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Business Etiquette and Good Business

Sunday, June 1, 2008

How important is etiquette in obtaining better business results? The Society for the Advancement of Consulting® (SAC) canvassed its international membership to find out.

Alan Weiss, Ph.D., CEO of SAC, noted that the ranks of etiquette consultants are expanding internationally. Here are some representative samples of the informal survey and what the most pressing aspects of etiquette in business are:

"It's a basic need, but it's astounding how often people forgot this one-if you make a commitment follow-through," shares Karen Eber Davis of Karen Eber Davis Consulting, a Sarasota, Florida firm that helps nonprofits find income for their missions. Promised to call on Tuesday? Make a note of it and call. Told them you would get back to them next week? Before next Friday at five, send an email. Some people avoid following up when they must deliver bad news, but your 'No, thanks,' frees up both you and your recipient. People who practice this basic business etiquette are rewarded by getting more done."

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist and leadership coach and president of Working Resources, a strategic talent management firm in San Francisco, CA. He specializes in executive coaching for developing emotionally intelligent leader and lawyers. He offers a couple of insights:

A survey conducted by The Emily Post Institute found that while 87.3 percent of Americans say they are bothered when people don't say thank you, 90.2 percent feel that they don't say thank you enough.

The survey also found that saying "please," "thank you," and "you're welcome," are the manners Americans need to observe most, followed by practicing patience and politeness while waiting in lines.

Practice expressing a simple but enthusiastic "thank you" to as many people as you can in your daily business activities. When you express your appreciation to someone you are in a positive state of gratitude. A simple" thank you" can bring forth so much happiness in an often weary world.

"Business etiquette has traditionally reflected on the physical interaction among business people. In today's global and remote-working environment, the vast majority of your interaction is electronic," says Nancy McGuire, President of McGuire Consulting Group.

"Many of the same rules apply but are stronger than ever, as your written word becomes a permanent record: 1) Avoid anger and bad language in your writing. 2) Respect the receiver. Write in a manner that is easy to read, understand, and act on. 3) Avoid using confusing colloquialisms. For example, if you're writing to someone outside of the US, don't use American football as a metaphor. 4) Eliminate footers on your emails unless they're relevant to business matters. I've seen footers that convey religious preferences; this may in fact offend others and it's simply not germane to business. 5) Project warmth in your writing: ending with a phrase that conveys a willingness to help is useful in keeping communication open."

And who are the best at practicing fine business etiquette? "That is debatable," says Weiss, "but we're very confident it is not the Americans!"

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