Editor’s Note: Good form

September 20, 2017 -  By

Marisa Palmieri

Want to make all your managers self-conscious at one time? Talk to them about business etiquette at a company meeting.

That’s what our CEO did last month at our annual sales and editorial training meeting. I know his intent was to inform—not to make us squirm—but nothing ever has made me flash back through my career history and wonder what faux pas I’ve committed like that meeting did. Walking out of the presentation, though, I felt prepared and empowered. Our CEO handed out a book called “The Essentials of Business Etiquette: How to Greet, Eat, and Tweet Your Way to Success” by Barbara Pachter. It shares clear guidelines for nearly any situation you may encounter in the working world. I recommend you read it, or a similar guide on etiquette, and encourage your managers to, too.

We assume certain things are common sense. But they’re really not. People come to work with their own set of manners and habits. We assume they learned good form from their families or previous employers, but that’s a potentially brand-damaging assumption to make.

Like loading a trailer or planting a tree, unless you instruct employees on the accepted way of doing things, you can’t expect they’ll know the protocol.
Why not train your managers and salespeople on etiquette, so you’re sure to set them up for success? After all, they’re representing your brand at client dinners, chamber of commerce meetings, association golf outings and more.

Here are a few tips I flagged from the book that could be a good starting point for an etiquette conversation with your team.

Put your phone away. Don’t place your phone on the table during a meeting or meal. Also, don’t text under the table during a meeting or presentation. Both are noticeable and distracting to the other people in the room.

Get name tags right. Name tags are often used at receptions and conferences. Place your name tag on your right-hand side, slightly below the shoulder. This position makes it more visible when you shake hands.

Keep your right hand free. Before you walk into a meeting, move anything you’re carrying to your left hand. When mingling, hold your drink in your left hand so your right hand is free and dry to shake hands.

Add email addresses last. We’ve all sent an email too soon by mistake—before we’ve finished writing and proofing it. Even when replying to a message, it’s a good practice to delete the recipient’s address and insert it only when you’re sure it’s ready to be sent.

Avoid social media blunders. What you post on your personal accounts can get you in trouble professionally. Privacy controls are no guarantee that something you post will stay private. Don’t post offensive photos, videos or comments on any social media site. Don’t put people down, curse or make racist or other off-color statements.

Even if you believe a book or talk about etiquette would be review for your team, I’d say go for it. You don’t know what you (or your staff) doesn’t know when it comes to decorum. And you never know who they’ll encounter when wearing your logo out in the world.

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About the Author:

Marisa Palmieri is an experienced Green Industry editor who's won numerous awards for her coverage of the landscape and golf course markets from the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA), the Press Club of Cleveland and the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE). In 2007, ASBPE named her a Young Leader. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism, cum laude, from Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism.

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