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What is your EtiQ?

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Social Etiquette in business builds reputation of respect for customers

 By Cynthia Grosso

Your job gives you authority, your behavior earns you respect.                                                                                                       Irwin Federman

Your office, lobby and building are all part of the first impression that is formed when dealing with an on-site visitor. These items speak about you even before you do.  In order to enhance your image, your surroundings as well as your receptionist/assistant all need to quietly speak well of you.

When you are expecting a visitor into your business there are certain issues that need to be handled before-hand. If you’re going to meet in your office, make sure your office is clean and orderly with no dirty cups or glasses sitting around. Papers and publications should be organized, stacked or put away. The furniture should be dusted, the trash can should not be overflowing and the carpet should be vacuumed.

Make sure you are on time for the appointment.  Keeping people waiting is rude and can convey that you are not prepared for them. Be respectful of the value of another’s time.

When your guest arrives, you or your assistant should greet the visitor at the main reception area.  At no time should your guest be wondering around your office building unattended. If it is your assistant that greets your guest, remember, your assistant is representing you and it is your responsibility to make sure he/she is trained in meeting, greeting, small talk and the social aspects of doing business that speaks so loudly.  Your assistant should enter with a warm smile and a handshake and explain that he/she will escort them to your office. 

When escorting, walk slightly ahead so that your guest is guided where to go.  If there is an elevator on route, let the guest enter first. 

Once at your office, an assistant should stand at the door allowing your guest to pass as he enters.  You should then stand and come around from behind desk to shake hands and greet the guest. This is done because the etiquette of the handshake dictates that nothing is to be between the people meeting…but space. You may then show your guest where to sit and allow him to sit down before you do.  If possible, sit on the same side of the desk. This will keep the desk from being a physical barrier between you and your guest. Offer him/her a cup of coffee or a cold beverage.

There should be at least a few minutes of small talk.  Depending on the nature of the meeting this time may be extended.  Small talk is not always trite.  It can be a valuable tool in establishing rapport, trust and respect. It can encompass a personal element that is a necessary part of business and should not be left out. It is up to the host to begin the business part of the meeting. Remember people can do business with anyone in your field…. they do business with people they like.  They like people who show respect for them…in what they say or don’t say, in what they do or don’t do and even in what they wear and don’t wear.

Be careful not to be interrupted unless it is an emergency.  Phone calls, especially cell phones calls, should be diverted to others or voice mail.  Taking a phone call during a meeting most often tells the people you are meeting with that they are not as important as the person on the phone.  Proper etiquette says if you are in a meeting, a ringing phone does not take priority.   

Keep personal interruptions to a minimum as well. 

End the meeting on time, this shows your guests that you are respectful of their time.

When saying goodbye to your guest, if possible, go the extra mile and walk them all the way to the front door. Be sure to speak graciously in your final words….words of appreciation not only about the visit, but also about them personally.


Source: Article Published in the Post and Courier

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