Skip to content

Center for Experiential Learning

Professional Etiquette

First Impressions


  • Always have a firm handshake; a floppy handshake portrays lack of confidence and can send the wrong signal.
  • Maintain eye contact and smile while shaking hands; it reinforces your confidence and friendliness.
  • Introduce yourself and say, “it’s nice to meet you”. 

Mind Your Manners

  • Remember the basics: say please and thank you, use Mr. and Ms. when addressing others, open doors for others, etc.

Social Etiquette

  • Be sociable but avoid gossip and controversial issues such as religion, politics, etc.
  • Do not show up late to appointments or be a no-show.
  • Ask questions and show sincere interest.
  • Excuse yourself if you must leave a conversation. 

E-mail Etiquette

  • Use professional tone and language in the body of the e-mail AND the subject line.
  • Address superiors and those you might not know as Mr., Ms., Dr., or Professor unless they have made it obvious that it is acceptable to address them.
  • Do not use emoticons, slang, or abbreviated words.

Telephone Etiquette

  • Identify yourself when calling someone.
  • Use a welcoming tone. It also sometimes helps to smile while you are talking.
  • Be polite. How you treat the caller will determine their impression of you.

Cell Phone Etiquette

  • Do NOT text or talk on your cell while in the middle of a meeting or appointment. This is viewed as rude and sends the message that whoever is on your phone is more important than who is in the meeting with you.
  • Turn your ringer off when in class, at a job interview, in a meeting, etc. It is viewed as a disruption.
  • Make sure your voicemail message is professional and avoid ring back tones.

Dining Etiquette

  • Wait until your host begins eating to start eating.
  • When passing a dish or condiment, always offer it to everyone else first. Pass to the right.
  • Chew with your mouth closed and do not talk with food in your mouth.
  • If you must leave the table, politely excuse yourself and place your napkin on your chair.
  • For more dining etiquette tips, visit: