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Sometimes I find myself wondering, “exactly what is appropriate now?” Doesn’t it seem that the rules of being social – especially in a professional setting – have changed?
Observing others we can easily fall prey to thinking, “everyone’s doing it,” or, “no one does that anymore, times have changed,” etc.
With our professional lives and our social lives so intertwined and both shared via social media for all to see, it’s easy to think that anything goes and “etiquette” is a thing of the past. Simply not true.
I’ve talked with hiring managers and they confirm that people lose out on professional opportunities because they don’t understand (or accept!) that etiquette rules in business are still important – and that they can differ from those of purely social settings.
New Jersey based Barbara Pachter is a Business Etiquette expert who stresses that people can lose out on professional opportunities because they don’t understand that etiquette rules in business are still important – and that they differ from those in other settings.
This post gives you a quick chart of some do’s and don’ts. Admittedly, some of these “rules” seem common sense, but unfortunately, we live in an era where common sense is not necessarily common practice…
Here are three absolute, fundamental basics!
Dress appropriately for the event, meeting or restaurant. Research may be required – do your homework!
Stay sober Do not get drunk at business-social activities. Jobs have been lost and careers ruined because people got drunk and said or did things that were inappropriate.
Control your exit. Have “exit lines” prepared to be able to leave a conversation politely and graciously. This is easier to do when you are the one talking. At that point, you are in control and can typically manage a smooth exit.
Do the following to appear polished and professional:
- Greet people at work and acknowledge others when they speak to you.
- Stand when you are introduced to someone.
- Carefully pronounce your full name during an introduction.
- If you must point, do so with an open palm and fingers. together, otherwise pointing comes across as aggressive and demanding.
- When dining or in a meeting, leave your phone in your pocket. No matter how clever you try to be to text or email, it’s noticeable and it’s rude.
- Use professional head shots in your business profile and marketing materials.
- Admit when you forget someone’s name. Ask them to please repeat it, but obviously you can only request this once.
- Open a door for your guest.
- Break bread with your (clean) hands.
- Know your way around a dinner table setting. Remember “BMW = bread, meal, and water.” The bread-and-butter plate is on the left, the meal is in the middle, and the water glass is on the right.
- Order the same amount as your host – if they order an appetizer, entrée and dessert, follow their lead.
- The host / inviter (regardless of gender) pays the bill.
- Within 24 hours send separate thank-you notes to everyone involved.
Don’t succumb to these:
- Gush with “thank you’s.” Once or twice is sufficient, less you look helpless and needy.
- Send email without checking the “to” addresses. Make sure you are sending your note to the intended person!
- Don’t place your phone on the table when meeting with someone. You are telling that person that you are so ready to drop him or her and connect with someone else.
- Use a lifestyle picture of yourself as a business photo.
- Pull out someone’s chair for them – leave this gesture for social settings.
- Use a knife to cut your dinner rolls.
- Order the most expensive food or wine on the menu.
- Request a to-go box.
- Fight over the bill. If a male guest insists on paying despite a female host’s best efforts, let him pay.”