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Rhetorical question: Can it be good for business to rush through the day without devoting some time to the social niceties?

Let’s start with the handshake. Most of the time it’s an afterthought – a fast extension of the hand, a modest pump and then you move on to the business at hand. What a mistake. The handshake sets up the relationship – you can’t rush that. You need to look someone in the eye, extend the hand and hold it long enough to determine the color of their eyes. Those three seconds communicate your sincerity and interest in building rapport.

A phone call always begins with “hello, how are you.” No exceptions. People, we’re not that busy. We have the time for common courtesy before we launch into the purpose of the call.

Start noticing the people you work with. People love compliments. People are starved for compliments. Does anyone really think sharing a compliment or two is going to waste corporate time? On the contrary, genuine flattery will accelerate my work, boost my morale and make me work even harder. Acknowledge us and reap the payoff.

I remember my first job. My interview was with the senior vice president of a large media company. The man’s secretary had a secretary yet he came to the anteroom to escort me back to his office. That memory has stayed with me for over 30 years. It was a lovely gesture since we started the conversation in the hallway in a more relaxed fashion. The next time you have a visitor, go out and introduce yourself.

I have probably worn out the welcome mat on the subject of handwritten notes but it amazes me that more people don’t use this very old-fashioned yet quite effective mode of communication. Email does not cover every social situation. There are times when only a handwritten note will do (death, illness, adultery). Pick up a pen, a simple card and write something heartfelt. Send it slow-mo. It will be appreciated.

Schmooze. You’re not wasting time, you’re increasing productivity. According to author Daniel Goleman, workplace humor helps creativity and trust. The most effective leaders use humor and wit to connect with their employees. A little banter in the morning is a magical elixir for productivity.

And, finally, emails should start with a personal salutation and a little familiarity. One sentence will do it (“Dear Bob, how was your trip to Vancouver?”). Convince the reader that you’re a person of style and grace.

Aren’t you?

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