Business Etiquette
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Business Etiquette

101 Ways to Conduct Business with Charm and Savvy

Ann Marie Sabath

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eBook - ePub

Business Etiquette

101 Ways to Conduct Business with Charm and Savvy

Ann Marie Sabath

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About This Book

Discover the habits that distinguish true business professionals—and how to make a great impression on customers, clients, and colleagues. Many people invest in their careers, yet have no clue how to set themselves apart from their competition. This guide, from the author of What Self-Made Millionaires Do That Most People Don't, reveals the unwritten and unspoken rules of success. It gives new hires and seasoned executives alike nearly effortless strategies—for avoiding mistakes that hold you back and climbing that slippery ladder of success. You'll learn appropriate ways to: •Introduce two people whose names you've forgotten
•Ask for some of your boss's time
•Manage coworkers who drop into your office on a moment's notice
•Handle being put on the spot in a meeting
•Play the corporate hierarchy game with your boss and other higher-ups
•Deal with international hosts, colleagues and customers, and much more

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Information

Year
2010
ISBN
9781601637499
1
Opening Moves: Making Initial Encounters Work
“Civility costs nothing and buys everything.”
—Lady Mary Wortley Montagu



Courtesy begins with introductions. If an introduction is mismanaged, there is a strong possibility that the emerging business relationship will also be subject to problems. That is why you must start right away to build a strong foundation for your new business relationships.
It probably comes as no surprise to you to learn that the initial phase of a business relationship can have extraordinary effects on careers—and on whole organizations. But who hasn’t felt at least a little awkward during a business introduction? Fortunately, a few simple principles can have a dramatic, positive effect on the way you meet and greet new business associates. This chapter has eight simple principles that will help you make sure those all-important initial encounters with clients, customers, vendors, and others go as smoothly as they possibly can.
Put the ideas in this chapter into practice, and you’ll have laid the groundwork for managing—and minimizing—any and all future problems. That may seem to be an exaggerated claim, but the truth is that business breakthroughs are built on alliances, and alliances are built on relationships. By initiating relationships in the right way, you make later breakthroughs possible!

1

Make a super first impression.

Just as you often judge other people by the initial impact they have on you, so are you likely to be judged yourself in the first few moments of interacting with someone. Here are some tips for making a great first impression with colleagues and business associates:
○ When meeting another person, extend a confident handshake as you make eye contact.
○ Eliminate trendy words from your vocabulary. Though modern colloquialisms may be fine on the home front, slang is considered inappropriate in a business environment. Thus, you should avoid a phrase such as “Awesome!” when you mean to say “Great!”
○ When you are representing your organization, always carry materials (such as a computer bag, pens, and notepads) that broadcast a “quality” message. Believe it or not, supporting materials are a definite reflection of your style—and your organization’s style. These materials will project an image—positive or negative—of you and your organization.

How to make it easy for others to start a conversation with you

People who have what I call “minglephobia”—a discomfort with initiating small talk at social gatherings—are often “cured” when someone else starts up the discussion. Here’s a simple way to encourage others to launch the conversation at your next cocktail party, office gathering, or business event.
Have you ever entered a room filled with strangers and thought to yourself, “I can’t approach any of these people!”? Guess what? You don’t have to. Rather than wasting time or energy feeling uncomfortable, take control. When you find yourself standing alone, look for the nearest window. No—don’t jump! Simply get yourself a beverage, then stroll over to the window. Rather than looking out the window, stand with your back against it. (Having a glass of something to hold will put you at ease and make you look approachable.)
When others are ready to begin a new conversation, they are more likely to approach individuals like you—people who are standing in front of a source of natural light. It’s true: just as plants bend toward natural light, so do people!

2

Recognize the importance of greetings before launching into a conversation.

I was on a flight to Bermuda several years ago and was visiting with the passenger seated next to me who was Bermudian.
Because I am always interested in learning about country-specific cultural nuances, I asked this individual what courtesy faux pas he has observed Americans make when visiting his homeland. Without having to think about it, he responded, “North Americans typically jump into conversation without first beginning a conversation with a greeting such as “good morning,” “good afternoon,” or a “good evening.”
My response to him was, “Wouldn’t you think anyone would know that?
After the flight landed, I went through customs and made my way to baggage. When I saw an individual who appeared to be airport personnel, I said, “Excuse me, can you tell me where I might find a cab stand?” The person responded with, “Good afternoon. You will find a cab stand by going to the lower level and then preceding to door A.”
The conversation ended with not only a “thank you” on my part, but also with a sensitization about the importance of first acknowledging individuals with a greeting before launching into a conversation. Since then, I have found that a simple greeting has been the key to acknowledging others before beginning a conversation. This small detail has gone a long way when greeting others both domestically and internationally. Try it. You will like it, and so will others to whom you are asking a question.

3

Know whom to introduce first.

In most situations, the basics of introductions are easy to master: Mention the name of the higher-status person first. But what if there is no higher-status person? When introducing two clients to each other, both of whom are on the same professional level, whose name should be said first?
I recommended that you say the name of the person you know least well first. By doing this, you will bring that person into the conversation and allow him or her to feel more at ease.

4

Know the value of a good handshake.

If you have ever had a strong positive or negative reaction to someone based on the firmness or weakness of the person’s handshake, then you already know how important this one small gesture can be. A limp handshake can tag you as someone who is hesitant or lacking in resolution. An overpowering shake can brand you as a manipulator. A sincere, confident grip conveys confidence and authority.
Beware! People from different parts of the country expect a variety of distances between two individuals who are greeting each other. When interacting with contacts from out of town, try to let the other person’s “space instincts” guide your approach to the handshake.
Here are a few tips for knowing how to offer a good handshake that also maintains a proper distance:
○ Clasp the other person’s palm with your palm, rather than fingers to fingers. Your grip should be firm. Hold someone’s hand too loosely and it’s possible you will earn the dreaded description of being “a dead fish.”
○ Do not, however, be so firm that you squeeze the other person’s hand too hard. Rather than causing pain of any sort, simply apply a little pressure and then let go. Keep in mind that a handshake is not a contest to see who can grip the hardest. You should match each other, grip for grip.
○ Talk to the person whose hand you are shaking; a simple “Nice to meet you” or “Good to see you again” will do.
○ If you know the person well and wish to convey additional warmth, then place your free hand on top of the clasped hands or on the other person’s arm or shoulder. However, do not do this if you are meeting somebody for the first time, as such a gesture can be misconstrued as an invasion of territory. If you want to convey a sense of rapport without making the other person uncomfortable, try touching his or her arm between the hand and elbow rather than between the elbow and shoulder.
○ As you release the other person’s hand, pause briefly but purposefully before continuing the conversation.
If you are going to another country, try to learn what the customs are there for shaking hands. In some nations it is considered polite to shake upon meeting and leaving; not doing so may give offense. For some, handshakes should be firm, for others they should be aggressive, and for still others, where there is a “caste” system, you should shake hands only with persons of a certain standing. Some countries frown on shaking hands with a member of the opposite sex. Finally, there are some social systems in which the greeting is not a handshake but a bow of some sort. The more you learn about the specific customs governing these forms of greeting people, the easier it will be for you to get along, no matter what country you are in. (See the appendix for additional information on international etiquette.)

5

Manage the unconventional handshake.

When you are about to extend your hand to someone who is unable to offer you a right hand, what should you do? The first rule is—follow the other person’s lead. When dealing with a person whose right hand or arm is clearly disabled, avoid reaching for that hand and pumping it energetically!
Whatever the reason for the other person’s incapacity, you should issue a verbal greeting, pause, and then observe the appropriate body language and act accordingly. In some cases, the person may offer you the left hand. In other instances, the person may initiate a handshake with the right hand. The most important thing in this scenario is to let the other person set the tone.

6

Turn a social gaffe into a positive experience.

It has happened to all of us. You refer to an important client’s company by his competitor’s name. Or you are giving an important presentation and you make a serious misstatement. Or a gaffe you’ve made is pointed out to you in front of a large group.
Sooner or later, you will find yourself in an embarrassing situation that exposes you to possible ridicule or necessitates some backpedaling. Take heart: you are not alone! Blunders are a part of life. What matters is not that you’ve committed a faux pas (that’s French for “misstep”), but how you handle the mistake.
Think of the situation as though it were a baseball game: an error in the field may put you behind, however, if you keep your composure, you can hit a home run in your very next at-bat and win the game.
Following are some suggested solutions for winning in embarrassing situations.

7

Don’t say “I’m sorry” automatically.

The next time someone shares constructive (or even other-than-constructive!) criticism, don’t respond with an automatic “I’m sorry.” Instead, consider employing one of the following responses:
○ “Thank you for your comment!”
○ “Thank you for the feedback!”
○ “Thank you—you’ve given me something to think about!”
All of these are, to my way of thinking, much more professional ways of responding than “I’m sorry,” which can come across as emotional and even a bit servile. The phrase “Thank you,” on the other hand, is both appropriate and optimistic, and it reinforces the positive intent of the person who passed along the criticism.
○ Explain your faux pas with grace. Rather than getting tongue-tied with apologies, overexplaining, or trying to evade the situation, issue a concise, poised recovery. Acknowledge the misstep. Say you’re sorry—then move on! For example, you may say, “Please accept my apologies for calling you by your competitor’s name.” Then go back to the subject at hand. When it’s over, let it be over!
○ Ask for help when it’s needed. So you misstated something or came up blank in an assessment. Turn this to your advantage! It shows maturity to admit you are human; don’t let embarrassment trip you up. For example, you may ask, “Who can help me with that particular figure?”
○ Turn the attention elsewhere. The best way to do this is to praise another person. For example, you may say, “It looks like I can take a lesson or two from you!”
Any, repeat any, gaffe can be turned into a positive experience if it’s handled with grace and wit. People remember poise! With the right approach, you won’t be remembered as the person who made that mortifying blunder before a roomful of people. Instead, you’ll be thought of as the person who saved the day with on-your-feet thinking and a great deal of charm!

8

Handle name lapses gracefully.

It has happened to all of us: somebody comes up to you, greets you by name, and talks at length about how great it is to see you—and you can’t place him in the least. The face may be familiar to you, but the person’s name and the setting where you met eludes you completely. This situation is embarrassing, but also quite common. Believe me, it can be handled with ta...

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