What’s the point of conforming in how we dress and how we behave in the workplace?
Wouldn’t it be great if we can always do whatever we want without thinking what others think about us? Not really.
“Etiquette has to do with good manners. It’s not so much our own good manners, but making other people feel comfortable by the way we behave. So it’s more or less thinking of others and how others perceive us: So that everyone knows the rules for doing things and everyone is in a very comfortable position in society.”
– Naomi Polson; Founder of The Etiquette Company, Washington DC.
In essence, business etiquette is all about making people comfortable to obtain your goals – close the deal, meet a referral source, build relationships, etc. If we have an established set of rules that anyone can easily follow, we can create an environment where all individuals are at ease. And when people are at ease, they are not distracted from what you are trying to do.
For example, when an opportunity presents itself, you want your recipient to be totally focused on your message. But what if she’s thinking, “Oh my goodness, why is he wearing those clothes?” or “Why does he smell? Does he ever take a shower?” or “Man, that person is offensive using words like that.” They may easily end up with this question – “How can I trust someone who can’t take care of himself?” That’s not the situation you want to be in.
Are business etiquette rules mandatory? Of course not. Dress however you want. Talk about whatever you want. Behave how you please.
But what are your end goals? Does your own code of conduct help you achieve them? If you worked so hard to meet this opportunity, why would you risk NOT following the norm?
Business etiquette is simply an option. But it’s a smart one.