People Skills, Professionalism and Protocol Important for Career Success and Advancement

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24Aug2016

People Skills, Professionalism and Protocol Important for Career Success and Advancement

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By Rachel Wagner

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According to a nationwide survey by Kessler International, “untimely and inappropriate use of cell phones” by employees in the workplace is a top pet peeve mentioned by upper and middle managers.

This came as no surprise to me. When preparing to work with my corporate clients, this topic regularly comes up, and it’s one of the business etiquette skills I teach and speak about at corporate training events and conferences in Oklahoma and out of state.

Good business etiquette skills, including the ever-evolving technology etiquette, are an asset and send a message to customers and clients that you are professional and credible and someone with whom they want to do business.

The Protocol School of Washington set aside this week as National Business Etiquette Week, now in its ninth year. This is a time to highlight the promotion of people skills, professionalism, and protocol, including mobile phone and technology etiquette.

So, with this in mind, I want to share with you six timeless and relevant business etiquette tips that any employee may use to up their people skills, professionalism, and protocol:

1. At work, keep your personal mobile phone tucked away in a desk drawer or hand bag. Left on your desk, the ringing (or audible alert) is distracting to coworkers. Its presence also sends a message to others that a text or phone call may be more important than the person with whom you’re meeting. Keep personal calls to a minimum and take them in a private place, never in a cubicle or restroom stall.

2. Mind your digital footprint. Use discretion when sharing what you’re doing, feeling, or thinking on social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Even online, first impressions are lasting impressions and can impact the brand, reputation, and image of you and your company. Remember that Facebook does not equal LinkedIn. Use LinkedIn for professional and job-related posts and Facebook for staying connected with family and friends and sharing vacation pictures. And it is generally not a good idea to friend your boss on Facebook.

3. Stay focused on the meeting instead of your Smartwatch. With advances in technology, so must the etiquette and manners for using tech devices, such as smart watches. To show respect and engagement, maintain eye contact with those in the meeting, rather than stealing glances in your lap at your smartwatch or mobile phone. People notice.

4. Dress for success. Make a good impression with the right attire for work or an interview. Inappropriate attire is one of the top employer complaints, especially during the summer months. Three of the biggest faux pas are showing too much skin, wrinkled clothing, and attire that is inappropriate for one’s position. If your company has a business casual dress code, make sure what you wear puts the emphasis on business and not casual. And flip flops are a no-no unless your office is a beach.

5. Network like a pro. It’s not about the food and drink or how many business cards you give or receive. It’s about building relationships. Go early before the room gets crowded; it’s not so intimidating to meet new people when there are fewer there. Introduce yourself to several people you don’t know rather than sticking with your work friends. Make small talk by being interested in others and asking open-ended questions. Talk about anything except business (well, almost. Do avoid talking about politics or religion). When you are interested in others, they will remember you for being approachable and friendly. And down the road if they need your product or service, they’ll remember you in a favorable way.

6. Dine like a diplomat. The business meal is more than just lunch or dinner. It’s business. And like it or not, people judge you at the table. When your manners are poor, you will be judged unfavorably. When your manners are good, people judge you favorably. The host of the meal (the one who invites) is the first to place his/her napkin in the lap, take the first bite, take the first sip of wine, and pay for the meal and tip. A guest follows the lead of the host. A mobile phone is never part of the place setting. And never ask for a doggie bag at a business meal.

© Copyright 2016 Rachel Wagner.  This article was originally posted on Rachel’s Business Etiquette and Protocol blog.

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