Business Etiquette. What you should know

"Kindness costs nothing, and you can buy anything."

What is business etiquette really? It’s a set of rules that you should apply in your professional life as a cultured and knowledgeable person. These rules make it easier to establish and maintain interpersonal relations in business matters and help avoid awkward situations. Check out what you need to know to avoid committing a faux pas.

Three principles of business ethics

At the core of savoir-vivre are three key rules:

Tip #1
Savoir-vivre in business does not recognize gender or age.

How to make a good first impression?

Nowadays, knowing the rules of savoir-vivre is crucial to function in the business world.

People who work in sales know how important the first impression is. How you present yourself can affect your business relationships, further cooperation, and your company’s image.

Remember, first impressions are never repeated. You have a few seconds to make a positive impression on your new business partner. The impression will be recorded in his mind and will be used as a criterion of comparison for all subsequent contacts with you.

If you make a good impression, your subsequent behavior will be judged through this prism. As long as you don’t make a terrible gaff… On the other hand, when the first meeting doesn’t go your way, you’ll have to work hard to improve your image.

Competition in the market is increasing, and the price of products in many cases is no longer a decisive argument. People and relationships are becoming more and more important. Your behavior influences the perception of you, your company and the offering itself. An American saying goes that “good savoir-vivre is good business. This is a golden rule that you should follow in your professional life.

Tip #2
The first impression is the most important.

Who welcomes whom?

Savoir-vivre in business implies that when greeting, the person occupying a lower position should show respect to the person occupying a higher position in the hierarchy. Similarly, a company employee should be the first to show respect to the customer, as the customer is a higher rank. Therefore, if a customer approaches you at your booth during a trade show, welcome them!

Remember that this applies to all employees of the company, even the boss of all bosses, because the customer is the most important, the functioning of the company depends on it. If the owner puts himself above it, it is not only tactless, but short-sighted.

Tip #3
The customer is a higher rank.

Who is the first to shake hands?

The reverse rule applies to shaking hands. At work, regardless of gender, it is those higher in rank and position who are the first to shake hands in greeting. In business relationships, ladies just like gentlemen are greeted with a handshake – not a hand kiss.

Remember, the customer being more important shakes hands first, and it is the customer who decides when to do so. A proper handshake should be warm, cordial, firm and short. It should not last longer than 5 seconds. While shaking hands, make moderate eye contact (for 5-10 seconds). Adopt a body posture that slightly tilts forward. The way you greet each other says a lot about you and your character.

How not to shake hands?

It is important that your hand is not cold and damp, because this is simply unpleasant, it should be dry and clean.
When you greet a large number of people at a trade show, be sure to wash or disinfect your hands frequently.

Tip #4
The customer shakes hands first.

How do you start a meeting with a customer?

Business savoir-vivre rules apply when meeting with a contractor. When a customer comes to you for a meeting or arrives at your booth, greet them with a smile. And after the greeting, indicate the place at the table. What is important here is the principle of the right side, i.e. taking such a position that the more important person (guest) is on your right. After a brief exchange of words, offer the customer something to drink.

Before you get to the substance of the meeting, talk about neutral topics to lighten the atmosphere. If you want to say goodbye, you should approach the guests, it is unacceptable to shake hands across the table. The same rules apply, during a pet fair, when a customer visits you at your booth.

Tip #5
Greet the customer with a smile.

Who are we introducing to whom?

Introducing people in business is done according to the rules of precedence, or precedence based on rank and status. Unlike in social etiquette, gender does not affect the order of presentation. A person with a higher position takes precedence over one with a lower one.

This means that a higher-ranking person is introduced to a lower-ranking person, e.g.: Mr. President, you posed that I will introduce Ms. Ilona Jankowska, head of the marketing department at XYZ company. When it comes to customer relations, it is the customer who is most important, regardless of his position, which is why, for example, a director or manager is always introduced to the customer, following the principle of the customer is our master.

Knowing the rules of business etiquette will help you avoid an awkward situation or making a mistake. It will put you in a positive light as a knowledgeable person who knows the rules of savoir-vivre.

Tip #6
The customer comes first!


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  2. Jarczynski, Business Etiquette.
  1. Kamińska-Radomska, Business etiquette, or the international language of courtesy.