Okay, so what pisses you off???
Is it a limp handshake? No eye-contact? Unacknowledged greetings? Your query going unheard? Lack of attention? Someone being inconsiderate? Terrible listening skills? Rudeness? Being talked down to? Public Humiliation?
How about loud burping? Farting? Yawning? Someone talking with food in their mouth, or worse! Laughing with food in their mouth? Messy table manners, wiping greasy hands on a white cloth napkin, eating with mouth open and loud noises, leaving their space messy? Or a lack of ownership? Lack of responsibility? Failure to meet deadlines? Sycophancy?
If these piss you off, and rightly so, then you already know the basics of corporate etiquette!
Who doesn’t love a person who is polite, can make small talk on most topics, has a sense of humour, demonstrates good table manners, is immaculately groomed and dresses well? Bonus points for looking fit too!
The icing??… is also a high performing leader.
And the Cherry???… is young too!!! Does such a person even exist? Few… very few… very very few. (And I am not just talking about myself here)
I had been scratching my head lately about a two hour session I had to conduct on corporate etiquette. How do you “teach” etiquette when you yourself are not convinced of its appropriateness. When you yourself think of words like “archaic” and “dinosaur” the moment you hear it mentioned. What makes it even more difficult is when you have to “teach” a vast topic like etiquette to a bunch of youngsters starting out on their corporate life. All within two hours. And you’re getting paid to do this, of course! How do you justify the charges while doing justice to the two hours these youngsters are bound to spend with you? I gave myself a headache thinking about all this.
Most have been through countless etiquette sessions during their undergrad and postgrad courses. As well as some other places. They know it is a critical skill for success. Especially for those coming to the big cities to make a good life, where you’re judged on everything – right from your spoken English skills to your favourite food! These are their baby steps into the big bad world. They all know; the trouble is they don’t “do”.
Knowledge without application, as they say, is useless.
So, I designed and conducted my session by starting out with all that is NOT considered to be a part of good etiquette. These participants were already a couple of weeks into their induction program and were well aware of the culture and values of the organisation, which made it easier for them to answer what behaviours were considered unacceptable – more important, they knew well about those that could get them fired! But etiquette is so much more than just being the ‘nice guy.’ After asking the question -‘what pisses you off?’ and getting heartfelt answers, I list out the top three that I think could help anyone to put into action immediately –
Be Professional: Call to Action!
- Do what you say you would do
- Always do the right thing
- Dress appropriately. Subtle, comfortable clothes but appropriate to the occasion.
- Be punctual
Be Courteous: Body Language
- Greet others with a smile. Acknowledge with a smile. Maintain eye contact.
- Say ‘Please’ when you ask
- Say ‘Thank you’ when you get something
- Say ‘Sorry’ when you mess up
- Compliment on a job well done (steer clear of personal compliments)
Watch your Tone: How > What
- While speaking in-person
- While speaking on the phone or during online meetings
- While writing emails, memos and all other forms of text messaging
I’m leaving out dining etiquette as that’s a whole new subject altogether.
Go read a book!
Ooops! Please read a book.