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Business Etiquette in Correspondence

In this date of relaxed attitudes and relaxed principles, do polite manners still count in business?  Completely.  For just as saying “Please” and “Thank You” made your parents swollen with pride of you as a child, so, too, will pleasant manners triumph you friends in business.  Want to put yourself far ahead of your competition?  Look good AND act nicely.  People will definitely take note.

What is Etiquette?

Etiquette is the forms or good manners recognized as suitable or mandatory by culture or a career. That’s the dictionary definition.  In realism, people show business etiquette when they make others feel contented and abolish barriers that obstruct business.

Nobody likes to be forced into a new position where they don’t know what to do or how to act.  It’s very uncomfortable.  The only thing that makes it even worse is to have someone there who’s conscious of your uneasiness, and belittles you for your ignorance.  Not only is it embarrassing, it’s just bad manners.

If, on the other hand, you want to handle people resourcefully, be looked at as a “team player” and be spoken of satisfactorily whether you’re in the room or across the country, make people relieved and make them feel valued.  They’ll

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reward you with their loyalty and hard work.

Have you often wondered what’s the differentiation between the rising star whose career is picking up speed and his counterpart who can’t seem to get the engine to turn over? Frequently, the star has mastered the nuances of business etiquettes the faint but vital behaviors that can make or break a significant meeting, influence a first impression or impress a potential client.

 The essentials of professional etiquettes are really quite straightforward. First, recognize the difference between business etiquette and social etiquette. Business etiquette is genderless. For example, the traditional chivalrous etiquette of holding the door open for a woman is not necessary in the workplace and can even have the unintended effect of offending her. In the work environment, men and women are peers. In this new era the mean of correspondence mostly used by most of the businesses are E-mail, faxes etc. Email, faxes, conference calls and cell phones can generate a veritable landmine of professional etiquette. Just because you have the capability to reach someone 24/7, it doesn’t mean you should.

Etiquette, in common, really hasn’t been a high main concern for at least two generations. Those who grew up during the rebellious late ’60s and early ’70s through the greedy “me too” ’80s are only now realizing the high price of developing poor manners. In business, for example, where customer service is ultimate (and everyone is a customer), logic of appropriate behavior has become a major consideration. Think about it: lighting up in a client meeting, blowing your nose at a business lunch, telling the punch line of someone else’s joke; all bad idea. When it comes to professional relationships, a bad first impression will kill you quicker than a train.

Etiquette takes many forms, from who opens the door for whom (the person, man or woman, who gets there first, or the man if it’s a tie) to loud voices in a cubicle office setting (remember, if the cube had a door, sometimes it would be shut). Communication devices, like the aforementioned cellular phones and pagers, are fraught with possibilities for demeanor violations.

Let us take a look at some of the means of Business Correspondence and what Etiquettes one should comprise of when using these means of Correspondence:

E-MAIL ETIQUETTE:

Email is so widespread in many of today’s companies that the communication of jokes, spam and personal notes often constitutes more of the messages employees receive than actual work-related material. Bear in mind that your email messages are an illustration of your professional correspondence. Professional correspondence does not include smiley faces or similar emoticons. when an E-mail it is essential to check the subject matter thoroughly make sure that is to the point and appropriate, and easy to understand by the one reading it at the other end. This helps in erasing questions from the reader’s mind.

Also, make sure that all the recipients are needed in that E-mail. Don’t send it to someone who is not involved in that matter. Grammar and spelling mistakes is one thing people often make in their E-mails, this gives a very bad impression to the other person, so one should make sure that the spellings and grammar are proper.

Like faxes, e-mail is also quite unrestricted. The fact that we use a PC to create an e-mail gives us the false sense that our correspondence is private. Moreover, deleted e-mail can often be retrieved from backup systems. So by no means send out an e-mail message you wouldn’t want the whole staff to read. Make sure the subject line is short and related. Treat it the same way you would the subject line of a written memo. Include the purpose and the topic, not just the topic itself as examples; “TQM” becomes ‘Recommendations for implementing TQM.” And “Office picnic” becomes ‘Rain date for office picnic.” Finally, if the reader has to scroll down, your e-mail’s too long.

In the end check the E-mail tone, make sure you have not used any harsh language or tone as if offends the reader. State your message across in a very polite manner using a polite tone.

FAX ETIQUETTE:

Faxes should always comprise your contact information, date and number of pages included. They should not be sent spontaneous they waste the other person’s paper and tie up the lines. A fax is an appropriate method for delivering business correspondence. However, you should by no means send a personal message to an office via fax. It’s like a postcard; everybody will have an opportunity to read it. Sending jokes is also a terrible idea. Someone is guaranteed to be insulted.

Even though the quality of faxes is greatly improved, there could still be problems linked with originals on colored paper. Photocopy it, and fax the white paper copy. Stay away from whiteout. The result can appear as a blotch on the other end. And it’s always an excellent idea to notify the recipient by phone or voice mail that a fax has been sent.

CONFERENCE CALL ETIQUETTE:

Conference call etiquette entails introducing all the participants at the commencement of the call so everyone knows who is in attending. Since you’re not able to see other participants’ body language and nonverbal clues, you will have to compensate for this disadvantage by communicating very plainly. Be conscious of involuntarily interrupting someone or failing to address or include attendees because you can’t see them. And finally, don’t put anyone on speakerphone until you have asked permission to do so.

CELL PHONE:

Cell phones can definitely be a lifesaver for many professionals. Regrettably, if you are using a cell phone, you are most likely outside your office and may be busy driving, catching a flight or some other commotion. Be aware of the fact that your listener may not be concerned in a play-by-play of traffic or the other events you are experiencing during your call.

Even if you have flawless social behavior, you will without doubt have a professional error at some point. When this happens, make an apology sincerely without gushing or being too talkative. State your apology like you mean it, and then move on. Making too big an issue of your mistake only magnifies the damage and makes the recipient more uncomfortable.

VOICE MAIL ETIQUETTE:

When appropriately used, voice mail is a marvelous tool. Recording devices take messages better than any human being because there’s no intermediary. To keep messages efficient, make sure they’re to the point. Prepare before hand what you’re going to say before you call. Keep each message to one subject and deliver it without a lot of one-way socializing.

Most of the voice mail Systems permit for about 3-minutes of message. That’s way too lengthy! Limit your message to a minute. Chit-chat, extended opens and closes, and rambling wastes the other person’s time. However, always slow down when you deliver your phone number. In fact, offer it at the beginning when you identify yourself then repeat it at the end.

Your outgoing greeting should be uniformly brief. We all know how voice mail and personal answering devices work, so remove the drawn-out apology for being away from your desk or on another call and the assurance that the call is very important to you.

BUSINESS LETTER ETIQUETTE:

Business etiquette is basically concerned with building relationships founded upon good manners and respect between business personnel. Etiquette, and especially business etiquette, is a means of maximizing your potential by presenting yourself positively. Writing a business letter is not merely a matter of expressing your ideas obviously. The way you write a letter and the etiquette you use have a major impact on your achievement or failure in business.

Failure to observe correct business letter etiquette can result in you adopting an inappropriate tone, causing offense or misunderstandings, lack of clarity or purpose and hostility or soured relations. The foundation of superior business letter etiquette is ‘Thinking before you write’. You should b bear in mind to who the letter is addressed to, how and why? This will then influence style, content and structure.

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS ETIQUETTE:

With the fast growing technology the globe has become smaller. As a consequence, there are plenty of opportunities since the communication has become easier and faster. Employers began thinking largely and are trying to set up their ventures at the global level. It is essential to understand the basics of international etiquette such as the multicultural issues, different time zones, different workings hours, holiday patterns, table manner etc.

HANDLING PEOPLE:
Every business person should learn basic etiquette to deal with people. Of course, there are number of written and unwritten rules and guidelines and when in doubt stick to the basic and follow.
• It is essential to build good relationship with peers and subordinates.
• Never discriminate people based on designations and rank.
• Memorize the names of the people. If not, then correlate the name of the person with that of your previous acquaintances with in your mind for efficient retention. Make a good practice of collecting the names of the people with their phone numbers, date of birth, family details. This will help you to build strong relations with them.

Etiquette and business etiquette is vital to survive and succeed both at the personal and professional level. It has supreme significance and meaning at the corporate world either to make or break the business deals. Therefore, it is obligatory to stick to the basics of all etiquettes to become a successful professional. To conclude, the business etiquette is vital from peon to principal and from employee to employer.

References

Baldrige, L., & Baldrige, L. (2003). Letitia Baldrige’s new manners for new times: a complete guide to etiquette. New York: Scribner.

Gavit, H. E. (1900). The etiquette of correspondence. New York: A. Wessels company.

Holberg, A., Garza, S., Kelly, K. D., & Moses, K. A. (1994). Forms of address: a guide for      business and social use. Houston: Rice University Press, in association with the Houston International Protocol Alliance.

Lindsell-Roberts, S. (2004). Strategic business letters and e-mail. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Gavit, H. E. (1900). The etiquette of correspondence: being illustrations and suggestions as to the proper form in present usage of social, club, diplomatic, military, and business letters, with information on heraldic devices, monograms, and engraved addresses. New York: A. Wessels.

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