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  • Writer's pictureSarah Butler

Workplace Etiquette: 12 Tips To Maintain Professionalism In The Office

Having a good sense of the etiquette of an organisation is of utmost importance in the workplace to maintain your positive reputation and ensure career success. Good manners in the office demonstrate professionalism, respect, and consideration for colleagues and superiors.

Knowing proper etiquette helps foster good relationships among team members, which can result in greater productivity and efficiency at the workplace. Moreover, the importance of knowing good manners in the office cannot be overstated as it is an essential part of career advancement. A person who is mindful of office etiquette is likely to stand out among their peers and may have more opportunities for career growth.

According to Hubspot there are five types of etiquette in business:

  • Workplace/office

  • Meal/social

  • Communication

  • Professionalism

  • Meeting

Bear in mind that etiquette, manners or rules of conduct can be written or unwritten and may differ according to organisational culture. This article provides essential, universal etiquette tips to help you maintain professional behaviour in any work setting.

12 Top tips for professional etiquette

Demonstrating professionalism includes contributing to a positive, effective, and welcoming workplace. Professionalism is not just about being polite and adhering to the rules, but more so about treating everyone with respect, being open and honest, and knowing how to handle difficult situations.

Dress & groom well

It is important to dress and groom appropriately for the workplace. Even if your workplace is super-casual make sure anything you wear is clean and presentable and that it complies with the company’s dress code, which may be formally written, or unwritten. If you are unsure of what to wear take your cues from your manager's attire. You are better to dress a notch higher than what you think rather than risk being too casual.

Remember this famous quote:

"Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have."

Even if you work from home, ensure you are wearing appropriate clothing for video calls, even if they are just internal to your workplace. This is a sign of respect for your organisation, the position you hold and a reflection of your professionalism.

Be respectful

Being respectful goes beyond showing up on time and following the rules. It is about showing consideration for your coworkers, adhering to their needs, and being mindful of their time. It is important to be respectful of all people, regardless of their department, level, or position. It involves active listening, valuing all opinions and ideas even if you don't agree with them, understanding the value of diversity, and helping each other out.

Ultimately, when everyone respects each other, it creates a positive and safe environment where employees can be productive without fear or tension. Respect for colleagues should always be a priority in the workplace.

Be punctual

Being on time is an important aspect of being professional. It is important to be on time to meetings, appointments and other professional engagements to show that you take your responsibilities seriously and value the time of those you are meeting with. Punctuality also reflects well on your commitment to the job and your ability to manage your time effectively. Being late to meetings and other events can give the impression of being careless and unprofessional, and can damage your reputation in the office.

Furthermore, being punctual can be seen as a sign of respect for your colleagues and their time. If you are constantly late, your colleagues may start to feel undervalued, as though their time is not as important as yours. This can create a negative impression and lead to tension in the workplace.

If you do not arrive on time consistently, your manager will follow up with you. If this is a recurring issue, it could impact your performance review.

Avoid gossip

Gossiping in the office is a major no-no if you want to be regarded as a professional. Not only is it unprofessional, but it can also create a negative and toxic environment. Gossiping breeds mistrust, hurts morale, and can quickly lead to a lack of respect amongst colleagues. It can also have serious effects on productivity, as it can lead to a lot of wasted time.

So if you want to be regarded as a professional, it's important to practice discretion and avoid gossiping. Instead of talking about other people, focus on doing a great job. That's the surefire way to get noticed and be respected by your colleagues.

If you have a situation with someone, you should address it directly with the person you have an issue with. If a person is gossiping about a colleague, you can assertively explain that you do not engage in gossip. If you are on the receiving end of gossip, you should ignore it and rise above it rather than becoming embroiled in a potential conflict.

Follow the rules

Apart from unwritten standards of etiquette your workplace may have written rules, and it is important to follow them.

It is important to follow rules in an office in order to create a safe and comfortable working environment. Rules help to ensure that everyone is on an even playing field and that everyone is aware of what is expected of them. Obeying rules also helps to protect employees from potential legal liability, create a safe workplace, and ensure compliance with relevant laws. Following rules also helps to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and create a positive company reputation.

If you have rules that you do not understand, it is important to ask your manager or HR department what they mean so you can adhere to them in the future. You will find rules in things like a code of conduct, and organisational policies, procedures and protocols.

Take responsibility

The most successful people in the world are those who are willing to take responsibility for their actions. If something goes wrong in the office, it is important to take responsibility for your part. This shows your colleagues that you are committed to improving and that you do not blame anyone else for your mistakes.

You should make sure to apologise when necessary and follow up with solutions on how to fix the situation and ensure the same mistake is not repeated. If you blame others for your mistake or try and hide it, your manager is less likely to trust you with new responsibilities.

Be honest about your mistakes, avoid blaming others, notify your manager as soon as you become aware of it, and come armed with ways to make it right.

Have a positive attitude

A positive attitude can improve your team’s productivity, your manager’s mood, and help you make connections with colleagues you may have not spoken to before. Having a positive attitude can help to resolve conflicts and contribute to a problem-solving not problem-creating environment.

It is important to have a positive outlook, even when things are not going your way. This will show that you are resilient and can handle any challenges that may come your way. It will also show that you are able to stay optimistic even when faced with difficult tasks. Not only that, but having a positive attitude will make you more approachable and a better team player. It will help to bring out the best in you, and your colleagues will appreciate your hard work and dedication.

It is important to be positive when working with your manager and your colleagues. You do not want to come off as fake, but you do want to make sure you are focusing on the positive aspects of the work and those around you.

Ultimately, having a positive attitude in the office is key to being seen as a professional by those around you.

Accept feedback

As a professional, it is important to be able to accept negative or constructive feedback openly and use it to improve your performance.

It’s not always easy to take criticism, but it can be a great learning experience. The key is to view feedback as an opportunity for growth rather than something personal.

It’s also important to stay focused on the feedback and not get defensive or angry. Listen carefully and ask questions to make sure you understand the feedback correctly. Make sure you thank the person who provided the feedback, even if you don't agree with it.

Taking criticism can be difficult but if done in the right way, it can lead to professional growth and better results in the future. Therefore, it is important to accept constructive criticism in order to learn and grow throughout your career.

Be flexible

Being flexible at work and accommodating changes without making a fuss is an essential part of any job. It is important to recognise that the needs of the organisation and its clients or stakeholders come first and are more important than your own needs.

You may need to stay late, show up early, change plans, move meetings, and more to make things work. You must understand that this is all part of the job and that it is not always possible to stick to a strict schedule. This way, we demonstrate our commitment to the organisation and its goals while also maintaining a professional attitude.

Be diplomatic

It is important to be diplomatic at work, even if you don't particularly like the people you are interacting with, it is essential to maintain a level of professionalism and a spirit of cooperation. You may not always agree or appreciate how a particular person conducts themselves, but by being diplomatic, you can keep the peace in the office and show a tolerance for diversity. This can help maintain a healthy work environment and can cultivate positive relationships with coworkers.

Be mindful of how you communicate including your choice of words, tone, and body language. Being honest and upfront is great but don't stray into being blunt or rude. Deliver tricky feedback with positive intentions of trying to help the receiver to improve - not criticise or lay blame.

It is important to be respectful of everyone’s opinions and ideas, regardless of what they are. It’s also important to be considerate of others’ feelings and use tact when addressing any disagreements. Diplomacy requires good communication skills and the ability to listen. You should also be aware of cultural differences and be mindful of language barriers.

By being diplomatic, you can create a more positive work environment and increase morale. Furthermore, it can help you build strong relationships with colleagues and improve collaboration. Even if a situation is tense, a diplomatic approach can help to defuse it and ensure the issue is resolved quickly and fairly. So the next time you’re in a difficult situation, remember to stay calm and be diplomatic in the way you communicate with others. It’s an essential skill for any professional.

Keep your word

Keeping your word is a vital part of being professional at work. Whether you are making a big commitment or a small one, it is important to ensure that you keep it. If for some reason you know that you will be unable to keep your promise at work, then it is important to give the other person plenty of notice wherever possible. This way, they can prepare and make alternate arrangements if necessary.

Keeping your word and being reliable can help build trust and credibility with colleagues. When people know they can rely on you, they will be more likely to come to you in the future when they need help or advice. Therefore, keeping your promises is essential for developing a successful career and a positive reputation in the workplace.

Remain calm

It is essential to remain calm at work, particularly in heated situations. When things become stressful and your emotions are running high, it is important to take a step back and assess the situation before responding. A professional stays composed and collected, even when dealing with difficult clients or colleagues. Taking a few moments to steady yourself will help you stay focused and ensure that your reputation as a professional remains intact.

It is also important to stay calm in the office, even when faced with challenging deadlines or unexpected workloads. Stress can be motivating and can help you stay productive, but it can also lead to poor decision-making and emotional outbursts if not managed properly. By staying calm in the office, you will be better equipped to handle complex situations and make decisions that are best for both you and your organisation.


Knowing the proper etiquette in the workplace is essential for any professional. It helps create a professional and respectful environment, which can lead to better communication, collaboration, and productivity.

Etiquette also sets the tone for how you should interact with your coworkers and other stakeholders. Being polite, respectful, and mindful of others' needs is essential for creating a healthy and effective workplace. Knowing the proper etiquette can help you create a harmonious and successful working environment.

Lastly, good business etiquette can help you stand out from the crowd, make a positive impression, and therefore further your career.

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