Is There Etiquette For The Business World?

Is there etiquette for the business world? The advantage to knowing business etiquette is that you will appear as someone who is polished, someone who has been educated, and someone who is sophisticated.

Consider the words of Lillian Eichler from her book "Today's Etiquette", published in 1941 by DoubleDay Doran: "The man who is tactless and disagreeable may get ahead in business, may indeed be an outstanding success in his particular field; but he will certainly find the going harder than the man who has less ability, perhaps, but whose good manners and pleasant personality win him friends all along the way. Small courtesies can do great things in the business world. We feel that the value of good manners in business cannot be overemphasized. More than one man can trace his quick success to his ability to 'mix' with others, his talent for attracting friends, his poised manner and gracious ways that impress everyone with whom he comes in contact." Written decades ago, proper etiquette for the business world is still one of the most important aspects to learn in order to succeed in business.

Naomi Polson, who received her etiquette certificate in Washington DC and is the Founding Director of The Etiquette Company, offers this advice for the proper business introduction: "There are procedures for shaking hands. For instance, when someone extends a very weak handshake that is perceived as weak and unknowledgeable. So you need to know how to give and receive a good handshake; you may make a person feel uncomfortable if you don't. You should introduce yourself saying 'Hello my name is ___,' and then you give your first and your last name. It is extremely rude to refuse a handshake. In the business world, women and men are treated equally, so the woman should feel comfortable extending her hand to a man."

Naomi also remarks, "It helps to say something about yourself so that you can continue the conversation." Make the statement something general about your company rather then too precise. As the conversation progresses, you can get into more specifics after weighing if the other person is really interested or not. Avoid personal topics such as politics, religion or health unless of course one of those subjects is your area of service. Also, make sure to not become overzealous, or you'll fast be known as one of those people where "you can't get a word in edgewise". It is a fact that the more you listen in a conversation, the more you will be viewed as "a great conversationalist". Others tend to leave feeling that you had a wonderful discussion, even if they were the only one talking for most of that time. It might seem counterproductive, but in the end it will work to your advantage when they, and others they tell about you, seek you out being more apt to listen when it's your turn to talk. Practice your listening skills and also your telephone manners. Sometimes it is easier to speak with someone on the phone as you do not have to be as guarded about your facial expressions or appearance. But you have to heed the expression "I could hear it in his voice.", and realize that you also need to be proficient in phone etiquette skills in order to succeed in any profession.

A proper introduction and the ability to have a productive conversation are only two small aspects of the etiquette for the business world. It is in your best interest to learn about appearance, proper dining manners and what is expected of you in every plausible situation. As Naomi puts it: "Definitely, the advantage of knowing proper business etiquette is that you are perceived as someone who is polished, someone who has been educated, and someone who is sophisticated. Through our life, we want people that we can look up to as leaders. We don't want people who are going to be a distraction or a debit to our company. We want someone that will put us one step above the competition."

© High Speed Ventures 2011