BUSINESS etiquette is about building relationships with people. In the business world, these relationships determine your success or failure.

Business etiquette is a means of maximising your business potential. If you feel comfortable around someone and vice versa, better communication and mutual trust will develop.

This comfort zone is realised when you present yourself effectively, and business etiquette can help you to achieve this.

Business etiquette revolves around two things: thoughtfully considering the interests and feelings of others, and minimising misunderstandings. Both are dependent upon business etiquette and the way you conduct yourself.

Business etiquette varies from region to region and country to country. However, there are some key pillars upon which good business etiquette is built. Here is a list of them:

Behaviour

Your manners and attitude speak volumes about you. If you come across as selfish, undisciplined or uncouth, your relationships with others is unlikely to prosper. Appropriate business etiquette promotes positive traits.

Honesty

A reputation for delivering what you promised will go a long way. Remember, a reputation for integrity is slowly gained, but quickly lost. Understanding a particular country's way of doing business provides a framework in which you can work without fear of crossing boundaries in terms of agreements, promises and contracts.

Character

Your character refers to who you are and what you bring to the business table. Proper business etiquette allows you to exhibit your positive qualities. For example, you come across as passionate and not emotional, or self-confident without being arrogant.

Also, learning the appropriate way to conduct yourself with a foreign counterpart demonstrates open-mindedness, earning you respect.

Sensitivity

Sensitivity and consideration underlie good business etiquette. Being prepared for foreign ways and methods, and responding thoughtfully is achieved through experience and business etiquette know-how. By avoiding misunderstandings and misinterpretations, you lay the foundations for a strong business relationship.

Diplomacy

Avoiding thoughtless words and actions protects you from negative consequences. Business etiquette encourages you to be mindful of the interests of others and to choose acceptable forms of expression.

Appearance

Dressing appropriately, conducting yourself well and maintaining a good posture will leave a good impression on others. Do your homework or take advice from etiquette consultants on how to present yourself suitably.

Analysing, understanding and implementing the above tips will help you to be successful in the business world.

For the international businessman or businesswoman, etiquette acts as a key. It locks out poor communication and misunderstandings and opens doors to successful business relationships.