Business Etiquette Training: What is a "Class Act"?

Posted by Bridget Beirne
March 7, 2012

business etiquette trainingWhen it comes to business etiquette training, what makes a "class act"?

So, Snooki is pregnant.

Certainly not to disparage poor Snooki (she gets enough of that as it is), but the obsession with the image she projects is just part of a trend away from etiquette in all settings. As Kander and Ebb said in their hit musical CHICAGO, “Nobody’s got no class”.

But is that true?

Has anyone ever given you the magic compliment, “You’re a real class act”? It is one of the nicest things we can hear. While certain reality stars will tell you that “class” is a dirty word, the rest of us know that being genuinely told we are a class act is a compliment of the highest order. It implies that we handle all of our communication and relationships in a manner that is socially appropriate, sophisticated and poised. It conjures images of movie stars, CEOs and heads of state successfully gliding thru interviews, speeches, big meetings and social interactions. However, what truly makes someone a class act is something deeper and infinitely more important in the business world and beyond.

A real class act cares about the people around them. They go out of their way to meet the needs of those they interact with, while exhibiting strength of character that helps them reach their own goals. They greet all of their relationships with those simple words we learn as children- please, thank you, and you’re welcome. They are relaxed and confident enough in themselves to realize that the people around them are worthwhile individuals, not underlings who need to submit to their will. Even when a firm hand is necessary, they can be assertive without being nasty, dismissive or vulgar. They fight clean and, when deserved, they win fair and square.

Sometimes it can feel like these people don’t really exist- that perhaps good ol’ Kander and Ebb were right. We see folks in trusted positions lying with ease, lawmakers and talking heads addressing each other with language not appropriate for the schoolyard, and folks who are famous for- what? Who knows. But the class acts are out there. You know who they are in your own life. In fact, just thinking of the phrase probably evokes thoughts of an excellent co-worker, a superior you admire, or a speaker you emulate. Perhaps it is a good friend, spouse, or family member. They’re out there.

If we approach all of our interactions, business and otherwise, with the desire to be a class act we are already on the road to receiving that magic compliment. At the end of the day, all a real class act does is try to treat everyone with respect. And that is something everyone, including Snooki, can get behind.


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