the call to go to voicemail. Answering the telephone on the first or second ring sends a message that the call is important.

Creating customer service standards helps employees understand the expectation for responding to phone calls.  It shouldn’t matter who the caller is. A professional always responds quickly.

4. Don’t Answer Your Cell Phone

Ringing cell phones can be very disruptive in business meetings. Meeting ground rules should include turning off cell phones and waiting until there’s a break or the meeting ends before you respond to cell phone calls.

Some organizations don’t allow employees to have their phones on their desk or in their work area. This might not be a bad idea.

5. Don’t Interrupt Meetings

Have you ever been in a meeting and someone boldly interrupts?

When a group of employees are in a business meeting, wait until the meeting is finished to interrupt.  When people are focused on discussing a topic, it is only polite to wait until they are finished.

6. Don’t Interrupt Conversations

Sometimes you are in the middle of a conversation with someone and a co-worker will walk up and interrupt the conversation.

If you approach a couple of people engaged in a conversation, don’t interrupt. Politely wait until they are finished.

7. Use Wisdom When Communicating

Sharing sensitive information appropriately can be tricky. Verbal communication is usually more effective than electronic because it minimizes the likelihood of a miscommunication – that can easily happen with email or text.

For example, if you need to inform an employee that their work schedule is changing, a face-to-face conversation will allow them the opportunity to ask questions and eliminate any confusion.

8. Respect Authority

Everyone has a boss. We don’t always agree with the decisions that are made, but it is important to treat those in authority with respect.

Professionals understand  the importance of respecting those in authority.  Strive to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

9. Speak Quietly

We all know the “loud” person in the office. They often make a commotion without even knowing how distracting they are.

Be aware of your surroundings. When you’re on the phone, conversing in the hallway, or visiting a co-worker at their cubicle, be sensitive to others by speaking quietly around those who are working.

10. Don’t Play Loud Music

Some people work better when they can listen to music. However, we should always be respectful of others in the office.

If you choose to play music at your computer, use head phones instead of your speakers. That way your music doesn’t distract those people who prefer to work in a quiet environment.

11. Don’t Pace While Talking on Your Cell Phone

Pacing up and down the hallway while talking on the cell phone is rude and distracting.

Personal phone calls should be minimized at work, and these conversations should happen in a private area or office.

If you sit in a cubicle and you get a personal call on your cell phone, you should either excuse yourself to go outside, or you should use a conference room or office.

12. Show up on Time to Meetings

Being late for meetings is rude and affects the flow of the meeting and team dynamics.

Be considerate of others, and if you are invited to attend a meeting, show up on time.

13. Return Voicemail Messages

When you get a voice mail message, return it as soon as possible. The person would not have called you if they didn’t need something. Be courteous enough to call them back – as soon as possible.

14. Respond to Emails

Always try to respond to emails in a timely manner. It’s not only courteous to respond quickly to an email, but it can also affect the productivity and efficiency of the organization because the sender is often in a holding pattern until they hear back from you.

For example, if  someone from the purchasing department emails you with a question about an order, they can’t place the order until you respond to them.

15. Be Polite

Most people were taught to be polite as children.  Polite means saying please, thank you and having good manners.

Courteous behavior goes a long way and should be the expected approach to communicating.

16. Be Friendly

We spend a lot of time with our co-workers, so try to make the most of it and enjoy each others’ company. Be friendly and you’ll find that you have lots of friends!

17. Offer to Help Others

Sometimes we all need a helping hand to get us over the hump of a major project.

Watch for these opportunities and offer to help your co-workers. Helping others in their time of need will benefit you down the road when you’re in a similar situation.

18. Clean up After Yourself

If you haven’t been told this on the job yet, let me give you a revelation – your mamma doesn’t live here!  And there’s no one assigned to clean up after you.

Be considerate of others and clean up your mess in the kitchen or lunchroom.

19. Maintain a Neat Desk

Maintaining a neat and orderly desk supports efficiency and productivity.

Take a few minutes at the end of every day to tidy up your desk and get reorganized.  Tomorrow, you’ll be happy you did.

20. Arrive to Work on Time

Arriving to work on time is critical and can impact your long-term employment.  Get in the habit of arriving 15 minutes early and see how impressed your boss will be.

21. Give Others the Benefit of the Doubt

Don’t make assumptions or jump to conclusions. Sometimes things aren’t as they appear, making it important to give others the benefit of the doubt. Take the time to gather all the facts before making a determination.

22. Leave a Room the Way You Found It

Always leave a room the same way you found it. If you have a meeting in a conference room, clean up after the group, straighten the chairs, and make sure the room is orderly and ready for the next person to use.

23. Pick up Trash

Our work environment is our home away from home.  If you see a piece of trash on the floor, take ownership and pick it up.

The custodial people may be hours from seeing it. Be the first to set the example and see how contagious it becomes.

24. Don’t Air Dirty Laundry

A work environment is like being in a family.  Things happen.  But like your family, some things should not be discussed with anyone outside the family or the office.  Be sensitive to sharing negative things about your work. It’s inappropriate, unprofessional, and unwise.

Take the time to set basic office etiquette expectations for employees and hold them accountable for behaviors while at work. These simple steps will make your office one that is considerate of others and fosters a culture of respect.

Do you have any office etiquette tips to share?

This article is by Patricia Lotich from


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