It is obvious that the holiday season is finally over. The lines at the mall and the super market are shorter. You can even find a parking space at the mall. The decorations are all down, and most everyone has come off that holiday sugar high. As for those New Year’s resolutions you made on January 1st, have they vanished as well?
Some people take the opportunity of a new year to make changes in their lives. Others think it is a waste of time because they rarely manage to keep them. Yet another group of people makes resolutions, but by mid-April can’t remember what they were. Nonetheless, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to come up with the list of the top habits that people vow to make or break. Here are just five:
- Lose weight
- Exercise more
- Stop smoking
- Drink less
- Spend more time with family and friends
While it is not always easy to keep our pledges to ourselves, it is never a bad idea to work on issues that could improve our health, our happiness and our productivity. In addition to recommending those resolutions that will affect your personal life, I would like to suggest some that will improve your professional life as well.
Do you want to grow your business this year, attract more customers, keep your current ones and increase your bottom line?
If you answered “yes” to any of those, here are my top ten business etiquette recommendations for you:
- Be on time for meetings, presentations, workshops and networking events. People who habitually arrive late send a clear message that their time is more important than everyone else’s. They develop a poor reputation, and they miss out on information and opportunity. Keep in mind that if you are not five minutes early, you’re late.
- Pay more attention to your professional attire. Resolve to dress like the polished business person you are. People do judge you by your appearance. Your 9-5 wardrobe should be different from your after five clothing.
- Send more handwritten notes. Take a few extra minutes when someone does something nice for you and write a thank you note. You can send an email message of appreciation, but follow it with the written one. You’ll stand out from the crowd of your competitors.
- Be more tolerant of people from other cultures. Our business world is shrinking, and we find ourselves connecting with people from all over the globe. Take time to read up on international etiquette so you can understand and appreciate cultural differences.
- Call people by name. Using names in conversation makes others feel valued and acknowledged. However, make sure you are addressing them correctly. Don’t assume that “William” wants to be called “Bill” or that your new business client wants to be addressed by first name. Wait until Ms. Brown asks you to call her Mary. Until she does, use her title and last name.
- Resolve to use the phone more often. We live in a world of email. Some people think that it is the only way to communicate. Email is intended to transmit information quickly and efficiently. It does not build relationships. Make sure you take the time to talk to your customers, particularly about complicated or sensitive issues.
- Be dependable. Say what you will do and do what you said. Your credibility will go right down the tube if you promise but don’t deliver. The same goes for deadlines. If you promise to have the project done by Monday, do it. If you find there are obstacles to meeting that deadline, alert the other person.
- Use your cell phone with courtesy and respect for others. By now everyone should know to turn that phone off in meetings or at least put it on silent ringer and never take a call during a meeting. Even those people who consider themselves to be polite because they leave the meeting to take the call are clearly sending a message that they have other more important business than the meeting. Continually coming and going is insulting to the meeting leader, workshop presenter and other attendees.
- Pay attention to your cubicle etiquette. Not everyone has an office with a door these days so keep your voice down, turn off the ringer on your phone while you are away and don’t eat noisy or smelly foods at your desk.
- Take time to be nice. Everyone is stressed and overworked, but we shouldn’t be so busy that we can’t take time to be kinder to others. I have heard too many people say lately, “I don’t have time to be nice.” If you don’t have time to practice good manners and follow the rules of business etiquette in the workplace, you soon may find yourself without customers, clients and colleagues. In today’s economy it pays to be nice more than ever.
So finish that yogurt, pick up your copy of Manners that Sell, get on the treadmill, read, walk and envision the profits that will come from adding polish.
Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.
Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions. Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.
Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.