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3 Tips to Practicing Good Business Etiquette

Business-relationshipIn an ideal world, we would all be judged on merit, and managers, co-workers and clients would take the time to get to know us before formulating an opinion. Unfortunately, in the time-crunched real world, we don’t always have that luxury. People often make flash assessments based on limited interactions, or piece together opinions about our ability and professionalism from disparate impressions gleaned from superficial encounters. Alas, when it comes to others’ perceptions of us, the devil is in the details, providing us limitless opportunities to make a bad impression.

That’s where etiquette can help. Whether you are collaborating with co-workers, schmoozing potential clients or trying to impress the boss, relationships are critical to your career success. The diversity of the modern workplace and the hurried pace of business provides ample room for social missteps, but adhering to the basic tenants of business etiquette can insulate you from the most egregious offenses.

  • Stick to the Basics. While tomes have been written on the subject, the essence of etiquette is being courteous and thoughtful to those around you. A few basic pointers can go a long way. In general, try to promote your ideas and opinions as diplomatically as possible. Listen to what others are saying and do not interrupt. If conflicts arise, treat them as situational rather than personal. Do not raise your voice or use insults or derogatory language, as it will only earn you animosity and distrust. Be sure to apologize if you offend somebody or “step on toes.”
  • People Are Key. Incorporate relationship building into your routine. Arrive 15-20 minutes early each day to talk and visit with others around you. If you do not know someone, introduce yourself. Talk a little about yourself, to get them to open up. Make a note of spouses and children, and recognize birthdays, engagements, weddings, anniversaries and promotions as they occur. Do not differentiate based on status, department or title. Administrative staff, door attendants and facilities personnel all have the power to help or impede your ability to get things done.
  • It's About Relationships. Remember that etiquette is about relationships. While volumes have been written about what is and is not proper in a given situation, the most important rule to remember is to be considerate, respectful and sincere. If you strive always to make others around you feel comfortable, you will be successful regardless of whether or not you follow every rule to the letter.

Practicing good business etiquette is just one-step to master in reaching your career goals. The AICPA’s E.D.G.E. Conference, August 6 to 8 in New Orleans, has a number of sessions that cover additional steps to maximizing your career potential, including networking tips, effective leadership strategies and much more.

AICPA Young CPA Network. The Young CPA Network is a vital community in which young and aspiring CPAs can seek answers and advice regarding career challenges and opportunities, while building the supportive network of professional relationships they need to be successful in the CPA profession.

Business relationship image via Shutterstock


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