Lately, I’ve been having a lot of fun presenting a workshop on the topic of business etiquette. And with each presentation I have something to add and a new point to share.
When I originally jumped at the chance to present this workshop, I knew it was something I wanted to do and could do well. As I starting mapping and creating the presentation, I realized just how much etiquette is truly lacking in the business world.
But why? Where and when did the breakdown start?
I’m sure most people would say it’s because of social media. Poor social media. For it to be as popular as it is, it surely gets a bad rap. I don’t believe social media is to blame. I believe the lack of social graces and etiquette in the workplace started in the early to mid-90s with the popularity of the Internet. We moved from the formality of companies such as IBM and HP to more relaxed work environments of dot com companies like Apple, Amazon, and Yahoo, just to name a few. It wasn’t just that the popular work industries changed, the type of work being done and the work environments also changed. We saw an influx of big thinkers whose primary focus was to create and produce rather than spend too much time on selecting the perfect Brooks Brothers suit each morning. (For the record, I love Brooks Brothers.)
As with the three Rs (reading, writing and arithmetic), etiquette is still a basic skill required in our personal and business lives. Business etiquette is seen as a soft skill since many of the areas of etiquette are directly related to communication, strategic thinking and problem solving.
One of the statistics I use in my Business Etiquette presentation comes from NYU researchers that say we make eleven major decisions about one another in the first 7 seconds for meeting. How would you make those first 7 seconds count?
Where to start?
Besides attending my business etiquette presentation, I suggest a great start is to review your employer’s “employee handbook.” Most companies provide new hires with the rules of the company. Many will include general etiquette rules at it applies to the company.
I’m also a big supporter of mentors and mentorship programs. If you don’t have a mentor, take a look at your personal and professional networks. Ask someone you trust and admire if they will mentor you. If you diversify the mentors you work with, you will be exposed to many different levels of business. You may have the opportunity to attend business parties, networking events and even top level executive meetings. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you’ve had a career for two years or 20. We never stop learning and one of the best ways to truly understand etiquette in the workplace is to observe.
To learn more about business etiquette including etiquette in general business communication and social media, contact me. I’m happy to speak at your organization or business meeting and answer any questions you have.