In the yesteryears etiquette was governed by the culture of a country. Etiquette emanated from the desired and accepted practices of that particular culture. So, in India, eating with your fingers in a restaurant was not frowned upon; arranged marriage was the norm and not the exception. But with the world getting smaller and more connected and business becoming global, the need to establish accepted global practices has become the need of the hour. Hence, all multi-national companies are conducting Etiquette Training that focuses on global etiquette. This covers telephone etiquette, meeting etiquette, email etiquette and conversational etiquette. What is acceptable in one culture is often not viewed in the same manner by another culture. The discrepancy creates confusion and broken relationships resulting in loss of trust.
The Etiquette Training focuses on the most important practices but cannot cover all aspects of dealing with various cultures. So our advice is – “The real test of good manners is to be able to put up with bad manners pleasantly.” ― Kahlil Gibran. We encourage people to be open minded and tolerant when dealing with the unfamiliar as observation is only way to understand differences.
“Manners are the ability to put someone else at their ease…by turning any answer into another question.” ― Tina Brown
People are very understanding when you question them about something that is novel to you, provided you come from a standpoint of learning and not judging.
Telephone Etiquette also gets a lot of attention in this training, as virtual teams are the order of the day. So much of communication is conducted over the telephone with members of a team sitting in different parts of the world. Not only does the culture interfere but the language and accents contribute to the confusion. Hence it is very important to follow protocols that will reduce the misunderstanding and enhance the comprehension.
From my perspective, here are some important aspects of creating a good impression in a telephone conversation:
- People on the other side of the phone are making mental impressions from the word ‘Hello’. So have good energy in your voice and be excited about answering the phone rather than feeling that it is an intrusion.
- When there are numerous people in the conference call, ensure that each person states his/her name when they speak.
- Be mindful to ensure that when one person is speaking that others do not interrupt.
- Appoint a timekeeper who aligns time with the agenda and that time is diligently imposed. This will ensure that people get to speak and the agenda is met in the allocated time.
- The person who is the moderator should also ensure that one person does not talk excessively. When this happens the moderator should respectfully ask him/her to allow others to talk.
- Most importantly, ensure that each time there is a conference call, the moderator takes a couple of minutes and sets up some agreements that will ensure a productive call – like respecting time, staying on the topic, not to have conversations when someone is speaking etc.