Etiquette, one aspect of decorum, is a code that governs the expectations of social behavior, according to the contemporary conventional norm within a society, social class, or group. Usually unwritten, it may be codified in written form. Etiquette usually reflects formulas of conduct in which society or tradition have invested. An etiquette may reflect an underlying ethical code, or it may grow more as a fashion, as in eighteenth century Britain where apparently pointless acts like the manner in which a tea cup was held became associated with the upper class. Like "culture", it is a word that has gradually grown plural, especially in a multi-ethnic society with many clashing expectations. Thus, it is now possible to refer to "an etiquette" or "a culture", realizing that these may not be universal. In Britain, though, the word etiquette has its roots in the eighteenth century, becoming a universal force in the nineteenth century to the extent that it has been described as the one word that aptly describes life during the reign of Queen Victoria.

The etiquette of business is the set of written and unwritten rules of conduct that make social interactions run more smoothly. Office etiquette in particular applies to coworker interaction, excluding interactions with external contacts such as customers and suppliers. Both office and business etiquette overlap considerably with basic tenets of netiquette. The conventions of office etiquette address unique, office environmental issues such as cubicle life, usage of common areas, meetings, and other forms of social interaction within the context of a work setting. The rules of office etiquette may vary by region, office size, business specialty, company policy, and, to a certain degree, various laws governing the workplace. Larger organizations tend to have stricter, expressly written rules on etiquette. These rules are often echoed throughout an industry or economy. For instance, 49% of employers surveyed in 2005 by the American National Association of Colleges and Employers found that non-traditional attire would be a "strong influence" on their opinion of a potential job candidate.

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Author's Bio: 

This definition is part of a series that covers the topic of Business Etiquette. The Official Guide to Business Etiquette is Shannon Smith. Shannon Smith is a leading image strategist and founder of Premiere Image International She is a TV personality. Speaker, columnist and author of Power MannersHow to Use Your Personal Skills for Business and Social Success. She assists individuals dine, wine, and act fine through her contemporary finishing school programs for companies and individuals across North America. Customized programs include – business etiquette, image mastery, charisma, presentations skills, appropriate dress & grooming, manners, etiquette training, executive dining and protocol. Shannon helps individuals transform from unnoticed to unforgettable…guaranteed. For more information please call 416 324 8955 or visit

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