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2013 Manners in Irish Business Survey Results

December 2013

Business dress is more casual, good table manners remain highly important and too many people are still embarrassed by their colleagues’ behaviour.

One in three people have been embarrassed by the behaviour of a colleague at work, according to the results of our latest Business Etiquette Survey.

The 2013 survey revealed that people define unacceptable behaviour as abrupt voice tone or rude language, indifference or inattentiveness, bad time keeping and people not returning calls or emails.

The vast majority (94%) said they would take action if they were on the receiving end of bad manners from a business. Almost half (49%) would take their business elsewhere, one quarter would give feedback to the person involved and one in five would report the incident to the person’s manager. Only 6% would do nothing.

Good manners are equally recognised. Two in five (40%) people said they would mention a positive experience to other people, 36% would refer others to the business and 19% would go out of their way to do business with the company. Only 5% would take no action.

While our expected standards of behaviour remain high, business dress continues to become more relaxed. Business casual is the new norm, with 40% of respondents wearing only business casual to work and 35% wearing a combination of business casual and a suit. Only one in five people wear a suit to work every day.

Bad language remains a no-no, with only 13% of respondents believing that it is acceptable to use bad language at work. The majority, 87%, believe that it is unacceptable.

And for those doing business over a meal, good etiquette is a must. A whopping 97% of respondents said they consider good table manners to be important at a business meal.


The above results confirm that good manners in business are more than a ‘nice to have’. They also make good business sense. In an increasingly competitive global marketplace, the companies that distinguish themselves will be the ones who place a high priority on consumer and customer service.

So why are a third of people still embarrassed by colleagues’ behaviour?

Well, good etiquette is not as simple as it seems. As business executives struggle to maintain a balance between the working world and their personal lives, stress levels are reaching an all time high for many. Such pressure can lead to situations where manners are forgotten and rudeness takes over.

What’s more, it is thought that as many as 40% of all adults experience some degree of social anxiety, which can translate inadvertently into bad social skills and a poor approach to other people.

The rise of casual attire may also inspire a false sense of informality. Our survey shows that despite an increase in causal dress, good manners remain as important as ever, with table manners ranking particularly highly and swearing still unacceptable for the majority.

Many people equate bad manners with a lack of respect and an inability to handle a business situation with confidence and professionalism could be extremely expensive. Our survey shows that people on the receiving end of bad treatment are not shy about taking action. It’s particularly important for companies never to allow such an impression to take hold through any of their staff, lest the organisation loses business as a result.

Good manners are also important for personal success. Research conducted by Harvard University, The Carnegie Foundation, and the Stanford Research Institute shows that technical skills and knowledge account for only 15% of getting, keeping and advancing in a job, while 85% of job success is connected to people skills.

Good business etiquette can lead to increased opportunities for new business development, confidence in building business relationships, the ability to make awkward business situations more comfortable and being able to stay one step ahead of the competition.

Download a pdf of the 2013 survey results

Business Etiquette Training

Our business etiquette courses are designed to give business people the confidence to handle a wide variety of work and social situations and represent themselves and their organisations in a consistently professional manner. If you would like further information on how our courses can help you and your team then please contact Pamela Fay on 086 1737125 or

Seasons Greetings

I would like to take this opportunity to wish clients, colleagues and friends a very happy Christmas and New Year.

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