3 modern business etiquette mistakes you could be making

Richard Tubb

While most of us are familiar with traditional etiquette when it comes to business – paying bills on time and returning telephone messages in a timely fashion, for instance – the influx of technology into business has seen a rise of the number of etiquette faux pas committed every working day.

You might even be making some of these modern business etiquette mistakes yourself, without even realizing it.

Turning up to tele-conference calls late

We’re all familiar with this mistake; a conference call is scheduled for 2pm and you’re on the call ready and waiting, only for the other party to turn up at 2:05pm with apologies.

It’s unlikely you’d be bold enough to turn up to an in-person meeting late, yet when our meeting is conducted via telephone or webcam, we leave it until the last minute and then panic as our webcam doesn’t work or we can’t login to the conference call correctly.

Don’t be the person who wastes everyone else’s time and turns up late. Make your cup of tea and sit down for your call five minutes early, giving yourself a short buffer to deal with any technical issues ahead of the call start time.

Trying to multi-task during meetings

If you’ve ever tried holding a conversation with a friend or family member only to realize they’re more focused on their Smartphone than you, then you’ll empathize with our next modern business mistake: not being present during meetings.

Oh sure, you may be there in person, but if you’re not paying attention to what the other person is saying during a meeting then it’s a waste of your time and theirs. Oh, and trust me when I say the other person notices you’re not paying attention and gets irritated by it.

Be present during meetings. Close the laptop lid. Turn your Smartphone to silent. Turn off email notifications. Give the meeting your full attention rather than trying to be present while reading and reply to email.

And if you can’t, are you sure you should be in the meeting at all?

CC’ing the whole world into your emails

While I understand the modern corporate culture of “covering your back” and CC’ing your manager, their manager, the boss, the boss' secretary, the company accountant, the boss' wife and the boss' wife’s best friend into any email, is it really necessary?

We all receive too much email, and the vast majority of the email we receive is typically not of direct interest or concern to us.

While it might seem “safe” to CC the world and his wife into emails, it’s just causing irritation to those who you’re copying in who simply aren’t interested.

Bonus points for resisting the urge to CC random people in to any email in which you’re praised, directly or indirectly. Everyone knows what you’re up to.


Just like traditional business, modern business etiquette is focused on good manners and common sense. If you wouldn’t perform in a certain way if you were face-to-face with a person, why behave any differently online?

Make sure to be mindful of how you behave in the modern business world – etiquette may often seem an outdated concept in the modern and increasingly cynical world, but it’s still very important to most people.