Have you wondered why all of us do the same set of things when we go to work each morning? We wear formal clothes or uniforms. We smile and greet our colleagues when we reach our workplace. Many of us put our phones on silent before beginning work. No one has told us how to behave or present ourselves at work, yet we understand what’s expected of us in such social settings.

We dress, speak and behave in this way because we want to appear professional. In doing so, we practice basic office etiquette. Read on to know more about what office etiquette entails and why is it important.

What Is Etiquette?

Etiquette reflects our cultural norms, ethical codes and various social conventions. It is always evolving with the demands of society. Etiquette varies from place to place and culture to culture. In a nutshell, etiquette is a complex network of unwritten rules that govern social interactions and behavior. By mastering the rules of etiquette, we can build confidence, improve our social skills and progress professionally.

Understanding and following etiquette can help us avoid uncomfortable situations. Here are a few advantages of behaving in socially responsible ways:

  • It creates good first impressions and enhances communication

  • It helps build lasting relationships and creates friendships

  • It improves empathy and makes us more emotionally intelligent

What Is Office Etiquette?

We practice different types of etiquette depending on the social situation we’re in. Office etiquette is a type of business etiquette that is instrumental to professional development and career advancement. Often used interchangeably with workplace etiquette, it can be defined as a set of rules and norms that govern social interactions in the workplace.

If you have been wondering what workplace etiquette examples are, read on:

  • Turning up for meetings on or before time

  • Being friendly and encouraging to coworkers

  • Respecting your coworkers’ working styles and schedules

Basic Office Etiquette

How you present yourself to your coworkers, managers and supervisors affects your professional development. Here are some office etiquette tips to ensure that you present yourself appropriately in business environments:

  1. Identify Your Office Culture

Understand your workplace culture and the standard codes of conduct. Learn about existing policies and procedures. Reach out to Human Resources in case you want to know more about the organization’s values.

  1. Dress Appropriately

Although many modern organizations don’t emphasize dress codes, you should wear appropriate attire to work. Consult your manager or coworkers if you’re unsure of what is appropriate. Make sure you go to work looking tidy and professional.

  1. Be Flexible And  Respectful

Keep an open mind at work. Be flexible to new ideas, thoughts and diverse perspectives. You may be required to work with different teams and collaborate with colleagues who have different work styles. Flexibility prevents conflicts from turning ugly.

  1. Avoid Unnecessary Discussions

Try not to engage in gossip. Oftentimes, we’re too quick to judge our coworkers and engage in unpleasant discussions. Treat everybody with equal importance and respect, irrespective of their job title.

  1. Minimize Distractions

Always keep your mobile phone and laptops on silent to avoid noisy distractions. Pay attention to your body language and habits and make sure you are not distracting. For example, tapping your feet repeatedly, fidgeting or yawning loudly can annoy others.

  1. Be Tidy

Keep your personal belongings in your personal space. Make sure that your desk is not cluttered. Clean your desk regularly and keep a small dustbin if needed. Use organizers such as files and penholders to keep your space neat.

  1. Maintain Meeting Etiquette

Always be on time for meetings. If you enter a meeting late, apologize and sit down quickly to avoid interrupting the flow of the meeting. Many meeting organizers send a meeting agenda beforehand to help you prepare for the meeting. Make sure you read it.

  1. Maintain Telephone Etiquette

If you need to take a call, use your earphones or step outside. If you’re on a conference call and you’re not speaking, mute yourself so that there isn’t any unnecessary disturbance. If you receive an emergency call during a meeting, excuse yourself before you answer it.

  1. Don’t Overstep Boundaries

Find the right balance between the personal and professional versions of yourself. As social creatures, we’re bound to share information about our personal lives with our coworkers. But it’s equally important to respect and maintain personal boundaries.

  1. Be a Team Player

Understand that people are unique and have different expectations and working styles. It’s acceptable to not be friends with everyone, but try to be professional and cordial in your interactions. Communicate with your teammates, encourage them, and if conflicts arise, manage or resolve them calmly and politely.


Good workplace etiquette not only teaches you how to impress others but also creates a positive and encouraging environment for everyone. Harappa Education’s Practicing Excellence course will show you how to go beyond your call of duty and engage with people ethically and respectfully. The Four Selfs of Excellence framework will help you present the best version of yourself. Sign up for the course to start learning workplace-appropriate behaviors today!

Explore topics such as What is Etiquette, Business Etiquette, Meeting Etiquette, Telephone Etiquette, Social Etiquette & Difference Between Etiquette and Manners from our Harappa Diaries section and improve your social skills to develop professionally.

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