Good manners are good business. Many potentially profitable alliances or promotional opportunities are lost because of unintentional breaches of manners. Second chances aren’t always possible.
Test your business etiquette
Which of the following demonstrate appropriate and inappropriate business etiquette?
1. Your boss, Ms. Andrews, enters the room when you’re meeting with a client, Mr. Block. You rise and say, “Ms. Andrews, I’d like you to meet Mr. Block, our Chicago client.”
2. You answer the phone for a peer who’s available, and ask “Who’s calling please?”
3. In a restaurant, you drink thin soup served in a cup with no handles.
4. The male pays when he’s having a business meeting at a restaurant with a female colleague.
5. When you greet a visitor in your office, let him sit where he wishes.
6. You leave a luncheon meeting after two hours.
7. You’re scheduled to meet an associate for a working lunch. If your associate hasn’t arrived after 30 minutes, you order and eat.
8. Name tags should be placed on the right shoulder.
9. It’s acceptable to make sales pitches at networking functions.
10. It’s proper to give business cards to everyone at business meetings.
11. It’s acceptable to discuss food preferences at employer receptions.
12. It’s appropriate to take phone calls while in meetings.
13. It’s important to hold doors open for women.
14. It’s okay not to attend office parties.
15. It’s correct for women to extend their hands when greeting others.
1. Inappropriate. Introduce or name the more important person first. In business, clients hold the highest authority.
The person of lesser importance, regardless of gender, is introduced to the person of greater importance. “Mr. or Ms. Greater Authority (Mr. Block), I’d like to introduce Mr. or Ms. Lesser Authority (Ms. Andrews).”
2. Inappropriate. Asking “Who’s calling?” suggests calls are screened. To avoid insults, have the person answering the phone announce you’re unavailable, then ask for the caller’s name and message.
To avoid screening, announce yourself at the beginning of calls. By stating your name, you’re sending a subliminal message that you have a right to speak to the person.
3. Inappropriate. Use the spoon provided.
4. Inappropriate. The person who benefits from the business association pays, regardless of gender. Clarify you’re hosting when extending invitations.
5. Inappropriate. Indicating where your guest should sit will make him feel more comfortable.
6. Appropriate. Allow two hours for business lunches. Start discussing business after the appetizer has been served.
7. Appropriate. Also, expect an apology.
8. Appropriate. When shaking hands, your eyes follow the line of the arm to the person’s right side. By placing the tag on the right, you can read the name while shaking hands.
9. Inappropriate. You’ll be perceived as pushy, needy, insensitive or inexperienced.
10. Inappropriate. Wait till you’ve established a reason to make further contact before exchanging cards. This enhances the value of the exchange.
11. Inappropriate. Downplay preferences. Some may wonder how well you fit in the company if you fuss over small things.
12. Inappropriate. Taking calls while in a meeting is rude. It says others are more important than the person with whom you’re meeting. If you’re expecting a call, tell the person with whom you’re meeting in advance.
13. Inappropriate. Business etiquette is based on hierarchy and power, unlike social etiquette which is based on gender and chivalry. Nobody should be given special treatment because of gender.
Doors are held open for persons more senior in rank, regardless of gender. Whoever gets to the door first holds it open for people following.
14. Inappropriate. It’s a “must-attend” event. Not attending shows disrespect.
15. Appropriate. A firm handshake made with direct eye contact sets the stage for a positive encounter.
Conclusion: How many of the foregoing courtesies do you practice?
Follow such basic courtesies as returning messages promptly, leaving concise voice mail messages, sending hand written thank you notes, and greeting people when entering an office.
Present yourself with confidence and authority. Consider others’ feelings. Be courteous, respectful and considerate to everyone. Business etiquette can advance your career.
Questers Dare to Change Your Job and Life gives additional business etiquette tips: https://www.amazon.com/Questers-Dare-Change-Your-Life/dp/1508408963