I’ve been noticing a lot of problems with people and their business manners. Just this last weekend, a couple of people and I walked into a KFC, and there was no one at the counter. We waited, and waited. No one acknowledged our presence. The person at the drive-thru, the manager on the line. Crickets. We had to call out for help. As I left, I expressed my displeasure to the person who finally helped us. I heard her tell her manager, who replied, “Whatever. People will always find something to complain about.” Wait, what????
What has happened to good manners and professionalism, and how does that affect the impression you give of yourself and your business?
A potential client who runs a local real estate company called me up, wanting to talk to me about installing a plugin to his site. I was in the middle of some jobs, so we set up an appointment the next week to talk about it. No problem — even the small jobs pay bills.
I showed up at the appointed time and waited for him. And waited. After 15 minutes of waiting, I called his cell phone, which went to voicemail. I Googled his office phone number from my iPhone and called. The guy’s dad answered the phone and said he worked with his son. I explained I’d been waiting for the appointment with his son to discuss something he wanted to do with their website.
He said he’d contact his son and have him call me. Ten minutes later, no call, so I called the office again. Dad called his son and promised me he would call me back within a minute. A few minutes later, I get a text from his son saying he’d had someone else do the work and he was super sorry he didn’t let me know. Then I got two apology texts from the dad.
Where are your manners?
I’m not upset that I didn’t get the work. I’m upset that the son didn’t see fit to call me and cancel our appointment when he decided to have someone else do the work, and I’m upset that I cooled my heels waiting for this guy for a half an hour. Guess what real estate company will not be on my radar if a friend is looking to buy or sell a house?
In “Good manners are good for business” by Eileen Brill Wagner in the Phoenix Business Journal, the author writes, “Despite what many people believe — or the behavior they exhibit — there still are those who believe business etiquette [manners] is something that never goes out of style. In fact, in a study conducted by etiquette consultants Eticon Inc., 80 percent of the respondents reported an increase of rudeness in business. When they encounter rudeness, 58 percent of the people surveyed said they will take their business elsewhere. ‘Rude behavior ruins business,’ said Ann Humphries, Eticon president.”
A text to me should have never entered the picture, especially considering the person was a no-show for our appointment. That required an (abject) apology by phone. I’d have been professional, graciously accepting his apology.
Ghosting isn’t for dating anymore
Chip Cutter, of LinkedIn, writes, “Jo Weech, a Washington-based recruiter, found a software engineer she planned to hire, one with skills and experiences so rare she dubbed her a ‘purple unicorn,’ recruiting-speak for a perfect find….Suddenly, calls and texts went unreturned….Weech had been ghosted at work.
“In fields ranging from food service to finance, recruiters and hiring managers say a tightening job market and a sustained labor shortage have contributed to a surge in professionals abruptly cutting off contact and turning silent — the type of behavior more often associated with online dating than office life….The practice is prolonging hiring, forcing companies to overhaul their processes, and tormenting recruiters, who find themselves under constant pressure.”
There’s discussion about how human resources departments have helped create this by ghosting applicants, but that’s another post. Still, poor manners are exceptionally rude and immature. I guess I should be grateful I got a text.
How else should we practice our business manners?
Kate Ashford, of Forbes, writes, “The average worker spends 6.3 hours a day checking email, according to a survey commissioned by software firm Adobe Systems Inc. That’s a big chunk of the day — and there are plenty of opportunities for you to make the wrong impression, according to work experts.”
Ashton reminds us to be careful with “Reply All,” being curt, skipping the greeting, nicknaming too soon, bad-mouthing anyone, using emoticons, having an annoying signature, writing too much, emailing instead of calling, and sending confidential email.
By the way, brush up on those spelling, composition, and grammar skills. You’re a professional.
The early bird gets the worm
Be on time for an appointment. Lisa Magloff, in Chron’s “The 10 Basics of Business Etiquette,” writes, “In the business world, it is best to observe the old rule, ‘Five minutes early is late.’ Allow yourself enough time to arrive promptly, take off your coat, and settle in a bit. Arriving at a meeting exactly at the appointed time can make you feel rushed, and you will look it. Time is a commodity; by being punctual, you show you respect others.” Being early also conveys that you are pulled together, organized, and considerate. The kind of person a potential client would want to do business with.
Check the profanity at the door
It makes you look unprofessional and uncultured, and some people are extremely offended by it — even by a simple “Oh my God!” It shows a lack of control on your part and a lack of respect for the other person. Is that the impression you want to give to a potential client?
Please, thank you, respect, and common courtesy
I’ve heard that in business, “please” is equivalent to begging and is not professional sounding. I beg to differ. As long as it’s not said sarcastically or in a “cute” way, I’m inclined to pay more attention to someone asking me please. There’s nothing wrong with good manners.
In the past, I have often behaved in ways that, in retrospect, make me cringe. Even if you are treated poorly, make a supreme effort to be respectful and courteous.
When there’s conflict, keep your cool, practice your listening skills (another struggle of mine), and check your ego at the door, even if the person on the other side is acting like an idiot. You might be surprised to find you are in the wrong, or you don’t have all the information. The person on the other side might be having a horrible day, and you could end up being the nicest person they’ve dealt with all week. You make your company look great and yourself look incredible.
Eyes up front
How would you feel if you were having lunch with someone and they took several phone calls? Or if they spent their time texting instead of making eye contact with you and talking to you? Wouldn’t you think they were rude? Don’t do it yourself. Give them your undivided attention.
Be kind to others, and practice patience
Awhile back, I walked into the gas station with my little granddaughter. A woman almost knocked the both of us over in her haste to get into the building herself. And then she almost knocked us over in her haste to leave. I know she brushed up against me pretty hard — and I had opened the door both times!
Watch your tone of voice, and watch the things you say. I’ve had one client tell me to “Stop talking!” as I explained why something she wanted done couldn’t be done. Really? “Stop talking”?
Say good-bye before you hang up. Have you ever been on the phone with someone, and as you tried to graciously close the conversation, the other person just hung up? “Okay, I guess we were done.” And I’m not talking about a dropped cell call, which requires an immediate call back, unless you were in the process of actually saying, “Good-bye.”
This all comes down to good manners — treating others the way you’d like to be treated, and that can only be good for your bottom line.
If you want to give your branding and web design to someone who tries to always be polite, contact me. Let’s see how we can build your business.