Canadian Business Etiquette

Settling in a foreign country entails familiarizing yourself with its language and its code of conduct, especially when you intend to work in that country.  Getting to know the Canadian business etiquette can help you transition smoothly in the job market without any bumps or misunderstanding. The last thing you want is to rub your coworkers the wrong way by unknowingly doing something that they may consider offensive. 

Body Language 

A business meeting usually starts with a firm handshake. Eye contact is very important when conducting business and should be held while speaking to someone. A lack of direct eye contact can  be interpreted as boredom, disinterest or dishonesty. However, be careful not to stare. During conversations, people stand approximately two feet apart when speaking. Excessive body contact, gestures in greeting, or loud conversation are generally frowned upon. Note that wearing scent (perfume, strong after-shaves or hairsprays) in the office is to be avoided. The no-scent policy in a lot of work environments  is very common because some people suffer from asthma or allergies and scent can be a threat to them. 


Lateness reflects badly in a professional setting, so make sure to always arrive on time or slightly early. Arriving 10 to 15 minutes prior to the meeting is acceptable. However, arriving more than 15 minutes before the meeting may inconvenience  the person you are meeting because they are not ready for you. The meeting generally kicks off with people giving an overview of their position. People typically introduce themselves by their first name and then exchange business cards. Meeting attendees are most welcomed to give their opinion regardless of their age, or position within the organization. Interruptions are not encouraged but are accepted in order to have an environment where people feel that they can contribute. 

Customs And Protocols 

In work environments, Canadians tend to be conservative in manner, speech and outfit. Canadians might strike you as being reserved from the outset, but they usually warm up as the conversation proceeds. People normally introduce themselves by their first name and then exchange business cards.  There’s usually small talk before getting to business. The weather is a good conversation opener. However, it is generally in poor taste to discuss salaries and even against company policy in some companies.   

The Art Of Conversation

Canadians are relatively indirect communicators. We tend to avoid creating conflict by remaining polite throughout the conversation, this entails hinting vaguely at our true emotions or thoughts without “rocking the boat”. It is recommended to keep the dialogue simple and straight-forward as Canadians are not fans of lofty rhetoric. It might raise our suspicion if you sound too good to be true. It is advisable to support everything that you say with facts and figures and not make any statement that you cannot support or demonstrate. 


When bonding, it is important to keep in mind that Canadians tend to make professional friendships with their coworkers instead of building personal relationships with them.We value our privacy and consequently have some boundaries with those with whom we do business. There is a difference between the rapport we build with our colleagues and those we socialize with outside of our workplace. sharing your personal life with us can make us  feel uncomfortable. Especially if you are expecting us to share our personal lives with you as well.