In today’s competitive business environment, a professional image and good manners can make the difference between getting ahead and being left behind. As objective as we like to think we are in business relationships, we still judge people by how they act, speak, write and look.

Did you know it takes only seven seconds to capture your prospect’s or audience’s attention? It also only takes 20 seconds to get the substance of your message across to someone so they will decide if they want to listen further or walk away. Although it really isn’t fair, in the first seven seconds, people are making judgments about our self-image, outlook on life, moral character, economic and educational levels, trustworthiness, social position and future success. Wow!

Exceptional business protocol is the epitome of professionalism and is all about presenting ourselves with the kind of polish that shows we can be taken seriously. It is using a code of behavior based on consideration and thoughtfulness. It is treating ALL people with respect, courtesy, manners and appreciation no matter who they are or what position they hold.

The Polished Professional – Why You Seriously Want Good Business Etiquette!

Why is good business etiquette important??  Because it differentiates us from the competition and is often the defining reason one person is chosen over another!  It makes people want to know us better and have us on their team.

Professional protocol enables us to have confidence in a variety of settings with people from all walks of life.  This includes how to conduct ourselves in meetings with all internal and external customers, which impacts how much they respect us, our products and services. Respect is critical for a solid reputation, one that continually attracts new business and maintains longstanding relationships. Proper protocol also enhances our credibility on sales calls, in negotiations, on the golf course, and definitely while conducting business over meals.  What happens during business social events can definitely be a deal maker or deal breaker depending on the perceptions people have of us. Were our manners, appearance and conversation conducive to building a solid future with them?

We also have the advantage of psychological power in how others treat us, which plays a critical role in how they respond.  Why?  Think of how you would act in response to a well-groomed, energetic, mannerly and confident individual versus one who looks disheveled, disorganized and has poor speech patterns or negative body language.  Much research has proven that when two people have similar qualifications, the one who is more polished and professional is usually the one chosen!

Image and Good Manners Make the Difference

Our self-image, behaviors and abilities are relayed to those around us through communication skills that are broken down into three parts: 55% of our message is non-verbal (how we look, act, sit stand, enter a room, our posture, movements & gestures, handshake, what do with our hands, how high we hold our head); 38% is the quality of voice (our expressions, pitch and tone), while only 7% are the actual words we speak. Whether we meet others for the first or the tenth, it is critical to project a confident, friendly demeanor that says, “I want to build–or continue building–a mutually rewarding relationship with you.”   Remember, we only have one chance to make a good first impression! A positive and confident “presence” makes us more approachable, believable, and appealing to our prospects. However, a poor impression can repel people, giving the notion that we are not as effective or straightforward as they want in a business partner.

Reading non-verbal signals helps us “interpret” what others are really saying so we know how to frame our response. Example: If someone is saying something nice but their body is stiff and there is fire in their eyes, it is usually more accurate to believe what the body is truly saying rather than just their words. Pay attention to sudden changes in their posture, expression or other cues because you may have hit a nerve. If they all of a sudden they act or speak to you in a “different” manner, go back and think about what just happened and what might have triggered the change. Ask questions, clarify for agreement (or disagreement), explain yourself again, or change directions in order to get them back on a positive course. The more you practice this skill, the more effective and favorable relationships you will have.

By watching a job candidate or business prospect’s body signals, we can discern how aggressive they may be, whether they come across as obnoxious, personable, are shy or feel inferior. Bottom line, technical skills are not the only requirement for a new job or business opportunity. Good soft skills are critical for taking us where we want to go in life and in business.

Exhibiting the Kind of Impression That You Want Them to Have

When conducting business, including business social events, ensure that your appearance, wardrobe and grooming are exhibiting the kind of impression that you want others to have of you.  Our appearance reveals a lot about our self-image.  We appear more responsible, organized and capable if we are all “put together.”  When people see that we take pride in our appearance, they assume we will take more pride in “our” work and “their” business as well.

Stay tuned for Part 2. Learn tips and techniques to begin using immediately and will last a lifetime! Workshops forming now! Private or group coaching and training is just a phone call or email away!


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