These days popular sociological theories tend to adhere to the view that there is really not that much that separates human beings from animals – we are still savages merely reformed ones. This seems to be at face value quite reductionist but also inherently false. There are, it seems, several aspects of humanity that make us distinctly different from animals – our higher senses, self-awareness and interpersonal skills put us at the top of the biological totem pole. But the way we treat and behave around each other also factors into who we really are. In the civilized world, this would be simply called Etiquette. Etiquette is basically a certain intangible benchmark that governs or dictates acceptable or appropriate standards or norms of social behavior.
These standards also apply to the world of trade, commerce and economics that drive the industrialized world today. Business Etiquette then governs social behavior within the boundaries of corporate culture. There is after all an appropriate way to present ourselves, communicate, interact and do business with others. Professional Etiquette is paramount to harmonious corporate relationships within the civilized industrial world. In this article we will look at just three keys traits to having good workplace or business etiquette:
The manner in which we carry ourselves speaks volumes of who we are and what we value. We seem to intuitively understand this. Before we attend a professional meeting we make sure that we are wearing appropriate and professional business attire. One must make sure to be well groomed and clean. Standing up straight with a warm smile and a genuine handshake are qualities of authenticity and confidence. Eye contact is also crucially important because it communicates attentiveness and interest. This makes a good first impression.
When talking to a person, addressing them by name a couple of times within the first few minutes of the conversation is considered very professionally personal. This demonstrates genuine interest and a personal connection with the person we are talking to. Occasionally nodding politely also indicates an interest and attentiveness in what they are saying. In professional settings it is generally considered appropriate to avoid personal questions or topics. The threshold for this appropriateness however varies from culture to culture. This is another reason why it is considered appropriate to avoid personal issues altogether. Giving each other the space to talk without interrupting each other is also just as important.
Communication etiquette also applies to non-personal communication. It is considered appropriate to return e-mails and voicemails as soon as possible. Voicemails must be polite and to the point. E-mails must avoid spelling or grammatical mistakes. Business etiquette also implies that one must not use slang language or pop-culture terminology within a professional E-mail correspondence. It is also better to avoid unnecessary exclamation marks, words in bold or underlining, as these can seem overtly aggressive and rude.
Generally a meeting is the environment or setting where the dynamics of professional etiquette will converge. One must never arrive more than five minutes early to a meeting as the person might not yet be ready for you as they might be still preparing for the meeting or doing something else. One must definitely not be late to a meeting, as this can be considered rude and unprofessional. This is also considered discourteous because it leaves the other people involved waiting for you to show up and this implies a lack of respect for other people’s time. If one must leave the meeting prematurely it is appropriate to explain why you need to leave, to make sure that everyone understands why one’s reason warrants the necessity to leave the meeting early.