Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Business Etiquette Essay

The Importance of Etiquette has always been an important part of life, be it social or business. However, it seems that business etiquette is has become more important in the last decade. This is mainly due to the fact that the business world is becoming more global and that “relationship selling” has become must for success. Etiquette is important for a variety of reasons. It helps to ease what might become and uneasy situation and can make or break business relationships that are worth millions of dollars. In essence, etiquette helps people to understand what is appropriate in any situation. It is also important to know the difference between business protocol and business etiquette. Business protocol determines what actions you take in a situation. Etiquette tells you how to take those actions. According to Ann Marie Sabath, there are a few guidelines that professionals should follow. Firstly, be proactive. Find ways to establish relationships with clients before they need to purchase something from you. Secondly, send a thank-you note. If someone is willing to give you 15 minutes of their time than they deserve a written thank-you. And thirdly, be a good sport. Even if you have been turned down by a client, thank them for giving consideration to your company (Bass, 2000). The Effects of Social Etiquette on the Business World The business world of the past encompasses a predominantly male environment with innate, discerned guidelines. Today, the business arena has changed with the civil rights movement and the entry of women into the workplace. The changes continue to evolve with other sociocultural issues. In order to be successful in the business world a masterization of business etiquette is imperative. There is a sizeable difference between social etiquette and business etiquette. Social etiquette is primarily based on chivalry, which includes the concept of protecting women. Business etiquette, on the other hand, includes military origins based on hierarchy of power. This effects the behavior in the business world in as much as men and women are treated equally as peers. For example, if one should hold the door open for a woman, he/she should open a door for a man in the same situation. Regardless of gender doors are held open for superiors, clients, peers following close on one heels and anyone with inaccessible hands. For a situation, that embodies a revolving door one should precede first, in order to keep the door moving then wait on the other side. Basically the new Golden Rule should be applied in all situations; treat others, as they themselves would like to be treated. How to Conduct Proper Introductions Few people know how to conduct introductions in a proper fashion, yet they are an important aspect of our daily life. In the social realm, men are introduced to women. In the business realm, the less important person is introduced to the person of greater importance, regardless of either gender. Though a key aspect to remember is that the name of the person being introduced is mentioned last, and the person to whom the introduction is made is mentioned first. It is also critical to remember that the client is the biggest priority, even if he/she holds a lesser title. In the business world the handshake is the accepted physical greeting which accompanies the introduction. With the entrance of women into the business world came kissing. This has caused confusion in male-female business etiquette, therefore, men and women should be treated equally by using the handshake. In order to shake hands properly the thumbs are up and the webs touch before wrapping the fingers around the other person’s hand. Although, in social etiquette the woman is to extend her hand first. In the business arena it is of no concern. Nametag placement is also important so that it becomes easy to read while shaking hands. The nametag is to be placed high on the right shoulder, so that when shaking hands, the eye follows the arm line to the other person’s right side. Effective Telephone Communication is a Must Effective telephone communication is a must in the business world. At home, “hello” is a proper greeting when receiving a phone call. However, in the business world the word hello would not be appropriate. When answering a business call it is appropriate to identify yourself and the company or corporation you work for. For example, “Good afternoon, Deskjet International, John Doe speaking.” One of the most crucial mistakes made while answering the phone is to ask, “Who is calling?” This alerts the caller that calls are being screened and in a rude way. If calls must be screened, “He/she has just stepped out may I get your name and number?” would be more courteous. The best way to avoid someone asking you “Who is calling?” is to state your name. “This is John Doe with Deskjet Inc.” Another important rule to follow during phone conversation is to keep your call short and to the point. When you call someone at work it is keeping him or her from doing their job. A Thank-You Letter: Your Last Impression Writing thank-you letters to your customers or associates is another aspect of proper business etiquette. The key in writing thank-you letters is similar to making phone calls. When writing thank-you letters do not waste the person’s time by using wordy phrases that are not needed. Be precise and sincere in your gratitude. For example, “Thank you for your help with our fund raiser it was greatly appreciated.” By using specific references you avoid rambling and wasting the person’s time. Common Courtesy in the Workplace While working in the office it is important to use proper business etiquette. The main complaint by secretaries is that their boss ignores them until the boss requests something. This leaves the secretary feeling unappreciated and belittled. A boss should acknowledge people as soon as he/she walks in the office. Common courtesy and personal manners can go a long way in making people feel appreciated. Proper Dining Etiquette for the Business World In a world that is fast paced, it seems business luncheons have become a mainstay in conducting business. In transacting with a client, the lunch is still a meeting. One that requires planning, taking care of details, and making sure the lunch is as pleasant as can be, which includes showing proper etiquette and manners. Though it may seem that our eating habits and table manners would go unnoticed in an every day eating environment, the business luncheon pays close attention to the details. One shows great poise in the office, in the planning meeting, and when giving a presentation and therefore, the poise should be extended at the business luncheon. When a professional conducts a business luncheon, they should extend an invitation to the client. Inquire about any food preferences and about any particular restaurants they may prefer. You do not want to make any assumptions as to what the client or customer may prefer. It is seen as thoughtful and courteous when giving your guest the choice to make any recommendations. If your guest has no preferences, have a few names of conveniently located restaurants. It may be best to have been to these restaurants before suggesting them because you do not want to seem unfamiliar with the ambiance. This way you can suggest several of the menu items and the maitre d’ will probably recognize you. After you have inquired about the preferences, the next thing to do is make the reservations. When making the reservations, put them in your name, inform the reservation person that it is a business lunch and request a quiet table (one that is not near the kitchen, washroom, or cash register). Now on the day of the lunch, arrive on time and wait for your client in the foyer and greet them there, not at the bar or table. If you are going to be late, out of simple courtesy call the restaurant ahead of time and let them know you will be late. Every table in a restaurant has a power seat. This power seat faces the audience and lets you or your client fully see everyone seated at the table. It is customary to give this seat to the client because the power seat faces the audience. The power seat comes from a military lore, in which the general would never sit with his back to the door or to the main body of the room. When ordering, it is a good idea to order something you are familiar with and not to order something that is heavily spiced, too exotic, or food that is too messy. Another thing to be aware of is how many drinks to order. It may be customary in a social setting to have a few drinks during your meal, but at a business lunch you should keep the drink to one. Because, after all, it is a business lunch and you want to sell the client on what you have to offer not on how many drink you can down. During the course of the meal it is fine to dispense with the pleasantries in the opening but after that keep the conversation involving around the business at hand. Conduct your self in a business manner as if you were in the boardroom and were trying to sell your client on your idea. Because if you continue to talk socially, it distracts form the real reason you and your client have met for lunch. But do not let the time for lunch keep on going and linger on and on. You, as well as your client, may have to be somewhere after lunch and can not be late, so it is better to keep and eye on the time and not let things get carried away. Be respectful of ht time and when you feel you have reached the peak point in the meeting and/or it seems and end has come tot he conversation and you might be drifting into some other conversation, it is time to subtly end the meal and pay the bill. When you have finished your meal, it is appropriate to place your cutlery on your plate in a click position of ten to four. The knife is place with the sharp edge toward you and the fork goes to the left of it. Now come the time for paying the bill. A polished host never lets the bill come to the table. The host has already made arrangements for paying the bill ahead of time, and if the host comes to this restaurant a lost, there may already be an account set up. One of the ways to ensure that the bill never comes tot the table, when you arrive give the maitre d’ your credit card to make a print of and then at some point towards the end of the meal, excuse yourself and go sign the receipt. This is a good idea for both men and women so there does not seem to be any awkwardness in who should be paying for the lunch when the bill arrives. So when it is time to leave and your client asks about the bill, you can simply reply, “It’s been taken care of.” Netiquette and the Business World Netiquette is the code of etiquette for communicating by computer on the Internet. In today’s business world, being familiar with the rules of conduct will provide guidelines for keeping the relationship between consumers and businesses a happy one. In 1997 alone, there were 6.7 trillion e-mail messages exchanges on the Internet. Communicating by the Internet is no different from writing on your company letterhead. Just because e-mail is more immediate, doesn’t mean it should be less personable. A business should keep in mind that a degree of formality is required. Computer networks bring people together who would otherwise never meet. But the impersonality of the Internet changes the meeting to something less personal. According to Media Matrix, as recently as 1996, education sites dominated the top 15 list of most visited sites. The top 15 that year included no e-commerce sites. Today, nearly all of the top web-site destinations offer content, communications, community, and commerce. The growing of e-commerce should cause all businesses to make sure that their etiquette is in line with rules of netiquette. The basic rule of netiquette is to show consideration for the other party, to remember they are human. When communicating electronically, all you see is a computer screen. You don’t have the opportunity to use facial expressions, gestures, and the tone of your voice to communicate your meaning: words are all that you have. It is easy to forget your correspondent’s meaning and easy to forget that your correspondent is a person with feelings like your own. There are some basic principles that are known as netiquette. One of the first is to identify yourself. Nobody would ever send a letter or a voicemail without identifying themselves. Yet people sometimes forget to include some personal information about themselves, such as a name, phone number, e-mail address, or memorable quote. It is not good netiquette for your respondent to have to ask if you are male or female, if you are an individual or corporation, or if you just use your initials. Not identifying yourself defeats the whole purpose of time saving that the Internet allows the user to have, since the sender will unlikely get a reply with the information they want the first time. In line with proper netiquette is the use of capital letters. A person should never type in all capital letters. This is considered shouting or screaming online. This should be reserved for words you may want to emphasis or stress. It is physically harder for the human eye to have to read all capital letter messages and simply poor form. Considering that nobody ever wrote a normal letter entirely in capital letters, users should not do this to their e-mail messages either. Also it is important to remember not to format your e-mails by using assorted colors and excessive bolding. Businesses with older e-mail clients may not be able to read your e-mails and some people just don’t appreciate them. One of the biggest ways people neglect the principles of netiquette is in just not paying attention. You should read all outgoing e-mail carefully, checking for errors in both grammar and spelling. It is common courtesy to go back and make a check on your work. Most computer programs have a spell check and it takes only a moment to catch all the little spelling mistakes. If you are trying to impress a prospect or new client, nothing will damage your message more that a message with careless errors. Most people will receive e-mails that you could classify a “rude” in nature. The best advice is to not respond immediately, if at all. People are very bold and overly critical on the other side of the screen. Most of these people tend to point out things they think you need improvement on while not even noticing the good or positive points on the very same issue. It is often best to just hit delete and forget about it, instead of replying. Whenever you send e-mails they are not private and they’re no way to take them back. They pass through a sophisticated network of computers with the possibility of interception at every point. The “rude” message is unacceptable in the online community. In organizing the message of the e-mail, your goal should be to make it as brief as possible without forfeiting any of the meaning of the message. Business messages will usually be longer than personal notes. Keep in mind this a communicating. When replying to an e-mail, you will often be replying to only part of the received message. It saves space to copy the part you are responding too and paste it with your reply than to copy the whole message. Don’t use symbols, such as “smileys” which show if you are happy or sad. These are fine for personal notes but are quite inappropriate for business use. The meanings of your words should be contained within the words themselves, and not need additional explanation with symbols. Most business use unsolicited e-mail or junk e-mail. This is the electronic equivalent of junk postal mail and direct mail selling. In the competing business world, companies use this type of selling to attract new customers. Junk postal mail is considered by many to be annoying and wasteful, but junk e-mail is even more so. With postal mail you can throw the envelope away unread. With e-mail, you have to take the time to read it to find that you didn’t want it. It is therefore time-wasting, inconsiderate, and very bad netiquette. Yet direct mail works for businesses, so they need to keep in mind the basic rule of business netiquette, which is to show consideration for the other person. Businesses should therefore condense solicitations to one or two lines instead of 5 pages. Competition globally is becoming more and more of an issue for companies today. Therefore they have to keep in consideration the international side of netiquette. Its quite appropriate to be friendly, but don’t overdo it. It wastes space and reading time for your reader. They are difficult to read by someone not absolutely fluent in your language. People in many countries find the friendly nature of Americans over-bearing at first, so go easy with the courtesies. Short, plain sentences are easier for someone reading in a language other their own. It is also more appropriate to write in a formal tone. It’s easy and natural to progress from formal to friendly, but it weakens your standing to have to go backwards from friendly to formal. In regard to junk e-mail, it is important to remember to keep it short and remember that privacy is held in a higher regard in other countries compared to the United States. The business community must respect that for all the potential the Internet offers; it is also a personal place. The rules that govern netiquette are an attempt to produce an ongoing, proper relationship with their consumers. The potential that makes the Internet such an attractive place for e-commerce growth carries with it a responsibility. In today’s business world, it is imperative to know the proper etiquette required for different situations. Etiquette allows people to understand what is appropriate behavior in a given situation and then adjust accordingly. We, as business professionals, must change our business etiquette to conform around the change social dynamics of the world. However, there is an important rule to remember. Business etiquette knows no gender, only the hierarchy of your organization and the importance of your clientele. It is this importance place on your clients that imposes the thank-you letter rule. Always write a thank-you letter because it is quite possible the last impression that you make. When “wining and dining” your clients, you must remember one thing: there is no such thing as being too prepared. After all, it is still a business meeting. You should always respect your clients eating habits and never allow the check to come to the table. The Internet has become an integral part of our daily lives. It is very easy to slip into “casual speak” when dealing with business e-mails. However, business professionals should keep in mind that they are dealing with other businesses and the same formality use when face-to-face should be used for writing and sending business e-mails. It may also be a good idea to take a few tips from the pros…literally. There are several services that provided by etiquette consultants. Many of these services can be found online or in your nearest bookstore. Knowledge it the most important aspect of good business etiquette.


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