This week (June 2-8, 2013) is National Business Etiquette Week. I often run into people who think worrying about proper etiquette is passé. Personally, I couldn’t disagree more.
In today’s fast-paced, competitive market, I believe minding your Ps and Qs are more important than ever. Missteps in any business situation can tarnish your reputation, ruin your business relationships, and cost you valuable opportunities.
If you’re a little rusty on proper etiquette, this week is a good time to pull out your copy of Emily Post’s etiquette book, brush off the dust, and freshen up your skills. To help you evaluate how well you’re doing, I tasked some of my followers to share their biggest pet peeves. Here’s a list of the top five.
1. Turn it off
One of the biggest breaches of business etiquette is the use of a smartphone or other mobile device during meetings. Unless you’re dealing with some sort of an emergency, most emails, calls and text messages can wait until your business is concluded. So turn off your device and tune into your customers and clients.
“Many times I have seen people try to sneak a peek at their phone during a business dinner or simply set their phone down in the middle of a table, like it’s a part of the meeting. Developing business relationships are so important, and getting a chance to be physically present with colleagues or clients is becoming increasingly rare. Take full advantage of those opportunities by being present and making the people you are with feel important and valued. Turning your attention to your phone does not do that,” explains Taylor Rasted, BookVolume.com Account Manager.
2. Be respectful of time
Etiquette really boils down to showing respect to others. We all know in business that time is money, so disrespecting someone’s time is a huge faux pas. If you’re running late for a meeting, alert the person that you’re meeting with and explain the reason why.
“My biggest pet peeve, when it comes to business etiquette, is being aware of other people’s time. Paying attention to being timely for meetings, not overstaying your welcome, and being able to judge when a meeting will end are key factors to business success. Be succinct. Be prepared. Be aware of others and listen. I have a 15 minute rule when it comes to meetings. If someone has requested a meeting with me and is 15 minutes late, if I haven’t heard from them, I’m done. Of course there are exceptions for a true emergency situation, but as a general rule, that’s my policy, “says Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.com.
3. Too much information
Social media creates an interesting dynamic in the business world. Many of us use it for business and as a way to keep connected with family and friends. As a result, some people get too personal with the information they share, which may interfere with your business relationships and opportunities. Be careful what you post via social media platforms. If you wouldn’t want it broadcasted on the network news, then don’t post it.
4. Email overload
There is a general consensus that email abuse is rude and a huge “no-no.” Hitting “reply-all” for example when only one person needs to receive the information or vice a versa and failing to respond to all when the information should be shared with the group can be perceived as rude.
Elite Status Marcomm Founder and Managing Director, Julie Beltz says, “When people are inconvenient or incompetent about the cc line in email, it’s a huge business annoyance. Including the right people in the right conversations is essential for business success. The best tip is to review not just the content of the email, but also the recipients before hitting send.”
5. Too intimate
Being friendly in business is good, but too much intimacy can easily be misunderstood and misconstrued. Avoid sharing intimate details of your personal life in a business setting. A brief recap of a weekend trip is fine, but the ugly details of your recent break-up with your significant other or how horrible your step-children treat you is in poor taste.
While the business world may be getting less formal, practicing good etiquette remains important for success. You may not think other people care or pay attention, but they do. So brush up on your skills to help your small business enhance its success.
What is your business etiquette pet peeve? Share with us in the comments below.
About the Author: Susan Solovic is THE Small Business Expert. Sign up for Susan’s Success Tips Newsletter and get your free copy of “Smart Marketing Strategies for Small Biz” ebook.