There are some basic business etiquette rules that everyone knows. For instance, it’s no revelation that you’re always supposed to show up on time and dressed appropriately for business meetings or functions. And it’s pretty common knowledge that job interviews should be followed up with thank you cards. Some etiquette rules are a little less well-known, though, and others have changed over time. To that end, here are seven business etiquette rules you may not have known:
1. Give business cards properly
Business cards are an important networking and communication tool for professionals to use. You know the design of your business cards should represent you or your business well, but did you know that there’s a right way to hand someone your card? Business cards should be handed from your right hand to the recipient’s right hand. They should also be facing away from you so that the recipient can read it immediately without having to turn it around or over.
2. Use discretion with business cards
Speaking of business cards, you shouldn’t hand one out to every business person you meet. In general, it’s best to use your own discretion when giving your card to someone, but there are two situations when etiquette says you definitely should: When someone asks for it or when someone gives you theirs.
3. Avoid some topics
You probably know that it’s best to avoid talk of politics and religion on a first date – but that same rule applies for any business situations, whether you’re chatting with co-workers at the water cooler or at a formal business event. Both subjects are too personal and can potentially cause a lot of problems, especially if a disagreement arises.
4. Stand during introductions
Shaking hands with a colleague, client or potential employer is one of the most well-known business etiquette rules, but it’s important to note that an introductory hand shake should be done standing up. This may not apply to informal meetings or offices, but should always be done when in doubt.
5. Know who takes care of the bill during business meals
One person should take care of the bill during a business lunch or dinner, and that’s the person who scheduled the meeting. If anyone offers to split the tab or pay for their own food and drinks, it’s OK to take them up on the offer, but the invited party is typically not responsible.
6. Refrain from practicing old-school gender etiquette
Some more traditional or corporate businesspeople may blend the lines between social and professional etiquette by letting women out of the elevator first or by pulling out a woman’s chair. However, these traditional gender etiquette rules should be avoided in modern business settings. Remember that it’s always considered good manners to open a door for someone, regardless of gender.
7. Don’t just drop by
If you work in an open office or one with cubicles, it can be difficult to stop yourself from simply walking over to someone’s desk and starting a conversation. Show respect to your colleagues by always asking first over interoffice chat or on the phone. If you work in cubicles, knock first before entering someone else’s space.