“No matter who you are or what you do, your manners will have a direct impact on your professional and social success.” – Anonymous
It would not be incorrect on my part to say that business etiquette, though seemingly a clichéd topic is often also the most ignored. Displaying restraint and exhibiting manners in a corporate / business environment are extremely crucial to a congenial and professional work setup. The world is shrinking given the surge in globalization and digitization. Boundaries are transcended and people from varying cultures, demographics and beliefs are getting in touch at the click of a button and therefore understanding how to work with this diversity is becoming more important in order to maintain business etiquette.
Maintaining business etiquette allows people from any background and culture to work collaboratively and communicate respectfully to their fellow-workers. Paying attention to good manners in a professional setting creates an atmosphere of trust, integrity, helpfulness and all those other niceties that make working together a lot of fun. Business etiquette is about looking beyond our limitations and those with whom we work and instead focus on creating stimulating synergies irrespective of many obvious differences.
Business etiquette, in my opinion, has a rather vast scope. Under its realm fall a number of factors which I believe are often overlooked, limiting people’s view of the subject. Displaying good manners is as simple as dressing appropriately to the more complex subject of communication. To show respect and consideration for the views of co-workers is also business etiquette. Spoken and written communication, body language and other expressions form a vital part of corporate manners. Taking the trouble to understand how people of different cultures prefer to dress or eat, refraining from speaking on topics that could be sensitive issues, respecting the time and space of those around you and many other such factors fall under the umbrella of business etiquette.
Times are changing and so are a number of personal and professional preferences, but basic business etiquette have not changed to match these. They seem to run across businesses, industries and demographics – but it is best to observe what the acceptable norms are before-hand in order to avoid embarrassment to yourself and inconvenience to others.
– The most basic is probably a firm (not death grip) handshake. It is a simple yet polite and confident gesture and lets the person before you understand that you are open and approachable and would like to maintain a healthy professional relationship.
– We have been taught since our childhood to say please and thank you. This has not and in my view, will not change irrespective of how much more progress the humankind makes. These are basic courtesies that should be non-negotiable.
– Everyone wants to be heard and each one of us is sometimes over-zealous to express our views. Business etiquette demands that one should never interrupt or speak when someone else is talking. It is just plain rude and shows a very high level of disrespect.
– Mind your language – even if your company culture is friendly and relaxed there is no excuse to use derogatory, cuss or outlandish language.
– An oft repeated mistake is firing off emails or other written communication without re-checking. The fact is that when you send out communication that is rife with errors, you are showing disrespect to the receiver. It tells them that you did not bother to take time or make the effort to send them quality work. Very poor business manners!
– Even if your company has an open door policy, it is exceedingly impolite to assume that you can interrupt a person’s work just because you have something to discuss. Ensure that you ask for permission to walk-in or better still schedule time in advance with the person.
– The most common one – engaging in gossip. It is human nature to be curious, but speaking badly of someone behind their back is very disrespectful to the person and it also shows your character in a poor light.
– Respect people’s space and the need for privacy. Trying to eavesdrop on a conversation or reading from the screen of another person’s computer, is for me among the top irritants and excruciatingly annoying habits.
– It is common courtesy to acknowledge a person who approaches you or even if you see someone at a distance. Being busy can never and must never be a reason to ignore people.
– The two topics that people can never seem to agree on are politics and religion. Business etiquette demands that topics that can be potential problems should be avoided at all costs. Keep your views on these topics in the confines of your mind.
– Irrespective of your position and work schedules, if you have committed to being somewhere at a certain time, be there on time. Reaching late shows lack of respect and you wouldn’t want it done to you.
– You know that you are part of a meeting and the time is blocked off for the purpose – so where is the need to continually take calls or respond to messages and emails. Doing so shows lack of concern and respect for the others present in the room.
Unprofessional mannerisms and a lack of business etiquette could not only drive customers away but also let your employees and co-workers respect you a lot less. Grasping the basics of business etiquette will facilitate communication and increase productivity in the workplace.