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Mind Your Manners

By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine

Manners That Sell: Adding the Polish That Builds Profits By Lydia Ramsey (Longfellow Press) 182 pp., $19.95
Buy this book from Amazon.com.

Professional appearance and behavior lend salespeople credibility with customers and prospects, and ultimately contribute to your overall business success. But shifting standards can make identifying proper etiquette a nettlesome proposition. Manners That Sell: Adding the Polish That Builds Profits clarifies business etiquette issues and provides tips on mastering the manners that will help you succeed—including greetings, meetings, and clothing styles. The book includes 12 chapters on the etiquette rules governing dress, correspondence, and conduct, among other topics. Although author Lydia Ramsey grounds the book in tradition, she also addresses contemporary topics such as correct netiquette and polite cell phone usage. The book provides blank pages after each chapter for taking notes on goals, progress, and areas for further study.

Ramsey has more than 30 years’ experience as an etiquette consultant. She is president of Lydia Ramsey Inc., a Savannah, Ga.-based etiquette company, and presents etiquette seminars and workshops to corporations and other organizations.

Tips for Real Estate Professionals

  • Mind what you wear. Your clothing influences others’ perceptions, especially during an initial encounter. According to the author, studies show that appearance accounts for 55 percent of a first impression—vocal tone and word choices represent 38 percent and 7 percent, respectively. Ramsey advises salespeople to find a fashion role model and also observe and imitate how your company’s senior staff and upper management dress. Although business casual has become prevalent, you shouldn’t consider it a license for slovenliness. Depending on your market and office rules, dressing down might be acceptable. However, “if you have to apologize to your customers or explain what you are wearing, then you made the wrong decision when you got dressed,” Ramsey writes. Torn or wrinkled blue jeans, sweat pants, see-through blouses, and hiking boots are among the fashion “don’ts” Ramsey identifies.
  • Let the way you talk speak to your professionalism. Poor speech and grammar indicate a lack of polish that undermines listeners’ confidence. Avoid unprofessional phrases such as “you know,” “you see,” “you know what I mean,” and “you guys.” Your conversational skills, especially your listening skills, also make an important statement. Engaged facial expressions, eye contact, and posture send nonverbal signals to speakers. Asking them open-ended questions keeps the conversation flowing and paraphrasing their statements reinforces that you’re paying attention.
  • Shun inappropriate physical contact. Professionals should save hugs and kisses for social functions—the handshake is the only acceptable physical contact for business, Ramsey writes. She recommends offering a handshake at every opportunity, especially when beginning and ending a business conversation. Handshakes should be firm but not bone-crushing and should cover the entire palm, not just the tips of the fingers, Ramsey adds.
  • Maintain the same professionalism you display in e-mails as you would in person, in letters, or on the phone. Avoid making your e-mail too informal and always make sure to check punctuation and spelling. Also, incorporate previous messages or excerpts into your e-mail correspondence as reminders to avoid forcing recipients to search out or recall what was previously said.

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This post was contributed exclusively for REALTOR® Magazine.

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