Louise Fox, left, is the director and owner of Etiquette Ladies, which offers etiquette training seminars for women.


While business etiquette may not be a part of many university course outlines, it can often be the deciding factor on whether a job candidate gets the position or not.

“Fifteen per cent of your financial and career success comes from your skills and knowledge, while 85 per cent comes from your ability to connect with other people and engender trust and respect,” says Louise Fox, director and owner of the Etiquette Ladies, which offers etiquette training seminars. “Etiquette training helps increase your marketability, giving you that additional edge above as a well-rounded professional.”

In today’s workplace, Fox says the five top blunders employees commit are: inappropriate use of technology; disregard for other people’s time or shared cubicle space; inappropriate dressing or poor grooming; and inadequate communication skills.

“While judging others based on what they wear may seem superficial, packaging really does make a difference,” says Fox, who is also the etiquette consultant for W Network’s Style by Jury. “Think about your own consumer choices. Would you purchase something torn or in dirty wrapping?”

The use of e-mail and Blackberries in business interactions makes proper etiquette even more important. Professional relationships can move ahead or disappear all together on the strength of your electronic presence. Your choice of words, grammar, your tone and clarity are all very important. “E-mail and voicemail are so impersonal they increase the need for politeness. Every time you send an e-mail or leave a message to a potential employer, a client or your superiors you are creating an impression on the minds of the receiver,” says Fox.

For many, the etiquette training is something employees think they can learn on the job, but Fox believes that nonchalant attitude can cost you. “It’s not a good idea to simply depend on learning the ropes as you go along. In business often times you only get one chance to make that lasting impression. When you’re in an uncomfortable social or work situation, you freeze and appear incompetent, not knowing what to say or how to sell yourself,” says Fox.

tips from louise fox

  • Always speak in the positive during interviews or professional exchanges. When asked, “How are you?”, never say, "I’m not too bad." Instead says, "I'm doing very well thank you."

  • People tend to often remember the last things we say. Always end on a confident, self-assured note and this can make your receiver feel similar feelings, which in turn benefits how they relate to you.

  • Shake hands at the start of the interview or meeting. When shaking hands always stand; extend your hand thumb up; make palm-to-palm contact as well as eye contact; give two to three firm pumps from the elbow.