Workplace Communication Etiquette

Respect your co-workers’ time by being concise in your office communications.
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Modern technologies have resolved many communication problems. Yet, those same innovations have kicked up some new controversies. Your office manager might want you to copy her on routine emails, but your boss might accuse you of pushing him into in-box overload if you hit the submit button too often. An easy rule to follow when staying within the boundaries of workplace communication etiquette is to modify your approach according to individual preferences. Go ahead and copy some colleagues on emails, but find other channels like instant messaging or voice mail to keep others informed.


Make your point early in your communication. Use a headline approach so your audience immediately knows why you are contacting them. For emails, write a concise subject line such as “Monthly Reports Due Friday." Your voice mails should make immediate reference to your topic so the recipient doesn't have to listen to several seconds of your message before realizing you want something. If you stop by a colleague's cubicle, ask if she has time to discuss your specific topic before you launch into your request.


Ceremony still counts, even in today's business casual cultures. Utilize correct grammar and spelling in your emails and memorandums. Save the upper case prose for your personal messages that you send from home. Research shows that readers have a tougher time grasping a message that's written in all capitalized or lower case lettering, reports. When you leave a voice mail, speak slowly and always recite your telephone number twice so that the recipient doesn't have to hit replay to catch all those digits. Respond to your emails and voice mails within 24 hours, even if you have to tell the person that you cannot assist them right now. Your prompt reply shows that you are sincere, just busy.


Convey facts and figures during working hours, not personal feelings. Steer clear of sounding demanding in your electronic and voice messages because your recipient could easily misconstrue your tone as rudeness and fail to respond to your communication. Schedule a face-to-face session if you need to hold a difficult conversation with someone, instead of relaying your sentiments through an impersonal message. Profanity and humor also can backfire, so avoid cursing and joking in your office communications.

Face Time

An in-person meeting sometimes can be more effective than using cutting-edge technologies. Many young professionals prefer one-on-one communication with their co-workers even though they've grown up in front of computer screens, according to Unlike emails and voice messages, these two-way exchanges require you to demonstrate a different level of manners such as listening without interrupting. Pay attention to your body language because you may be telling your co-worker that you'd be happy to assist with a project but your clenched hands and lack of eye contact tell another story. Also, take note that your ear buds might mean that you prefer background music while working, but a visitor could interpret them as a sign that you want to be left alone.

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