The Value of Business Communications Etiquette
The ways we communicate in a business setting have changed dramatically in the past several years and are constantly evolving. Today, we communicate faster, more often and across several different channels each moment of every day. Communication styles are also being stretched. And, to make matters worse, personal and work communications are, at often times, colliding. It is therefore imperative that management of incoming/outgoing information and responses receive undivided attention, in order to maintain optimal efficiency and effectiveness.
Communicating well—with clarity, precision and effectiveness—especially in a business setting, goes a long way towards supporting positive impressions, productive work among groups, and lasting relationships. On the other hand, abuse or ignorance of proper business communications etiquette can be severely damaging to your business, career and reputation.
Just What Has Happened?
Just what is correct and expected vs. inappropriate and not acceptable, regarding specific business communications etiquette, seems to be getting more and more blurred these days. Text abbreviated type in an email?… Really? Checking your phone and taking calls throughout the majority of a business meeting?… Not cool! And, return that phone call already! They left three messages. A simple “I’m not interested in having a business relationship or ever hearing from you again,” would actually be a better response, in most cases and show greater respect. How did the professional world get so bad with business communications etiquette is beyond me? I like to think that most, simply just don’t know any better and/or are too overwhelmed.
This should come as a surprise and there really should be no excuses. Business Mastery Coaches, Natalie R. Manor & Natalie E. Hoffmann explain “In your very best relationship – whether your spouse, best friend, sister, co-worker – you can easily communicate with them in a high value way. You telephone, email, write notes, make plans and generally stay in contact with them because you want the connection and the relationship.
In building very good relationships in business, it is absolutely the same. What is different in a business relationship is that you communicate with them and you don’t always know them as well as a dear friend. However, they need the same attention that a good relationship needs. These needs are:
- Returning a phone call
- Following up on a request
- Listening intently
- Appreciative communication
- Clear communication with details and directions
- Doing what you say you will do
- Remembering what is important to them
- Valuing what is most important to them”
Setting the Record Straight
I like to think the golden rule of treating people the way you want to be treated also applied to business communications etiquette. So, let’s set the record straight—once and for all. Following are a few tips I picked up from researching this topic. Hope it helps clarify any questions you might have regarding acceptable business communications etiquette going forward.
On Phone Calls:
- It is NEVER ok to not respond to those you are doing business with; those you want to do business with; those that can refer you to business; those who were referred by someone; anyone writing to you (except spam and porno) needs a response. Those who return calls are trusted and respected.
- Your calls do not have to be long.1
- Experts suggest returning all calls twice a day rather than piecemeal to maintain focus and eliminate distractions.
- Regarding cell phones, take and make calls when you are with people sparingly. Excuse yourself if it’s important.
On Email: If you are getting hundreds of emails a day you may have a systems issue and you need to find a way to receive what is most important to you. Here are some suggestions to fix that (according to Natalie Manor and Natalie Hoffman):
- Tell your colleagues that you do not need to be on every email “reply”
- Find a spam filter system that serves you
- Go through a week and track who is sending you email and find out it they are important or not and inform them if you do not need to hear from them
- Find someone to screen you emails for applicability to you
- Separate business from personal by having two different email addresses so you don’t have to worry that you miss either
- Stop signing up for newsletters and information that you don’t need – go back to the ones you did sign up with and unsubscribe from those you never read and delete anyway
- Don’t let email steal your efficiency. Take the time to manage what it is that is most important to you so you can get on to communicating with those relationships that offer you the best shot at successful results.1
- Some other suggestions on proper emailing:
- In email responses, be brief and informational.
- And, NO Text typing in email (those annoying abbreviations like l8r, ttyl, omg, btw, etc.!) It’s not professional.
On In-Person Meetings:
- Practice your handshake – Grip firmly with confidence without seeming too weak or too strong.
- Look people in the eye, with no distractions. It shows you’re confident and actively listening as well as helps build trust.
- Stay focused and on point with your speaking topics. Use your body language to support what you’re communicating.
- Listen actively and intently. Really hear what people are telling you so that you can respond and act accordingly.
Overall Best Practice Tips
These useful tips go across the board for business communications etiquette:
- Use proper and appropriate language and grammar that suits the communication tactic.
- Be polite. “Please” and “thank you” still work, as does opening the door and other common manners.
- Respond to messages in a timely fashion, preferably within the same day.
- Follow up on requests. Do what you say and say what you do. Period.
- Be clear when you are available and not available to respond to work/professional communications. People will respect that (i.e. off work hours, during vacation, etc.)
Successful business communications etiquette is really all about respect. It should not be difficult or overwhelming. You’re “too busy” because you’ve made it that way and are comfortable with that as an excuse—even though it’s not acceptable. Improve your business communications etiquette and you will improve your productive efficiency and effectiveness while also commanding more respect from clients, co-workers and other professional contacts.
- “Business Communication Etiquette” — Written by Natalie R. Manor, CEO, author, business consultant, speaker and executive coach. NMA, Natalie Manor & Associates is your ultimate resource for leadership and communication development for managers and executives to maximize your potential and increase your productivity. SuccessNatalieManorcom, (800) 666-2230, http://www.NatalieManor.com”
- Thompson, Derren, “Workplace Basics: Business Communciation and Etiquette 101,” Millenial Branding, July 14, 2011.
About the Author
Angelo Biasi is General Manager of SMART Marketing Solutions, LLC, a leading full-service integrated marketing company in Florida and New York since 2001. He has helped create and execute marketing plans and integrated marketing solutions for companies such as Playtex, Bic, Rogaine, Tauck, and over 35 colleges and universities, to name a few. Angelo has an MBA in Marketing from the University of Connecticut and teaches Marketing at New York University where he has for over six years. He has been quoted and/or featured in USA Today, Mobile Marketer magazine, Mobile Commerce Daily, Luxury Marketing magazine, BNET TV and Business Currents magazine, to name a few. For more information or to learn more, email him at abiasismartmarketingllccom (abiasismartmarketingllccom) , visit www.smartmarketingllc.com, call him at 239.963.9396 and follow him on Twitter @angbiasi.