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Most everyone agrees that there are a lot of rude people out there these days. Marjorie Brody’s 21st Century Pocket Guide to Proper Business Protocol addresses this and many other issues related to appropriate behavior in the work environment. As a reference or as a fun pick-up reading item, the tone is conversational and the examples plentiful. As Brody says, “The value of common courtesy can’t be measured with specific numbers. It’s priceless.”
Brody focuses on four major areas of business protocol: interpersonal communication and professional appearance, working in office settings with colleagues and managers, office technologies (including e-mail and voice mail), and doing business on the road and in social settings. Areas of specific interest to those in pharmaceutical sales include body language and nonverbal cues, listening and conversation skills, and professional wardrobe.
In the business clothing section, there is a checklist for men and women as well as some pointers for overall appearance. This section is quite extensive, and is worth the time to read through. Here Brody also reviews some of the guidelines for business casual, which is relevant to everyone.
“Making the work environment work for you,” the second section of the books, is relevant for those working at the home office or in a regional office environment. It also may help you appreciate the environment of your physicians and their office staff.
The “Rules for the Wired” section is particularly useful for e-mail and voice mail users. Brody covers everything from a basic phone call at the way to appropriate behavior in a Web chat room. The tips on voice mail are particularly relevant, since that is the primary way of communicating in the field. For example, never say a message is urgent unless it is, say your return phone number twice and say it slowly, and be careful about the type of information you disclose on voice mail.
Since we are all using e-mail with increasing frequency, there is a great need to understand the basics of this important communication tool. Brody makes some key points about privacy here, emphasizing that nothing on e-mail is private – not even from your personal account at home. There is always someone who can see your message at some point down the line, whether someone else forwards it on or you inadvertently send it to the wrong person – so be careful what you put in writing.
In the final section, Brody reviews the basics of business dining and other related travel issues. It’s worth reading, but remember that many companies abide by the Washington-based Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America’s guidelines, so the gift-giving and entertaining sections may not apply to pharmaceutical reps.
Is It Worth Reading?
The “Pocket Guide” is worth having in your briefcase while you’re waiting for your next call. All of us can stand a little improvement in this area, and by paying attention to the details of appropriate behavior, you can distinguish yourself from your competition in doctors’ offices as well as within your company.