Business Greeting Etiquette

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First impressions are mighty powerful. You don't get a second chance, so be on top of your game when greeting others in your workplace or other business settings. While professionalism will go a long way, it is helpful to know some of the rules of the game, such as when to speak first or the proper way to shake a hand. Before interacting in an international setting or with visitors from other lands, learn the business greeting etiquette for their culture, too.

The Everyday Greeting

The common American greeting, "How are you?," is customary even in the workplace. Okay, so no one actually wants to know how you really are, but you should know what's expected of you just the same. The correct way to respond is with something positive, such as "great," "good" or "wonderful." Then return the greeting with the same words. Whoever is ranked higher in the company should speak first and probably expects a quick response. Do your best to include the person's name in every greeting. Learning, remembering and using names is an important part of etiquette. Exchange business cards if you have reason to communicate in the future.


Introduce people correctly by drawing on the information you know -- name or position title. Highest ranked individuals are introduced first, so if you are handling the introductions, be sure to begin at the top. It is perfectly fine to introduce yourself in a business setting if no one is around to do it for you. When you introduce yourself, include your first and last name without any title. Stand during business introductions, smile, make eye contact for a few seconds and give a firm, full-hand handshake. The American handshake has one to two shakes.

Phone Message

In this digital age, the message you leave on your phone may greet more people than you do! It is important that your phone greeting is positive and upbeat -- it may not always be a first impression, but your message always makes an impression on callers. Include your full name, the company name and instructions for the caller. Tell the caller to leave specific details that you need, such as phone number, spelling of name and nature of call. Keep the message short by eliminating anything obvious. When you are gone for an extended time, such as during vacations, record a message that includes when you will return calls and who the caller should reach if the issue cannot wait.

Greeting Cards

Greeting cards for holidays and other special occasions add a nice touch to the workplace and are simply a tasteful way to say hello. Choose cards that will not offend anyone's religion. Buy quality cards and mail them early enough to arrive before the holiday. Make the cards personal by including a few hand-written words inside, then sign the card and address the envelope by hand. A personal touch shows the recipient he is valued and helps maintain positive business relationships.