Has business etiquette posed a challenge for you lately? How would you know?
Whether you’ve recently found yourself on the receiving end of someone else’s poor choice of words or you’ve been the source of an etiquette snafu that’s had embarrassing consequences, it’s becoming increasingly clear that in the modern business climate, etiquette can be confusing.
For many, the concept of etiquette conjures up images of extended pinky fingers while sipping tea, multiple forks with strict rules concerning which one to use and when, or guidelines for courtship that feel more appropriate to life on another planet than the realities of modern life.
What role does etiquette play in a global, digital, gender-neutral, increasingly casual business climate?
Judging from the surprisingly high level of interest in the new one-day course on business etiquette that Rialto Academy is teaching, etiquette is a top-of-mind concern for professionals across the spectrum—from real estate and financial service to defense contractors and government agencies, and every industry in between. Good etiquette is good business, and professionals are eager to focus on filling a void left by a few decades of kicking etiquette to the curb as a remnant of a bygone era.
A prime example: The U.S. real estate business! Currently more than 28 percent of household growth is an owner from an immigrant family (Urban Land Institute). Over the next seven years, the U.S. will add an additional three million new immigrant households (Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies).
A 2014 study by the Bipartisan Policy Commission, a D.C. think tank, concluded that “if current birth rate trends continue, immigrants and their children will be the source of almost all U.S. population growth and, by extension, the primary driver of demand for new residential construction.”
And that’s just talking about multicultural issues. Meanwhile, Article 10 of NAR’s Code of Ethics prohibits REALTORS® from discriminating based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The opportunities for etiquette missteps and infractions are increasingly common to professionals that don’t know better.
All that being said, here are the top five reasons why interest in business etiquette is on a sharp upswing.
“The opportunity to interact with individuals from a wide mix of cultures enhances our lives.”
1. The playing field is now global.
Whether or not you are conducting business across borders, you are almost certainly encountering clients and colleagues from all corners of the globe. The opportunity to interact with individuals from a wide mix of cultures enhances our lives. In our attempts to connect and deepen relationships, we need to avoid offending or overstepping due to a lack of knowledge or perspective.
2. Communications are largely digital.
Knowing the rules of engagement in our hyper-connected world can mean the difference between success and failure. When is it more appropriate to text or email? Is it OK to text your boss after hours? Are clients and colleagues open to receiving email any hour of the day or night? What are the parameters and pitfalls that we need to be mindful of when communicating electronically?
3. Social media connects and divides.
Countless business relationships are severed every day as a result of a single, careless post. At the same time, social media informs, amuses, and strengthens relationships. What are the standards for social media engagements that add value, reinforce your brand, and build business?
4. Expectations are higher.
We simply can’t make excuses for careless oversights. And while so-called political correctness can help to avoid business-ending missteps, efforts to broaden one’s perspective can enhance relationships and open doors to new possibilities. For example, it can invigorate a business to be inclusive, modern, and skilled in etiquette.
5. Business is still business.
Nobody likes to work with a rude, crude, or culturally ignorant professional. Despite casual work environments, jeans day, and talk of horizontal management structures, traditional rules of business engagement still apply. Clients still expect to be treated fairly and acknowledged as clients. And etiquette remains a highly valued set of skills.
Looking to sharpen the focus on business etiquette within your company or your team and create a greater confidence for business-building engagements? We can help!
We’d love to hear from you! What’s your biggest question or greatest challenge concerning business etiquette in the current environment?