Business Etiquette – How To Fix The 7 Rules That Are Commonly Broken

Business Etiquette is defined as “The customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group.” When many people think of etiquette, they think “prim and proper.” However, in business, it really is more about respect than formality, not to mention it truly does have an affect on the bottom line.

Read on to learn whether you (or someone you work with) could use some improvement in his/her business etiquette.

Business Etiquette Rule Breaker #1

You are always fashionably late to meetings – even your own. You are very important and people need to know it. The fact that you show up to a meeting at all is enough. And to make your presence really know, you often request a recap of what you missed.

How do you fix it? Easy. Be on time or even a minute or two early. If you run meetings yourself, do not wait for everyone to arrive and do not recap what you discussed. If there are people that are always late, by missing out on important information, they will eventually learn that they need to show up on time. One more trick is to start a new trend and schedule 50 minute meetings instead of an hour meeting. That will give everyone the time to get from one meeting to the other with a bathroom break if needed!

Business Etiquette Rule Breaker #2

Your meetings always run late because what you have to talk about is so important. It is not your concern that attendees have other commitments or work to get done.

How do you fix it? Use the clock! More importantly, make your meetings focused and productive. Often there are only about three things that can be successfully discussed in an hour (unless it is a seminar) with no input. Put a time limit on each topic and move on or reschedule a new meeting when the time runs out.

Business Etiquette Rule Breaker #3

You answer your phone at every occasion, even when someone is talking to you. This seems especially important to do when the other person has come to your office and has been trying to communicate something that is seems to be especially important to them but it really isn’t to you.

How do you fix it? If you have a set meeting, just don’t answer the phone! If you really have to, explain to the other person that you are expecting a call that you would prefer to not miss, and ask if is it okay if you answer it. The other person, regardless of stature in the company, should have the power to approve or disapprove the request.

Business Etiquette Rule Breaker #4

Along with answering your business phone, you respond to emails and text messages on your mobile phone during meetings. You are a very busy person and everything you do is very important and must be addressed immediately.

How do you fix it? You know the answer. Keep your mobile phone on vibrate and do not check it every two minutes. If there is something that is so pressing that you can not wait until the meeting is over, reschedule. There was one suggestion I heard that may make sense… depending on the length of the meeting, you have a “technology” break every 20 or 40 minutes. From my experience, an email response can wait 20 minutes or so.

Business Etiquette Rule Breaker #5

You like to barge into other people’s offices, unannounced, sometimes while they are on the phone or obviously concentrating very hard on something. You proceed to check your email, text messages and talk about nothing particularly work-related.

How do you fix it? Take a walk and take your own break, or quietly check first before walking in. If you do actually have some business to discuss, call/email ahead of time, “knock” on the cube, or ask, “Is this a good time?” before barging right in. If others are actually breaking the rule, stand up to make it look like you are going somewhere. Then schedule the “visit” if it is really a business visit.

Business Etiquette Rule Breaker #6

Because you are so important and extremely busy, you find it very important to let people know that you are working until midnight. And, if you are the boss, your employees need to know it and should be checking their emails as well.

How do you fix it? Wait until the morning to send the email! Or, unless it is really important that the employee is “on call” communicate that with him/her in advance. Boundaries are extremely important for work/life balance and it reflects poorly on how people perceive you and your lifestyle. This is a big issue for most people, and we will talk more about it in another issue.

Business Etiquette Rule Breaker #7

People need to hear you so you like to talk loudly all the time. It is just how it is, and it really isn’t of your concern if others get distracted around you.

How do you fix it? Well, it may be that your voice is a little loud by nature – or you could be hard of hearing. However, if your voice is so loud that it is disruptive, close your door when you are on the phone or talking to someone. If you are in a cube, put up a sign right by your phone that says, “Please use your inside voice.” The people on the other side of the phone probably don’t enjoy your shouting in their ear either.

From my experience, these are some very basic and repetitive behaviors that show disrespect and rudeness in the workplace that are very easily remedied. There is a huge problem in the U.S. with employees being actively and positively engaged with one another and with their actual jobs. From a productivity and work environment standpoint, it can affect the bottom line for you and your business. Showing respect for others’ time, appreciating what they do and setting a good example will increase productivity and engagement in the workplace.

Share this information to those in your group, your HR department and anyone that you feel can benefit from this information. Make it a seminar. Create some new hire guidelines.

At the very least, practice what is best for your success as well as the bottom line of the company.