When I downloaded the (free) e-book The Book of Business Etiquette by Nella Braddy Henney I was fully anticipating reading a not-so-enthusiastic rendition of how to act while in business meetings, how to handle difficult clients/customers, how to put together a proper meeting for clients, etc. Because, after all, books like this aren’t usually enthusiastic or enthralling in the least, right? Well, I didn’t happen to look at the year this book was written before jumping right in. It was written in 1922, by the way.
At first I was taken aback a bit as it described what I consider the ‘olden days’ where meetings were made by writing letters – not emails, regular, old fashioned, pen-to-paper letters that were actually mailed using the postal service, where salesmen got around on foot and by train, where there were switchboards people called into to contact a person or business, etc. Yes, I’ve heard about these times, but I really thought the author was referring to these days as when etiquette was something worthwhile. After all, it only occasionally occurs these days when a man holds a door open for a woman or where courtesy and polite manners are used outside of attempting to get something a person wants.
I truly enjoyed how this book was written because of several aspects:
- It was written with etiquette from the days where courtesy was still extremely important in business.
- Many, many examples are provided from (what seem to be) real-life scenarios that people experienced and how they were handled.
- Several options were given for how to handle different circumstances, but the correct option of how to handle the situation in a professional and courteous manner was pointed out.
- Even though the examples were from a different day and age, they still very much apply to today’s business world (with a few minor modifications).
- The author described in detail the proper dress and professionalism a salesman should adhere to when calling on customers.
- Several situations from different parts of business are described, such as in a department store (how to handle customers) and for the traveling salesman (how to handle tough new clients).
This book also goes into detail about the value of courtesy, table manners, how to act on the phone and at front doors, and morals and manners. In addition, the author describes how to learn what to do in unfamiliar circumstances, such as when there are more forks or spoons at a table setting than you are used to.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and recommend it for anyone in a business or traveling environment because even though the situations described and advice given for those situations is from the early 1900s, it can be, and is, still very applicable in today’s business environment.