Manners maketh the man/woman (for Dummies)
My beloved late Grandfather taught me that "manners maketh a man" and that people will always judge you according to your manners. How right he was!
Nowhere are manners more important than in the business world. When I was a scholar in high school we were taught how to write business letters as part of our English Language classes. We were taught to start a letter with "Dear Sir/Madam" and to end it with "Yours sincerely." I am always shocked and a little slighted when I receive an email from someone I've never met before who starts their letter with "Hey!" Hey? If my Grandfather was still around he'd sternly say "Are you a donkey? Because hay is for donkeys."
"Please" and "Thank you" were drummed into us from a very early age. If your request lacks a simple "please" it is interpreted as a demand and nobody is open to demands. It's just downright arrogant. If someone has taken the trouble to write you an email complimenting you for a post well written or a job well done, or leaves a positive comment under a post you shared, it's good manners to thank them for the compliment, right?
In this digital world where competition is so fierce, the snoozers are the losers. If you are in business make a point of answering your emails daily. If you cannot do that due to traveling, illness or vacation then have the good manners to activate an auto response. And for heaven's sake, if you are late in responding to an email, have the good manners to start your response with an apology for your tardiness. I am always shocked when people take a week to respond to a request for a quotation!
I recently pitched on a project in a territory I don't usually work in, and had to make use of a local service provider I'd never worked with before. By the time we finally delivered the quotation and directors treatments to the client I was pulling my hair out with frustration. The service provider in question had the worst business manners I've encountered in a long time. Emails went ignored, the quotation was riddled with over-charges, vital information was not forthcoming, etc, etc. Would I ever work with him again? Never. Would I ever recommend him to anyone else? Never.
On the other hand, I was contacted at 8pm on a Friday night by a Client in Germany who wanted an urgent quote from me. I knew this Client personally and had pitched several jobs with him already. So when he informed me he needed to shoot a project in China and needed the quote by the end of the weekend, I obliged with a smile. Needless to say, all my social plans went out the window. Imagine my disgust when I never heard from the client again after I delivered my quotation at the end of the weekend. Despite several subsequent emails asking for feedback I didn't get a single reply. Is it asking a lot to let your service providers know they didn't win the bid?
No matter what service or product you are selling, people do business with you because they like you. It's really that simple. Nobody likes to deal with an arrogant, pompous individual totally lacking in good manners.
Let's not forget that your reputation counts for everything in business. What you post on social media can help or hinder your reputation. If you leave sarcastic, belligerent comments on posts, you are seen in a negative light. You can disagree with people without coming across as hostile and disparaging. Have the good manners to word your responses in constructive ways. It's not what you say, it's how you say it.
In my line of work, we spend a great deal of our time pitching on projects. Clients love it when you can deliver your pitch with a smile on your dial. A warm and positive attitude is the "cherry on the top" in the manners department. It's not enough to deliver a good pitch. If you lack the good manners to go with the pitch, it leaves an unpleasant taste in the client's mouth. Set yourself apart from the competition by over-delivering. And do it with excellent manners.
So let's look at some vital manners (aka polished social skills) necessary in making you more pleasant to deal with in business (and ultimately more successful):
Answer emails quickly and pleasantly
Always use "please" and "thank you"
Use auto responders when you cannot answer emails
Have a warm and positive attitude towards everyone you deal with in business
Always thank people for compliments
Be transparent with quotations (the more information, the better)
Thank clients for giving you the opportunity to pitch on a project
Learn how to give compliments and be genuine when you deliver them
Remove sarcasm from your repertoire
Be mindful of what you post on social media and refrain from hostility and belligerence
Begin your emails with "Dear" or "Hi," never "Hey!"
Be a pleasure to deal with and you're on your way to building long-term, solid relationships in business!