Business Etiquette and Grooming Contd..

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SLMtitle.png Handshakes

Handshakes are symbolic of friendship,goodwill and they go a long way in creating warmth.However,handshakes could create awkward situations rendering us uncomfortable.Especially,when we extend our hand while the other person doesn’t respond instantly, which embarrasses both individuals.Thus it’s better to familiarize ourselves with the basics of handshakes. Hands should be shook when people meet for the first time.People are welcomed into organizations with a hand shake.Handshakes are also common when people meet out of organizations or when we say a bye to someone. While shaking hands,the grip should be web to web,it should not be limp or bone crushing.Hands should be kept parallel to the floor-palms down is domineering whereas palms up is submissive. Hands should be shook regardless of gender. While shaking hands,one has to look the other person in the eye, smile and this should be followed with a greeting. Both men and women should stand for handshaking and all introductions.

SLMact.gif Activity
(Total time- 5 minutes)

The teacher can ask the students to present the answers orally and discuss.(Five minutes)

1.You meet a long lost colleague at a dinner party,in the midst of the dinner, you react:

A Without bothering to wipe your hands offer to shake hands.

B Quickly pick a napkin wipe your hands and then shake hands.

C Catch up with your friend after you are through with dinner.


2.Should you stand and shake hands when people enter your office?

Ans.Yes,it is courteous to do so.

3.Is it alright for a lady to be seated while shaking hands with a gentleman?

Ans.No.It is no longer appropriate for a lady to sit while shaking hands.

SLMtitle.png Telephone manners

Cell phones are an inseparable part of our lives today.Seemingly,landlines phones are steadily on the path to becoming redundant yet due to added facilities like the answering machine fax attachment,even they seem indispensible. There are certain rules that need to be kept in mind that make telephone conversations comfortable. Phones are used for several purposes, conferences can be conducted over phones,voice mails (where calls can be recorded and answered at the receiver’s convenience) and several others. There are certain basic rules that are to be observed while speaking over the phone. Firstly,answer the call by the second or third ring.Identify yourself instantly especially if you are speaking for the first time introduce your name as well as the name of your company if required and then proceed.

Speak slowly,clearly and with courtesy don’t rush with your greeting allow the listener to remember who you are and why you are calling.

Speak with a smile.

Always keep a pen and paper handy to note important point.Have information at hand in case of unexpected queries.

Minimize background noise. If you have called,plan your conversation and do not meander.Have information at hand in case of unexpected queries.

During conference calls,all parties should introduce themselves before business starts.

End positively and acknowledge the caller.

Return voicemails in a timely manner if possible on the same day.

Cell phones should be set on a vibrate mode.Don’t fidget with your cell phone,it shows lack of confidence.Remember your cell phone is not part of the meeting ,if there is a call excuse yourself to take the call.

Never talk on the phone while with a client and if you have a call,the person who called must know who is listening to the conversation.

SLMact.gif Activity
(Total time- 15 minutes)

The teacher can ask the students to present the answer orally and discuss.(Five minutes)

1 When dining with a prospective client and your cell phone rings, you:

A.Ignore the call.

B.Apologize and turn the phone on silent mode.The person you are with takes priority.

C.Take the call,keep it brief and inform the caller that you are dining with a business associate.


2.As you pass a colleagues office,his phone rings.You answer the phone and ask Who is calling?Are you right in doing so?

Ans.It is better to introduce yourself first and then ask with whom the caller would like to speak to.

SLMtitle.png E-mail etiquette

E-mails are the most commonly used form of communication. There are certain rules of drafting e-mails that we need to be familiar with.

First and foremost use correct grammar,punctuation marks and avoid run-on lines.

Be careful of the language aspect i.e with spellings ,proof reading and missing words .

Don’t make your e-mail colourful by using many colours.Do not use fancy font styles. Avoid using uniform upper or lower case. Stick to sentence case.

Remain diplomatic and be positive throughout the conversation.

Plan your e-mail in advance,do not run into many paragraphs as no body reads them. People tend to look for pertinent matter and skip frills.

Avoid using multiple ????? or !!!!!!!!!! as it reflects juvenile behavior and desperation.

If you receive an e-mail from an unknown source that is to be handled by someone don’t sit over it,forward it with a note explaining why you are sending it.

Think before ccing or bccing.Email only essential people ,if you do not want your inbox to be fullof replies.

If possible share information using the intranet and bulletin board.

Use the priority inbox setting that pushes up the most important mails up the list,this facility is available on Google's Gmail.

Finally hit the send button after a lot of contemplation.

SLMtitle.png Elevator manners

Elevators and escalators have assumed an an important position in our lives. There are certain rules that need to be observed as regards getting on and off and while inside elevators. For instance,if you happen to get in first,onto the elevator,press the button and stand back.Hold the door till you are sure that the person getting on after you has got a grip on the door and only then loosen yours. With regards to lifts,the man should permit the lady to enter the lift first.However,when getting out of the lift,the man should get out first and hold the door open till the lady gets out. Allow people to get off the elevator before getting on to it.

Avoid discussing meetings that have just occurred, unless you are away from the place where the meeting has occurred. Men should allow women to to get on to the escalator first and then stand facing the lady.This is to ensure if there is a problem the lady should not get inconvenienced.

SLMtitle.png Everyday etiquette

Never address senior executives by their first name unless you are asked to do so i.e without adding the prefix sir or madam. If you are on a first name basis with the president of the company and if you happen to pass him/her when he/she is in the company of clients from outside it is better to add the prefix, Mr.Shah or Hello Sir or Madam.

It better to use the prefix Ms instead of Miss or Mrs as Ms does not reveal the marital status of women ,so it is efficient in business.It saves time and is a step towards equality.

When in your cabin/cubicle in your office,use inside voices for communicating. Let the talk be professional at the work place.

If you happen to be the first person to enter the room,open the door for all.

Stand if an important person,client or an elder enters the room.

Do not cut jokes at others expense.

Do not mix personal and professional life.

Gender has no place in business and men and women must treated as equal colleagues.

As regards introductions the younger person or the junior should be introduced to the senior.

Use of Time,Space and Things:


Stick to your timeschedules and deadlines.Respect your time and other’s time,to avoid any misunderstanding across cultures.


Respect other’s Personal Space, people like their Space, even in personallife as also reflected in professional relations . For example. Latin Americans or Arabs embrace frequently and prefer talking nose-to-nose. On the other hand British males prefer to converse,even intimately,at a respectable distance.

The amount of office space occupied reflects the rank of the person occupying it.As an individual climbs the corporate ladder,he/she grows from a cubicle enclosed by room dividers to private offices.

Thus communication can be facilitated or can break down as a consequence of sensitivity (or its absence ) to the proper use of time and space.

Possession of things: It speaks about one’s status,wealth,education and taste.One should be extremely careful about the choice of accessories,hand bags,watches,footwear etc .In a professional set up one should use things that suit one’s status.It is observed that people of high status try to downplay the importance of brands and the opposite is observed in people of lower status.

Thus in order to communicate effectively and to create a positive impression in the professional world,one should try to imbibe the rules mentioned above.

SLMact.gif Activity
(Total time-20 minutes)

1.You receive an e-mail with all capital letters what does it tell you about the person and what does the message suggest?

2.You find an elderly woman saddled with a lot of luggage trying to enter the elevator,but you are on your way to your workplace you

A Ignore,as helping would crease your clothes.

B Help her out,without bothering about your clothes,rush to your workplace.

C Help her out and take a look at yourself, if clothes are soiled, then change and then rush to your workplace.


3.You have to meet a prospective client at 10.30 am,as usual you leave your residence at 10.30 am, and due to the traffic reach 45 minutes late for the meeting, what kind of an impression is created about you in the client’s mind? Is it right to reach late?

4.You have got a good bargain of hand bags at a local hand bag store,however,the bags are not of superior quality, and you buy them with an intention of carrying all your things to your workplace, are you right in doing so?

5.You carry a hand bag that is stuffed with things ,you reach your workplace and you delve into your bag to fish out a ball point pen and all your things spill out,leading to an embarrassing situation,what does this reveal about you as an individual?

6.A business associate has not turned up for a business lunch even after half an hour after the scheduled time ,is it appropriate to order lunch and go ahead with it ?

Ans.Yes.Since you have already waited for half an hour.

7.While travelling in a taxi with a client ,its best for you to sit behind the driver.True/False .Why?

Ans True.Since it is easy to give instructions to the driver.

SLMref.png References and Bibliography


Principles of Communication-Vijaya Somasundaram,AuthorsPress,2005.

Everything Indians Need To Know On Business Etiquette-Raghu Palat,Jaico Publications,2004.