Monday, January 21, 2013

The Business of Business Manners at Meetings

In addition to a lack of business ethics today, there is also a lack of business manners. I have chosen to focus on business manners at meetings for this article. Business manners are essential to build relationships in today's business world. People, who present themselves very favorably, will maximize their business potential. I must tell you that I am very passionate about business manners and believe very strongly in the results that follow the use of good business manners.

I always stress to my clients the importance of business manners and to seeking advice on that issue and others. Well, I followed my own advice some time ago and one of the most gracious and well-mannered professionals I ever met is Pamela Hillings of Hillings Enterprises in Pasadena, California. Pamela and her mother wrote a book entitled "Manners in a Minute," which is a practical guide for proper conduct and good manners when dining in or out. Pamela has been the official Royal Court Protocol Consultant to the Tournament of Roses Queen and Court and has been referred to as the "Miss Manners of the Internet," as she has taught "How to Have Great Business Manners" through an Internet class. And I had the privilege of being one of her guest "speakers" during the course to talk about business manners. Pamela Hillings has been my guide for business manners ever since our first contact.

The potential for negative impacts is considerable in business meetings. Improve your business meeting etiquette and you will witness positive results in such forms as attentiveness, comfort, clear communications, and trust. Let's look at a few tips to ensure good business manners at your meetings, both the informal and the formal meetings.

For your informal meetings:

+ The person calling the meeting should be the most senior or the person with the most direct or urgent need in the topical area.

+ The meeting chairperson decides the time, place and agenda. The agenda and details should be confirmed with attendees in advance.

+ The person chairing the meeting must clearly state to all attendees the purpose of the meeting, the planned length of the meeting, and what the expected outcomes will be.

+ The chairperson must always start meetings on time and always respect the value of everyone's time.

+ The chairperson must keep the meeting on the agenda.

+ The chair must pre-appoint someone to record minutes of the meeting so major decisions and action points are recorded accurately.

+ The chairperson must inform those not at the meeting of any results of the meeting that will impact them.

For your formal meetings:

+ Be prepared for the meeting. Review materials received prior to the meeting.

+ Dress appropriately and arrive before the start of the meeting.

+ Turn off all mobile phones and other personal electronic devices.

+ If appropriate, have attendees introduce themselves as an agenda item.

+ Do not interrupt anyone while they are speaking, even if you disagree strongly. Wait until the proper time and be acknowledged by the chairperson to speak.

+ Sit in an assigned seat if that is the custom and if you are unsure about seating arrangements, ask.

+ Be clear and concise when speaking and be sure what you are saying is relevant to the topic being discussed.

+ Honor all requested confidences relative to the meeting.

Never underestimate the value of good business manners. My experience over more than 35 years in professional life has time and time again confirmed the great value of business manners. The highest compliment I ever received on business manners came from the person I listen to the most about business manners, Pamela Hillings. Here is what she said in a testimonial:

"I have been in the business of 'Business Manners' for over twenty years and I have never worked with anyone who is the perfect example of professionalism except for Glenn Ebersole. I have been engaged in several business dealings with him and every single time he has been detailed, punctual, polite, follows up and is extremely professional. He could easily consult my clients on an appropriate business image. ??Glenn is also excellent at communication and public relations. We worked on a national survey together and he was on top of the project at all times in terms of national exposure and contacting me. I would highly recommend him to anyone; you won't be disappointed."?Pamela Hillings, Hillings Enterprises Pasadena, California.

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