August 29, 2023

Shaping Impressions: The Art and Impact of Business Protocol Mastery

Traditional workplace norms have certainly shifted. You may be noticing a more relaxed business environment, from virtual meetings to more relaxed dress codes and flexible hours. However, one steadfast principle remains unchanged. That is the importance of business protocol savvy – the sharpest soft skill and a crucial element of smart business practice, shaping how others perceive you. In fact, LinkedIn’s  Global Talent Trends study found that 92 percent of hiring professionals say soft skills matter as much or more than hard skills.

To describe business protocol savvy, think about those behaviors and actions that show respect and professionalism. It includes elements like active listening, punctuality, and warm interpersonal skills. While the business world has become increasingly informal, this doesn’t mean basic respect and decorum are obsolete.

In this age where collaboration is critical, incorporating these universal courtesies into your communication will set you apart and showcase a demeanor of refinement.  Let’s explore how timeless best practices continue to shape your success.

  • Equitable Treatment. Extend equal respect to everyone, irrespective of their profession or social status. I’ve met businesspeople with impeccable boardroom manners who treat the administrative staff with rudeness and impatience.
  • The Power of Timeliness. Keeping others waiting for you is rudeness in action.  Should delays occur, promptly inform those impacted, whether it’s a virtual meeting or an in-person event.
  • Engagement in a Digital Age. Multitasking during virtual meetings has become the norm, but genuine engagement sets you apart. Give undivided attention to make every interaction impactful. Enhance the personal connection by turning your camera on.
  • Pronoun Awareness. Familiarize yourself with contemporary pronouns. Adopt a gender-neutral approach, using “they,” “them,” or “their” when referencing anyone. Failing to do so is considered closed-minded.
  • Considerate Emailing. Proving your commitment is about delivering results, and not about working during unconventional hours. Set your emails to send during regular working hours if you are at work at other times.
  • Navigating Diplomacy. Practice diplomacy by speaking truthfully without the sting. Acknowledge others’ perspectives especially during tough conversations. Be sensitive to timing and refrain from blame.  Begin with: “I know it was not your intention.  I just felt that…”
  • Time Zone Respect: Respect global time differences. When scheduling meetings, factor in time zones to ensure inclusivity and fairness. Reach out to your colleagues and offer them options for meeting times.
  • Mastering Small Talk: Good conversations are the framework for any business transaction. Even if you don’t have the “gift of gab,” memorize a few openings that establish instant rapport and commonality. Read the person’s profile on LinkedIn to learn a little bit about them before you meet.
  • Generous Listening. The secret to good listening is to give of yourself.  Make the other person feel like the most important person in the room.  Allow their message to be completed before jumping in. Don’t just listen to the words, but rather listen for the meaning.
  • Personal Touch. Send handwritten thank-you notes to show sincere appreciation. This personalized gesture will make you standout in this digital age. A thank-you note need only be three lines: to express thanks, to acknowledge what was done, and to add something personal.
  • Sincere Compliments. Look for opportunities to recognize others. Go beyond acknowledging something specific to showing appreciation for who they are. “Susan, I feel very fortunate to know that I can always depend upon you.”
  • Act with Integrity and Authenticity. This is at the heart of all appropriate behavior. It’s about being honest, ethical, and always doing the right thing. Trust and sincerity are integral meaningful relationships.

Step confidently into each personal interaction knowing that you represent the best version of yourself. Let your impact be a testament to the importance of timeless courtesy and grace.


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