business communication etiquette - the rules for appropriately communicating in the workplace

Workplace Communication Etiquette: 6 Rules To Communicate Effectively

Who this micro-class is for

* Employees, managers, and professionals

What you’ll learn

* How to effectively communicate in the workplace

* The appropriate tone, language, content, and channels


* Less than 8 minutes to complete

About this micro-class

Effective communication is essential for success in any organization. The key elements of workplace communication etiquette, including tone, language, content, channels, and timing, help us communicate with clarity, professionalism, and consideration.

1. General principles of workplace communication

The importance of communication etiquette

Effective communication fosters a positive work environment.

  • Communication improves teamwork and collaboration.
  • Proper etiquette reflects professionalism and respect.

Communication in the workplace must be strategic

Workplace communication is meant to achieve a goal, such as asking for an action from a coworker or clarifying an issue with a partner. 

Always adapt the content, the form, and the channel of communication to our goal. Make your goals clear to your audience.

Understand your audience

Adapt your communication style, content, and channel to your audience. For example, communicating with clients may require a more formal tone, while an informal style may be more effective with coworkers.

Several factors can influence the most effective way to communicate, such as the company’s culture or industry practices.

When in doubt, observe how others communicate and mirror their style.

2. Tone and demeanor

Positive and respectful tone

Use a friendly and professional tone.

Avoid negative or confrontational language.

Be polite and considerate in all interactions.

Active listening

Pay attention to others.

Show empathy and understanding.

Avoid interrupting or dismissing ideas.

Non-verbal communication

Maintain eye contact in face-to-face meetings.

Be mindful of body language and facial expressions. Manage your professional presence and respect the appropriate dress code.

Apply good judgement when using emoticons in written communication.

3. Language and word choice

Clarity and conciseness

Use clear and simple language. Avoid complex words or long and complex sentences.

Avoid jargon and acronyms that others may not understand.

Be concise and to the point.

Avoiding offensive language

how to deal with difficult guests

Refrain from using discriminatory, offensive, or inappropriate language.

Be aware of cultural sensitivities and potential biases.

Proofreading and editing

Review written communication for spelling and grammar errors. When writing an email or letter, double-check the spelling of the recipient’s name.

Check for typos to maintain professionalism.

4. Content relevance and clarity

Purpose of communication

Clearly state the purpose of your message. Ensure that your audience understands your goal.

Ensure that your message aligns with your objectives. 

Try to anticipate how your audience will react to your message. Adjust your content or style accordingly.

Organizing information

Use a logical structure for emails and documents. Think about the best logical order to explain your content to your audience.

Highlight the key points and action items.

Avoiding overload

Don’t overwhelm the recipient with unnecessary details. Keep it short and to the point.

Prioritize information based on importance.

5. Appropriate communication channels

Choosing the right channel

Consider the message and its audience when selecting a channel.

Use email for formal documentation or request, instant messaging for quick queries, and face-to-face meetings for important or personal discussions. 

Group communication

Use group chats for quick updates and discussions.

Respect group chat norms and be mindful of excessive notifications.

6. Timing and responsiveness


Respond to messages and emails within a reasonable timeframe. It is best to respond to direct messages within 1 or 2 hours, and to emails within 24 hours.

Set clear expectations for response times within your team.

Managing urgent vs. non-urgent communication

Use “urgent” or similar labels sparingly.

Respect others’ time and prioritize urgent matters.

Professional out-of-office messages

Use informative and polite out-of-office messages when you’re away.

Workplace communication etiquette worst mistakes

Avoid the most common workplace communication mistakes.

  • Pay full attention when someone is talking.
  • Moderate the volume of your voice at any time.
  • Don’t interrupt others.
  • Don’t antagonize and avoid confrontation.
  • Avoid negative remarks and derogatory comments.

Resources and useful links