The Etiquette Advantage in Business, Third Edition
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The Etiquette Advantage in Business, Third Edition

Peter Post, Anna Post, Lizzie Post, Daniel Post Senning

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eBook - ePub

The Etiquette Advantage in Business, Third Edition

Peter Post, Anna Post, Lizzie Post, Daniel Post Senning

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About This Book

Your key to professional and personal success

Completely revised and updated, the third edition of the Posts' The Etiquette Advantage in Business is the ultimate guide professionals need to build successful business relationships with confidence

Today, more than ever, good manners mean good business. The Etiquette Advantage in Business offers proven, essential advice, from resolving conflicts with ease and grace to building productive relationships with colleagues at all levels. It also offers up-to-date guidance on important professional skills, including ethics, harassment in the workplace, privacy, networking, email, social media dos and don'ts, and knowing how and when to take responsibility for mistakes.

For the first time in business history, four distinct generations inhabit the workplace at the same time, leading to generational differences that can cause significant tensions and relationship problems. The Etiquette Advantage in Business aims to help navigate conflict by applying consideration, respect, and honesty to guide you safely through even the most difficult situations.

Written for professionals from diverse backgrounds and fields, The Etiquette Advantage in Business remains the definitive resource for timeless advice on business entertaining and dining etiquette, written communications, appropriate attire for any business occasion, conventions and trade shows, job searches and interviews, gift-giving, overseas travel, and more.

In today's hyper-competitive workplace, knowing how to get along can make the difference between getting ahead and getting left behind. The Etiquette Advantage in Business provides critical tools for building solid, productive relationships and will help you meet the challenges of the work world with confidence and poise.

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Emily Post once said, “Etiquette is a house built on ethics.” In the first edition of Etiquette published in July 1922, she described the relationship she saw between etiquette and ethics this way: “Etiquette must, if it is to be of more than trifling use, include ethics as well as manners.”
Interestingly, she saw ethics as a subset of etiquette rather than the other way around. To understand that relationship is to have an understanding and appreciation of what etiquette really is, because it is not simply some rigid code of manners. Even Emily said so.
Emily was an inveterate scrapbook keeper, and newspaper and magazine articles written about her are all preserved. In one of the articles in one of those scrapbooks, a reporter must have pressed her on the issue of etiquette being just a bunch of rules, because her answer got right to the heart of the matter: “Whenever two people come together and their behavior affects one another, you have etiquette. Etiquette is not some rigid code of manners; it’s simply how persons’ lives touch one another.”
When two people come together and their behavior affects each other, what you also have is a society. Each and every one of us is a social animal. We don’t simply live alone, independent of the people around us. We can’t live without regard for the people around us. If we did, humanity would have been doomed long ago.
One of the hallmarks of good etiquette is that it never calls attention to itself. When everything is going well as far as your actions, appearance, and words are concerned, your focus—and the focus of the people you are with—will be on the content of your discussion. Slip up with any one of these factors, however, and the focus instantly shifts to the error (“I can’t believe he just did that”). By being aware of your actions, appearance, and words, and working to improve your performance in all three areas, you can directly enhance the quality of your relationships.
We live together. As a group—a society—we identify and then codify behaviors that are acceptable and behaviors that are unacceptable and then we expect people to abide by those expectations, which become laws and manners. Laws are rules for which the society defines specific penalties and imposes those penalties. Manners are those behaviors society has identified as ways we will interact with each other so we are comfortable in the presence of one another. In essence, manners tell us what to do, whereas laws tell us what not to do.
That’s what your boss could tell you in a performance review. If she did, how would you go about fulfilling such a request? Chances are you wouldn’t have a clue where to begin. If, however, you shift your focus from improving your “relationships” in general to evaluating how well you handle the specific factors that influence all relationships, this goal will start to look much more attainable. This is easier than you might think, because there are three fundamental things that can affect a relationship: your actions, your appearance, and your words.
1. ACTIONS. Our actions impact the image others have of us. Imagine: You sit down at a restaurant table with a client. After a few minutes, your cell phone starts ringing. You answer it and start talking. This action, without some sort of regard for the people you are with, would create a negative atmosphere at your business lunch. What is a better action, one that will improve your relationship with your client? Simple: Either turn off your phone before meeting your client or let your client know that you’re expecting a call and then excuse yourself to the lobby or a private area when your phone vibrates.
2. APPEARANCE. The importance of clothes and grooming is obvious. Dress like a slob, and the people you are with will think of you as a slob. Body odor and bad breath—those are no-brainers. But what about body language? That falls under appearance as well: Twitching your foot during a meeting says you are either nervous or apprehensive, or worse, you can’t wait for the meeting to end. Improve your appearance by keeping your foot still—and staying calm, alert, and twitch-free in general—and you will build better relationships with the people you do business with.
3. WORDS. Coarse language is out of bounds. But say you’re in a meeting and you blurt out, “Oh my god, Sally, what a great idea!” Later, you discover that some of the people present were offended that you took the Lord’s name in vain. Instead of thinking about Sally’s great idea, those participants were focused on you and their negative perception of you.
While it may seem that we unconsciously observe hundreds of manners each day, there are situations that cause us to pause because there seems to be no particular manner to apply. How, then, do we know what to do? Fortunately, etiquette is more than just manners. It also embodies the principles on which all manners are built, principles that can help a person identify the best course of action when there is no particular manner to guide her.
When Emily wrote, “Etiquette must, if it is to be of more than trifling use, include ethics as well as manners,” in the very next sentence she expounded on what etiquette meant to her:
“Certainly what one is, is of far greater importance than what one appears to be. A knowledge of etiquette is of course essential to one’s decent behavior, just as clothing is essential to one’s decent appearance.”
You can cloak yourself to appear to be anything, but Emily understood that doing so creates just a hollow shell for yourself, and eventually, that shell will disintegrate. The real you is what really matters in your interactions with everyone you come into contact.
You get dressed in the morning, and as you look in the mirror, you think to yourself, “I look great today!”
The problem? When you walk into the meeting room that day, the other people there, including your boss, wonder, “What on earth is he wearing that for?”
Why? Because you forgot a cardinal rule of business etiquette: The perspective of the other person matters. Every day at work you interact with people and those actions leave impressions on them about you. You may think it doesn’t matter because they are a colleague or they work for you. But it does matter because one day they may be your boss or a client who decides if you are someone she wants to work with, or a prospect who is deciding who gets a new contract, or a future boss who decides if you get a job or get promoted.
Perspective in business matters. And that fact leads directly to three goals that can help you build better, stronger relationships.
Throughout the day, you are faced with choices as you interact with people. Which choice you act on will determine not only if you resolve whatever the situation is but also if your relationship is enhanced or hurt by it. In essence: How you do things matters.
Manners are guidelines, not rules. In many situations, manners can help us determine the right thing to do, but there are always exceptions, and so we use our judgment and common sense to decide when a manner applies and when we should do something differently.
Manners tell us two types of things:
What to do in all kinds of situations
• What fork to use
• When to hold a door for someone
• How to introduce yourself to another person
What we can expect other people to do
• When you extend your hand to shake hands, you fully expect the other person to reciprocate.
• When you hold a door for someone, you expect him to say “Thank you.”
• When you are in line, you expect those in the line to wait their turn also.
In essence, manners are guidelines to help us as we interact with the people around us, by sketching out the appropriate actions, appearance, and words that will help us build successful relationships.
Recognizing that the how matters in business leads directly to the first goal: Think before you act. Too often people act impulsively without thinking, and sometimes, as a result, they end up having to apologize. That apology often takes the form of “I’m sorry. I can’t believe I did that. I don’t know what I was thinking.” Thinking before you act will reduce the number of times you have to apologize for your actions because instead of making impulsive decisions you will make considered decisions. And usually, when we consider (i.e., think), we make better choices. And that leads directly to the second goal.
Make choices that build relationships. Once you’ve done the thinking, you will inevitably consider options. Some of those options will be nonstarters, some will be good for you, and some will be harder on or less advantageous to you. In examining your choices, the key is to identify the option that not only resolves the situation but also builds the relationship. Sometimes the best option is not the easiest choice for you, but if it is best for everyone else involved, th...

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