Best in Class: Etiquette and People Skills for Your Career

April 14, 2020

BY: Lynne Breil, CSP

Little did I know I’d be writing this blog at a time when not observing proper behavior and protocol could have such serious ramifications.

COVID-19 posed many challenges in communication, etiquette, and behavior. Some people have been forced to comply with protocol rules such as social distancing and staying at home. At the same time, others have chosen to take a more casual approach to mandates given by state and federal government, at times resulting in fines or arrest.

All of this ties into workplace behavior rather simply. If you don’t observe appropriate behavior, there are consequences. In the business world, those consequences could be missed job opportunities, lost sales, or business relationships gone bad.

What does proper behavior (a.k.a. “people skills”) look like in today’s workplace? Here are the most sought-after skills:


Professionalism can be defined as ‘a characteristic of or befitting a profession’. What is your workplace experience? Are you working on any advanced degrees or attending training to make you more knowledgeable? Are you trustworthy? Are you ethical? Do you demonstrate a positive attitude in the workplace? Do you walk your talk?

Business Etiquette

Do you pay attention to the way you look and move? Do you know how your voice sounds to others on the phone and face-to-face? Do you know how to shake hands properly, and when? Does your business attire suggest a more formal or more casual approach? How long does it take you to respond back to someone by email or phone? Can you navigate your way through a business meal or a networking event without looking like you’re using utensils for the first time?

Written and Oral Communication

Do your emails rival ‘War and Peace’ in length or are they concise and to-the-point? How good are you on your feet, when giving a presentation? Does your word choice suggest attention to detail or an embarrassing misstep? Do you write emails with misspelled words or ALL CAPS? Can you answer a tough question on-the-spot without rambling or babbling your way through an answer?

Interpersonal Skills

How do you act on-the-job? Are you likeable? Can you engage in small talk without looking like a ‘nerd’? Are you at ease talking with strangers or people from other organizations, industries, and cultures? Do you smile?


Does your team perceive you as competent? Do you know when to call a meeting that doesn’t waste others’ time? Can you help people solve problems and make decisions? Can others count on you to remain optimistic in tough times?


All of these components are part of the ‘people skills’ and business etiquette required to get, keep, or move up in a job. Critical times aside, the business world will continue to covet those who strive to be Best in Class, because etiquette and people still matter in business.


Lynne Breil is one of the authors of Best in Class: Etiquette and People Skills for Your Career. Learn more about the publication and request your copy here.



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