(Guest Leader Post) Million Dollar Manners Equal Good Business
Are good manners in both personal as well as our business lives merely a quaint idea that much like our work dress and the notion of working from an office as opposed to home, been relegated to a bygone era?
Today’s guest author, Gloria Starr not only suggests that good manners is still incredibly relevant but that in the emerging global marketplace in which the realities of cultural differences play an enormous role in our success, they have become an important touchstone that paves the way to improved communication and effective collaboration.
Million Dollar Manners Equal Good Business
Greetings Around the World: The handshake is the most common form of greeting in the Western world. Other cultures may greet you with bows, applause or prayerful hands. In some parts of the world, looking someone in the eye is offensive and in other parts of the world, you may appear dishonest or shifty if you do not give direct eye contact. Europeans may give the double cheek kiss, other cultures may greet each other by shaking with both hands. Respect is shown with a very deep bow in some parts of Asia. Success can be assured by observing others and acquiring some basic knowledge in advance.
The Power of Face is essential knowledge when doing business in international circles. American’s may refer to this as “saving face.” In other cultures, the power of face is a dominant facet of everyday life. Face is associated with Asian cultures and in the simplest of terms means that you do nothing that would embarrass another person, especially one that you wish to do business with.
Gender Relations Around the World: In countries where women have achieved prominence in business, they are usually treated as equals. In countries such as Germany or the Arab culture, manners will be quite traditional. Men will stand when a woman enters the room or they may hold her chair out for her at the dining table. Men generally do not know what rules women are living by, so women….extend your hand first, smile and introduce yourself.
Business Card Exchange Protocol
Proper protocol in business and social situations usually includes the card exchange. A person of higher rank may offer their card to you. Accept the card and look at it for a few seconds. If appropriate make a positive comment about the card, such as the logo, the design, quality of the paper or embossing. When presenting a card, present it properly: face up and the writing so it can be read. The card must be clean and crisp. Cards should be kept in a handy pocket rather than deep in a handbag or wallet. Never leave home without your business cards.
The Ritual of Tea
As the pendulum begins to swing away from casual business dressing and toward a return to elegance, we are also experiencing the return of manners, etiquette and the social graces.
The art and ceremony of TEA has made a comeback for business and social entertaining. In most major cities, one or more hotels now serve low tea and/or high tea between the hours of two and six o’clock.
Low tea comes with small sandwiches and sweets rather than the more abundant selection that is considered high tea.
Tea is incredibly civilized and is a gracious and refined way to do business. Imagine sitting down in a quiet, elegant area of a hotel away from the frantic pace of the office and the timeless ritual of tea begins. A hot, steaming pot of tea, properly steeped with some light sandwiches and the mind and the body seem both energized and relaxed.
To be a truly gracious host consider ordering tea for the table and acting as host or hostess and pouring the tea. Or, if the tea is brought to the table in individual pots, each person should pour their own tea. Tea is served with lemon or milk, never cream.
In India, a delightful tea is enjoyed by adding the loose tea leaves, milk, cinnamon sticks and cloves into the tea pot and allowing them to steep for several minutes before being brought to the table. In England you will be asked if you prefer your tea black or white.
Proper etiquette is to stir once or twice using the teaspoon and then set the spoon on the saucer. Use the teaspoon quietly and do not lick it! If using milk, add the milk to the cup prior to pouring the tea.
Business can be discussed before tea is served, during tea or after tea. The Ritz is famous the world over for serving an elegant tea. I always make a point of enjoying tea at the Ritz when traveling on business.
Gloria Starr is an international professional speaker on Impression Management, Etiquette, Leadership and Outstanding Communication Skills. She offer this article on a non-exclusive basis. Please include her name and contact information:
Gloria Starr (704-596-9866)