Mention the word “etiquette” and you might conjure up images of stuffiness and outdated rituals. But in the business world, “etiquette” translates to making people feel comfortable and respected. Old-fashioned courtesies put a personal face on our impersonal world (think Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) and promote a healthy atmosphere of cooperation.
The next time you encounter a new business contact, whether its at a job interview or a lunch with new clients, devote a few minutes to write a thank you note and send it through the USPS. Don’t send it via e-mail, even though that is easier. If you do, your “thank you” is likely to be seen as a rote exercise instead of sincere graciousness. And while we’re on the subject of email, when you’re in a meeting or listening to someone speak, forget about your electronic devices. Turn off the phone, don’t check your messages. Just because other people are doing it doesn’t mean its still not rude.
But what is even worse than sticking your face in a screen while someone is talking is gossiping about them as soon as you step out of the room. Have you ever been in an elevator with people, only to hear them criticize, mock or otherwise trash the people they have just left? You are pretty sure they didn’t behave this way in the meeting, but seeing their phoniness in public makes you wonder what kind of people/company they really are.