Times may have changed, but it does it constitute any excuse for people to ditch traditional business etiquette? Maybe because of cultural and technological trends, people can be more casual and wrapped up in themselves, even in a professional environment. This shouldn’t be the case. Businesses with people who know how to observe etiquette are able to stand out from the crowd and get ahead, demonstrating a professional manner which builds credibility. Meanwhile, those businesses and individuals who lack appropriate etiquette run the risk of putting off future or losing existing clients and surviving in business altogether.
Have you come across some people in business that seem to be deviating from proper business civility? It can be detrimental. The following are some of the most common misses in the etiquette department:
- Failing to observe introduction etiquette. – Do you stand and offer to shake hands when being introduced? Do you make a point to introduce your companions when you meet someone they don’t know? When being introduced to someone, do you make eye contact and concentrate your attention on the other person? If you fail to do these things, then you may be perceived as ill-mannered.
- Being impolite and arrogant. – It may seem trivial but as the saying goes, “treat others the way they’d want to be treated” Manners are free, use them. Do make the effort to be nice and respectful and not just to your colleagues and customers, but to absolutely everyone.
- Being late. – When you fail to show up on time, you imply that you have very little regard for the person you’re meeting and their time. It’s rude and annoying. What it can suggest is that you deem your time more important than the person you are meeting, how do you think they would feel? Being punctual is a wonderful trait that is sure to always win points in your favour.
- Failing to RSVP or return calls and emails. – If you miss a call, make sure you return it as promptly as you can. If you get an invite, RSVP even if only to send your regrets. Doing this shows that you place importance on a person, something that is always appreciated. Whether you follow a guide, 12, 24, 48 hours for example, always respond to any sort of communication (unless it is spam of course) the rise of social networks such as Facebook may have blurred the lines, make sure you stick to the high ground.
- Using phones and mobile devices while in somebody’s company. – It is obviously the age of digital communications, so fiddling around with a device has become so commonplace that people tend to brush it off as normal when they do it in different social situations, even at the dinner table. Contrary to popular belief, this is considered ordinary behaviour. That aside, you fail to be 100% totally present and miss out on the conversation.
- Failing to observe good table manners. – If you don’t want to turn people off, everyone, not just potential clients, you need to keep an eye on this area. Observe and ask about, it is an area that is slipping away in society.
- Being too self-absorbed – Businesses tend to do this both offline and online. Many small business websites make the mistake of focusing on the company instead of the potential client. Instead of going on and on about how great you are, emphasise how you can serve other people, solve their problems and create amazing value for them.
- Forgetting to be thankful – The art of appreciation is a powerful influencing factor in making a good impression. On the other hand, a sense of entitlement is very unattractive.
- Failing to reciprocate good will – I am sure you see it all the time, people always out for themselves? Having a reputation as a taker and not a giver is not good for business.
- Using texter abbreviations and failing to spell check – Business communication should always of the highest possible quality. If you think it’s okay to use SMS slang or to make grammatical or spelling errors, no matter how minor, then you may very well be driving people away.
In this day and age, it’s really hard to determine what the rules of conduct are. It’s important to keep in mind though that good manners never go out of style. When it doubt, stick to the traditional code of behaviour. A little effort goes a long way.