Being courteous in business goes a long way.
Don’t chew with your mouth open.
Elbows off the table.
Maintain eye contact while talking with someone.
Say please and thank you.
Be a good listener.
Sound familiar? It should. These are just some of the manners that moms teach their kids when they are growing up.
These are just a few of the lessons that mothers drum into our heads in our formative years. In our early years – typically when we are still measuring our age in single digits – our moms hammer these basic life skills into our heads. These manners help us earn the respect of those around us. They help us participate in society and begin to grow as we reach our teen years.
But somewhere after leaving the nest after graduating high school or college we forget what we were taught. We start our careers and companies and for some reason fail to realize that what our moms taught us when we were kids is critical to our future success.
Let’s look at what our mothers taught us and how we can use it in building our careers and our businesses.
- Say Please and Thank You
Nothing is more insulting than someone who takes something without asking and does not say thank you. Someone who takes something and does not acknowledge who they took it from with a thank you does so with a sense of entitlement. They act as though they were entitled to what they took. There is a sense that they assumed it was already theirs for the taking.
Saying thank you acknowledges that you appreciate the other person giving you what they gave you. Whether this is an honest day’s work by your employee or it is a project that a customer gave you they chose to give it to you. Saying thank you acknowledges that the person made a choice to work for you or with you. It extends a sense of gratitude and shows appreciation.
Here are a few groups to say please and thank you to:
Your employees – thank your employees for a good job and a good day’s work. Employees make a choice each day in who they work for. Thanking them for their work is a great way to show that you recognize their choice and appreciate them for what they contribute.
Your customers – thank your customers for giving you business. Show your gratitude to them for expressing their confidence in your ability to deliver their projects to them. Customers have choices in who they work with. Make sure that you recognize their choice in choosing your company and that you understand they have other choices.
Suppliers – do your vendors thank you for your business? On the flip side, do you thank your vendors for how they service your account? Recognize that without our suppliers, many of our projects would never come together. Material suppliers are critical. Recognize them by simply saying thank you.
- Maintain Eye Contact
Body language is critical in many aspects of growing a successful business. People – customers, suppliers, employees – judge us based on our body language. How you hold yourself will have a significant impact on how you are perceived. And like it or not, how you are perceived will have a tremendous impact on how successful you are in whatever you attempt to accomplish.
A critical component of body language is maintaining eye contact. Have you ever attempted to hold a conversation with someone who will not look you in the eye? It is not much fun. Failing to maintain eye contact makes people begin to question the person they are talking with. Allowing a seed of doubt to take root can derail a relationship quickly.
Here are few groups who are critical to maintain eye contact with:
Customers – sales are critical to every company. Without sales there is no way to build a company. In order to sell, you need to maintain eye contact with the person that you are attempting to sell to. If you fail to maintain eye contact you will fail to make the sale.
Employees – are you responsible for managing employees? Maintaining eye contact is a way of showing respect. Attempting to guide employees without maintaining eye contact is difficult at best. At its worst, it is impossible. If they feel that you are not paying attention to them, chances are good that they are not paying attention to you.
Stakeholders – your stakeholders are your bank, insurance company as well as your bonding company. They have risk in your business. Maintaining eye contact helps you to instill a sense of confidence in who you are and your abilities.
- Be a Good Listener
Listening is a skill. It is skill that alludes us when we are younger. Walk into any kindergarten or pre-school classroom to see evidence on display. Children want to be heard so they talk louder than their classmates. But the classmate wants to be heard so they talk louder. This situation quickly gets out of hand. (This may also describe Congress as well.)
John Maxwell asserts that leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less. In order to influence someone you need to listen to where they are at. Once you learn about where they are at and then where they want to go, you can help them get there and through leadership. But you cannot influence someone unless you listen to them first.
Here are a few groups where good listening skills are critical:
Customers – in order to sell a project to a customer, you need to find out where they are at and where they want to go. Listening to your customers will help you find out about their problems and their desired solutions. You need to listen to their problems. Find out where they are at and where they want to go. Once you have listened you are then able to share with them your solution to help them achieve their goal.
Employees – employees have lives outside of the workplace. They have families, money troubles and other problems that develop. In many situations, they need a sounding board. They need someone who can listen to their problems and help offer potential solutions. But you cannot offer solutions to their problems until you take the time to listen and develop and understanding of their problems.
Advisors – each business needs advisors in order to be successful. These include your banker, accountant, insurance agent and your attorney. Without good advisors, the future success of the business is in doubt. Advisors are there to learn about your business and to offer advice on how to make the business better. Listen to their solutions and take the time to understand the advice that they are offering.
In Closing –
You can find advice everywhere on tips and tricks that can improve your business or your career. People pay tens of thousands of dollars each year to have someone tell them secrets to making their businesses better.
These sources of information are important and can significantly help improve the business. However, if you forget these foundational items that your mom taught you chances are that no additional information sources will help you much.
Attempting to construct a building on a flimsy foundation will only lead to the building collapsing. Building your company but forgetting these key items will leave your career or business in a weakened state.
When you find success – remember to thank your mom.