Business & Social Etiquette, Does it Still Matter in the New Millennium?

Etiquette is a concept of communication and a language. A world without etiquette would be chaotic, wouldn’t you agree? Etiquette is a set of codes based on consideration and thoughtfulness. Etiquette allows you to put forth the face, style and brand you want the world to see. It requires a sense of savviness and it exhibits confidence.

How I present myself to others is very important in my daily interactions. It’s well known that you don’t get a second chance at making a first impression to others. Their first impression of me may let them know if they want to do business with me or not. This is also important in the global business world of today. When we understand what is valued in another culture, it helps us to be aware of our body language and speech so that we show respect to their cultural norms. This will be beneficial in creating fruitful business relationships. Some cultures do not use their hands while communicating, but they may lean in more and make better eye contact. Tip: Although the world is more connected than ever, cultural differences are still a reality. Learn what is important in the value system in different cultures before business meetings. This will help you feel more confident and comfortable and you will have a better chance of not making cultural faux pas.

Etiquette is about confidence. By knowing that there are certain things that I can and cannot do in different social settings lets others know how well versed I am in etiquette. For example, while shaking hands, which dates back to Ancient Greece, it was a greeting sign of equality and respect. Today a hand shake symbolizes a couple of things; saying hello, good bye, congratulations, and perhaps sealing a deal. My hand shake is given in a firm manner. I don’t squeeze the other person’s hand or give them a wet, wimpy or awkward hand shake. Tip: In the Western culture, especially Americans, using eye contact while shaking hands and interacting with others is expected.

I make it a point to use eye contact. This allows the person I am conversing with to know that I am interested in what they have to say. It also assures them that they are my focal point. Eye contact reveals confidence and trust. I remember to smile, especially since smiles are contagious. Tip: There is a different belief system when you’re interacting with someone from Middle Eastern or Asian cultures when it comes to eye contact, so don’t be offended if they see it another way.

Have you ever fumbled while holding a beverage in your hand and then trying to shake someone else’ hand? While attending networking events or cocktail parties, I’ve found that holding my beverage in my left hand allows me to shake a person’s hand with my right hand without it being wet and clammy from my drink. This will also allow the hand shake to be more comfortable for the person I am shaking hands with and myself. Tip: If you’re wearing a name badge, it should be placed on your right side so that the person you are shaking hands with eyes easily flow to your badge. 

I have to admit that I love the fine orchestration of dining etiquette. I know by displaying dining etiquette during a business meal is extremely necessary. Being able to confidently navigate around a table setting will make my business meal more relaxed and enjoyable. Knowing which utensil to use during each course could possibly be a deal maker or breaker, as well as which conversations are appropriate and inappropriate during table talk. Tip: Conversations while dining should be in low, intimate tones. Loudness, details of anything that could make someone squeamish should be avoided. Conversations that are light in nature should be engaged. Don’t spend too much time talking to one person if there are several people dining with you. Share the love! 

These are just a few reasons why I believe business and social etiquette still matter in the new millennium. Although they may seem simple to some people, you’d be surprised at how many others do not know what to do during different business and social settings. It’s up to us to make sure we learn and practice etiquette on a daily basis. 

I believe that etiquette has a bad reputation of being stuffy and rigid. That is not the case at all. Tip: Being well versed in etiquette is about being confident in knowing what to do and what not to do in your day to day exchanges. It’s simply exhibiting common courtesies in everyday interactions. 

To learn more about how to provide business and social etiquette one-on-one consulting or workshops at your location please contact me at 973.715.9320 or