A few days ago, I was in my office trying to think of a topic for this week’s blog. It didn’t take long before the answer became painfully obvious. You see, over the past couple weeks I have been on the receiving end of and have witnessed a lot of business etiquette practices that would make Ms. Manners clutch her pearls in dismay. The lack of business etiquette is a subject that bothers me so much that I think I’m going to make this into a series. How many parts will the series contain? I don’t really know. I guess that depends on how much I can come up with. I know there will be at least two, because I’m definitely going to get heated and have to put myself in time-out after awhile. So, here it goes.
It seems that in this fast-paced, technology-laden world etiquette and consideration for others has, to some extent, fallen by the wayside. And I know I’m not the only one who’s noticed this. How much time do you waste each day because someone did not exercise good manners in their business communication? Time is a precious commodity; and time wasted is money down the drain. What really gets me is that if people would just think about the message, the end-user and the best mode of communication, a lot of time and money will be saved.. It would also keep us from falling into the dark of hole that miscommunication can create. I mean think about it. I’ll bet you can make a list of the number of times you had a situation totally break down via email or text when it could have been resolved in a few short minutes if only someone had picked up the telephone.
It blows my mind that people aren’t afforded the common courtesies that we exercised during our foray into the business world. For instance, you know it is dead wrong to be late for a meeting and not call in advance to notify person you’re meeting. Now, I know many of us would rather break the sound barrier and all traffic laws to get to a meeting on time than run a few minutes late, but it happens. So, let’s say your meeting is at 10:00, you lose track of time and realize the soonest you can get to the meeting spot would be 10:30. Don’t wait until 9:50 to tell them you’ll be 30 minutes late. I know from experience that it’s not necessarily a joy to tell someone you’re going to be late; and you’ll probably feel the urge to put it off. But, whoever you made that commitment to deserves the courtesy of adequate notification. Think of how much happier that person would be if they were able to use that extra half-hour to their advantage, rather than spend it sitting around waiting for you. They might still be a little annoyed at the delay, but much less so if you take five minutes and let them know.
There are times when meetings have to be cancelled. You hate to do it, but it happens. In my opinion, meetings shouldn’t be cancelled via email, especially if there is only a short window of time before the meeting. But I know email is easier, faster and sometimes more accessible. But email shouldn’t be your only mode of communication. I believe it’s always best to call first and use email as a backup. Recently, I had a colleague cancel a meeting because of a family emergency, which I (and most others) understand completely. Her assistant called me and got my voicemail. Instead of just leaving it at that, she sent me an email detailing the situation and apologizing for the inconvenience. Her email included alternate dates and times and our meeting was rescheduled within minutes. To me, that was the perfect way to deal with that situation.
Ok, well as you can see I can go on and on about this topic but I’ll stop here. But I’m not finished. I have a lot of thoughts about this topic and plan to share in part deux. So in the interim, let’s watch our manners and be a little more considerate of one another.