The Case for Common Courtesy

By: Heatherlynn Akins

Just a quick Google search for “business growth + business etiquette” results in page after page of sites dedicated to how important business etiquette is to grow your business successfully. Click on any site that comes up in that same search and no matter how it’s worded, it all boils down to this: If you want to succeed, you must practice common courtesy,

As GCFGlobal puts it, common courtesy is all about “adopt[ing] the ‘you’ attitude—consider[ing] others’ needs and feelings first.” Really, as small business owners, no matter what our industry is, we are in the business of customer service. If our clients don’t like us, we don’t retain them, and they don’t refer others to us. First impressions matter, as do second and third and twenty-third. By practicing common courtesy, we are creating a professional atmosphere that makes our clients feel respected and our employees feel heard and important—and that translates to business growth and success.

Though business etiquette changes given the times (especially given the technological advancements of recent decades), social mores, and culture, what remains timeless is treating others with dignity and respect. So, what are some easy things you can do to improve the common courtesy culture in your organization? Consider the following tips:

  • Be on time. It may seem silly, but being on time lets others know you take their time and attention seriously and that you respect them enough to show up on time, ready to work.
  • Dress appropriately (like your grandma will be in the room). We live in a very casual culture, especially here in the United States, but that doesn’t mean jeans and a T-shirt are appropriate for every business meeting. If you work in an office with a relaxed dress code, take a little time to research whether you need to change your attire for work functions outside of normal, daily business. There is an adage that states, “You can never be overdressed,” and while we’re pretty sure that is not entirely true, taking a moment to figure out what you should wear can set a positive tone when trying to grow your business.
  • Listen. It is a time-honored practice of common courtesy but one that bears mentioning. When you are in a business meeting, let the person speaking finish what they are saying before you chime in with your thoughts or response. Consider beginning your response with a brief restatement of what you thought that person was saying to minimize misunderstandings. Also, modify your language to the occasion, whether that is in person or through electronic communications. Certain slang or textual abbreviations may be appropriate when dealing with your friends or family, but more professional language might be needed when attending business.
  • Read your emails before you send them. We know how tempting it is to shoot off an email rapidly, especially when it is just a quick response or one you are composing at the end of the day. Still, take a breath and read what you’ve written before you push “Send.” It could save you a major headache, and often you will find something you could say a little better that might offer further clarification (or just give you a change to clean up pesky typos).
  • Always say “thank you.” It might not seem necessary, but you can never go wrong with a heartfelt thank-you. Whether to a colleague who helped you out, a client, or just someone you met at a seminar or trade show, expressing gratitude never goes out of style. That acknowledgment of another person’s time, talents, or simple presence can go a long way toward making your organization a business with which others want to work.

For more information on how Powerhouse can help you take your business to the next level and beyond, check out our website. Free small business resources are available as well.

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