Business Etiquette & Diversity

As the world shrinks, corporate teams everywhere are becoming more diverse. The need for more interactive training mixing diverse cultures in problem-solving activities has never been greater. When conflict arises, personalities and cultures may clash. If employees on diverse teams learn to resolve conflict and work together with mutual appreciation and respect, teams function better, employee engagement improves, and the company profits.

Diversity spans a very wide range, not only by variations in culture but in each individual’s background, values, learning style, race, religion, health, sex, sexual orientation, age, and education. Research shows that diversity drives innovation and optimizes teamwork. Effective teamwork is linked to clear goals, continuous improvement, process management, and accountability.

Any way you look at it, successful business practices require functional relationships, and diversity constantly impacts business teams. Business etiquette is an integral part of the team-building process as relationships are built on trust and respect. When you add the global reach of social media, the reality is that bad manners, poor behavior, and forgotten etiquette become amplified. What has become popular in pop culture is not acceptable to everyone, especially in professional relationships. Good manners are here to stay.

The Etiquette School in New York offers courses incorporate etiquette, including such classes as, “How to Succeed in the Global Arena,” and a one-day finishing school for young professionals. Understanding the importance of culture in global businesses cannot be underestimated.

Companies need to establish standards for business etiquette and protocol guidelines, taking into consideration the diversity of the organization. The plan would be most successful if the team developing their standards were representative of the organization’s population. Organizations can no longer rely on traditions or simply trust the way things use to be done.

Once guidelines are established and learned, organizational communication is improved internally, as well as externally with customers. Training in business etiquette enhances the corporate environment and reinforces the value of diversity by eliminating negativity and conflicts which are normal with diverse teams.

The Protocol School of Washington focuses on specific areas to promote etiquette practices suitable in today’s diverse organizations.

Etiquette building takes into consideration the following:

• Effective teams and how diversity impacts them
• General guidelines for positive interactions
• Dos & Don’ts for emails, phone calls, voice mail
• Company meetings: behavior and expectations in group settings

Everyday etiquette practices:

• Show gratitude.  Always say please and thank you.
 Listen: Avoid interrupting.
• Dress appropriately.
• Avoid demands and commands, such as in directions: “Read this.”  

“Oh, that’s just common sense,” you may think. One thing to remember when working with a diverse population is to never take anything for granted. When diverse cultures merge, nothing is universally common sense.

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