Modern Etiquette: The 10 Commandments of Business Behavior

Mon Feb 13, 2012 9:18am EST
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By Mary Mitchell

SEATTLE (Reuters) - What impact do your interpersonal skills have on your ability to be effective on your job?

Those of us dedicated to such matters have long recognized the truth in John D. Rockefeller's comment: "I will pay more for the ability to deal with people than any other skill under the sun."

Lest this scion of another century be ignored, a report by Google concurred that its most effective managers are people first, geeks second. Google's report brought Rockefeller's words full circle. What, specifically, does it all mean?

To this columnist, it means following: the Ten Commandments of Business Behavior. They are, I believe, worthy guidelines for anyone's career (even if I did write them myself, with apologies to the Bible). And I reserve the right not to deal with social media because it has been addressed so skillfully by my colleagues.

Here goes:

1. Thou shalt have a positive attitude. Everybody has bad days. Nobody has the right to take it out on others. Rudeness, impoliteness, surliness, ugly moods, unprovoked displays of anger, and general unpleasantness can be costly to your career - and your company's bottom line.

2. Thou shalt be on time. Keeping others waiting is the ultimate power play - whether it's a meeting, an email, a telephone call, or that charmingly Jurassic example of business behavior, a letter. In the end, it's self-defeating. Everybody's busy. Everybody's time is valuable. Being late only makes you look like you don't have your act together.

3. Thou shalt praise in public and criticize in private. If you intend to improve a situation or someone's performance, public criticism is the worst approach. It serves no purpose except to humiliate the other person, and possibly lead to cutthroat retaliation. Remember that the office gossip looks far worse than those being gossiped about.   Continued...