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Coordinator of Workforce Services Sara BakerIn today's high-speed and high-tech world, is it important to know the rules of etiquette? Is there a proper way to make an introduction? And really… does anyone care which fork I use? According to business etiquette expert Lydia Ramsey, the answer is unquestionably "yes." Ramsey states, "If you care about increasing your confidence, projecting a professional image, developing lasting relationships with your colleagues… and becoming a polished professional, etiquette skills are the powerful tools to help you avoid embarrassments and distractions and focus on your personal and professional goals, not to mention the bottom line."

Business etiquette in essence is about building positive relationships with people.  In a competitive employment market practicing good business etiquette can give you the edge you need to succeed in both your job search and on the job.

Essentially, good business etiquette involves two things.  First, thoughtful consideration of the interests and feelings of others, and secondly, minimizing the possibility for misunderstandings to occur.  Although good business etiquette varies from region to region and country to country, it's based on the following key principles:

Behavior

Your manners and attitude speak volumes about you.  They point to your inner character.  If you come across selfish, undisciplined or uncouth your your relationship is not likely to prosper. Appropriate business etiquette promotes positive behavior.  One way to demonstrate positive and unselfish behavior is by simply thanking others.  Send thank-you notes whenever someone does something nice for you or telephone to express your gratitude. This simple act will help build lasting relationships. And don't forget "Please," "Excuse me," and "You're welcome," which are other marks of good manners.

Character

Your character refers to what you as an individual bring to the business table. It includes your attributes and abilities as well as moral strengths such as loyalty, honesty, trustworthiness, dependability, self-discipline and responsibility.  Proper business etiquette allows you to exhibit your most positive character traits.

Sensitivity

Sensitivity and consideration underlie all good business etiquette. Being prepared and responding thoughtfully is achieved through business etiquette know-how. By avoiding misunderstandings and misinterpretations through business etiquette you lay foundations for a strong business relationship.

Diplomacy

Avoiding thoughtless words and actions protects you from negative consequences. Impulse often leads a business person astray. With good business etiquette, you consider the interests of others and choose acceptable forms of expression. 

Appearance

Dressing appropriately, standing and sitting in the right place at the right time, good posture and looking physically presentable are all elements in making a good impression. Business etiquette teaches you how to suitably present yourself and what to avoid. Analyzing, understanding and implementing good business etiquette will help you to build good business relationships, and… you’ll know which fork to use!