The business of manners
Our 14 year old son Zac, can at times be a little forgetful with his manners. Just occasionally, he can forget to use the words please or thank you. When he does forget he can start to sound quite demanding and aggressive. Zac and I were having a father son chat the other day about the importance of manners and why they really are the glue in society. I'm not sure if he appreciates at 14, how small actions and his choice of words can have such an impact.
Once you've been in business for a period of time you realise that not everyone thinks the same way as you, about manners or business etiquette. Often, what you'll view as common sense is not always common practice.
Here are 5 reminders of business etiquette or manners, that are easy to forget.
Thank you/Acknowledgement - If someone sends you information, that you have requested, thank them for sending it through. It's not hard. It confirms to the sender the message has been received and hasn't been caught in a spam filter. By failing to acknowledge that you have received the information you are immediately creating communication barriers, indicating you might be difficult to deal with. A short note, saying thanks for sending this through, is all it takes.
Time management - Respect peoples time. If a Video Conference call is scheduled for 10am, log in, ready to go for 10am, not 10.10am. If you login 10 minutes late, that's 10 minutes of someone else's time you are stealing. Managing your time is a very important life skill. If you are running late or need to leave a meeting early, it's just naturally courteous to let people know in advance. No one will be upset or offended if you let them now.
Get back to people in a timely fashion - No one likes nagging people and no one I know likes being nagged. If you say to someone you'll be reviewing the information, that you requested, next Monday, then after you've reviewed it, get back to the sender with your thoughts. Don't make people endlessly chase you up. It reflects badly on you and indicates that your words and actions are not properly aligned. Never a good look.
Make time for small talk or relationship building - This depends on whom you are dealing with and their time constraints. Be flexible and adaptable. Some people want to build a relationship by discussing their family, hobbies, weather or current affairs. Other people couldn't think of anything worse. Read the situation, apply some emotional intelligence and adjust accordingly. No need to overshare, as that can put people in an awkward situation. Showing colleagues a picture of your teenage daughters new snake tattoo might just be at tad too much information. However, some sharing of personal information is important. It's very difficult to build a successful working relationship with someone if you are reluctant to reveal anything about yourself outside of work. It's simply good manners to find common ground and, when it suits, allocate some time for non-work dialogue.
And finally dress appropriately - With the boom in people working from home it's important we don't forget that there are still certain business dress codes and etiquette. It's poor from to leave your camera off on video calls, so make sure you are dressed appropriately for them. Make some effort. Ironed shirt, clean shaven and put some pants on. If you are working from an office, you should know by this stage of your career the importance of dressing appropriately for work. If you don't, find the person with the best dress sense at your office, and over lunch together (your shout) ask them for some styling tips.