Business Etiquette / Cross Cultural Differences / Inter-Generations / Managing People


In 2016, @ETIQhour will concentrate on the top 15 Business Etiquette Essentials every future leader will want to know. Each fortnight a new Essential has been released: Essential #5: Watch your language.

Whether it’s your own verbal communication or long form hand or email (written communications), these days we are often much less formal than in times past. Be very careful to choose your words wisely. It goes without saying, doesn’t it – rude, offensive or derogatory language is completely unacceptable, but in my books so is slang and jargon. While it may be commonplace in our society, it’s never acceptable in a professional atmosphere.

You should always be friendly when networking or meeting a potential client, but that doesn’t mean you should speak to them like a friend. Remember that the beliefs, hot button topics, topics that offend and thresholds of offense are incredibly varied. We all occasionally inadvertently offend even our friends; so, remember how easily you can offend someone if you don’t know what they’re sensitive to. Keep your language, your jokes and your stories clean until you’ve been given requisite social cues that you can begin to slowly increase the depth of your personality. This doesn’t mean you need to be boring. It just means that you should be aware of your own preferences for humour and your own thresholds of offence so you can empathise and understand how those might vary in others. Don’t take anything for granted.

If you’re in the habit of swearing at work, stop. Even if you do it only when you’re angry, many people will be so shocked by your inventive variations on the F work that they’ll be unable to concentrate on what you’re trying to say. Swearing does not make you appear more intelligent, in fact, quite the opposite.