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"Teaching business etiquette as the subtle, redefining confidence which enables people to excel and succeed in today's corporate culture."~ Cindy Grosso, Founder

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What is your EtiQ?

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News

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Experts: Manners can affect profits

Experts: Manners can affect profits

'Every business is a people business'

By Maria Becker
Arizona Business Gazette
Oct. 17, 2002

Using business etiquette with customers impacts a company's bottom line, said Paul Siddle, president of the Executive Protocol Group of Richmond, Va.

Businesses want loyal customers, he said. Even though a customer is satisfied with the product, how he or she is treated will dictate if repeat business is done.

"Customers are likely to permit the development of a positive 'customer relationship' and will do repeat business if they feel comfortable and valued by you and your organization," Siddle said.

A study by Harvard University, Carnegie Foundation and the Stanford Research Institute said success in business today is attributed to 15 percent technical knowledge and 85 percent people skills.

"It doesn't matter what business you're in," said Cynthia Grosso, owner of the Charleston School of Protocol & Etiquette in Charleston, S.C. "It's a people business."


Tips
Business etiquette tips from the professionals:

Meals:

Place napkin on lap within first 10 seconds of sitting down to eat.

Leave napkin on chair if you have to stand up or leave.

Ask questions to start small talk.

Phones:

Don't talk on a cellular phone in the elevator.

Answer telephone calls with a greeting, identify one's self and the company you work for.

Return calls.

Don't use a cellular phone at work unless it is needed for the job.

Correspondence:

Use a superior's surname when e-mailing.

Avoid jokes and explanations that need parentheses in e-mails.

If you address a letter to a person by their first name, close it with your first name. If you address the person by their last name, close with your full name.

Around the office:

Greet everyone, even those in lower positions.

Don't wear a baseball cap to work.

Bring children to work only if the company allows it.

Don't let children run around.

From the first day new attorneys enter the office of Snell & Wilmer in Phoenix, they are taught the importance of etiquette and being courteous, said Tom Hoecker, a partner and a member of the executive committee.

"The new measure of success for (the business world) is about how we behave and how we handle others," Grosso said.

Etiquette is based on hierarchy and power, experts say.

For example, a person of lower status should hold a door for superiors, clients, peers following closely behind and anyone loaded down with packages.

In business, the client holds the highest position in any organization.

"The client is more important that anyone in your organization, even if the client holds a lesser title than the executive in your firm," said Hilka Klinkenberg, founder and director of Etiquette International in New York City.

A person of lesser importance is introduced to the person of greater importance. For example, "President Bush, I'd like you to meet John Smith."

Stand up when being introduced to someone and shake right hands by keeping thumbs up and wrapping fingers around the hands when palms touch, experts said. Shake with a firm grip but do not try to crush the other person's hand.

"Your handshake is your signature," Grosso said. "It speaks loudly of yourself. It is an unspoken act of respect."

Since business etiquette is gender neutral, unlike chivalry-based social etiquette, it does not matter which gender reaches out to shake hands first.

"You hold the door open for a woman if you would hold it open for a man in the same situation," Klinkenberg said.

When in an elevator, whoever is closest to the doors exits first.

"Men do not jam up elevators by trying to let the woman out first, unless of course she happens to be your CEO or your client," Klinkenberg said.

Client entertaining is the number one reason companies send employees to etiquette seminars, said Klinkenberg, author of At Ease . . . Professionally.

The main problem she finds with clients is that they talk with a mouth full of food. The most common question, she said, is who should pay the bill. The answer: Whoever benefits from the business pays, unless there is no clear beneficiary; then whoever does the inviting pays.

"They are all little things," Klinkenberg said.

The type of business being conducted prescribes what meal to eat, she said.

Urgent business should be discussed at a 45-minute breakfast. A two-hour lunch is a good time to entertain clients or establish contacts. Dinners are ideal for enhancing existing relationships or for providing a special treat for clients.

Knowing proper etiquette will help people communicate better and minimize insulting actions or behaviors, whether in the United States or doing business overseas.

Since business is done on a global level, international business etiquette has become important to know.

In the United States it is common to see men cross their legs ankle-to-knee, Grosso said. This gesture is insulting in some countries, such as Russia or Middle Eastern countries, because the soles of their shoes are exposed.

"This is the only place in the world where men cross their legs that way," she said.


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  • Source: Ariticle published in the Arizona Business Gazette

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