by Lyudmila Bloch, Etiquette Expert NYC
Why business etiquette matters?
To better understand how business etiquette may impact your business, let's examine first what do we mean when use the term "business etiquette."
Business etiquette is a very broad term, encompassing multiple aspects of the business interactions, including business manners, business attire, business communications, business dining, client entertaining, cross-cultural comunications, international protocol, workplace etiquette, netiquette and more. Business etiquette skills should not be taken for granted -- we need to develop them like any other practical skills for success in business.
Business etiquette, in my opinion, is a philosophy of building and fostering business relations based on trust, integrity, best practices, and cultural and regional sensitivities. Business etiquette is not a “business behavior code” (or a list of dos and dont's) – it can be defined only as “guidelines for success in business.” These guidelines can make your professional relationships more harmonious, profitable, and manageable at the same time. Before this term became a part of our daily vocabulary, all good manners were based on guidelines and rules of social etiquette.
The meaning of “social etiquette” (a term derived mainly from the mandated practices of the French King, Louis XIV), has been widely misunderstood and poorly interpreted. For centuries, it has been associated with the elite social etiquette of “royals” and those of the “upper crust.” Therefore, even today, when you ask a regular person what is “etiquette,” you can expect to hear vague and snickering references to the proper use of utensils – fork, knife, and spoon.
I often say that etiquette is “not about fork and knife” – it’s about consideration and respect toward the people around us. Knowing which fork to use at a dinner table is good, but knowing how to avoid offending your fellow diners is about etiquette and manners.
Likewise, Business Etiquette is about how our business relationships reflect thoughtful consideration of the interests and wellbeing of others; and they are also deeply connected to our own business goals and aspirations. Mutual trust and communication will develop based on your personal qualities – integrity, respect, responsiveness – eventually leading to business growth, prosperity, and ultimate success! Every aspect of proper business etiquette will showcase your best business manners, thereby securing crucial partnerships for rewarding business outcomes.
Knowledge of business etiquette is, of course, not all it will take to ring your cash register, but it will minimize any misunderstandings or business blunders that can ultimately kill a deal-in-progress. The presence or lack of business manners might not be immediately apparent or visible, but will certainly impact your bank account!