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Canadian workplace etiquette

So you are about to start your first job in Canada, congratulations!

All of us immigrants were nervous and apprehensive before we showed up for first day at work in Canada.

When immigrants start working in Canada that marks a huge milestone on the road to becoming an integrated citizens of Canada.

You must be asking yourself some of the following questions before your first day at work:
  • Is there a dress code in Canadian workplace?
  • What is the proper way to introduce myself to my new co-workers?
  • How do I greet/address my co-workers, supervisor and other superiors?
  • How important is it to address others by their first or last name?
  • Is there a wrong way to answer the phone call?
  • What is the proper way to communicate through e-mail in Canadian workplace?
  • What if I feel that my English is not good enough, what should I do?
  • How do I ask for help if I need help, without making wrong impression that I cannot do the job?
  • I do not want to appear to be uptight, what is proper way to show humor at workplace?
  • Are public displays of affection, anger or other emotions acceptable?
  • Do I have to make eye-contact when I speak with someone?
  • How do I resolve work-related conflicts, big and small?
  • What do I do if someone (a coworker, for example) is trying to take advantage of me?
  • How friendly should I be with my co-workers?
  • Are there any cultural differences that I should be aware of (speaking directly vs. speaking indirectly or showing respect for persons with higher status)?
  • How close should I be to other person when we speak? Is casual touching acceptable?
  • What is the attitude towards smoking/drinking in Canadian workplace?
  • What about appointments - how important is to be on time? Arriving without invitation?
  • How important is to smile, be approachable and positive at all times?
  • What is the best way to get promotion or a raise?
  • What types of behaviour should I avoid in order to avoid being fired?
  • What are the safe topics for office conversation? What topics should be avoided?
  • Does team-work means I have to depend on my boss and co-workers all the time?
  • When it is (not) advisable to take on additional work?
  • How important is body language, tone of voice and non-verbal communication?
  • What type of jokes are totally inappropriate in Canadian workplace?
  • Is it ok to speak in my first language in Canadian workplace?
  • What about wearing perfumes and using scented products in the workplace?
  • How do I separate my private life from my work? 
  • How do I adjust to constant changes in the workplace?
  • Is my idea of privacy the same or similar to the average Canadian's idea of privacy?
  • How important is work to Canadians? Do they have life outside work?
  • How important is it to show initiative, ambition and willingness to learn and advance?
  • What about giving gifts to superiors or co-workers?
  • What to do if I am invited for drinks/lunch/dinner by my co-worker/boss/business counterpart?
  • How do I avoid being perceived as passive-aggressive in the workplace?
  • What is appropriate way to participate in group discussions and team meetings?
  • What is "political correctness" (PC) as it pertains to Canadian workplace?
  • ... and probably many other similar questions.


We can provide answers to those questions and any other similar question.

Milorad Borota has been living and working in Canada for over 20 years and has first-hand experience working in Canadian workplace.


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