Even though it is the first thing most owners – entrepreneurs will think. It is not the economy killing your business…
But, it could be the lost art of communication and simple etiquette. Yes, I said it people as a society are rude and sadly most do not even know it. The marvels of technology and the ability to ‘get to the point’ in ways we enjoy on Twitter is not meant to replace manners.
In the attempt to take back our time we are missing out on the joys of creating real relationships and most of our actions are being interpreted by our peers as downright rude. Yes, I love all the systems I have in place to help me complete tasks faster. For me, they free up time to strengthen my connections, create new ones, and be able to pamper my clients. There are areas you just do not compromise on for speed and many of these professional etiquette compromises we make as well as in some cases just outright ignore are the real reason businesses fail.
Case in point – having attended a spectacular gala fundraiser event for a group I am passionate about with an air of excitement. This excitement was due in large part because my company was presenting a scholarship for the furthering of education. The recipient is taking the stage to give her speech of what this means to her, as I inch the edge of my seat camera in hand, shallow breathing, and eyes glistening with the beginnings of heartstring tears…when my ears are invaded by sounds of a Droid Turbo ring tone and a loud explanative. My first thought is oh what a shame she forgot to silence her phone as I was sure she would mute it and be so embarrassed. Nope, no embarrassment there as she proceeds to answer at her table during what I can only think would have been a very moving speech, but I would not know as I missed it while this person proceeded to tell another attendee at her table (two seats away) what the phone call was about.
Your first reaction is probably to be as appalled as I was because reading it like that gives it a new perspective. But, this happened all over the room throughout the entire event. And this sadly is not the exception to the norm. We are at a moment in time where basic manners are no longer taught in schools and sadly not in many homes. Generation Z is moving in and they are trying to travel through life faster than Generation X and leaving the Millennials in their wake. I am not by any means saying fast is bad, I really enjoy fast options in many areas of life. But, fast does not mean or excuse rudeness.
It is time to deploy a little common sense in deciding what can be fast, I would start in the following areas.
- Phone Etiquette: how to take and leave messages, recording your voicemail, how to answer and return calls, volume control, how to text, and when…
- Greeting Etiquette: at work, at events, in professional settings, cold calling, and outside of work (you never know where a client will be found or who is around you)
- How to communicate with your customers: seriously this is a lost art. At meetings, in passing, when something is needed, in appreciation, how and when to pamper
- Email Etiquette: length, verbiage, font color, and size, what should be in an email and what should never be included, when to use caps – did you know the initial response from over 90% of people reading an email with caps is that you are angry? Even if it is something good… food for thought.
- Co-worker Etiquette: Do you have all I’s a few D’s or are your staff C’s and S’s – do you even know? You should… If you know and educate them on how to communicate properly you will see an over 65% drop in office drama. That in itself should make you stop reading this and search for a class for your entire company!
We are always being observed and analyzed by those around us in person, online, and by word of mouth. What kind of impression are you making? I can tell you when that phone was answered in the middle of the event I was at, my first reaction was to look at the place card to see what company sponsored that table. Tomorrow is too late to win back the customer offended today that could have been avoided with a little common courtesy and respect. Slow down and reconnect with life, make a new friend, silence your technology and hear what is in front of you, make eye contact with the next person you cross paths with, and greet them genuinely – smile to your eyes! There are plenty of fast opportunities to take advantage of etiquette is not one of them…