In the world of business, maintaining good manners and etiquette could be the deal clincher when it comes to securing new and lasting business opportunities and working relationships. A big etiquette mistake can have a detrimental impact and could lead to lost business. Of course we’re all prone to slip ups from time to time, but by being aware of the most common business etiquette mistakes, you can ensure that you steer clear of them as much as possible. Here are seven common business etiquette mistakes to avoid:
Punctuality is extremely important in the world of business because it shows that you respect other people’s time. Tardiness makes you appear unprofessional and it can also be a disruptive influence on proceedings. According to the global etiquette guide created by travel experts Expedia, being late to an appointment or a business meeting is a huge faux-pas around the world, so it’s important to take this into account when conducting international, as well as domestic, business. If unforeseen circumstances make it impossible to arrive on time, be sure to let people know as soon as possible.
Perhaps one of the most obvious and avoidable mistakes you can make in a business environment is being impolite. This applies not only to your colleagues and clients, but also to anyone else in the vicinity. If you are in a restaurant for a business meeting, for example, extend the same courtesy to the staff as you would to your peers to exemplify how respectful you are. Show gratitude for even the smallest things, such as someone passing you a pen. Listen intently when others are speaking, and avoid interrupting anyone mid-flow.
In nerve-wracking situations it’s all too common to rush introductions. Always take the time to introduce yourself to new people, regardless of hierarchy, offering a firm handshake, a smile and eye contact. Slow down and you will be more likely to remember their names and create an initial feeling of trust and respect. When in the company of two or more people who do not know each other, it’s your job to introduce them to one other. Failing to do so means you run the risk of appearing rude and creating an awkward situation.
Getting Straight Down to Business
You may think that colleagues and clients are only there to talk business, but before and after a meeting it’s important to make small talk to build relationships, bond, and gain the trust of others. Without small talk, you risk coming across as abrupt, cold and unfriendly. If you come across as friendly and interested, people are more likely to want to work with you again.
Dressing inappropriately is a mistake that can easily be made by people who work in a more casual environment. You should always take heed of the dress code for any business events you’re planning on attending, as you won’t want to arrive wearing jeans if everyone else is in business attire. First impressions are crucial when you’re networking, so it’s important that you look the part when meeting people for the first time. Most event invitations will specify whether you should be dressed in standard business attire or smart casual, so be sure to double check the invite beforehand.
Using Your Phone
While it’s true that mobile phones are being used more and more for business purposes, there’s a time and a place for their use, and if you are in a meeting or having a discussion with someone, you should give people your full attention and avoid looking distracted. You may be able to multitask, but staring at your phone while someone is speaking to you comes across as rude and disrespectful. If you do get a call or a text that simply can’t wait, apologize and excuse yourself while you attend to it in private.
Not Following Up
After a meeting has ended it’s common courtesy to send a quick email to thank attendees for their time. Not only does this show your gratitude and respect, it also gives you the opportunity to follow up on any points from the meeting.