Who hasn’t heard the words “New Year” without thinking about New Year’s resolutions? Making promises to ourselves on how we can improve and make our lives better starting on the first of every year has been drilled into us for as long as most of us can remember.
Some of us follow the trend faithfully, and others balk at it. It’s common knowledge that most resolutions are rarely kept, especially the infamous two about exercising more and eating less.
Walk into any gym right now, and the place is filled to capacity. Try that next December, and those establishments will be practically empty.
I am not an advocate of setting annual goals that are hard to keep, which is why I am going to suggest starting this year with a list of actions you can easily achieve. They will not cause you to break into a sweat or deprive you of your favorite foods.
They will, however, improve your relationships, enhance your career and make you a more polished professional. Just try them for 21 days and see if you can tell a difference in yourself and those around you.
Here are 10 etiquette tips to improve your personal and professional life. Read them and decide which ones will be the easiest and the most beneficial to you and your business. I am willing to bet you are already doing most of them.
In that case, consider the tips as reminders and assurance that you are a polished professional.
• Smile more often. You will be amazed at how much better you will feel and how much nicer people will be to you.
• Stand up straight. You heard this first from your mother, right? Good posture is not only good for your health; it is also good for business. People will see you as more confident and competent when you look the part.
• Introduce yourself to people you haven’t seen in a while and who may have forgotten your name. They will be grateful you didn’t make them suffer through the process of trying to remember who you are. Giving people your name is a gift.
• Offer a handshake when you meet people. The handshake is the universal sign of greeting. The person who extends a hand immediately shows confidence and courtesy.
• Identify yourself when you place a call. Not everyone is looking at a caller ID screen. Furthermore you might be using someone else’s phone. And don’t assume your voice will be recognized even by a close associate.
• Identify yourself when you answer the phone. Let your callers know immediately who you are. Don’t make them ask, “To whom am I speaking?” That’s awkward and poor business.
• Keep your smart phone off and out of sight when you are in meetings. Nothing says you are not fully present more than keeping one eye on your phone when you are in the company of others.
• Use an appropriate salutation in every email you send. Email can come across as cold and abrupt. Warm it up a bit by using a greeting such as “Hi” or “Hello.” Then follow that by using the recipient’s name. It only takes a few seconds and is invaluable in building relationships. “Dear” is appropriate for more formal email and used when you don’t know the other person well.
• Make sure “please,” “thank you” and “you are welcome” are part of your everyday vocabulary. Those simple words can make all the difference in the world in how you are perceived by others as well as how you make others feel.
• Write thank you notes for even the simplest favors or kindnesses. I am not speaking of an email thank you. Handwrite that note and stand out from the crowd. You do want to stand out in business, don’t you?
No doubt you are already doing many of the things I have listed. Check yourself. For the ones you are not, there is no time like right now to begin. Make the new you the present and the future you.
Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, professional speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-598-9812 or visit her at LydiaRamsey.com to leave a comment, ask a question or learn more about her programs and products.