There is often very little difference in goods and services from one business to another, what distinguishes one individual from the other is their interpersonal skills. Know how to treat others with respect and courtesy. Being at ease and being able to put others at ease is what gives businesses the competitive edge. Many of the rules have been around for centuries and others have appeared as the result of recent lifestyle changes. Business etiquette and social etiquette are not the same thing, but do overlap. Increased presence of women in the workplace, ADA, and technology. Netiquette is a term coined to designate the rules of etiquette on the internet.
This refers to the first 12 words that come out of your mouth when you first meet someone. Make sure to say thank you, think upfront what you will say, make sure that you say their name, say “you” before you say “we” and “we” before you say “I” Standing and sitting upright, watch the way you walk~ people make assumptions on the way you walk. For example if you walk fast people think that you are very important as opposed to walking slow which makes people think that you have not a care in the world and don’t care when you make it there. The first 12 inches are from your shoulders to the top of your head. For women, your hair, make up and accessories are noticed. Men should be clean shaven, with appropriate shirt collars, ties and jewelry. (no big chains and hairy chests). The last 12 inches are from your knees to your feet. Check out shoes (people checking out each other’s shoes is a natural instinct), make sure that they are in good condition, and are appropriate. Women check out your stockings and socks for men (which for business they should come up over the calf, to cover hairy legs when they sit). Shoes should be closed toe and heel, heels of no more than 2 ½, 3 inches, no flats. (for women).
This is one of the most important things we do in business. Have your fingers extended, thumb out to side, and make contact web to web, close thumb and give a slight squeeze, go up and down about 1 ½ to 2 times. At business events, at first meetings, when leaving, during or right after an introduction, to congratulate someone, to thank someone, when you haven’t seen someone in a while, when greeting people in your office. When you have a cold~ but explain why you are not shaking hands. When the other person’s hand is occupied. Avoid the dead fish, the glove, the finger tip or bone crushing handshakes. Always be ready to shake hands, keep your right hand free and be sure to hold purses, briefcases, cups etc…with your left hand. If you are sitting (women) be sure to stand to shake hands in a business setting.
When you do not know others do it immediately. This will clue others to do the same. Introduce the least important person to the most important person. For example “Mr. Riles I would like to introduce to you Mr. Brown, our Experiential Education Coordinator.” When responding say “hello, it is nice to meet you”, and get the conversation started, be sure to give and get information from the other person. No, running away is not an option! Just say, I’m so sorry I have just forgotten your name. Be sure to apologize! Or say “ have you two met each other” and that sometimes will get the ball rolling. To remember other peoples names, be sure to say their name on the first part of the conversation and at logical times. Don’t be thinking about what you will say next and miss the person’s name, this will keep you from hearing it and remembering it. Get a story about a person’s name, this will also help you remember. Rules: Always make the introduction Introduce the most important person first Give information about the introduced person Smile and make eye contact Introduce yourself a lot
To overcome mingling phobia prepare yourself in advance. Know what is going on in the world/current events. Call and find out who will be at the event to prepare yourself for people who will be there. Early bird- at least 5 minutes in advance, that way you are not playing catch up and trying to get yourself into conversations that have already begun. See the people you want to see. Opportunities will present themselves. Stand about 15 feet from the door and at 45 degrees, that way you can see everyone who comes in. DON’T GO STRAIGHT TO THE BAR! Have a plan, you should already know who will be there since you prepared, you have found who you want to talk to. Be in and out of conversations, make them quick this way you can float around the room. Get good exit lines…have you had any of the food or drink? Practice these lines to end a conversation but be graceful. Don’t sit or stand with people from your office. Sit with people you want to build relationships with. Don’t become part of the clean up crew- know when to leave. Pay attention to the clock. To get into the conversation- 3 or more people are a group, don’t interrupt them, ease into the conversation. Preferably find one or two people not in conversation or light conversation.
Once again prepare. People that talk too much or too fast seem nervous and insecure. People who talk at the wrong time are viewed as inconsiderate. Eye contact and a smile are essential to a positive impression. Looking at others says that you are paying attention and are interested in what they are saying. Maintain eye contact between 50 to 60% of the time. Smiling can make all the difference in the world, it relaxes the other person and it says that you are a friendly and confident person. All the well-heeled shoes and Casual Corner suits can never make up for a tense or unhappy facial expression. Take responsibility for the small talk, approach people, and get the conversation going. Engaging in small talk prior to a meeting helps establish a friendly relationship with others. This is a learned skill which requires a genuine interest in others. Use icebreakers to get the conversation going…how bout them Eagles is not an option. Ask questions that are going to generate more conversation, not just yes or no questions. This will keep the conversation going and will leave out uncomfortable silences. Some of us think that a good conversation is when you do all the talking, when in fact, it happens when you listen more than you talk. It is knowing when to talk, when to listen, and most especially how to listen.
Have cards printed on nice paper and it should include all the important information such as your company name and logo, name, title, address, phone and fax number, and email if you have one. Have your card in a convenient place. It is suggested that you have a nice carrying case. Don’t hand out a card that is tattered and torn or wrinkled, your card is an extension of your personality and it will show if you treasure your cards. Hand out your card in a way that the receiver can read it. And as the receiver, acknowledge something about the person. This shows that you read the card. You might mention something about the logo or comment on the office location. Think of something! Use selective judgment when handing out your card. Don’t just deal them like a deck of cards. Don’t ask for cards during a meal, wait until the meal is over. Never, never exchange cards at a social function. Doing this will make you look opportunistic and can be insulting to your host/ess Don’t give outdated cards. Never cross out outdated information and put new information. Take the time to make new cards. Exchange cards with people you want to build a relationship with.
Hands belong out in the open in business! Above your neck- fiddling with hair, fingers in nose or mouth. It makes you appear nervous or uneasy. In your pockets~ looks like you are hiding something, unsure of yourself, arrogant Behind your back~ Eastern people are uneasy with this position again they may think you have something to hide or are ill at ease. Your hands should rest at your side when standing. On other people~ Don’t touch others unless you really know them, this can lend itself for an uncomfortable situation. No matter how well intentioned, a pat on the back or a touch on the arm can be misunderstood. Under the table~ forget what your mother told you about keeping your hands on your lap. Hands belong on the table where they can be seen. Rest your arms at wrist level. On the words of Mae West “no uncooked joints on the table, please.” Keep your distance, don’t stand too close or too far away. For Americans, about arms’ length is a good length Remember the way you stand and where your hands are sends a message.
Over 75% of business is conducted by phone. Every phone contact is an opportunity to build customer relations. By the same token, a single phone call handled improperly can result in not just one lost customer, but maybe several. Unhappy callers will not keep the negative experience to themselves. It is not what you say, but how you say it! Make it a point to smile when you are talking on the phone. It may sound strange, but the smile comes out in your voice. Greet the caller with a professional Hello or good morning followed by the company name, your name and may I help you? Avoid eating or drinking while on the phone, those sounds are magnified when you are on the phone since it is right there next to your mouth. 5 Forbidden phone phrases: I don’t know- instead say I’m not sure but let me find out Just a second- instead be truthful and let them know the actual amount of time We can’t do that- instead we wish we could do that but unfortunately… You will have to- instead you will need to NO! If you must place the person on hold, ask them- may I put you on hold …not “please hold” then push the hold button instantly. Also let them know how long the wait will be. When transferring be sure to advise the caller you are doing so, and that the person is there to answer the phone. Don’t just push the button when the caller asks for whom they wish to speak. Phone calls can get disconnected, so be sure to let them know the number you are putting them through to so they can call back. Use these phrases when screening phone calls: May I? Let me… Don’t use fill in the blanks like… And your name is… Calling regarding… You are with who… When handling irate callers use the ASAP method…Apologize, Sympathize, Accept, Prepare to help. Don’t use child like or parental behavior. Things to avoid saying: She has not made it in yet….She is out sick….She is tied up….Please call back…. I have no idea where she is
Voice Mail Keep your greeting short and current. Make sure there is a way for them to reach a live person. Record special instructions early on the message, be sure to return all calls by the end of the business day. Plan ahead when leaving a message. Give name and number at beginning of message that way if they miss it they just have to listen to the beginning of the message to catch it. Speak slowly and spell your name if you need to. You may want to repeat your name and number at the end. Email Always use the subject header, create new headers as necessary, check your spelling, grammar and punctuation! Most email composers have a spell check feature. Limit the length of the message, personalize your message with Hi Linda, and have a signature with all your contact information. Never forward an email message without asking for permission. Be sure to never email confidential information, you never know where this information will end up. Cell Phones Picture yourself in a phone booth. Excuse yourself and don’t carry on a conversation in front of other people, this is rude. Don’t scream, keep your voice to a minimum. The person on the other side of the street does not want to know your business. Never carry a cell phone into a meeting without first turning it to silent, vibrate or turning it off. Having it otherwise is rude and inconsiderate. If you must have it on, let others you are expecting a call. For example, your child is sick and had to stay at home alone. In other words, it is an emergency. Speaker Phones This is often used and abused! Never put someone on speaker phone without their permission. Explain why must you use speaker phone. If you are not told why you are on speaker phone and wish to not be on it let the caller know that you wish he would pick up the receiver.
People judge us by the way we dress, whether we like it or not! In all situations our dress sends a message. If you wish to promote yourself and your organization, you need to know what constitutes appropriate business dress. One size does not fit all! Dress for the industry you work for, the job you have, the position you have, the region of the country you are in, the climate, what the customer expects to see. For personal props and accessories use the rule of 13. Start counting your accessories: Earrings count as 2 Watch Bracelets Belt and buckle Shoes and adornments Pins Scarves Rings Purse Briefcase Etc. When you have reached 13 you are at your limit. Or you can just turn away from a mirror and then turn and face it and the first thing that catches your eye take off…not clothing wise! Of course. Business casual is one notch down from business professional, not from a suit to jeans. That is going from one extreme to another. It is not your favorite set of old comfy clothes. Don’t dress casual if you are having a meeting.
The art of writing a letter is almost a lost art! Before faxes, email, phones, cell phones, voicemail, and answering machines people actually took the time to write letters. There is no better way to build business than thru letters. They bring a human touch to our sometimes impersonal business dealings. There are few gestures in business more impressive than handwriting a letter or a note. Personally writing your letter says that you value the other person enough to go to some extra trouble. What if your handwriting is hard to read? Unless it is totally illegible, it is still better to handwrite notes. With some time and effort you can improve your handwriting. You should always send a handwritten note if: Someone has given you a gift You have been a guest at someone’s house Guest at lunch or dinner or a party Someone has done you a favor You are replying to an invitation You are sending condolences Recognizing a birth, a marriage or a graduation You need to apologize Don’t write on both sides of your letterhead, use a second page. If using a fold over note with monogram, use the inside of the bottom half of the folded note. If no monogram you can use the topside of the first page. The color of the ink should match the stationary. You should use mostly black ink. Save the gel pens for personal notes. Writing a thank you note in business is one of the smartest moves you can make. This lets the receiver know that you have taken more than a few minutes to do a simple act. Keep it brief, that is why it is called a note. If several people involved in the action you are thanking for, be sure to thank them individually. Send thank you’s with in 24-48 hours, but the sooner the better! Always use the title of the person on the envelope. A handwritten or keyed envelope is preferred to an address label. Use a return address on your envelope.
Many of the rules of manners have to do with seemingly unimportant details. Does it really matter if your shoes are not shined, if your business card is out of date, if you don’t stand to shake hands, or if you skip the small talk and get right down to business? Everyone of those details counts in your quest for success and your search for excellence. If you have any doubt, look around you at the successful people. Note their behavior and you will see that they follow the rules of etiquette and pay attention to the fine points. J.W. Marriott said it best– “It’s the little things that make the big things possible.”
Reviving Business Etiquette It’s More Important Than You Think Career Services 1047/1058 Williams Center 912/681-5197 http://students.georgiasouthern.edu/career