By Mindy Wolfle
May 10, 2018
Once again, I feel compelled to broach the topic “business etiquette.” Enter those two words in your browser and you’ll find any number of seminars, courses, things you need to know, tips and guides. Personally, I don’t think we need instructions for behaving appropriately in a business setting. Apparently, I am wrong, based on situations I and others have encountered. So here goes:
• A business person attends a seminar. A panel of speakers is expert in their topics. Yet, an attendee finds it necessary to weigh in several times with lengthy comments, some personal and some professional. The information shared is neither of interest to the rest of the attendees nor necessarily correct. A panelist or moderator can do just so much to control this kind of behavior, even asking attendees to hold their questions or comments to the end of the program. The point is: if it’s not your program, listen more and comment less.
• You’re at a gathering of business people. There is a set program, well-planned and geared to the amount of time booked at the venue. Two attendees converse between themselves and pay greater attention to their smartphone keyboards than the rest of the group, regardless of what else is going on. One of the attendees – not the same person in the above example – goes into a rambling story, out of context with the rest of the program. The point is: Make plans to meet outside of a group event for personal conversations; step aside from the group, if you must attend to texts, emails or calls.
• What has happened to the simple expressions “thank you” and “you’re welcome?” Have you heard “no problem” enough to let out a scream? Somehow, expressions of gratitude are barely making it into emails anymore. The thank you note in an envelope with a stamp affixed? For those in the know, it’s not a thing of the past. But for the majority of business people, it’s overlooked and undervalued. It’s no surprise that when one receives a “proper” thank you, it is remembered. The point is: Appreciation sets impressive contacts and colleagues apart from the rest of the bunch.
In the words of Judith Martin, better known as “Miss Manners,” Etiquette is all human social behavior. If you’re a hermit on a mountain, you don’t have to worry about etiquette; if somebody comes up the mountain, then you’ve got a problem. It matters because we want to live in reasonably harmonious communities.”