Business Etiquette: How to Communicate like a Professional

How to ace that phone call, email and interview like a professional

What is business etiquette?

It is basically a code of conduct, or set of rules for communicating.

By practicing great business etiquette, you will show employers that you are confident, smart and trustworthy.

Business etiquette training is the most important training you can do. Bad communication is just not okay, and most employers will penalise you for it.

Think of employers as your fussiest, strictest teacher. They want perfect spelling, beautiful grammar and they really want to be addressed properly and politely.

Business etiquette is not hard to learn – by putting in the time now, you will save yourself from a world of professional-pain later.

Great manners and friendly communication is really impressive, it makes everyone warm up to you.

These tips can be the difference between being offered a job and being left behind after the interview.

Phone calls

The amount of people that I know who just don’t answer their phone is shocking. We live in a time where if we don’t recognise the number calling, we don’t pick up. Even if we’ve been applying for interviews.

You have to kick this habit. The phone fear is perfectly normal, but you have to get used to putting it to your ear and saying “Hello?”

This advice is so important beyond applying for roles – you have to be reachable when you’re working, too.

If it’s a really big issue for you, try to practice how you answer the phone. This will help you make sure that you sound strong, confident and professional.

You could answer the phone with:

“Hello, ____ speaking”

“Hello, ____ speaking, how can I help you?”

Even just a short “Hello?” is miles better than a groggy “Yeah?”

Dos

  • Answer the phone
  • Sound confident and friendly
  • Greet the caller properly

Don’ts

  • Ignore calls
  • Sound annoyed, busy or scared
  • Greet them with a “Yeah?”

In person

Face-to-face communication is the easiest of them all – or at least it should be.

It should come naturally to us, because we’re human. But when you’re put in an unnatural environment, like an interview or a business meeting, all natural charm can fly out the window.

Feeling nervous and uncomfortable is perfectly normal – just try to control your emotions, don’t let them control you.

As soon as you walk into a room, you’re making an impression.

Make sure to smile and look everyone in the eye. By remembering these two things you will come off as a much more friendly and engaging person.

When you meet someone for the first time, offer your hand and introduce yourself.

If you know the person already, offer your hand and say “Nice to see you again, ____” By saying their name, you make them feel important and remembered.

Dos

  • Always smile and be friendly, even if you feel nervous
  • Make eye contact with the people you’re talking to
  • Introduce yourself formally and properly
  • Greet business contacts with a firm handshake
  • Listen to what the other person is saying and wait for your turn to talk

Don’ts

  • Talk too much
  • Talk over the other person
  • Swear – even if you are making a joke, some people are instantly turned off by swearing
  • Move around too much – nervous energy is killer

For more interview advice, click here!

Words

The language you use is so important. Communicate well and you will impress your potential employers and clients instantly. Don’t and you can kiss any respect you thought you had earned goodbye.

Dos

  • Talk slowly
  • Talk calmly

Don’ts

  • Use modern slang, like “my bad” instead of “my mistake”
  • Use big words to try to sound cleaver
  • Say “like” too much
  • Use words that you don’t understand
  • Use acronyms

Email

This is where so many of us trip up.

In a professional environment you have to use proper language, spelling, punctuation and grammar to show respect over email.

When you start working, you will use email constantly. So, it’s not just that pre-interview email you have to worry about. You will be speaking with colleagues, customers, clients and your boss over email – the last thing you want to do is do it badly.

When you send a dodgy email, you show people that you don’t know how to write. People might think you’re stupid, unprofessional or just plain rude.

This is another skill that you can practice, and once you’ve got it right the first time, save it. We recommend having a folder of email templates on your computer for every occasion.

Make sure that you start your emails with a greeting, a simple “Hello” with the person’s first name is always your best bet.

And when you’re signing off, use a professional “Kind regards” or “Best wishes”, followed by your name. People sign off emails with the way they would like to be addressed, so if you have a professional nickname, like Alex instead of Alexander, use it here.

Always check your spelling, punctuation and grammar. Grammarly is a free app that checks all of your writing for mistakes – we recommend that you download it.

Dos

  • Start and end emails professionally
  • Use your name and theirs
  • Make sure that your emails are clear – what did you want to achieve?
  • Double-check your spelling, grammar and punctuation
  • Make sure you have capital letters at the start of every sentence and name

Don’ts

  • Greet people without professional respect
  • Forget to sign off
  • Send your email without reading it through

The DigitalGrads team are business etiquette and hiring experts. For more tips like these, sign up for our free training programmes. We even have a Remote Work and Interview Training Course that’s sure to help you get the job!

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Hi, I'm Daisy. I'm using my passion for writing to work with DigitalGrads on their content and social media campaigns.
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