Professional Etiquette through Experience
There has been an explosion of information about etiquette across the globe. Be it Books, videos, magazines and of course the big brother of all GOOGLE.
Albeit I have taken the liberty of meandering into the etiquette terrain by drawing from my personal experience and thus calling it “EXPERIENTIAL ETIQUETTE”. Though this may strictly not fall in the definition of EXPERENTIAL as commonly quoted and understood in the training and L & OD fraternity
L & D Heads and Soft skills & Personality Development trainers have been often sharing etiquette tips in training or individual consulting, however when real life experiences are cited, understanding the importance of etiquette becomes easier and learning is immediate.
Here are a few of my personal experiences in professional interactions.
“A meeting was scheduled with a Senior Finance Head of an organization and the secretary had reconfirmed the meeting. On reaching at the appointed time, we were informed that the concerned person had stepped out for another meeting and would not be available for 2 hours.”
The message was “Can they can wait for 2 hours or please call for re-schedulement .” Other professional courtesies were absolutely missing
Several things have gone awry here:
- The concerned person should have checked his/her dairy to recap the day’s appointment
- Self or through the secretary should have communicated in advance so that the visit could be avoided
- Basic courtesies like offering a seat or asking for refreshments would have helped
“Notwithstanding the huge business potential we did not re-visit the client.”
1. Whenever a meeting needs rescheduling, prior information should be given to the other party so that they do not waste their time reaching the venue.
2. This can be done either through the secretary or by a sms / what’s app to ensure professional decorum.
3. While seeking and scheduling a meeting, always give a time range say 2.30 pm to 3 pm unless the client or business associate prefers a fixed time. Consider the location, traffic situation and other exigencies before confirming a time.
4. In case you are running late for the meeting (which as a rule should be avoided) please call the concerned person or send a message through your mobile phone. Give accurate information. Do not state that you will reach in 10 minutes and land up after 45 minutes.
“At a meeting with a Senior Manager of a Law Firm, water was offered only when asked for in paper cups. Without asking our preference the client ordered tea.
The tea arrived in paper cups with oodles of milk and a tea bag without a stirrer and no plate to deposit the used tea bag. The predicament was where to place the stirrer / tea bag after using it.”
1. Always ask the client his/her preference in terms of what type of beverage would be preferred.
2. Instruct the pantry/housekeeping/office personnel to serve the beverages along with water.
3. Ensure clean and functional cutlery (need not be very fancy) and side plates when serving tea or coffee.
4. Accompany it with a suitable snack like biscuits, ensure adequate hand tissues.
“It has always been a joy and a delight to meet the CEO of this large conglomerate. One of our most long-term clients. Whenever a meeting is scheduled with him the pleasant interactions begin right at the outset:
He is there to receive you either outside his cabin or in the conference room (more often)
He ensures that we are comfortably seated before he sits. He orders for refreshments seeking our preference. Needless to add that the refreshments (tea, coffee etc.) arrive well laid out in a tray with cookies!
The meeting concludes with a warm handshake and the CEO always walks our way out right up to the elevator.”
Decorum and Grace oozing out of every pore of his being. The same trait also exists in the majority of the employees with whom I have interacted during my training sessions in this organisation.
The question that haunts me is, “Why cannot all professionals conduct themselves in a similar manner?” We are just one of the associates that the client deals with; not really his VIP customers! Yet there is no distinction.
The client is a technocrat heading a PSU and is contrary to the Image the general diaspora has about PSU heads. I may say he is an exception. Why can the exception not become a rule?
Professional decorum is a crucial element in building BRAND YOU-aka-YOUR IMAGE.
Culture in any organisation begins at the Top. The person at the helm of affairs, be it in the corporate world or in personal sphere percolates the culture downwards. It is always a pleasure to meet a person who displays élan and impeccable manners.
Etiquette is all about ensuring niceties;
– With people who matter
– With people who do not matter and are not consequential to your Professional or Personal prospects
Etiquette is ensuring that the interaction is a pleasurable one and making the other person feel special.
We are all aware of these Etiquette. But how many of us do really remember it and strive towards practicing it in our Professional lives.