Whether you are aware of it or not, first impressions do make a major difference in achieving business objectives. [link here] EDSI’s Professional Presence in a Casual World program has preached the value of knowing proper business etiquette, including practicing good manners, for years. Having good manners will help you regardless of the business you are in. Any time you make contact with a client or perspective client, you are making a mini-presentation of yourself, ultimately representing your company, service and/or products.
How can you mind your manners if you do not know the rules? It is never too late to take the initiative to begin your own professional development. Here are some pointers to keep your manners sharp.
- Address people by their honorific or title: There is so much informality in the workplace today that in many offices business is lost and goodwill is destroyed because of total disregard for properly addressing clients. The proper way to address a client is to greet them using their honorific or title followed by their last name. It is up to the client to ask you to call them by their first name. Remember: In business, the proper way to refer to a woman is “Ms.,” regardless of their marital status. This is more than a passing fad; it was established in the seventeenth century as an abbreviation for “Mistress.”
- Clearly Speak your greeting: It’s sad but true; we’ve become a nation of name-tumblers when we introduce ourselves or other people; this is major problem especially on the telephone. We need to slow down and pronounce our names slowly, clearly and distinctly. At first it may feel as if you are exaggerating your name, but you are really helping the other person and improving overall communication.
- Refer to individuals frequently by their names: Take the time and make the effort to pay attention to the name of the person you are being introduced to. A person’s name means everything to them. To build rapport with a client, mention their name at least three times during the conversation. It will help you remember their name and make a connection – they will remember you.
- Make contact: There are few physical contacts that are appropriate in business; the most important and acceptable is your handshake. Your handshake is a non-verbal clue that indicates to the other person whether or not you are a take charge person. The rules for shaking hands are: extend your hand with the thumb up, clasp the other person’s entire palm, give two or three pumps from the elbow, avoiding both the painful ”bone crusher” and the off-putting ”wet fish” shake, smile, and look your counterpart directly in the eyes.
- Smile: This seems very simple, but it’s amazing how people’s moods and words are misjudged because their expressions are often overly-serious. A smile shows that you like yourself; you like your current place in the world and you’re happy with the people you’re interacting with. No one will say you’re crabby if you’re smiling. A smile says ‘I’m approachable and confident’.
- Introduce people with confidence: Most people hate making introductions because they do not know how to properly make them. Introducing people with confidence is a great way to impress your customers. In business, introductions are determined by precedence. The person who holds the position of highest authority in an organization takes precedence over others who work there. For example, you introduce your company’s president to a colleague.The basic rule is: the name of the person of greater authority is always spoken first. The name of the person of lesser authority is always spoken last. For example, “/Ms. Greater Authority, I would like to introduce Mr./Ms. Lesser Authority.” A second example would be: the name of the Senior Executive is always spoken first. The name of the Junior Executive is always spoken last. “Mr. Senior Executive, I would like to introduce Mr. Junior Executive, from the accounting department. Mr. Senior Executive is our Director of Public Relations.“
Learning the rules of business etiquette is not hard to do, it is not costly and it is the best professional development tool any business person can use to increase their chances of success. People truly desire to do business with those that make them comfortable and know how to best handle themselves in a variety of situations. Practicing good business etiquette is well worth the investment and pays back in spades!
Leaders with the most impact are those who can build and successfully manage great teams. Every day, we help our clients and colleagues achieve their highest levels of professional presence and personal effectiveness. That includes everyone on the ladder, from company presidents to project managers, to staff members. Contact us at 800-282-3374 to find out how we can help you impact your own productivity and the productivity of your entire organization.