of Business Etiquette
Business etiquette. In this day of casual
attitudes and relaxed standards, do nice manners still count in
business? Absolutely. For just as saying "Please" and "Thank
You" made your parents proud of you as a child, so, too, will
nice manners win you friends in business. Want to put yourself
far ahead of your competition? Look good AND act nicely. People
will certainly take note.
While this topic strays a little from the fashion theme of
this site, it does fit in nicely with the importance of first
impressions. As I've said before, how you look will get you in
the door; what you know will keep you there. "The devil is in
the details," as they say. Today's issue looks at some of those
What IS Etiquette?
Etiquette is the forms or manners established as acceptable
or required by society or a profession. That's the dictionary
definition. In reality, people show business etiquette when
they make others feel comfortable and eliminate barriers that
Nobody likes to be thrust into a new situation where they
don't know what to do or how to act. It's very uncomfortable.
The only thing that makes it worse is to have someone there
who's aware of your discomfort, and belittles you for your
ignorance. Not only is it embarrassing, it's just bad
Want to be left alone or talked about behind your back? Be a
snob. Make people feel uncomfortable. Heck, even point out
their deficiencies to others.
If, on the other hand, you want to manage people
efficiently, be looked at as a "team player" and be spoken of
nicely whether you're in the room or across the country, put
people at ease and make them feel appreciated. They'll reward
you with their loyalty and hard work.
So, how do you go about doing this?
There are scores of books on the subject, but here are some
basic guidelines for winning business and influencing
1. Get The Name Right
Don't you just hate it when people mangle your name?
Me too - along with just about everyone else on the planet.
Why? Because nothing sounds as sweet to our ears as the sound
of our own name. Even in a crowded room, we'll hear our name
and turn to see who called it.
Say a person's name correctly and often, and you'll have his
attention. Contort or truncate it beyond recognition and you'll
loose him, maybe for life.
It's one of the simplest ways to establish a good business
relationship, yet so many people mess it up. Don't be one of
them. Instead, take the time to listen and observe. It's a
moment very well spent.
Here are some suggestions on how
to do this:
* Take careful note of how the other person introduces
herself. If she says her name is "Elizabeth," call her
"Elizabeth", not "Liz". If she says her name is "Liz", don't
call her "Lizzy".
* Repeat any unusual pronunciations you hear to make it
stick in your mind. If the other person hands you a business
card, make a note on the back of the odd articulation so that
you can say it correctly the next time you talk to that
* Don't assume familiarity. Call the other person by his or
her formal title until they invite you to call them by their
first name. If you have difficulty doing that -- like if "Mrs.
Skrybailo" just isn't rolling off your tongue, no matter how
hard you try, for example-ask permission to use the first name.
Never assume it.
2. Don't Forget The Golden Rule
"Treat others like you want to be treated."
It's a simple rule, but one that's seldom followed in
business. For some reason, we tend to show deference only to
those who are higher up on the organizational chart than we
are. Big mistake. Big, huge.
Because while leaders give the commands, followers execute
the orders. Step on a few subordinate or lateral toes on a
regular basis, and you'll find it difficult to get your job
You probably remember people who have treated you poorly
over the years and hold a special grudge for them. Well, others
will do the same for you.
Yesterday's secretary might be your boss tomorrow. Don't
leave a trail of verbal victims in your wake, even if you're in
a particularly bad mood. It will come back to haunt you.
3. You Attract More Flies With Honey Than
Whether you're managing a company, a department, or your
household, remember that you set the tone for those in your
charge. How effective you are with your staff is a direct
result of your people skills. The better you "play" with
others, the more influential your group of playmates
Now this doesn't mean that you have to be everyone's best
friend. Far from it. You can be fair, honest, and just with
others without knowing their favorite colors or the name of
their daughter's cat. Keep a professional distance, yet show
respect, empathy, and interest. A kind word or thoughtful
action goes a long way in "rallying the troops".
Studies reveal what great managers already know: salary
isn't the primary factor in motivating people. Recognition and
appreciation rank well ahead of money.
Be nice to others. It will pay huge dividends.
It all boils down to the Golden Rule: Treat others like you
like to be treated. In a world where almost everyone puts
himself first and everyone else a distant second, you'll stick
out like a sore thumb with your nice manners.
|Diana Pemberton-Sikes is a
wardrobe and image consultant and author of
Magic," an ebook that
shows women how to increase their income by
dressing appropriately for their line of work.
Visit her online at
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