Business etiquette, independent of cultural diversity, relies on good old-fashioned manners and consideration for others. Just as reputable businesses show mutual respect, workplace professionalism relies on proper etiquette among individuals and teams, regardless of diverse backgrounds. Focusing on the common positive behaviors among all employees is the key to building team relationships at work.
Etiquette tips for business meetings:
- Eye contact: Listening is the most important part of the communication process and nothing conveys full attention like eye contact. Ask any child.
- Timeliness: Respect deadlines, show up for meetings on time. If you even think you will be late, text asap. It’s less intrusive than a call. If you arrive early, turn your phone off, put it away and engage with others at the table, even if they are glued to their phones. You are showing the greatest respect will certainly stand out among your peers.
- Preparedness: Think tech rules all? Nope. Always have a plan B. Have you noticed the increasing value of a pen and paper? When you’re in the Apple Store or filling out forms? Who has extra pens? The kind that work? Nobody. Batteries die and glitches also happen in our technology-reliant world. Always be prepared to step into your human role when you must. There are endless ways to score if you are prepared. Rising above tech is a primary one.
- Attire: When in doubt, dress it up. You don’t want to be in a ripped t-shirt when everyone else is dressed for opening night at the Met; unless you work for a place like Google where anything goes. If you’re prepared, you’ll have alternative dress in your car. If you’re going international, check the corporate dress code. Europeans and Asians tend toward formal dress vs. the Scottsdale cowboy CEO in a turquoise and silver bola tie.
Proper business etiquette should be the unspoken norm in any healthy workplace. Leadership – managers and top brass need to set an example. Even if the CFO is late for a meeting, she should apologize and show respect for her fellow staff and their time. Whatever your professional level, never say, “I was busy.” Who isn’t? It’s trite and translates as, “I had more important things to do than meet here with you.”
A single employee who lacks proper etiquette can throw a cog in the wheel as companies strive to strengthen relationships and keep employees happy. Team members who trust and respect each other are more motivated, happier and more productive, which naturally translates to higher profit margins and a strong corporate culture.
Hiring for a Diverse Workplace
As companies become increasingly diverse, it is important that all new hires embrace the corporate culture. Hiring staff need to zone in on the personality qualities that are a good fit with the company beforehand, not focus only on an applicant’s skill or experience. If he’s an opinionated, sexist jerk, who cares if he’s a computer whiz with a 160 IQ? If fact, the average Joe with a good work ethic, enthusiasm and sense of humor has a better chance of helping you create a fun, successful workplace.
Some companies prefer to include etiquette matters in an employee manual, reviewed by on-staff lawyers. Others are more hands-off, allowing hiring staff to go with their gut. Did the applicant’s parents raise them correctly? What skills are ingrained in them? The Nordstrom’s employee manual has five words: “Use good judgment in all situations.”
Thriving in Diverse Companies
When executives convene from around the globe, you have a mix of cultural norms. Professional greetings vary; a handshake is not always a necessity. The value of knowing the nuances of facial expressions and body language cannot be under-estimated. Table manners, proper distance when speaking, and culturally sensitive matters may vary significantly in a highly diverse environment. In such case, it is a very good idea to include in the staff manual a review of the customs and serious cultural gaffs to avoid when interacting with certain cultures.
Showing compassion, respect and personal attention toward co-workers — as well as clients — is an easy way to make a lasting impression. Practicing proper business etiquette costs nothing, nor does it require a high IQ or Ivy League education.
If leaders and teams can convey trust throughout the organization, think of what they can do for the clientele. Sometimes it’s the smallest effort that seals the deal and creates a customer for life.
Venture Up offers fun and engaging training events emphasizing proper business etiquette, body language and cross-cultural communication.