Business Etiquette

Employers rate candidate soft skills - poster text and additional information below
poster text

First Impressions Count

The First 12 Words you speak should include some form of thanks if appropriate. When meeting someone for the first time, express your gratitude.


  • Thank you for scheduling this meeting (or)
  • It is a pleasure meeting you (or)
  • I appreciate the time you have taken to arrange for us to meet.

The First 12 Steps you take should be those of confidence. Whether you're walking from the parking lot to an office building or down a hall corridor, walk with a purpose. People who walk 10% faster than they normally do are perceived as getting more done. So quicken your pace!

The First 12 Inches from your head down should feature impeccable grooming. Your hair, collar, tie/scarf and other accessories should be a reflection of the quality person you are.

The Last 12 Inches from the floor to mid-calf should be very well-maintained. That includes shoes that are polished and look like new, even if they're not. It also means stockings that blend with your outfit, rather than detract from it. As George Frazier, columnist for The Boston Globe puts it, “Want to know if a person is well-dressed? Look down.”

Rules of Introduction

  • Stand Up
  • Smile
  • Always Shake Hands Firmly
  • Make Eye Contact
  • Repeat the Other Person's Name

If You Don't Have It, Get It

Employers have revealed the following professional attributes as most widely sought after by decision makers:

  • A sense of self-worth. If you don't believe in yourself, how can your employer expect you to do a good job in representing a company? Give yourself credit for your strengths and work on your weaknesses!
  • The ability to communicate. Be convincing, be eloquent in your speech and be a good communicator. Asking questions and listening to the person answering them is an important part of communication.
  • Speaking skills. One of the greatest fears of people is speaking in front of a group. When speaking or making a presentation to groups of 30 or 300, be prepared, be confident and be yourself!
  • Writing skills. Whether you are speaking to someone or corresponding with the person the first 12 words you use should include a form of thanks. Give your writing style a conversational tone. Limit sentences to 10-12 words. Your cover letter and resume should be held to one page.
  • Giggling. Many people laugh to fill silent moments, rather then merely pausing. This is a distracting and unprofessional habit.
  • Hand gestures. Your hands should be used to enhance what you are saying rather than to detract from what is being said. Tests have shown that hands visible, rather than in pockets, projects a more positive image. The only legitimate form of touch in business is the handshake. A pat, nudge or touch of the arm can be perceived as being too friendly.
  • Throat clearing. To fill a silence, many individuals clear their throats rather than swallowing. Do you?

The Art of Mixing and Mingling

  • If you arrive at the get-together and find that you don't know anyone, be honest, be up-front and be the first to say hello.
  • When approaching a group of people whose body language appears to be open to having others join them, say "I don't know anyone here, and wanted to introduce myself. My name is_____________." Most polished professionals who understand what it's like to enter a room filled with unfamiliar faces will welcome you into their group -- at least for a few minutes.
  • Unless you are part of the clean-up committee, don't be one of the last to leave. Would you rather have others be sorry to see you leave, rather than sorry that you overextended your stay?

The 4 Key Ways to Feel Comfortable in a Room Full of Strangers

  1. Listen more than you speak!
  2. Approach individuals who are standing alone. In many instances, these people will be as pleased that you approached them as you may be to have someone to talk with
  3. Treat everyone you meet as thought he/she were the most important person at the gathering. By being more sincerely INTERESTED in others, you will be perceived as more INTERESTING.
  4. Stay within an arms-length distance of the individuals whom you've just met. One way of making strangers feel comfortable being around you is by respecting their territory. That means maintaining an arms length distance from them as you are conversing. If you get any closer, you may be perceived as invading the person's space.


Please review UCSB's Guidelines for Successfully Handling Job Offers