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Business Etiquette

This section covers some basics about doing business in Canada. Having good business “manners “or “etiquette” will help you experience your own success in business.

Dress Code for Men

  • For more formal meetings, the normal dress is still the business suit.
  • “Business casual” (meaning dress pants and a dress shirt) is a trend that is continuing to spread to many organizations.

Dress Code for Women

  • Wear skirts, dresses and pant suits, usually in conservative colours and style.
  • Jewelry is acceptable but should be kept modest.
  • Tattoos should be covered up and facial piercings removed.
  • Wear quality leather shoes in either black or brown.

First Greetings

  • Eye contact is a very important business etiquette in Canada.
  • Upon greeting a business person, eye contact should be made..
  • Handshakes upon any first greeting are expected. It is also a way for people to show trust to one another.
  • Business cards are very common in Canada. It is a good idea for all business people to have a set of personal business cards made and ready to hand out at any networking opportunity.


  • Most Canadian work places do not allow the use of perfume, cologne, incense or candles. (Many workplaces have a scent-free policy for allergy reasons.)
  • Most Canadians are receptive of different kinds of food, but may not be comfortable with a smell from lunch that takes over the room.
  • Smoking is not allowed in Canadian workplaces.
  • Having fresh, clean breath is common sense in business. (Keep a toothbrush and mints handy. Chewing gum is not considered good business etiquette.)

Phones and Technology

  • In a formal meeting, it is expected that cell phones will be turned off or set to vibrate only.
  • Teleconferences are often much easier than taking the time to travel to a meeting. The same rules for teleconferences apply as would in a normal person-to-person conversation.

Personal Space

  • Canadians like their personal space.
  • It is best to be about an arm’s length from someone when you are talking to them.
  • Canadians often enter into each other’s personal space for shaking hands, but will then step back into their comfort areas.
  • Allow between 18” and 4 feet of space when giving instructions or working with others.
  • Allow between 4 feet and12 feet of space in most business meetings or discussions.