Article: Business Communication Etiquette
By: Natalie R. Manor & Natalie E. Hoffmann
Being busy is never an excuse for not communicating in a timely way. What does “timely” mean anyway? In the old days, timely meant the same day. In the new days – and I have experienced this hundreds of
times – timely means:
“Whenever I get a chance to get back to you assuming I remember what you wanted and can find the email or the correspondence on my desk because it is covered with tiny notes and phone numbers because I have not taken the time to clean up my work area because I am too busy.”
You get the picture.
Let me be very clear. 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. If you are getting 500 emails a day that is now a systems issue and you need to find a way to receive what is most important to you.
- 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 if they are important or not and inform them if you do not need to hear from them
- Find someone to screen your 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 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.
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 communications with details and directions
- Doing what you say you will do
- Remembering what is important to them
- Valuing what is most important to them
Our communication styles and methods are being stretched to the limit by email, technology, lack of time and demands on our ability to do so much in our days.
But there are rules of common courtesy that have NOT changed since the inception of humans dealing with each other in a high value way. If you want to be a remembered, trusted and respected leader, you will practice these courtesies with every business contact.
If you take the time to examine what is important to you, we think you will find that they are also the courtesies that you expect in all business communication – actually how you would like to be treated and communicated with.
Email – not only should you be returning emails in a timely way, but you need to set the context each and every time of why the email is important and what information it is that you want to deliver. Spam filters help, but in order to more easily control your email load, you need to be in more control of what you generate yourself. In business, be brief, be informational and be gone.
Cell phones – the ring tones that are available now are fun outside of the office, networking situations, client lunches, etc. Put them on vibrate or shut them off. Take and make calls when you are with people sparingly. Most people are not interested in listening to your conversations no matter how stimulating you think they might be. If you need to take or make a call, excuse yourself and then make it brief.
Returning phone calls – We are not sure when it became ok to not return phone calls, but it is not ok. Whether you think you have time to return the call or not, find out what people need, make sure you are clear on whether you can help them or not and then get back to your own work. People who return phone calls are trusted and respected. You do not need to make the calls long. In fact, returning all calls twice a day instead of doing it piece meal all day long is a good way to manage your time more appropriately.
Here are some additional basics that will help you grow your own identity and brand which will identify you as a trusted and respected “up and coming leader”:
Practice your handshake – ask a friend to shake hands with you and then ask them to give you feedback. Firm is good.
Eye contact – learn to look at a person when they
Body language – 55% of our non verbal communication is our body – watch what your body is saying about you.
Business card – get one and have them with you at ALL times. Do include an address, email and phone number. Name and what you do – a title is very good. If your company does not provide a business card, get one for yourself anyway. The fast print companies all have programs you can use to easily and quickly make one for yourself
Holding doors – opening a door for someone is not just a guy thing anymore. Ladies, if you get to the door first – open it!
Standing and greeting – if you are being introduced, stand, reach out with your hand and shake their hand. This is not a gender issue. Women in the workforce can show respect by standing and shaking hands.
We are delighted to contribute to your business and communication etiquette successes.
Copyright © by Natalie Manor. All Rights Reserved.
This article may be copied and used in your own newsletter or on your website as long as you include the following information: “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.