Business etiquettes are the culture, codes, and principles that business people follow to conduct profitable (failure to adhere to the proper etiquette can disturb your profits) business transactions. Business etiquettes are important for the success of the business, especially for women in business. As with many other double standards, such is the same in business - there are differences in the etiquette followed by men and women in conducting businesses especially in the US. The major differences are dress codes, customs, conversations, personal space, etc. Let's take a look at business etiquette practices as they relate to women.
1. Fashion Etiquette
Fashion may not seem to play a role in the boardroom, but be assured that it does - in fact the first thing most male colleagues use as a source of assessing your validity as one to be taken seriously, is your attire. Because many women in business are in male dominated industries, proper dress codes - etiquettes - are of the utmost importance. Well-dressed is not enough, properly-dressed in a must. Suits - modest colors, proper length (just above the knee) and relaxed fit pants, are appropriate for meetings and presentations. It is considered as unmannered to wear informal dresses like shorts, sweatshirts, baseball caps, miniskirts for women during any business occasions, unless otherwise is previously stated - for example an informal meeting on the golf course. Stick the basics: modest colors, classic styles - A-line skirts and heels no higher than 3 inches and relaxed fits.
2. Customary Etiquette
The mighty hand shake is an appropriate greeting gesture for women to offer her colleagues, both male and female. Hugs - no so much ladies! Focused, non-threatening eye contact (not "the look" that you give your children) is a polite way of confirming that you are fully engaged in the business at hand. Not shaking hands, sitting when others are standing and lack of eye contact, are considered to be bad manners - which equal bad business etiquette - which can equal less validation in your expertise, which ultimately affect your bottom-line profit. The absolute "no-no" in business conversation is asking personal questions that are irrelevant to the businesses or sensitive to personal security or personal comfort of others. Stick to the basics: polite greetings, non-threatening eye contact and keep it business, never engage in your own or others personal lives.
3. Cultural Etiquettes
Although we cannot adhere to every varying culture represented in U.S. when forming business behavioral standards (etiquette), it does seem necessary to touch on the aspect of business etiquettes that may differ for our Muslim American sisters - who make up roughly 20% of business women in the
U.S. Here are a major difference:
• The women are expected to maintain certain distances when talking to men. For this reason a Muslim woman may not find it reasonable or polite to maintain eye contact or even shake hands - this is not considered bad etiquette in such cases.
Physical contact with men outside of family members is a rarity for Muslim women and this should never be taken as a form of disrespect or rudeness. It is in fact a characteristic to be honored in the business, as well as all aspects of life.
4. Communication Etiquette
Next to your over outer appearance and adherence to customary body language and behaviors, the most necessary business code to follow, is the means in which you communicate with others. There no nothing worse than a well - dressed, well -coached woman that cannot properly or effectively communicate her voice in the boardroom. Although some may be forgiving, most will dismiss the validity of your knowledge and expertise. Here are some basic communication skills for either in-person and business phone calls or virtual connection, such as webinars:
• Always your entire attention on matter at hand - your focus shows that you value the time and attention of your colleagues.
• Enunciate/articulate clearly. Speak distinctly.
• Use Plain English and avoid unnecessary jargon and acronyms.
• Use action specific words and directions.
• If you need to make a specific point to someone present, use a proper name. Do not say things like - "The gentlemen to my left."
• Always speak with proper tone and use words that flow naturally or fit the arena in which you are in.
Although not included above, please note that business is not the place for inappropriate emotional outburst - under any circumstance and should avoided.
The article would not be complete without the mention of time. Late arrivals and early departure are always considered rude - although such is necessary from time to time - the business world is very unforgiving and often does not consider the many hats women wear. So ladies, be aware of specific etiquettes acceptable in the business circles, but remain mindful of the basic go to etiquette codes that have been shared.