If you decide to pursue a career in the corporate world -- for example in banking, the technology sector, or phone center support services -- developing appropriate business manners is key to the all-important goal of fitting in and being accepted. Consider etiquette as a guide for how you should act around your boss, clients, other employees and customers. According to some research, business associates begin forming a first impression of you within 30 seconds of interaction. In less than five minutes, your business character is assessed. This means that people will evaluate your ability, self-esteem, compassion and likeability. Learning how to interact in business relationships will help you make a favorable impression.
Business etiquette is an established norm of behavior. If you work in a hierarchical corporate environment, when you interact with clients, you’re representing your employer. As an ambassador, clients are likely to make business decisions based upon their relationship with you. Using professional business etiquette sends a message that you and your company can be trusted and will deliver as promised. If you veer away from expected behavior, it could result in a lost contract or a negative image that is difficult to change.
Developing an expertise in interpersonal communication is rooted in professional business etiquette. Knowing how to interact with customers is critical in building and maintaining a business base. Even a handshake or direct eye contact sends a powerful message. Practice makes perfect. Being comfortable with professional business etiquette will help you make a positive first impression. For example, knowing how to greet a new customer may land you a meeting that can yield a business deal. If you exude confidence, competence and credibility, success is likely to follow.
Practicing proper business etiquette builds self-confidence. For example, when you dress for success, you’ll exude assurance and positivity. This will help you feel better about who you are as a professional. Interacting well with your colleagues and communicating effectively creates an image of success. It sends a message about the type of employee and colleague you aspire to be. As you practice business etiquette and build self-esteem, you’ll feel more comfortable making decisions and being a leader in the workplace.
Believe it or not, business etiquette can impact your ability to get along in the workplace. Calling colleagues by name, responding to calls and emails in a timely manner and being mindful of personal and professional boundaries establish your reputation as a team player. Business settings demand appropriate behavior and everything you do can be called into question when your performance is evaluated. Cultivating positive relationships encourages good morale. If you are central to positive team energy, it may pave the way for future management opportunities.
Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years. She has numerous publications with Talico, Inc., DynaTEAM Consulting, Inc. and Kinect Education Group.