At the University of South Florida, students recently attended a business etiquette seminar and a related rehearsal dinner. Kimberly Goddard, a graduate of the Protocol School of Washington, provided a number of excellent suggestions for updating your manners for the twenty-first century and "outclassing the competition."
Business communication instructors may wish to share these suggestions with their students.Introductions At social events, place your name tag on the right side of your chest so that the people you meet will have a clear view of it when they shake your hand. Don't stand around waiting for introductions to be made. Introduce yourself. Offer your business or calling card. Address both married and single women as "Ms." When you introduce two people, name the person of higher standing first.HandshakesShake the hand of a woman the same way you would shake the hand of a man. Avoid the extremes–"bone-crushing" shakes and "wimpy fingertip" shakes.
Table MannersIf you're a vegetarian, tell the server before you sit down so that special arrangements can be made for you. Don't blow on your soup. Don't use a toothpick or put on makeup at the table (do it in the restroom). Don't answer pages or cell phone calls. Turn your pager off, and leave your cell phone at home. Don't ask for a doggie bag. Don't pick up the check unless you invited the other diners. If you did, inform the maitre d' at an early stage of the proceedings.
Treatment of ClientsPick up your clients at the airport personally. Carry their bags and open doors for them. Assist them at the hotel check-in desk. Stand by in the hotel lobby while your clients examine their rooms. Do everything you can to make them feel comfortable and important.SmokingDon't light up unless your host or client does. If you do not smoke and your client or host does, say nothing. Suffer in silence.Source: Jerome R. Stockfisch, "No Wimpy Handshakes, Please!" The Tampa Tribune, 9 September 1998, on-line http://www.tampatrib.com/sections/story2bz.htm [26 September 1998].
Dos and Don'ts
Business Manners: They make a major impression on colleagues, employees and customers. But sometimes, there's only a subtle difference between saying "the right thing" and "the wrong thing." To get yourself thinking about the right way to approach the etiquette problems you encounter each day, browse this handy etiquette reference - and resolve to apply what you learn to your own work life.
When you want to intrude on a colleague's time. Do say: "May I have a moment of your time?" Don't say: "Are you busy right now?" When you want to smoke. Do: Look for a smoking sign, or leave the premises to light up. Don't: Light a cigarette in a bathroom or corner.When you accidentally use profanity. Do say: "Please excuse my anger." Don't say: "I know I shouldn't say things like that, but … makes me so mad."
When you're wondering when to start eating. Do: Start eating when you're invited to do so. Don't: "Dig in" at the table before others begin their meals. When you're wondering how to address someone you just met. Do: Repeat his or her entire name slowly and ask for the proper form of address. Don't: Use a first name unless you're in a social setting or meeting a peer.
When you're initiating a conversation. Do: Offer pleasantries, and ask how your conversation partner is feeling. Don't: Inquire about personal habits or family backgrounds.When you're not sure how to pronounce an individuals name. Do say: "I'm sorry, but would you pronounce your name for me again?" Don't say: "I guess I'm going to emasculate your name." When you're running out of time during an appointment. Do: Offer to make an additional appointment for further questions or comments. Don't: Summarily end the meeting or anxiously look at the clock.
When you want to make a personal comment to a colleague. Do: Ask to speak to the individual privately. Don't: Raise the issue during a meeting.When you enter a room. Do: Stand until the other individual sits down. Don't: Place you items on the individual's desk unless he invites you to do so.
When you hear a rumor. Do: Listen politely and without comment. Don't: Repeat the rumor or harangue the individual for spreading the rumor.
When a conversation partner is not paying attention to you. Do: Offer a "mini-pause" of a few seconds, followed by a warm nod of the head or a smile. Don't: Stop the conversation entirely or bring public attention to the individual's behavior.
When you're trying to decide how to dress. Do: Dress in approximately the same style as you expect the individual you are meeting to dress. Don't: Dress casually.
When you walk into someone's office during inclement weather. Do: Place your boots in the designated spot, or leave them outside. Don't: Wear boots into the reception area.
When you're visiting someone and you must pass a reception desk. Do: Ask permission to go ahead, even if you know the direction to the individual's location. Don't: Walk by the receptionist without acknowledging her.
When you take your coat off in someone's office. Do: Ask where coats should be hung, even if you notice a hook on the wall. Don't: Drape it over the back of your chair. · When a visitor takes his or her coat off. Do: Help him with it. Don't: Invite him to put it "anywhere."
When offering material or handouts during a one-to-one meeting. Do: Indicate what you want the individual to do with them, review them, put them aside, or look at a particular page. Don't: Give another individual handout without an explanation.
When you're at a business lunch. Do: Follow the pace of the other individuals at your table in determining how fast to eat and what to eat. Don't: Eat or drink at a faster rate than others.
When dealing with a service representative. Do: State your problem clearly, with a sincere request for help. Don't: Give precise directions to the service rep, or demand that he or she complete the task in a certain way.
A final word: pay attention to your surroundings and the people you meet, and the "right thing to do" will often become apparent. When in doubt, imagine the actions of courteous, accommodating people you know. And ask yourself: how would they act in your situation?
A Hidden Business Tool
In today's frantic world, silence is not often perceived as a communication of business tool. Yet, the strategic use of silence - ranging from five-second pauses in a conversation to extended periods of quiet - can result in tremendous benefits to those who practice it.
Here are twenty ways you may be able to use silence for your and others' benefit. Ponder the list, pick a few suggestions that may work well for you, and resolve to practice the powerful art of silence on those many occasions when you have the opportunity to do so.
Inspire yourself. During periods of silence, the mind has a way of retreating to gentle thoughts and core values - great destinations when you're worried or wondering about something.
Build productivity. Quiet time is perfect for focusing on important, detail-oriented tasks. Want a subordinate or colleague to work on a project for you? You'll get it done faster if you arrange for the individual to work in a silent place.
Reduce stress. Tough morning? Too much tension around you? Retreat to a corner and remain still and silent for a few minutes. You'll bring on powerful physiological changes in your body that can help calm you and prepare you for the balance of the day.
Raise your stature. Cultivating the art of graceful silence is one of the characteristics of successful people. Next time you hear a distorted comment, angry retort, or biased question thrown at you, remain silent for a short time. Others will respect you for your thoughtfulness.
Emphasize the seriousness of an action. When it comes time to describe a vital initiative, or to speak with a subordinate or colleague about something she's done wrong, let silence play a part in your comments. After you say what you must say, let your words hang in the air for ten seconds or so. Your listeners won't forget them.
Get your prospect talking. When you're in the midst of a sales call, resist the temptation to present every facet of your product or service. Instead, pause at key junctures, without question or comment…and listen to the often-revealing thoughts of the prospect.
Raise the esteem of others. Many people are afraid to speak up during meetings. When you sense fear on the part of a person near you, ask a general question, something that calls for a thoughtful response…and then wait. Yes, the individual might be uncomfortable at first, but by stepping back and giving him center stage for a few moments, you'll give him the opportunity to build self-confidence.
Analyze your own thinking. Use quiet time to better understand your own reactions to proposals and ideas.
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