Do manners matter in business and are they even necessary at all? Research has shown your technical ability and academic qualifications account for as little as 15% of getting a job and progressing within an organisation, and as much as 85% really boils down to your people skills and how you navigate office politics. At the crux of this is how you relate to other people - are you the congenial office colleague or the co-worker from hell. Good manners never go out of style and are crucial in business.
Manners underpin all good business relationships and it does not take any more time to be nice than it does to be rude and it is one of the things in life that is still free. If we all followed the guidelines of good manners and mutual respect, we would treat each other more kindly, behave more honestly and enjoy greater professional success. People with good manners treat others with civility, think of others before themselves and have respect for each other. People buy from people and so better manners mean better business. Having good manners is an essential business tool but few consider whether bad manners are actually harming their business or what the cost is on the overall performance. Bad manners can cost businesses by contributing to loss of revenue and increased customer loss and decreased employee morale.
An informal survey in Kenya through people I’ve met and talked with give the following as some of the top examples that they consider as lack of manners in business. They include using mobile phones or texting in the middle of meetings, mangling or not remembering people’s names, showing up late, meetings that are not punctual, dressing inappropriately – wearing clothes that are too tight for women and too big for men, lack of proper hygiene and grooming, wearing too much perfume, not greeting people properly, answering the phone badly, not smiling (known colloquially as sura ya kazi), always on Facebook, not responding to emails, using text language instead of proper grammar and spelling, eating and drinking at your desk, a weak or too strong handshake, gossiping, untidy desks, getting too emotional or personal, long winded emails, using sheng in a professional setting, drinking too much at networking functions, using the word “like” all the time when speaking, converting mother tongue directly into English when speaking, using corporate jargon all the time - “synergies” or “paradigm shift”, having a voice that is too soft and too many slides or information in PowerPoint presentations.
It goes without saying that good manners and civility in the workplace should become part of the company culture and has a clear impact to how efficiently a business runs.
Learn more about how this and other soft skills can help you in business at www.publicimageafrica.com