Business etiquette is the set of guidelines and rules for good behavior in a business setting. Good etiquette is an important aspect of business relations and can help businesspeople in acquiring more clients. Whether you are meeting clients or co-workers in a work environment, a restaurant or in a casual setting, it is important to remember all the elements of business etiquette. These elements are also essential in telephone conversations, emails and casual greetings.
Some of the most important words or phrases to remember are "thank you", "please" and "you are welcome". Always thank people for the opportunities they may be providing your business. Never forget to introduce people who are meeting for the first time, if both are known to you. When you introduce a client to members of your team, give a brief explanation of their roles as well. When you meet a business associate or client for the first time, you have the opportunity to exchange business cards. Make it a point to read the card before putting it in your wallet.
It is always a good idea to express your appreciation, but remember that expensive gifts can be considered bribes by some people. Thank you notes or small gifts are considered much more appropriate. Always return phone calls or emails, even if you have no intention of working with someone in the immediate future. Hold the door open for the person next to you. Avoid smoking in public places, especially if some people in your group do not smoke.
Good manners are an important building block in business relations. If you meet clients or colleagues for breakfast, luncheon or dinner, wait for everyone to be seated and served before you start eating. If you are at a buffet, avoid filling your plate in the first trip. At the same time, avoid picking at your food and try to give the impression that you enjoy the food and the company. Make an effort to talk to everybody and avoid personal topics unless the other person brings it up. Be polite to your juniors and also the servers in the restaurant.
Always try to be on time when you are meeting people for business. Avoid getting to your destination too early, because the other person may not be ready for you. Never be late, because it can send a negative impression and you may appear incompetent and tardy. Do your research before the meeting and prepare yourself so that you do not appear flustered or nervous.
When you converse with colleagues and customers, refrain from debating on politics, religion or other sensitive subjects. Refrain from talking about your family unless the conversation is centered on that aspect. Never criticize people or gossip in an effort to get close to an acquaintance.
Positive Body Language
Maintain an erect posture when you are standing or sitting. Make sure your handshake is neither too firm not too soft. Avoid strolling or walking too fast when you are in a group. Make sure you maintain an appropriate distance from people at all times. Avoid getting too close or staying too far when you are talking to someone. Dress in formal business attire for meetings and dinners. For informal gatherings, wear casual clothing, but avoid flashy or unprofessional looks.
Lakshmy Nair has been a professional writer since 2004 and has worked for companies such as Lionbridge Technologies, Mumbai, India and Rand Worldwide, Mississauga, Canada. She holds an engineering degree from the University of Mumbai, India and a certification in technical communications from George Brown College, Toronto, Canada.