As times change, so do social norms for personal and professional behavior, but that doesn't mean basic etiquette doesn't matter. Performance and quality are important, too, of course, but not exclusively. We sometimes forget that business is about people. There is no shortage of competent and reliable people in the business world and manners can make the difference. Wouldn't you rather collaborate with, work for or buy from someone who has high standards of professional behavior?
Many, but not all, of us follow these 15 time-tested rules of better behavior. Do you?
1. When in doubt, introduce other
. Always introduce people to others whenever the opportunity arises, unless you know that they're already acquainted. It makes people feel valued, regardless of their status or position.
2. A handshake is still the professional standard
Not only does this simple gesture demonstrate that you're polite, confident and approachable, it also sets the tone for any potential future professional relationship. In a very casual work atmosphere, you might be able to get away with a nod or a hello, but it's worth it to make the extra effort to offer your hand.
3. Always say "Please" and "Thank you."
This should go without saying, but even in a very casual professional atmosphere, this basic form of courtesy is still imperative. Today, sending a thank you e-mail is perfectly acceptable, but a handwritten thank you note is always a nice touch.
4. Don't interrupt
We've become a nation of "over-talkers," so eager to offer our own opinions or press our point that we often interrupt others mid-sentence. It can be tongue-bitingly difficult to force ourselves not to interject, especially when the discussion is heated. Don't. It's rude and shows disrespect for the opinions of others. Remember, be assertive, not aggressive.
5. Watch your language
Verbal and written communications are often much less formal than in times past, but be careful to choose your words wisely. Of course, derogatory, rude or offensive language is unacceptable, but so is slang. While it may be commonplace in our society, it's never acceptable in a professional atmosphere.
6. Double check before you hit send
While we're on the subject of communication, always check your e-mails for spelling and grammar errors. Since the advent of spell check, there is no excuse for typos. Also, do a quick read to make sure the meaning and tone are what you wish to convey. And no smileys, please.