The Importance of Being Earnest – Business Etiquette for Success

If you run a business, there are certain things that you can do in order to be successful, and certain practices that you need to avoid like the plague.  The formalities in interacting with customers and clients are no exception to this paradigm, so it’s quite important to have good etiquette, especially in this day and age – where social media can make or break the way that customers view you.  And that’s only the beginning – it also helps things to run smoothly within your business, for poor business etiquette leads to unhappy and unproductive employees.  Business etiquette is not just some formality, it’s a process which affects everyone involved – management, employees, customers, clients, and of course the reputation of your enterprise relies on good standards of etiquette.  And it’s incredibly difficult to look professional if you have poor business etiquette.


 Use basic etiquettes for greetings – A handshake is still the standard, you should introduce others, and acknowledge others when they approach you.  Know people by name – not just your superiors in the company, but anyone you meet as a client or a repeat customer, any of the employees working under you, and anyone else who you might work with (within reason) – because it helps to build connections if you’re personal with people.  When you’re meeting clients or customers, it’s always good to acknowledge them with a firm handshake, for this generates trust and shows that you care about building relationships with them.

Show genuine interest – no playing around with your mobile or tablets during meetings, no ignoring people or their conversations.  Don’t look bored or disinterested, because this will reflect badly not only on you, but your entire organization.

It's bad form to send work emails at 3 AM. . .
It’s bad form to send work emails at 3 AM. . .

Avoid late-night communiqués – Have an idea at two in the morning? Don’t send it off right away to your boss or your clients, it’s better to make a note of it and then send it in the morning.  Otherwise, it’s kind of bad form – most bosses don’t appreciate this sort of thing.  And the inverse is also true, employees don’t really appreciate

Don’t judge – Don’t pass judgment on people based on their ideas or opinions, it’s kind of unacceptable in the world of business. This means that you shouldn’t judge people for their ideas, because it’s important to have an open approach to things and understand that although maybe someone did not handle a situation in the most appropriate manner, it’s not your place to really pass judgment on them, because you’re responsible for yourself more than anyone else.  You can call them out on things, but don’t go off and nitpick how they handle things – maybe you could do it better, but the point is that you didn’t, so who are you to pass judgment?

This is incredibly annoying behavior in a meeting. Don’t do it.

Meetings – There’s a particular etiquette for attending meetings and scheduling them, and it’s important to mind that.  If you’re attending one, always try and show up a few minutes early, perhaps with a notepad and pen, and don’t doodle or seem disinterested.  If you’re the one calling a meeting, though, you should keep in mind that it’s a bad idea to call meetings when it’s unnecessary, and you should keep them brief and to the point.  That means you need to be mindful of the attendees’ schedules, be prepared, and don’t call any meetings which require no action to be taken – those are unnecessary.  And send out a record of what was discussed.  After all, meetings are one of those situations where etiquette works both ways – attentiveness is important, but don’t expect attentiveness if the meeting is utterly trivial and redundant.

Understand the time and place for activities and conversations – Don’t talk about that business meeting in the elevator or the washroom, because you don’t know who might hear you.  And don’t stand in the elevator checking emails, either – it makes you look like you want to isolate yourself.  Besides, unplugging is not only polite, it also suggests that you want to interact, which is good for getting ahead.  After all, spaces like elevators and hallways can be conducive to conversations, so you may as well take advantage of that and utilize them to your advantage.

Respect boundaries – Just because your office has an open plan, it doesn’t mean that you should just barge into someone’s cubicle – that can be taken as rude. Instead, announce your presence and try and approach in a way that your colleagues can see you.  Obviously, you should also respect boundaries in terms of physical contact with other people, and don’t be the one who indulges in nonsense like sexist, racist, or homophobic jokes – it’s 2015 after all, and that won’t fly.  People don’t like working with bigots, and they won’t really stand for it any more.

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