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Whatever happened to manners and social skills?

Is it just me, or is it becoming more and more surprising when people have particularly good manners, social skills or are thoughtful?

Apparently it isn’t just me who thinks so. Michelle Gerdes in The Wall Street Journal says research indicates that people are definitely ruder, possibly because our lives have become more stressful and pressured.

It also seems that unprofessional communication is on the rise, and this means that those who are professional have an advantage over their competitors who have poor social skills.

Are the following areas of your business up to scratch?

1. Manners

Clients and prospective clients should be able to expect that you will meet and exceed deadlines and expectations – every time. It should not be surprising when you produce high-quality work with professional service. This is what you are paid to do!

However, when you go above and beyond and show extraordinary thoughtfulness, manners, professionalism and etiquette, then clients are happier to do business with you and are more likely to become loyal, repeat customers.

For example, do you know what kind of coffee your clients like to drink, where they like to go on holidays or what sport their children play on weekends? It does not take much to implement a system of capturing, storing and retrieving this information on an ongoing basis, but it certainly makes a very positive difference to your business.

2. Social skills

With social media tools such as twitter slowly entering business relationships, communication styles and methods can become less formal, with the risk of becoming unprofessional.

For example, you should never assume that a new business prospect or client finds text messages an appropriate method of communication. Always lean toward the more formal and professional while you work out how a client or potential client likes to be treated and communicated with.

Your friends or young children may understand what ‘lol’ or ‘btw’ means when you send them a quick text message, but in an email to a client it looks sloppy and inappropriate. Treat initial email exchanges like business letters. As you get to know the person you are emailing, you can write more casually.

Don’t make the mistake that some business owners make in confusing ‘professionalism’ with avoiding friendly interaction. Granted small talk can prove uninteresting or seem like a waste of time, but this basic interaction helps your employees connect and open up with you. Some people call this the BLT factor: believable, likable, trustworthy.

One of the roles of a business owner or their marketing consultant is ‘quality control’. Do all you can to have as few reasons as possible for people to not enjoy doing business with you.

What do you think? Are manners and good social skills harder to find in business now? What have your experiences been in this area?

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Phoebe Netto

Phoebe Netto

Phoebe Netto is the Managing Director of Good Business Consulting, a business advisory specialising in marketing and public relations (PR) for small-to-medium sized businesses. Phoebe has lead PR and marketing programs for a diverse range of clients, from listed Australian companies, global brands, not-for-profits through to sole operators. She now takes these skills that are often reserved for big businesses, and uses them to help good small businesses grow and meet their objectives by retaining their customers and attracting new ones. Follow Phoebe on twitter for PR, marketing and small business advice, plus a little nonsense! @Phoebe_Netto

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