Good business creates more good business. Likewise bad business well, you get the picture. Proper business etiquette first and foremost entails paying attention to others. Your “others” may include customers who you take care of, business contacts whos business you either want or want to maintain and finally co-workers, who you work with and see on a regular basis. Business etiquette runs a similar path to good business practice, which includes responsibility, accountability and energy.
Etiquette requires that you are responsible for your actions. Whether you do something right or wrong, taking responsibility for your actions puts the power of success in your hands. This success requires graciousness on your part. Being gracious does not mean pointing fingers. Neither does it mean beating your chest in an effort to draw attention when you feel you have done a stellar job. Graciousness considers your response to others. The most successful business person asks, “What can I do to resolve the situation?” When things go wrong you graciously take responsibility by stepping forward, making things right and moving on. When success seems to follow your path you again show grace by looking at what you have done, improve on it, and move forward. Notice nowhere did the word boast come into play.
Next, accountability is a key ingredient to your successful business etiquette repertoire. To be accountable is more than being responsible. You need to do what you say you are going to do. And you need to go above and beyond what’s expected of you. Followers do the minimum of what is expected of them. And they are compensated accordingly. Going above and beyond allows you to be above reproach. Titus 2:6-8 reminds us: “Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about you.” Accountability has its paybacks too. It allows you to expect reciprocity. Your karma improves. Good juju follows you because you are instilling a work ethic that cannot be questioned.
Finally, laziness is the ultimate business etiquette faux pas. We need to tap into a flow of energy that allows us to succeed big. “Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” 2 Corinthians 9:6. This doesn’t just apply to service and hospitality. All business benefits from a service mentality. Rather than thinking what’s the least amount of effort expected of me? Or, “how little work do I need to do to accomplish this task?” Consider efficiency and expediency. Sowing small equates with time and effort. Sow generously and you’re considering time management, those around you, and your future relationships.
Business etiquette is not so different from that of dining, emailing, driving or speaking. In all areas of life you want to consider the thoughts and feelings of those around you. Proper business etiquette is not elusive or only for those who’ve received their MBA. You can be successful in all areas of business by taking responsibility for your actions. Be accountable to your business contacts by going above and beyond what’s expected of you. Finally, tap into the timeless law of sowing and reaping. Whether you believe in karma, juju or fate, you’ll find that proper business etiquette reaps success.