Opinion

Seven things your parents taught you that will get you far in business

In this posting from the LinkedIn Agency Influencer program, Alex Delehunt argues for a back-to-basics approach to workplace etiquette

In this day and age, general manners and business etiquette is something that has taken a backseat.

You may have noticed it yourself in email replies, or even in the lunchroom.

Publicis Media’s Alex Delehunt

People don’t say please, thank you or even hello sometimes! It seems so obvious to me to do these things, but there are a lot of people coming into the workplace that have never had this spelt out to them.

Honestly, it’s sad that we even have to isn’t it?

I was lucky that in my first “real” job I had a very direct manager that instilled some behaviours in me that have stood the test of time. They can be summarised as:

  1. Be on time – if you’ve accepted a meeting or arranged a phone call, then the least you can do is make the effort to be on time. By being late, you’re basically saying your time is more important than the other person’s.
  2. If you are going to be late, let someone know – even if the bus was late or another meeting ran over, you normally have at least 20 seconds to whip out your phone and text/email a quick, “So sorry, running 5 minutes late.”
  3. Do your homework – if a meeting has pre-reading or you’re going to present something, take 10 minutes beforehand to prepare yourself. It might mean getting to the meeting room early to make sure the computers are all working. (Murphy’s law, the more important the meeting, the greater chance something will not work!)
  4. Organise yourself (aka manage that inbox) – I hear it so often, “Oh sorry just must have missed your email.” It’s either an excuse that they haven’t gotten back to you or they have a poorly managed inbox. I keep what is in my actual inbox to a minimum; it’s only things that still need actioning that remain in there. Once something has been responded to, it gets filed away. Even if it’s in a folder name ‘Completed’, you’ll be better able to prioritise once you can actually see what you need to deal with.
  5. Put the phone away – if you’re attending a meeting, either leave your phone at your desk or only have it with you in case of an emergency. There is nothing more rude then when you’re up presenting something (that has taken you time and effort to prepare!) and someone is sitting on their phone, clearly not paying attention.
  6. If you RSVP for an event, show up – never forget that someone spent time and money organising this event and having half of the people show up is a waste of their resources and makes you look rude. If you truly cannot attend, always let them know as far in advance as possible.
  7. Listen twice as much as you talk – you’ll be surprised how much you will pick up on if you spend the time to actually listen to someone instead of thinking about your next sentence. And don’t be afraid of silence, this is a great way to encourage someone to open up more.

These may seem basic but you will be surprised how far they can take in your career. You will build trust and credibility and leave a lasting impression on someone in a great way!

Alex Delehunt is people and culture manager at Publicis Media

This article is part of the LinkedIn Agency Influencer program. See more from the program by clicking on the banner below.

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