Welcome to Business Etiquette Week!
Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to make a difference this year. Instead of just saying, "Oh, yeah, right, it's Business Etiquette week," let's take advantage of that moment of recognition and put things to work. Since business etiquette is an ongoing practice, sometimes it can help to have a concrete activity to kickstart (or recharge) your already impressive efforts. (Seriously, we know you're doing a great job!) Here are some relationship building activities to try this week that will up the consideration, respect, and honesty in your office:
1. Monday, Day 1- Write a Thank You: We'll ease you into the week with this easy to achieve challenge. Take a moment today (maybe while grabbing a bite or a cup of coffee?) and make a list of the colleagues to whom you owe a thank you. Perhaps a friend gave you a lovely recommendation, or your boss invited you to a dinner party at her house, or your assistant has just gone above and beyond the call of duty. Once that list is made, writing them out will be a breeze! Extra points if you track down an address you're missing in the moment- the sooner that envelope is ready, the sooner you can pop it in the mail!
2. Tuesday, Day 2- Fill Up Your Outbox: When things get busy, it's easy to let correspondence- by phone or by email- slip through the cracks. Dedicate an hour today to filling up your outbox and closing any loops that may have been inadvertently left open. Don't be afraid to mea culpa if need be- be up front and honest if you've left anyone hanging. Simply saying,"Please accept my apologies for not getting back to you sooner. How can I facilitate getting things back on track?" can start the discussion. The same holds true via phone.
3. Wednesday, Day 3- Share a meal: Who's the colleague you wish you knew better? The mentor that's always been there for you? The co-worker with whom you need to find some common ground? Invite them to lunch today. No need to make it a fancy affair (unless you want to, in which case, go right ahead), but definitely make it about the conversation. If possible, step away from the office- even just grabbing a bite outside rather than in the breakroom can mentally change your perspective and open up a wealth of conversation topics. You can talk shop if you want, but try to take things offline a bit, as well. Getting to know someone beyond "Oh, that's Ginny who works in accounting" is the key to building that relationship.
4. Thursday, Day 4- Have a difficult discussion: Is there a talk you've been putting off? And putting off? And putting off? Today is the day. Having a difficult discussion can be unbelievably nerve wracking, especially for people who hate conflict. However, the longer you put it off, the more trying it will become. The good news is, if you handle any discussion with consideration, respect, and honesty, it can help smooth out the bumps. Try approaching it head on, and lay the gound work timewise: "Are you available to spend a bit of time speaking with me right now?" When you ask, be sure to actually listen and internalize their response, not just wave it off. From there, being honest about your feelings on the discussion can help: "This is a bit of a difficult discussion, but I'm hoping we can talk through it together." While every situation is different, this might help head off some negative responses in advance.
Here's the strange thing about difficult discussions- they often yield the best results, solve a mounting problem, or help reconstruct a suffering business relationship. And that feeling of relief you get when you've taken care of some challenging business is its own reward.
5. Friday, Day 5- Help a friend: Or colleague, or client. Just because. It doesn't have to be monumental or earth shattering, but go out of your way to give someone a hand. Suggest a great restaurant for a client traveling to a city you love. Help an intern tweak his resume. Offer to watch and feedback on your coworker's upcoming presentation. Whatever it is, lend a hand somewhere. Doing good deeds can start an avalanche of positive relationship building activities in your office, from which everyone can benefit.
Should you accept our challenge, (and we hope you do!) let us know how it goes in the comments below. Have your own challenge you'd like to pose for National Business Etiquette Week 2013? Share that, as well!