In today’s job market, hopeful professionals with impressive credentials and years of training are often vying for the same positions. In such a competitive market, how can you gain an edge? What will distinguish your resume from dozens (if not hundreds) of other notable applicants? Here’s one answer: Business etiquette will set you apart. On paper, another job candidate might appear to have the exact same abilities as you – but in practice, the way you carry yourself and interact with others will complement your skills and determine your success as a professional.
How can business etiquette give you an edge?
Successful communication is an art. We engage in communication every day through writing, speaking and body language: essentially, any time we are around other people, we are communicating.
Yet many professionals do not always communicate in the most effective way possible in everyday contexts, and conversations often come to a standstill when faced with an awkward or difficult situation. Business etiquette know-how can give you awareness and help you sharpen communication in a variety of contexts: emails, conference calls, conversations with anyone from a colleague to the executive VP, body language, voicemail – the list of how, where and when we communicate goes on. When you are able to gracefully and graciously communicate in normal circumstances, the sticky situations will be easier to navigate as well.
Putting your best foot forward is critical the moment you step into a business situation. All aspects about your appearance: your posture, how you extend your hand for a handshake, the professionalism of your dress, the minutiae of accessories (hair, makeup, shoes, jewelry), and your overall composure all contribute to the first impression. This impression will influence anyone from a prospective employer, potential client or important contact – and depending on whether you appear refined or careless, this will complement your job skills positively or negatively.
Even if you’ve got great manners at the table, the intricacies of formal dining etiquette are so detailed that it takes some practice to get them all right. Yet not everyone takes the time to learn those skills, and if you find yourself at a business meal with someone to impress – again, a potential employer or client – they will recognize your skills when you navigate an intricate place setting with ease and carry yourself elegantly at the table. Many interviews, business deals and professional relationships are formed during a meal so do not underestimate the power of proper dining.
The Art of Simple Courteousness
In this age, we move so quickly that many forget the simple grace of kindness. Saying please and thank you, a thoughtful gesture, and even just a positive attitude: these all contribute to how much others would like to be around you and how many relationships you will build along the way. Though it may seem obvious, basic courteousness is integral to professional success.
So how do you sharpen these business etiquette skills? To start, check out previous and upcoming articles in this blog: we share great tips on everything from formal dining etiquette to interview attire to helpful resources. Individual consulting or group seminars contribute the extra edge of professional instruction. Building and refining your business etiquette skills will set you apart – at any stage of your career.
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