Mind your manners in fast-paced world

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 September, 2010, 12:00am

In today's fast-paced business environment, there is a concern among some experts that busy professionals are losing the ability to communicate politely and effectively.

'We are more connected than ever before but, at the same time, in some ways we are even more disconnected,' says Alice Kaushal, managing director of Refine Consulting, who will speak at the Classified Post seminar - 'Influence Your Way to the Top: Understanding Power, Positive Politics and Networking' - on September 21.

'Politeness and consideration for others seem to have taken a back seat to an insatiable appetite for constant and immediate information,' she says. 'While we stay in touch by e-mail and text messaging, there are many examples where speed takes precedence over good manners and business etiquette. This can be damaging to business and relationships.'

Kaushal says good manners are one of the most overlooked aspects of sustaining strong business relationships.

'There is a new generation of business owners that seem to regard manners in the workplace as outmoded,' Kaushal says.

She says another negative trend is businesspeople paying more attention to hand-held devices than a conversation or business meeting.

Kaushal suggests practising good social skills at home by conversing with family members at meal times, while television and hand-held devices are turned off.

In the workplace, she suggests inviting a colleague or business acquaintance to lunch without necessarily discussing work.

'The pressures of work can often mean that people stay at their desk all day and only communicate with colleagues and business associates by e-mail and text messaging,' Kaushal says.

'We still need to communicate face-to-face to develop meaningful relationships. Just because people have a Facebook account and can claim 500 friends, this is not enough.' While electronic communication is important, Kaushal says, there is still a need to be polite.

For example, instead of using abbreviations in text messages, write complete sentences, while keeping them short and simple.

The proliferation of internet and mobile phone technology has led to new words and forms of writing, which might lead to misunderstandings or, in some cases, be offensive given the cross-cultural nature of business relationships across Asia, Kaushal says.