When we’re growing up, we’re taught basic manners – say please and thank you, eat with your mouth closed, be kind, say sorry – and these generally transfer to adult life. But why are manners important in the business world?

  1. You’ll gain respect
  2. You’ll develop a reputation for being a decent person to do business with
  3. Your business peers will refer you

So, as well as using your basic manners you gained as a child, focus on nurturing these ones too:

Using the right tone
When you use technology to communicate – email, text, messenger, social media – you should review your tone, especially if the content is of a sensitive nature. Tone can be easily misconstrued so if it’s a tricky subject, pick up the phone or meet the person face-to-face to eliminate or diffuse any potential misunderstandings.

Developing a relationship
If you can get in front of someone face to face, do, because you can develop a far more personal relationship. It may not be sensible or viable to travel to the other end of the country for a half an hour meeting but if the person is local-ish to you, or you will cross paths when you’re out and about, arrange a get together. Or use a Skype video call, which works almost as well.

Say please and thank you
We mentioned this in our opening paragraph but it is so often overlooked in the business world. When you ask someone to do something, say please and when they have delivered, say thank you. Sounds so simple but many people forget these most basic manners on a day to day basis. Be conscious that you’re not one of them.

Offer help to others
If you provide value by helping people – clients, your team, colleagues, business peers – you show that you care about who they are and what they are trying to achieve. Share your knowledge to help people develop theirs. It gives them confidence and you a sense of accomplishment. Think of it as training but in a more personalised and relaxed way.

Appreciate those around you
The people you are working with are likely to share the same ambitions as you, whether it be working towards the same company goals, developing a product, delivering a service, progressing your career, learning new skills and so on. Expressing your appreciation comes more naturally to some than others but telling someone they have done a great job is a good place to start.

Don’t slam incompetency
If someone is incompetent in their role, it potentially says more about you than it does about them. Maybe that person needs more training, doesn’t understand the brief or is afraid to ask for help so address those issues before laying down the law. Their performance is likely to improve if you commit a little time to personal development and mentoring.

Give people your attention
When someone is talking to you, give them the attention they deserve. Put away your phone or other mobile device, look away from your computer and turn toward them for two-way dialogue. You will understand much more of what they are saying and identify the value of their opinion if you avoid distractions.

Be respectful of the way others do things
Your way may not always be the right way so give people the freedom to explore their approach to a task. You never know, you may learn a new way of doing something that is more efficient or delivers a better service to your clients. Don’t be afraid to allow someone to reinvent the wheel, if the wheel is outdated or not working.

Business manners is about respect for others and making them feel important. Get it right and they will respond to you in the same way. Not only will this help you in your day to day life, it will set you apart from many others in your professional life too.