I fell across an interesting read during my email and internet sweeps this morning and would like to share a part of my findings with you with respect to proper business etiquette.
I believe you will recognize a number of these tips, while a few may be gentle reminders, and others have a refreshingly different approach to dealing with various business scenarios. I hope you enjoy and share the read!
A basic understanding of business etiquette rules is vital if you are to meet with success.
In “The Essentials of Business Etiquette,” Barbara Pachter writes about the things people need to know in order to conduct and present themselves properly in professional social settings.
Here are a few of Ms. Pachter’s most important points:
- Stand when you’re being introduced to someone
“Standing helps establish your presence.” You make it easy for others to overlook you if you do not stand up. In cases where you are unable to rise or are caught off guard, you should lean forward to show that you would stand if you were able.
- Always say your full name
In a business scenario, you should use your full name, keeping in mind the way others would like to be introduced.
- Always initiate the handshake if you’re the higher-ranking person or host
In today’s workplace, the host, or the higher-ranking person should extend their hand first, regardless of gender. “If the higher-ranking person fails to do so immediately, often due to gender confusion, the lower-ranking person should extend his or her hand without missing a beat.”
Either way, the handshake must happen. The handshake is, of course, the norm for a business greeting. If you want to be taken seriously, you must shake hands, and do so correctly.”
- Dress Professionally
Your attire is an important form of nonverbal communication and can enhance a person’s professional reputation or detract from one’s credibility. You want to send a professional message through your wardrobe selections.
Always learn what the dress codes are at an event, meeting, or restaurant, and make sure your attire falls within those guidelines.
- Only say ‘thank you’ once or twice during a conversation
“You need to say it only once or twice within a conversation,” Barbara suggests. Otherwise, you may dilute its impact, and possibly make yourself seem rather helpless, and/or needy.
- Send separate thank-you notes to everyone involved
You should send thank-you notes within 24 hours, and you must send separate notes to everyone you want to thank.
“Before you choose between email and handwritten notes, consider that regular mail may take several days to get to its destination, while email arrives virtually immediately”. This time difference may be vital after a job interview if the hiring decision is to be made quickly.
- Put your phone away!
All of us bring our phones everywhere we go today, but your phone has no place during your business meetings.
You might be tempted to text or email, but regardless of how sly you attempt to be, it’s noticeable, and just outright rude.
Also, don’t place your phone on the table when meeting with someone. Doing so is sending the wrong message, as you are telling your host or guests that you are ready to drop them and connect with someone else.
- Use professional photos
Always post professionally appropriate photographs on LinkedIn and other professional networking sites. You want to look like a credible, professional, and approachable person, not like you just came from the beach. Use a head shot that highlights your head and face as well as part of your chest and shoulders. “You are the focus of the picture.”
- Use a professional email address
If you are employed with a company, you should use your company email address. But if you use a personal email account, whether you are self-employed, or just like using it occasionally for work-related correspondence, you need to be cautious when choosing that address.
You should always have an email address that conveys your name so that the recipient knows exactly who is sending the email. “Never use email addresses that are not appropriate for use in the workplace or business matters, such as babygirl@.
- Always double check that you have selected the correct email recipient
Pay attention when typing a name from your address book on your email’s “To” line. It is easy to select the wrong name, which you absolutely don’t want to do. Better safe than sorry, always double check.
- Use professional email salutations
Don’t use laid-back, colloquial expressions like, “Hey you guys,” “Yo,” or “Hi folks.”
“The relaxed nature of our writings should not affect the salutation in an email,” Barbara says. Hey is a very familiar salutation, and generally, it need not be used in the workplace, and Yo is not appropriate either. Use Hello or Hi instead.
If you know the recipient(s) of your email prefer the shortened version of their first name go ahead and use it, otherwise, always go with the full first name.
- If you forget someone’s name, admit it
Everyone forgets a name on occasion. When it happens to you, say something, such as, “I’m so sorry. I have forgotten your name.” or, “Your face is so familiar; I just can’t recall your name,” Barbara suggests.
- Greet people at work
Say “hello” and “good morning” to people you know as well as those that you don’t know.
The person that you say ‘hello’ to on the way to a meeting may end up being the person sitting next to you at the same meeting. Having broken the ice by saying hello, you have already established a minor rapport. “If someone says ‘hello’ to you, you have to say hello’ back. It is not always elective.”
- Keep your fingers together when you point
“Point with an open palm, and keep your fingers together. If you point your index finger, it appears aggressive,” Barbara says. Both men and women point of course, but women seem to have a tendency to do so more than men.
- Be punctual
Always show up on time for meetings. You do not want to waste people’s valuable time by not being punctual. Being late for your meetings makes you appear unprofessional.
If a situation out of your control will cause you to be late, let the people you’re meeting with know. Send an email or give them a call updating them on your new ETA. Apologize, and briefly explain the situation (do not waste precious time making a million excuses!). When you do arrive, don’t waste any more of their time by complaining about the traffic, bus, or train delays, or what have you.
- Never pull out a person’s chair for them
It is fine to hold a door open for your guest(s), but you shouldn’t pull someone’s chair out for them regardless of gender. “In a business setting, it is best to leave those social gender rules behind. Both men and women can pull out their own chairs.”
- Don’t order something ‘too expensive’
“If you order an expensive steak or lobster, for instance, you will look like you’re taking advantage of your host.” However, if your host makes recommendations, you can order any of those suggestions, though it’s still best not to choose the most expensive. The same rule applies for wine.
Also, be cautious when ordering a “special.”
“Many waiters do not mention the price when telling you their specials of the day or evening”. Specials can cost from 10% to 40% extra than their regular menu items. However, since you cannot very well ask the price in a business situation, it is best to just steer clear of specials altogether.
- Order the same thing as your guest/host
This point means that if your guest or host orders an appetizer or dessert, you should follow suit.
“You don’t want to make your guest feel uncomfortable by eating a course alone.”
- Never ask for a ‘doggy bag’
“You are there for business, not for the leftovers.” Doggie bags are okay for friends or family dinners, but certainly not during professional occasions.
- Remember the host should always pay
If you did the inviting, you are the host, and should also pay the bill, regardless of gender. What if a male guest wants to pay? A woman does have some choices. She can say, “Oh, it’s not me; it is the firm that is paying,” or, she can excuse herself and pay the bill away from the guests. This option works for men as well, and it is a very refined way to pay a bill.
“However, the bottom line is that you don’t want to fight over a bill. If a male guest insists on paying, despite a female host’s best efforts, let him pay.”
- Stay sober
Do not get drunk at business-social activities! Jobs have been lost, and careers ruined because people got drunk and said or did things that were inappropriate. Barbara suggests “ordering a drink that you do not really like much, and nurse that drink all evening.” Great tip!
- Prepare a polite exit
“Remember to leave when you are talking. At that point, you are in control, and it is a much smoother exit.”
You should also have “exit lines” prepared in case you need to leave a conversation. For example, you could say “Nice to meet you” or “Nice talking with you” or “See you next week at the meeting.”
You can also excuse yourself for a bathroom break, to get food or drink, or say that you wanted to catch someone before they leave.
Supporting Article Research Source: Business Insider