What every business person should know … and practice well


Jeff Bernel

A few things to keep in mind as you build your business:

Businesses are run by and for people.  To be successful in business, you must be successful working with and for people. The Classic book to read is How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

People. Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

  • Treat people with respect and dignity
  • You do not have a business without people. They are your greatest asset.
  • Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
  • Learn to use “I” messages.
  • Give honest and sincere appreciation. No BS.
  • Six Ways to Make People Like You
  1. Become genuinely interested in other people
  2. SMILE
  3. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language
  4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves. Refer back to my previous column on “Listening”
  5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests
  6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely

Remembering names. This is a very important but difficult skill to master. People love to have their name mentioned and be noticed.  In my business life I made it a point to remember and say the name of everyone in my company.  Each work area had photos of the company’s associates and their name. So, when you see someone, say their name along with your greeting.

  • Listen carefully as they are introduced
  • State the name as soon as possible. If you can, use it 3 times
  • Ask to have the name repeated
  • Connect the name with something common to you.
  • Notice a unique feature of the person and connect it to the name

Public Speaking.  Public speaking and making conversation are two essential skills in the business world. Develop your basic skills. Most people have great fears about public speaking

  • This is a learned skill. Take a course that can prepare you to speak well.
  • Know how to prepare a talk
  • Write a presentation
  • Time it
  • Speak well
  • Avoid distracting phrases
  • Be comfortable

Ethics in the Workplace. Some ways to demonstrate good ethics in the workplace.

  • Do not participate in gossip
  • Be courteous and respectful to superiors and to subordinates
  • Be positive and pleasant
  • Accept constructive criticism
  • Maintain personal dignity
  • Make an effort to preserve the dignity of another
  • Keep confidences and maintain confidentiality
  • Show concern for others
  • Give credit to those deserving of it
  • Be honest. Do not lie.
  • Keep your word
  • Encourage and help others to do their best
  • Make practical and constructive suggestions for improvement

 Personal Grooming. This an important part of how you present yourself. Before you speak a word, your business wardrobe has spoken volumes.  Your wardrobe, personal grooming and body language all serve to create your “personal professional package”

  • Clean clothing
  • Clean, healthy, attractive hair
  • Hands and nails clean and manicured
  • Purchase complete outfits that work well together
  • When in doubt – stick to the “classics”
  • Purchase all of the components for an outfit at the same time
  • Coordinate pieces that can be mixed together for different looks
  • Select the outfit and hang it outside the closet the evening before
  • Take time to periodically examine and repair your garments
  • Make regular trips to the cleaners
  • No one ever got ignored, denied a promotion, or refused a raise because they wore a suit or sport coat to work.
  • There is no shame in dressing well at work
  • Clothes do make the person
  • Dressing well for work directly translates into your eventually making more money than you otherwise would.


  • Smile, genuinely smile
  • Who you are
  • A statement that you’re glad to meet the person
  • A short piece of information about yourself
  • Establish a common interest
  • Let the other person do most of the talking

Body Language. Nonverbal communications

  • Make an effort to make your body language reflect calmness and control (yawns, glancing at the clock, fidgeting, jiggling your foot, tapping your fingers, cracking your knuckles tell the person you are talking with you don’t want to be there)
  • Positive body language
    • Eye contact – look people in the eyes
    • Hold head level
    • Keep chin up
    • No slouching
    • Stand straight
    • Allow comfort space
    • Walk with grace and ease
    • SMILE

Success can be defined by PIE

  • P – Performance: do your job well
  • I – Image: Present yourself and your work well
  • E – Exposure: It’s not who you know that is important. It’s who knows you.

Business Cards

  • Be selective in distributing cards
  • The protocol of exchanging business cards parallels that of a handshake: usually the senior or higher-ranking person starts the process.
  • Present your card. In Japan, use both hands. Exchanging cards is a personal exchange.  Do not pass them out like poker cards
  • Keep your cards and the ones that you are presented in a protective case
  • Do not write on someone else’s card (in public)

Introducing People to One Another

  • Younger to older
  • Your company peer to outsider
  • Junior to a senior executive
  • Fellow executive to a customer
  • Non-official to an official
  • (Name of higher ranked person), I’d like to introduce (Name of person being introduced).
  • Next you should mention something that starts the conversation between the two parties
  • Pointers:
  • Use full names
  • Use titles if the person always uses one
  • Always use a dignitary’s title
  • Speak slowly and clearly
  • Remember the brief statement about each person’s interests or recent accomplishments


  • Door holding is no longer about gender niceties – it’s about courtesy and deference.
  • Such a glimmer of civility and kindness and class bring forth wellsprings of appreciation – and your actions will be remembered by all who witness
  • Hold doors for visiting dignitaries and superior officers in your organization
  • Opening the passenger-side door for you guests before getting into the car is a pleasant and courteous gesture.
  • In our fast-paced world, people often think that a verbal thank you is enough.  It is not.  A written note of thanks is an expression of courtesy whether written to a friend or a business associate,  Follow-up with a written note; it will set you apart from others.
  • When should I send thank-you notes?
    • Answer: When someone interviews you for a job, takes you out for a meal or drinks, gives you a gift (even a small crummy, corporate gift), interviews you for a magazine or newspaper, serves as a reference, a house sitter or a dog walker – in short, virtually any time that virtually anybody does virtually anything nice for you. Use nice stationery not an expedient email.
  • The First Impression
    • When someone from outside enters your office, it is a gesture of respect and courtesy to rise, move from behind the desk and shake hands
    • Shake hands firmly with eye contact and a smile
    • Your handshake should be brief but long enough for each party to say their name and a greeting.
    • Avoid: clasping just the fingertips, pumping up & down excessively, rotating the hands or locking the elbow
    • A handshake is almost always appropriate for introductions, hello and goodbye

Be a leader. How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

  • Begin with praise and honest appreciation
  • Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly
  • Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person
  • Ask questions instead of giving direct orders
  • Let the other person save face
  • Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement.
  • Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to
  • Use encouragement, make the fault seem easy to correct
  • Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest

How to win people to your way of thinking

  • The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
  • Show respect for the other person’s opinions.  Never say “You’re wrong”
  • If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically
  • Begin in a friendly way
  • Get the other person to say “yes, yes” immediately
  • Let the other person do a great deal of the talking
  • Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers
  • Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view
  • Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires
  • Appeal to the nobler motives
  • Dramatize your ideas
  • Throw down a challenge

Well, there you have a small portion of business skills you need to possess. Oh, most of this also applies to our personal lives, too.

Jeffrey A. Bernel, MBA, was a member of the faculty of the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business for twenty years as a teaching professor and the director of the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship. He was owner, chairman, CEO and president of American Rubber Products from 1979-1996 and chairman and owner of UniTek Sealing Solutions from 2006 to 2010. Jeff currently is the founding and current chair of the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte.

8 Responses to “What every business person should know … and practice well”

  1. G.Gottio

    Mar 26. 2020

    A great post Mr.Bernel
    If everyone one followed this our Country would really be a great place

    Thanks for a great read

    Reply to this comment
  2. Jeni Banic

    Mar 26. 2020

    Excellent article, Jeff. Thank you for this!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Bill Troy

    Mar 26. 2020

    Very good article Jeff.I’ll be sure to send this link to Tyler. Thanks for taking the time to write it.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Jayne A. Bates

    Mar 26. 2020

    Thank you Mr. Bernel. I remember my late parents, particularly my mom, Dale (Rosey) and Clara Roseman, telling me about “Jeff” coming through and speaking with her and remembering her name! I’m going to print this and see that my grandson reads it to understand another part of being a success!

    Reply to this comment
    • Jeff Bernel

      Mar 26. 2020

      Thank you for the comment. It was such a pleasure to work with your parents. Wonderful and kind people were they, I am blessed to have had the privilege of knowing them. You chose your parents well!! We were a business success because of Rosey and Clara and their wonderful work ethic.

      Reply to this comment
  5. Chuka

    Mar 29. 2020


    Thanks for another insightful article. Clear, honest communication is essential on all levels in life and business.

    Reply to this comment

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