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Introduction

Introduction

Good office manners may not be listed in your job description, but they certainly play a crucial part in your career. The ability to handle yourself properly today outweighs even your technical skills. If you know what to do, when to do it, and how to do it with grace and style, you’ll have a competitive edge in your career. All business experts agree that good manners promote good business.

Why is etiquette so important? Because people judge you and your company by what they see and by what they believe to be true. You are never really you to other people; you are only the you that they perceive you to be. If they perceive that you’re even slightly uncultured or unrefined, your business may suffer. If people perceive you to be a knowledgeable, smooth professional, they’ll want to do business with you.

If you questioned all the experts on business manners, each would probably give you a slightly different explanation of what constitutes good behavior in business. Acceptable etiquette even varies from place to place and from person to person. The codes of business conduct in Japan or China differ greatly from those in Alabama or California. Within the United States itself, what is acceptable in New York might be offensive in New Mexico. Even in your own city, an older person might be upset by behavior that would go unnoticed by a younger person. The titles Mr. and Mrs. or Ma’am and Sir, for example, annoy some people or seem stuffy, while other people prefer this formality. Some companies encourage the use of first names at all levels of employment, while others find this practice to be unforgivably familiar.

Even so, today’s business etiquette is much simpler than it was a few years ago. Terms like social graces, style, niceties, courtesy, and acceptable procedure help to give us a sense of it. Etiquette is defined as “the forms, manners, and ceremonies established by convention as acceptable or required in social relations, in a profession, or in official life.” Business etiquette, then, is the way professional businesspeople—regardless of job title or type of business—conduct themselves around others.

Business etiquette relies on tradition, social expectations, and behavior standards. Those things are based on understanding, kindness, courtesy, efficiency, and common sense. What business etiquette boils down to is the new Golden Rule: Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.

“An easy-to-read, informative book that fills a desperate need…”

—Letitia Baldrige

America’s Foremost

Authority on Manners


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