Business etiquette rules employees should know
In the business world, good manners are essential. Demonstrating good business etiquette with colleagues and clients will make you stand out from the crowd, and is a surefire way to put you and your company in a good light. Here are some business etiquette rules that every employee should know about:
First impressions count
Although we’re often told not to judge people based on first impressions, the opposite is often the case in business. When you’re meeting a prospective client, you want them to respect you and trust you from the word go. Remember to stand when you first meet someone as this demonstrates both respect and good manners. It also goes without saying that you should always greet people with a smile and a handshake the first time you meet them.
Make sure that you give your full name when you introduce yourself to show that you are a professional. People are also more likely to remember you by your full name than just your first name. When new people speak to you, maintain eye contact with them and give them your full attention. When introducing people to each other, you should include a fact about that particular person, such as a job title or a noteworthy accomplishment. Keeping to these basic rules will help to break the ice and prevent any awkward moments from occurring.
Putting in the effort pays off
Showing good business etiquette will rarely go unnoticed, and when you put in the effort at work by being punctual, organised and helpful, you will be sure to reap the rewards later down the line. Not only does this show that you are serious about your job, it also shows that you can be trusted in your position.
Although you may need to use your mobile phone for emails, excessive use of your mobile is frowned upon in work environments, particularly during meetings. Make sure that you keep your phone usage to a minimum, as it can make you seem unprofessional and distracted. If you have any pressing duties on your smartphone, try to get them done before entering a meeting, or wait until afterwards.
Respect is key
If you need to talk to a colleague, be mindful that they are on a different schedule to you and may be in the middle of something. Instead of approaching them unannounced, plan a rendezvous in advance. Send an email or take advantage of WhatsApp or Skype to ask them when they’re available. Your coworker will appreciate that you have been considerate enough to check with them beforehand.
Some people struggle to work with noise in the background so if you are having conversations in the office then try to keep the volume down and try to be brief. You should also be mindful when making jokes as, while it’s great to get along with your colleagues, everyone has their own sensitivities. If you’re travelling for business with coworkers, then it can be good to bond and create friendly rapport, but it’s important to maintain boundaries.
Etiquette extends to the tableside
Business will often require you to dine out with prospective clients and business partners, so it’s important that your tableside etiquette is up to standards. If you are sitting at a table with important clients or business partners, the last thing you want to do is display sloppy dining habits. The better table manners you have, the more chance you have to secure new deals and make a good impression.
Ensure that your wrists are the only part of your body resting on the dining table — not your elbows. Sitting up straight and keeping a firm posture is central to tableside etiquette, and it also establishes your presence. The amount of crockery and silverware at a dining table can get confusing, but remember that your meal goes directly in the middle, while your water should be to the right and the bread should be placed to the left.
Netiquette is important
Business etiquette also applies to how you conduct yourself online and is aptly known as netiquette. With over 132 billion emails sent and received per day, it’s clear that emails are still the number one form of communication in business. You need to be aware of the few unwritten rules when it comes to interacting with your peers and prospective clients online.
Remember to reply to emails from coworkers, especially when they have helped you with something. You should make it standard practice to extend courtesy to whoever you are communicating with online, otherwise your lack of effort can easily be misconstrued as rudeness. Sending out poorly written emails can also reflect badly on you and the business that you represent.
Always include a signature block at the end of each email, and carefully consider who you include in the email chain as you don’t want to unnecessarily add people who shouldn’t be there. If you are mass emailing, then don’t forget to blind copy each recipient otherwise people will think that you are spamming them.