Business Etiquette is not only about smoothing out interaction with others, but also positively building up your own image and business persona.
One of the lamentable strategies often used by competitors at the workplace or in business, is to incite you as the opponent to lose your cool.
The competitiveness of the modern world of business is inescapable and so is the desire for that competitive edge. This is ultimately an integral part of what makes the world of business move forward and continually becoming more productive. Because of the inevitability of having to deal with competitors, learning the appropriate skills of etiquette when it comes to competition in business is vitally important. But when it comes to etiquette in the midst of a competitive environment, the goal is not only smoothing out interaction with others, but also positively building up your own image and business persona, which in turn is vital for your career.
Of course, there is no reason you and your competition cannot be on friendly terms. Especially if you feel the market is big enough, one way of maintaining friendly relations is by trading out information and referrals, which could end up benefitting both parties. Of course, when maintaining friendly relationships with competitors it is important to never forget the fact that they are, in fact, still your competitors. Also, always keep antitrust laws in mind.
The reality is, however, that one of the lamentable strategies often used by competitors, whether it be on the school playground, on the sports field, at the workplace or in business, is to incite you as the opponent to lose your cool. This is supposed to lead you to make a mistake you otherwise wouldn’t have made. As unbecoming as this may be, inciting competitors to violate the rules of etiquette by losing their cool can be considered a winning strategy by some, even it really isn’t, as it more often than not only violates the trust of clients.
If you are, however, on the receiving end of such strategic instigations, the key is not only to keep your cool, but to outsmart your opponents by exhibiting classy business etiquette. For example, being knowledgeable about your competition allows you to provide honest answers when asked about their service and products.
Never lie about your competition, but you should subtly point out their legitimate weaknesses if, and only if, you can clearly show the client where you can improve upon their service or product. Rather than getting involved in “sledging” or mental disintegration games with your competition, focus on improving your relationship with clients and on showing them what makes you and your business unique. Knowing how to use the power of business etiquette could very well prove to be your secret weapon towards achieving true greatness in the world of business.
Prior to engaging with your competition in any setting, always keep tabs on them beforehand. This, of course, does not mean spying on or stalking them and it definitely does bot entail hacking their computer system. The idea is to simply gain enough information – in a legal manner – to gain that competitive edge right from the start. Perhaps most importantly, however, it will also allow you to be better mentally and psychologically prepared for any inconvenient situations or complex scenarios that engagement with your competition my bring.
It is best to try avoid any talk about your competition when you are with clients. Doing so puts you in a vulnerable position. You might unintentionally be introducing your prospect to a competitor they hadn’t even known existed. Remember that creating a relationship of trust with the client is the very key to closing any business deal. Understanding the business problems of your clients and showing where you can create value always go a lot further than trash talk about your competition.
Also, try and maintain a neutral tone when referring to your competition, even if you certainly should point out where you can be of better service to the client. In other words, if the customer asks a direct question about your competition, keep your answer short, and steer the conversation back to the areas where you believe your solutions are better.
Bashing others will never do you any favours in terms of achieving your business goals, which is built around relationships of trust with clients. Regardless of whether your competition is engaged in dirty tactics or not, it is vital to maintain positivity and friendliness whenever engaging them and especially when engaging potential clients. And always, always keep your focus on the clients’ business needs. The rest will take care of itself.
Paul Russell is co-founder of Luxury Academy London, a multi-national training company with offices in London, Mumbai and Visakhapatnam. Luxury Academy London specialise exclusively in the luxury industry and deliver training in leadership, communication and business etiquette training for companies and private clients across the globe.
Prior to founding Luxury Academy London, Paul worked in senior leadership roles within luxury hospitality. A dynamic trainer and seminar leader, Paul has designed and taught courses, workshops and seminars worldwide on a wide variety of soft skills.