Ms. Smart E. Pants: Boost your Business Manners


A: In today’s world of Twitter and Facebook, business and personal relationships have become, well, blurred. In addition, many companies don’t even have enforced dress codes anymore. It can be hard to navigate these friendlier types of work environments. But be careful and remember you are at work.

Regardless of your company’s decorum and level of dress, you should always strive to put your best face forward. You want to set the example for others to follow. As a planner you are often out of the office and meeting people, and therefore are a representative of your company or your client. If everyone is wearing jeans, you should put on a blazer. Be attentive and look sharp whenever possible.

First and foremost, treat everyone you encounter with professionalism and respect, whether it’s the VP of sales at a property or the waitstaff at a banquet. You never really know who you are talking to, and every interaction reflects on you and your company.

A great resource for you and your colleagues is the A to Z Business Etiquette Guide published by the Menlo Park, Calif.-based staffing company, the Creative Group. The slim guide offers helpful hints on many aspects of the working life.

Here is some of the guide’s advice for better business behavior:

  • Cell Phones: This should be a no-brainer, but turn off the ringer on your cell phone during business hours and meetings. If you actually have to take a call, leave the area and make it brief. 
  • Dining: Arrive early, avoid messy foods and work from the outside in for utensils.
  • Gratitude: Recognize efforts for specific actions—a little appreciation goes a long way.
  • Introductions: Wear your name tags on the right shoulder, where eyes naturally gravitate. Always introduce someone if they walk up to you while in conversation. I think another reason to wear a badge on the right is because we shake with our right-hands and our right-shoulders comes forward to make it easier for the person talking to you to read your name.
  • Humor: Avoid off-color jokes or jokes based on religion, gender, race or sexual preference; you never know whom you may offend. Avoid forwarding e-mail jokes in the workplace.
  • Meetings: Be on time and be prepared. If the meeting requests ideas and input, be prepared to contribute. As the guide says, “Resist the urge to over-invite. Make sure every person attending has expertise on the subject or will be affected by the topic of discussion.”
  • Negativity: Keep it to a minimum around business, period.
  • Office Politics: Pay attention to office politics without getting directly involved. Be pleasant with supervisors, co-workers and clients, but keep a professional distance and avoid sharing intimate details.
  • Telephone Manners: When you call, always ask the person if this is a good time to talk. When leaving a voicemail clearly state your name, number, company, date and reason for the call. Repeat your name and number at the end of the message and avoid leaving long messages.
  • Vacation Planning: Organize yourself prior to departure and make sure your team knows where important items are located. Update your voicemail message and set up an out-of-office e-mail with an alternate contact person for urgent requests. Check the company calendar before planning a trip so that you do not miss important projects or deadlines.
  • Working a Room: Only approach a person standing alone or groups of three or more; don’t interrupt conversation between two people. Come up with a short, concise statement that describes what you do. Learn the balance between being an engaging conversationalist and an attentive listener.
  • Zeal: Be enthusiastic about your work and show it in your actions, your words and your demeanor. Be passionate without being a cheerleader.

If you feel that your entire organization could brush up on manners, it might be beneficial to bring in an outside etiquette coach for a seminar, or you could offer to host one yourself.


Ms. Smart E. Pants

The Creative Group specializes in placing a range of highly skilled creative, advertising, marketing and web professionals with a variety of firms on a project and full-time basis. It has offices in major markets across the United States and in Canada. To download a free copy of the A to Z Business Etiquette Guide, click here.Ms. Smart E. Pants is none other than the energetic Denise Baran, CMP, CMM. With 25 years of planning experience under her stylish belt, Denise is our in-house planner and Co-Owner/VP of Operations of Spectrum Events. This meeting magnate has planned events all over the globe for associations and corporations, with groups ranging in size from 10 to 5,000. Have a burning question for Ms. Smart E. Pants? E-mail us at