How to perform gracefully in Business

Joan F. Marques - MBA, Doctoral Student
Burbank, California

People often say that business is diehard. That may be true in some ways. They also frequently assert that business is primarily for making money. That it requires alertness in seeking opportunities, and entails getting used to an ever-accelerating pace of change. All of that is definitely right. However, in the midst of all this revolutionary thinking and acting, one can still be graceful and candid in business. And the attitude of elegance and sincerity can be performed toward partners, subordinates, suppliers, and competitors alike! There has never been a rule that excluded correct behavior from being a good businessperson. Actually, one can only perform well in business if a graceful approach is considered seriously in all actions.

According to the belief system of the Navajo, there are two sides to every aspect of life, and one cannot be without the other: for example, dark needs light and good needs bad. This train of thought could be extended to business issues, whereby we can conclude that revolution-readiness needs gracefulness, change alertness needs flexibility, and lasting success needs honesty. How could one possibly be able to perform excellently in the long run without creating solid room for serene harmony in his/her life? Isn't this more or less what they mean with the eternal quest for balance? The strongest business leaders and the most renowned gurus in this area never seem to miss an opportunity to stress the importance of balance: making sure that all relevant areas in our lives are covered and that, hence, physical wellness gets as much attention as mental health.

Stephen Covey mentions the balance issue time and again in his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People . One example is the time-management lecture, in which he encourages us to try to remain in quadrant 2, where matters are important, but not urgent (yet), and prevent them from becoming quadrant 1 issues, where they are important and urgent, and thus, stressful! Covey explains that doing things when there is still enough time protects us from getting stressed out, while it enables us at the same time to create room for performing the physical activities needed to stay in good health. He emphasizes this once more when introducing the seventh habit, sharpening the saw, in which he encourages his audience to create time for relaxation, breathing, and whatever is needed to regain strength and fresh perceptions.

So, what is it that can enhance gracefulness in business? How about this incomplete list of advice:

  • Be friendly and accessible. Even to competitors, salespeople, and the ones that are miles underneath you on the social ladder. It pays off when you're on your way back.
  • Keep yourself down to earth. Mingle with regular people on a frequent basis. Go to a movie, dine in an inexpensive restaurant, take a stroll on the beach. There are countless ways to meet people who perhaps unintentionally will keep you focused on who you really are.
  • Give.Wealth is not the only reason to make gestures, and money is not the only thing you can give! Contribute your knowledge, your time, your efforts, or your connections to others that need a boost. You have been there. Now it's your turn to do something, even if you think there was no one who helped you to get where you are now.
  • Consider the reasons. People never act without a motive, yet, sometimes it takes time to find out what drives them in certain directions. But it may be worth your while. So, find out why your employees, suppliers, competitors, or other constituents in the business field do what they do. And never assume that they were ill intended from the very start. Seek to understand.
  • Don't underestimate the power of MBWA (Management by Walking Around). It is the perfect way to communicate with people, whom you otherwise never would have talked to. It enhances your chances of being updated on their interests, their discontents, on the latest shoo-shoo out there (yes, many strategic decisions have come forth from those!) And, believe it or not, it creates a tremendous amount of goodwill born out of the recognition you gave; an aspect that might turn out to be helpful when tides turn and you will need votes to remain where you thought you belonged!
  • Treat competitors as colleagues rather than enemies. No one knows what tomorrow brings: it may be a situation where you will need their support. A competitor is in the first place a fellow human being.
  • Prevent neglect of the ones in your private life. They are the wind beneath your wings, but while you fly, you may not realize that well enough. Yet, now that it is spelled out here for you, you can start planning on spending considerable time with family, friends, sport-mates, and other loved ones. And don't underestimate the good influence being a family-oriented person has on your business reputation?

    You just read 7 of the 1001 habits of graceful businesspeople. Without a doubt you could come up with a number of similar approaches. The basic advice is, to never forget yourself, and to be graceful inside and outside of the business arena, "for grace is but glory begun, and glory is but grace perfected." (Jonathan Edwards)