University of Toronto

Innis Alumni & Friends


Email etiquette

(Copyright graduate student union, Univ. of Calgary, 2009)

Be brief and to the point Do not write a long detailed Email when a few lines can make your point.
Pay attention to your spelling, grammar, and punctuation Errors in writing can give a poor impression and raise questions about your performance as a businessperson. It is also not appropriate to use short-form or emoticons in professional Emails.
Answer Emails quickly Responding quickly lets people know you are responsible. Procrastinating indicates a lack of professionalism.
Take care with attachments If it is very large, break it into several parts or compress it.
Take care with attachments No one likes to be shouted at.
Always proofread every message before you send it You will catch any typos, errors in grammar and make certain your ideas come across in the way you intended. One tip is to only fill in the recipients Email after you proofread the document, that way you avoid accidentally sending a half-finished or unchecked note.
Watch your use of “reply to all” Only use the “reply to all” when every person on the list needs to see your response.
Make the subject line meaningful The right words will prompt the reader to open your message quickly; however, do not abuse the use of “Important”, “Urgent”, or flagging Emails as high priority.
Do not forward joke Emails Do not forward any email that contains offensive or derogatory remarks of any kind, even if they are jokes in a professional environment.
Do not send angry Emails Do not respond to or send an Email message when you are angry or upset, it is best to wait until you have had a chance to cool down before responding.
Be careful what you write Email is not private and it is permanent. Be responsible with what you write. Never write anything that you would not want printed and shared among co-workers and friends.


Telephone etiquette

(Copyright graduate student union, Univ. of Calgary, 2009)

Have the right tools ready Have your agenda, a pen, pencil, and notepaper ready to write down any pertinent information about the conversation.
Focus your attention on the caller Once you pick up the phone, the individual on the other end is your primary concern. Do NOT get distracted by other conversations in your office or incoming Email messages. Never try to multi-task and do other work while on the phone. The caller will hear your keyboard clicking away.
Speak slowly, clearly, and distinctly Make it easy for the caller to hear you and understand what it is you are saying.
Be an active listener Do NOT assume you know what the caller is going to ask. Wait until they have finished speaking before replying. Ask questions or reiterate your understanding to clarify the caller’s request.
Eliminate silence If you need to take some time to look up information or retrieve a file, inform the caller of what is taking place. Do NOT just stop talking, if you leave the caller hanging, they might hang up.
No food or drink allowed! Do NOT eat, drink or chew gum while you are on the phone.
Would you hold please? If you must put the caller on hold ask their permission before doing so.
Close the conversation Make sure you know what follow up is necessary before ending the call and always follow through on your commitments.
Thank you for your time Always end the call on a positive note and call the caller by name.


13 tips for better business manners

(Copyright graduate student union, Univ. of Calgary, 2009)

Business is gender neutral Unlike social etiquette, business etiquette is genderless or gender-neutral. Therefore, both men and women should always stand when introduced and offer a firm handshake.
Opening doors
The first person to the door opens it.


Always make introductions; if you forget someone’s name, apologize and ask for the name again; Introduce people in business based on rank, not gender (introduce the person of lower rank to the person of higher rank). The client or customer is always the most important person. Begin the introduction by identifying the most important person – the client – first.

Always refer to someone as Mr. or Ms. Until he or she asks you to use a first name.

Handshakes First impressions develop in the first four to seven seconds. Make sure your handshake is firm.

Hugs and kisses are inappropriate in the business environment (unless you are in Hollywood). The handshake is the only acceptable physical contact between men and women in a business setting.

Nametags When attending business functions that require wearing a nametag, pin, or stick, the nametag on your right shoulder or lapel because the natural line of eyesight follows the right hand and arm. As you shake hands it will be easier for people to read.
Meetings When entering an office or conference room for a meeting, do not sit down until you have asked the person who called the meeting where he/she wants you to sit.

Do not put your briefcase, handbag, papers, or keys on the table during a meal or meeting. Place them on the floor beside or under your seat.

Never let your cell phone ring during a meal or meeting; set the phone to vibrate if absolutely necessary to have it turned on.

Notes A handwritten thank-you note to your customer will distinguish you from your competition.
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