Happy National Business Etiquette Week! I hope you’re celebrating by giving out nice, firm handshakes and remembering someone’s name when introduced. Observing proper business etiquette — having “people skills” — is thought to be more important that technical skills. A survey conducted by the Carnegie Foundation in 1918 – yes 1918 – is still cited in articles about business etiquette today. The study determined that 85 percent of job success depends on utilizing proper business etiquette. A survey conducted in this century by TheLadders.com found 98 percent of respondents believe office etiquette is important — with 69 percent saying they would fire an employee who demonstrated bad office manners.
I believe we could all use a refresher on manners and good behavior. Modern technology has affected how we treat people – who hasn’t received a sharply-worded email and thought, “there is no way he/she would have said that to my face”? Civility sometimes goes out the window in our fast-paced world. Civility in America found that 95 percent of respondents agree that the lack of civility has become a problem and 74 percent say it has worsened over the last few years.
If you’re feeling like you’re slipping in the business etiquette department, read on for a few guidelines to remember.
- Turn off your gadgets in meetings. I would also add that you step away from your phone when you’re in a face-to-face with a colleague. There’s nothing worse than talking to a co-worker who has one eye on his/her cell phone and one eye on you. Trust me, it can wait. If something is really on fire, they’ll call back. Be present and focused in conversations and meetings, otherwise you come across as bad-mannered.
- Are you sure you’re ready to send that email?
A quick read of your email before you send it will help you make sure your tone and meaning will not be misinterpreted. This doesn’t mean you should add smiley face emojis after each sentence; in fact, try to avoid those as much as possible. It’s also good practice to catch any spelling or grammar errors, as that may be construed as a lack of caring and rudeness if your email is riddled with mistakes.
- To be on time is to be late, to be early is to be on time.
Those who know me will probably laugh that I am offering a tip about being on time to a meeting. For those of us who are time-challenged, maybe that will be a topic for my next blog on how to combat that very real issue. In the meantime, let’s just be on time to meetings, ok? If it’s your meeting, be early. If you’re a participant, be there at the scheduled time.
Treating our coworkers, employers, customers and clients with respect and courtesy is not difficult. Just treat others like you would like to be treated, better in fact. Business etiquette is important for individual and company success. If you think you and your staff could use a course facilitation on business etiquette give us a call!
-Cassi Steurer, Communications Strategist