I always say that I rule with my heart and not my head, because I am emotional and believe in the human and personal aspect. In business one is dealing with people and the human aspect assumes importance. I believe in being emotionally supportive. To show care and concern at the human level, not only helps to build loyalty for the organization and the boss, but also helps to cement bonds among employees. I believe that this in turn helps in building a team and in team work. We have employees who have been with us for decades, seeing the organization grow from its infancy. This emotional aspect is a cementing factor of the bond between the organization and its employees.
Good business etiquette not only starts from the top, but also from the human level. Building up good relationships promotes a good work environment. This means that one must treat everyone with respect, no matter what position they occupy. Being polite and maintaining basic courtesies are a part of treating everyone with respect. Saying “please,” “thank you” and “sorry” are the basic courtesies we are taught as children and these actually hold true throughout life and at work. So, be courteous, well mannered and considerate. Avoid speaking loudly and be a good listener. What really makes an impact on others is sincerity. Your manner and attitude should not be “put on.” A charming person has the kind of warmth that puts other people at ease. A sense of humour also helps, to make light of a difficult situation and bring back a balance. Even if you are shy, you can relate to people with a friendly approach.
One of the first aspects of business etiquette is punctuality – this does not merely mean being on time at work, but also being on time for meetings and events in one’s own and other offices. This also involves keeping to deadlines for submitting projects, or for delivering goods and making payments.
In these days of cell phones, business etiquette also involves phone etiquette. Cell phones should be on silent during meetings and when you go to your boss’s office. It is most disconcerting to have the phone ring when the boss is saying something important about work. And when you do talk on the phone, keep your voice down. This is actually basic courtesy too.
Another important aspect is to avoid gossip in the office, specially exchanging choicest tit bits about another colleague. It does not make for a healthy atmosphere and can also give rise to rumours. During these times of global business, we have to deal with cultural differences. So, it is necessary to be sensitive to others and keep these differences in mind. For instance, we deal with foreign buyers and it often becomes necessary to have interpreters. If the person understands English, avoid speaking in Indian regional languages in the presence of the person. These are actually basic courtesies too. Being aware of cultural differences also means keeping food restrictions of the foreigner in mind.
Your dress is also a part of business etiquette. Balance and moderation are two qualities to strive for while dressing for work. In India, we may not dress in suits, but we can keep this principle in mind that your clothes should be subtle and clothes appropriate, in keeping with the place and the occasion. Chunnis and saris should be worn in a way that they do not come in your way. Pin them up at the shoulders. If you have to keep fussing all the time to settle your chunni, sari, or your clothes, it not only detracts from personal efficiency, but disturbs others.
Give credit where credit is due. It is quite common when juniors do the dirty work and the senior takes the credit. It does not work in the long run. It is important to earn the respect and trust of juniors, as it helps to build team work. Be helpful with your own skill and knowledge. Competitiveness and ambition does not mean cutting the grass from under someone else’s feet, or not passing on important information and skill. One should realize that finally, the goal is the same of everyone……..the success and betterment of the organization and its employees.