Operating in a corporate environment with colleagues and superiors is a whole different world from what you knew at school – or in public situations where you don’t know anyone. Respect and thoughtful consideration are the hallmark of congenial work relations. Consider these niceties as you go through your day:


  • Whoever gets to a door first opens it for the other person. There is no gender specific rule.
  • If you go through a revolving door first and someone is following, push the door hard enough for you both to twirl through.
  • Hold the elevator door for someone on the outside of the elevator, then step in.
  • Don’t stand in front of the elevator buttons and if you are nearby offer to push buttons for those entering.
  • Meetings

  • Be on time and be prepared. Bring a pen or lap top to take notes.
  • When entering someone’s office wait for them to ask you to be seated.
  • Be careful with coffee or water on someone’s desk.
  • Never put your briefcase or purse on the desk or board room table.
  • Don’t help yourself to candies on peoples’ desks unless they are offered to you, at least initially.
  • Never slouch in any chair in any situation, at your own desk or with others.
  • Don’t be a clock watcher.
  • When a meeting is held in someone’s office, leave the office when the meeting is over and continue chatting outside their space.
  • Introducing Others

  • Introduce yourself to new people when no one else is around to introduce you.
  • Give your own name quickly if you are not introduced immediately, then shake hands.
  • Mention the name of the person of greatest authority/age or importance first.
  • Gender doesn’t determine who gets introduced first.
  • If a client is involved, he or she should be introduced first.
  • Older people have seniority over gender, but not over rank.
  • When introducing a client to a Director, the client takes precedent.
  • If someone uses their first name only, introduce with only the other person’s first name.
  • Use the formal Mr., Mrs., Ms until permission is given to do otherwise, depending on your relationship and age.
  • Introduce visiting spouses and strangers to the staff.
  • Keep it short and sweet. Say each person’s name only one time.
  • If introducing a woman with a different name from her husband announce: “This is Jane’s husband, Sam Wright.”
  • Don’t use nicknames, DOGS, NOT OWNERS DESERVE NICKNAMES.
  • Walking

  • It used to be that women walked on the man’s right side, but now to prevent harassment by street people in doorways, it is suggested that woman walk on a man’s left side when walking outdoors.
  • Men do not offer an arm to a healthy woman… ladies, if they do offer, take it, humour them.
  • If a man offers a woman to go first, GO.
  • Standing

  • Stand whenever a person enters your office for the first time ever or that day.
  • Stand when a senior person or business partner/client enters your office.
  • Miscellaneous

  • Never, ever leave the ringer on your phone and never ever send a text or look at your messages while someone is speaking to you directly or in a meeting.
  • Don’t lean on walls or furniture.
  • Adapt a firm, confident handshake.
  • When you phone someone ask if this is a GOOD time for them to talk.
  • Turn away from your computer when someone enters your work space.
  • Use a person’s name when you are speaking with them. Always greet someone using their name.
  • When you greet someone in business, clasp their hand firmly, look them in the eyes, smile and pump their hand 3 – 4 times. Release.
  • Handover your business card with one or two hands with the card facing the recipient. Receive the card with two hands, read the card quietly then make a comment about any information on the card.
  • Refrain from filler words; um, you know and like can be career busters.
  • Imagine you are a fly on the wall. Look down at yourself every few minutes to assess how you look and feel. Use common sense. If someone were to take a candid photograph of you to put on the front page of the newspaper, how would you fair?

    Colleen Clarke, Career Specialist & Corporate Trainer


    Author of Networking How to Build Relationships That Count, How to Get a Job and Keep It

    Co-author of The Power of Mentorship; The Mastermind Group