If someone does not want to do business with you because he or she doesn’t like your attitude or your habits, you’ll never be told that’s the reason. Poor business etiquette is a silent killer.

Let’s be clear about what is meant by business etiquette. It has to do with how we treat one another – the accepted forms, manners, ceremonies, habits, protocols and rules required in conducting our business relations.

Business etiquette may be reflected in ways such as communication styles, dress modes and the atmosphere of the work setting. But the deeper purpose of business etiquette is to remove the obstacles and minimize the irritations that make doing business a pain rather that a pleasure.

Use the following etiquette tips to show your professionalism:

Receptionist:

  • Dresses appropriately in business attire.
  • Greets visitor with a smile, asks who visitor is meeting, and informs the executive his/her appointment has arrived.
  • Offers refreshment, if your company follows this courtesy.
  • Offers use of telephone and magazines to read, if there is a delay.

Visitor:

  • Presents business card to receptionist, and gives pertinent information: name, company, and who he/she is meeting.
  • Sits in reception area until appointment.
  • Takes this time to collect thoughts and relax.
  • Stands and shakes hands when executive comes out to greet visitor.
  • Waits for executive to indicate where to sit in the office.
  • If initiated meeting, make several pleasantries, and then moves on to business.
  • Thanks receptionist on the way out.
  • If initiated meeting, write thank-you note to executive for his/her time.

Executive:

  • Greets the visitor in the reception area, and shakes hands.
  • If there is a delay in the appointment, the executive meeting with the visitor should personally let the visitor know immediately.
  • Offer another appointment time if the delay will be long.
  • Walks the visitor to office.
  • Indicates where the visitor should sit.
  • Do not remain behind the desk because a desk acts as a barrier.
  • Sits in close proximity to visitor.
  • If initiated meeting, makes several pleasantries, and then moves on to business.
  • If initiated meeting, writes thanks-you note to person for his/her time.

Colleagues:

  • Do respect each other’s privacy and space.
  • An opened door does not mean you can enter it at will.
  • Stop at the door and wait to be asked in.
  • In some countries, i.e., Germany, office doors are closed.
  • If someone is on the telephone or working on a project, come back later or send a memo and set up an appointment.
  • If a senior executive walks into a room, stand up. If you are engrossed in a project with others, look up and acknowledge the person.
  • Off-colored jokes are not acceptable in a professional setting.

Etiquette for etiquette’s sake is an empty activity and a meaningless ritual. But genuine good manners and a working knowledge of professional behavior are essential and productive business skills.

Put these tips into action and they will get you where you want to go faster than a speeding BMW!

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