I keep hearing top executives say that people skills are very important and often, more important than technical skills.
It is true that first impressions make a major difference in achieving business objectives. In Rwanda the job and business market is increasingly becoming competitive each day.
Good manners will help you regardless of the business you are in. Any time you make contact with a client or prospective client, you are making a mini-presentation of yourself, your company, service and/or products.
Remember it is never too late to take the initiative to begin your own professional development. Here are some pointers to keeping your manners sharp.
Address individuals by their honorific: There is so much informality in today’s workplace that a lot of business is lost and goodwill destroyed in the process. Employees tend to disregard how they address clients.
Always address a client using their honorific or title followed by their last name. Leave it to the client to ask you to call them by their first name.
In business, the proper way to refer to a woman is ‘Ms’, regardless of their marital status. This is more than a passing fad; it was established in the 17th century as an abbreviation for “Mistress”.
Refer to individuals frequently by their names: Take the time and make effort to pay attention to the name of the person you are being introduced to.
A person’s name means everything to them. To build rapport with a client, mention their name at least three times during the conversation. It will help you remember their name and make a connection they will remember you. A person’s name is the sweetest music to their ears.
Make contact: There are few physical contacts that are appropriate in business. The most important and acceptable is your handshake.
It is a non-verbal clue that indicates whether or not you are a take-charge person. For example, a firm handshake suggests that you are decisive or in control.
Now, think of the impression you had after shaking hands with someone that presented a weak, slippery or lifeless handshake.
What did that make you think of them? The rules for shaking hands are: extend your hand with the thumb up, clasp the other person’s entire palm, give two or three pumps from the elbow, avoiding both the painful “bone crusher’’ and the off-putting “wet fish’’ shake, and look at the person directly in the eyes with a smile.
Introduce people with confidence: Most people hate making introductions because they do not know how to do it well. In business, introductions are determined by precedence.
The person who holds the position of highest authority in an organisation takes precedence over others who work there. For example, when introducing your company’s president to a colleague or other person, the basic rule is, the name of the person of greater authority comes first.
The name of the person of lesser authority is always spoken last. For example, “Mr /Ms Greater Authority, I would like to introduce Mr /Ms Lesser Authority.”
Learning the rules of business etiquette is not hard and neither is it costly. It is the best professional development tool any businessperson can use to increase their chances of success.
People truly desire to do business with those that make them comfortable and know how to best handle themselves in a variety of situations. Practicing good business etiquette is well worth the investment and pays back in spades