Business Etiquette and the 21st Century: Does It Still Matter?
The polite answer is, YES!
The rules of etiquette are ever changing. The workplace, communication, methods used to convey messages (within the company, between partners, clients and customers) are dynamic. Today business’ and social circles are becoming intertwined, knowing how to behave within various surroundings and situations can be challenging.
The diversity of your employees are in their beliefs, values, mannerisms, and is derived from ones traditional or modern attitudes. Managers and employees alike are challenged on a daily basis with regard to how they should behave; as they interact with different people from a variety of cultures. The 21st century workplace is a dynamic changing community where people project their cultural tone and behavioral rhythm onto others.
Good manners are important as they project a professional image. They help you stand out from others and strengthen your business relationships as well. All these will improve the success of your business. Knowing how to minimize faux pas and how to recognize a cultural mistake will have a big impact on your business.
How Can You Improve Business Etiquette and Interactions?
- Show Respect – in group and outside the group
As managers: Maintain a respectful environment toward employees within the company and toward all others outside the company. Treat people with courtesy, politeness and kindness. As managers encourage your employees to express their opinions and ideas. As a team player, listen to what others have to say before expressing your viewpoint and do not disqualify another person’s ideas.
- Speak Positively – Words Matter:
Gossip and other unofficial negative discourse sends a message to others that it will only take time until you talk about them. Sometimes it hints that you have nothing better than to talk about them. Instead, discuss sports, hobbies, theatre, and art. Gossip will harm your image and will lower your credibility to others.
- You Are the Face of the Company – The Business Ambassador:
Whatever interaction you engage in from outside the walls of your company you at that moment are a direct representation of the company. This interaction can be as simple a phone conversation, an email, a face to face meeting, a business lunch, sitting on a plane while travelling, participation at a conference, basically everywhere you go! You should always mind others, be kind and keep your tone quiet when talking on the phone in public places. Speak distinguished with no profaned language, tread cautiously with humor, sarcasm, jokes and slang.
- Be Elegant – Body Demeanor and Dress:
Poise and posture are important when interacting with others. Knowing how to sit and stand elegantly, how to shake ones hand, and how to make eye contact appropriately in accordance to one’s culture and gender are key. Dress, grooming and personal hygiene (hair, nails, personal odor, and breath) are a reflection on one’s character, and are very important as they stimulate the senses of people around us.
- Table Manners – At the Table and Away from the Table:
We are how we eat. Whether in a fancy restaurant a business meal or on the street grabbing a coffee, knowing how to handle your food is a must. Our character, education and manners are reflected in these situations and are presented as hints of respect.
Handling these situations in a professional manner when communicating with others and being aware to cultural differences and customs, will project a strong, loyal and credible professional identity.