We hope that you find this page to be helpful. We have compiled various etiquette tips provided by Cultureandmanners.com to share with you:
Business Card(s) Protocol:
A business card is a representation of the person, so show it respect. Do not write on a business card in front of the person who just handed it to you. When you accept a business card, look at it for a moment. If you like the card, compliment the person on the business card. Present your business card with your name facing the person. Do not cover the business name with your finger or thumb.
When working with people from other cultures, learn their business card protocol. In China, present and receive business cards with two hands. Spend at least a minute or two looking at the card, as a sign of respect. In areas of the Middle East and Africa, present and receive business cards with the right hand only.
Meaty Tip on Meetings:
Start meetings on time. If you hold up meetings for latecomers, you are treating the people who did show up on time as if their time is less valuable. If you make a habit of starting late, people will assume your 9:00 AM meeting really begins at 9:20 AM and at 9:00 AM they will all still be grabbing coffee and wondering out loud about who took the last doughnut.
Respect your audience: end on time. Have an agenda and stick to it. If you are speaking at the meeting, be prepared with your material. People who are unprepared talk and talk and talk until attendees are slipping under the table.
We all know of certain people who can talk the leg off a chair and those who can derail a meeting onto the strangest topics. As the meeting leader, you are in charge. In your mind, you may be tackling them at the knees and throwing them to the conference room floor. In reality, a simple, "We seem to have slipped off topic and we need to return to our agenda..." will do.
It's "Tough Love Week" at the Culture and Manners Institute. And this is difficult for us to say, but we only say this because we care.
Not everybody is going to like you. No matter how nice you are (and we know you are!), no matter how hard you work or how much you contribute, some people will find something not to like about you. We know it's hard to believe and it's very sad. (sniff...sigh)
Now that you know, it's time to pull up your big boy pants (big girl pants) and say, "That's THEIR problem." Try not to make their problems your problems. Always look for the good in others and be kind to the people who do not like you. In fact, smile at them -- frequently. Don't let them win.
Think back to your grammar school days. If there was a student who became a little queasy and threw up in class, you can probably still describe the individual and the incident in vivid detail. So too, will people remember you if you have too much too drink in the presence of your co-workers, clients or potential clients.
No one forgets an alcohol incident. You may have to change jobs. You may have to change cities. It is better not to drink alcohol in a business setting and keep a clear head. For safety, do not leave your beverage -- alcohol or no-alcohol -- unattended at any time.
If you are at a holiday party or any party and someone is about to take your picture, set down your beverage so you are not photographed with beverage in hand.
Proper Usage of Utensils when "Cutting":
There is a right way and a wrong way to cut items on your plate. Holding knife or fork in your fist and pinning items with your fork straight up, also known as pirate style (Arrrrrghhh!), is just not right.
The proper way is to take the fork in your left hand and knife in your right hand. Put your index finger on the back of the fork at the base (where the handle ends the fork begins) and the base of the knife (where the handle ends and the knife begins). Pin items to be cut with your fork tines down, applying pressure with your index finger.
Keep your wrists low and elbows in. (You too, lefties!) Cut with the knife on the other side of the fork (the fork should be between you and the knife as you are cutting). If something is tender enough to sever with your fork, like an omelets or piece of fish, you need not use a knife.
Wait for hot items to cool. Do not blow on your soup to cool it, because you might splatter on someone else. Do not take the ice from your beverage and use it to cool hot soup or a hot beverage. Never use your spoon to scoop ice out of your beverage and do not even think about using your fingers.
If you are in an interview or an important business meeting -- waiting for hot soup or a hot beverage to cool demonstrates patience.
Banquet Speakers and Diners:
When the master of ceremonies introduces the after dinner speaker, all else ceases. There is no tittering, twittering, dithering or jittering. Finish eating and sipping coffee before the speaker begins, turn your chair toward the speaker and give the speaker your undivided attention. No, you may not text under the table.
If your ill-timed dessert arrives after the speaker begins, you may finish it as quietly and unobtrusively as possible. A speaker can be distracted by the clanking of dishes, silverware and glasses or the uttering of "yummy noises." You may not ask the banquet staff to box any part of the meal "to go," nor put food into a plastic baggie in your purse, man-bag or pockets.
Pretend so not to Offend:
Ogden Nash said, "I don't mind eels, except at meals."
If you are at a dinner party in someone's home and you are served something you do not like, do not say anything. This might sound wasteful, but cut it up (whatever IT is), push it around the plate and pretend you are enjoying it, while keeping up with the lively conversation at the table. Telling people you find their food distasteful is like telling them their baby is ugly.
Thank your hosts for a lovely evening before you leave. There's always fast food on the way home.
The Napkin Challenge:
If you need to excuse yourself from the table in the middle of the meal, there are two schools of thought about what to do with your napkin:
1. Traditional: leave the napkin on the seat of your chair. This avoids having everyone at the table get an unsavory look at the soiled napkin while they are still eating.
2. Newer thinking: leave the napkin on the table, slightly crumpled to the left of your place setting. Leaving the napkin on the chair and then using it to wipe your mouth seems a little unsanitary. If you crumple the napkin and leave it on the table, please try to fold any soiled parts in, out of the view of other diners.
When you leave the table in the middle of the meal, politely excuse yourself. There is no need to announce your destination and purpose to the entire table. Most of them have an idea.
At the end of the meal, when you get up to leave, place the napkin slightly crumpled to the left of your place setting.
Place Knives Blade In:
Do you talk with your hands? For the safety of everyone around you at the table, please put your knife down and do not use it to gesture.
Knives at your place setting are always "blade in" (the blade faces towards your place setting.) On a bread plate, the butter knife rests horizontally across the top (think 10 and 2 on a clock), with the blade facing you. Similarly, when you are eating American style, a knife not in use should rest horizontally across the top of your plate, blade in. When eating Continental (also known as European) style, the fork and knife are placed in an upside down "V" on the plate, with the fork tines down on the right and the knife, blade in, on the left. (An easy way to remember the upside down V is to set them down exactly as you were holding them.)
When you are finished, fork and knife are placed diagonally on the plate (think 4 on a clock) with the fork closest to you and the knife, again, blade in. This signals to the wait staff that they may remove your plate.
Conquering The Cherry Tomato:
The cherry tomato. So little and round and cute atop your little foothill of salad...and yet so hazardous. Everyone is faced with the dilemma. Is it small enough to pop the whole tomato in my mouth? Or do I have to slice it in two? Have you ever tried to cut a cherry tomato only to have it explode like a geyser and splatter your outfit? (No, you can't tuck your napkin into your collar to prevent that.) Or in the attempt to cut the slippery orb in two, you launch it like a salad dressing-soaked cannon ball onto the floor or your neighbor's lap? (In an important dinner, Murphy's Law says it's headed for the lap.) Some fear the cherry tomato and let it sit there mocking them.
Enjoy your tomato. Trap the little monster against your knife and put one tine of your fork through the top, where the tomato was once connected to the vine. Push the fork in a little deeper...niiiiiiice and slooooow. Now that the tomato is trapped with the fork in it, you may use your knife to gently divide and conquer. Savor the victory.
At a breakfast meeting, never dunk your donuts into your coffee (even if your meeting is at Dunkin' Donuts). At a dinner meeting, never dunk your croissants into your wine. Before dinner, never dunk your fingers into your cocktail (or mocktail) to grab the elusive fruit on the bottom. After the meal, nobody wants to shake your dunking hand.
In the privacy of your own home, go wild and dunk away.
A Fat Tip on Gristle:
After a previous Tip about not spitting things into your napkin, there was a tsunami of emails: How do I rid myself of that piece of gristle, fish bone, olive stone, icky mushroom, etc?
Three things you can do with an unwanted object:
1) Remove it with two fingers--discreetly. Bring the object down to your plate and wipe your fingers on your napkin. (Works well for a fishbone.)
2) Spit it out into your cupped fingers--again discreetly. Bring it down to your plate and wipe your fingers on your napkin. (This is the safest course with something slippery like a watermelon seed or an olive stone.)
3) Bring your fork to your lips and move the item to the front of your mouth and onto the fork (This takes finesse, but is good for gristle.) Bring the fork down to the plate.
The idea with all three of these is that you attract as little attention as possible.
Never with a Napkin:
There are two things you may never do with a napkin at the table:
1) Never blow your nose on your napkin. Always carry tissues.
Never spit items into your napkin, such as meat gristle, fish bones, or a less
than yummy morsel from your culinary-challenged host/hostess. As a dinner guest
in a private home, if you spit something into the hosts' fine linen napkin, at
the end of the evening when they are cleaning up, they will know that you did
it. (Unless you switch napkins with the person next to you who has already left
-- not recommended.)
At the end of the meal, when you are leaving the table, place your napkin slightly crumpled to the left of your place setting.
That Little Straw:
If you are holding a cocktail (or a mocktail) at a networking event or reception and there is a skinny, little straw in your drink, do not try to sip through that tiny little hole. That is a stir stick for stirring your drink, not a straw for sipping.
Never place a used stir stick or a toothpick from an hors d'oeuvre back on a tray with food. Hold it in your napkin until you find the appropriate place to discard it. (A trash can, not in the base of a nearby plant. Definitely not between the cushions of the furniture.)
Sometimes there is a fork or a spoon above your plate on the table. Those are for dessert. (Hurray!) If you do not see a fork or spoon above your plate, not to worry -- the dessert spoon or fork sometimes arrives on the plate with the dessert.
In some formal settings, the wait staff will set down an empty plate with dessert utensils on top, then move the utensils to the right and the left of the plate for you, before serving dessert.
The Order of The Order:
When a person invites another out for a business meal, the person who extends the invitation is the host and the invitee, the guest. The host is the first to place the napkin in his or her lap and the guest follows suit. When placing an order, the host allows the guest to order first.
If you, as a guest, are not sure what to order, ask your host for recommendations. If the host says, "Everything is good," don't go crazy. That five-pound lobster in the tank is not calling your name. Order something moderately priced.
When dining out for business, always keep in mind you are there to do business first and eat second. During a business meal or interview, never ask for a doggie bag for leftover food, no matter how much food is left, or how much your dog would appreciate it. (Your dog never has to know.) Do not ask for it, even if it could save you from having to cook at home the next day.
Do not ask to sample an interviewer's or client's food. If an interviewer or client offers you a sample of his or her food, you may accept or politely decline. Business first. Food second.
Do not butter a whole roll or a half of a roll and then bite into it. The proper way to eat a roll is to tear off a bite size piece, butter it (if you would like butter), and then eat it. Consume one piece at a time. Do not tear off several pieces, butter them and line them up on the butter plate like little airplanes waiting for take off.
This next thing is going to be difficult for some, but I am telling you because I care. Do not grab the roll in your fingers and drag it through the gravy, salad dressing or spaghetti sauce on your plate. Instead, you may take your bite size piece of the roll, spear it on the end of your fork and soak up that last bit of gravy, salad dressing or spaghetti sauce.
When traveling by airplane on business, you are representing your company. Dress professionally as you would for the business meeting to which you are traveling. Do not dress like you are on vacation. (Shorts and flip-flops are not a good image to project for your company...even if your company sells shorts and flip flops).
There is always a chance that you will run into someone on the airplane who is from the company you are to meet with, or a representative of another company with which you do business. Dressing down makes you appear too informal and not credible. Also, if your flight is delayed and your luggage lost, you may have to step off the plane and go straight to your meeting.
Stick with professional attire for the trip out and the trip home. You never know with whom you will be sitting and what they can do for your career.
The Hottest in Workplace Fashion:
If you could command a higher salary or get promoted by dressing a certain way, would you do it? When it comes to fashion in the workplace, modest is hottest.
If you show too much skin (or undergarments), others will not see the person inside nor hear your ideas. Ladies, if you want to move up in the management ranks, trade in those low necked cotton t-shirts or skimpy spaghetti strapped tops for a collared blouse. Gentlemen, stop wearing clothes that are too tight to show off the guns and pull up your low-hanging drawers. Everybody, save the flip-flops for the beach.
Never let a poorly chosen outfit speak louder than you. If you want to advance in your career, dress so people respect you, not inspect you.
Funeral Attire--Don't Offend, Try to Blend:
When attending wakes, funerals and memorial services for business associates, dress to blend in rather than stand out. Dress in a solemn fashion in dark colors (black, charcoal gray, navy) avoiding bright accent colors in ties, scarves or other accessories.
Gentlemen should wear dark suits, dark ties and white shirts. (If you own a black shirt and silver tie, do not wear it for this occasion - or ever.) For ladies, dark suits, dresses or skirts, modestly cut, are the most appropriate. Avoid cocktail dresses, bare shoulders, spaghetti straps or mini-anything. Also avoid sparkley jewelry -- don't bring your bling.
Don't offend, try to blend.
Your attire has the first word in any business meeting. If you want to command authority, wear a suit with a jacket or wear a blazer. This goes for women as well as men. If a cute sweater set or a man's sweater vest could talk, it would not say, "I am in charge." (It would say, "What would you like from the deli?")
If you have a casual office environment, wear a jacket or blazer when you have important meetings. If you are the company spokesperson, have an emergency jacket or blazer in your office in case you need to go before the media in an emergency.
Where It All Begins:
In honor of Administrative Professionals Day (Secretaries Day), coming up April 21: Too many people think an interview or sales call begins when you meet the interviewer or client. Your interview begins with the security guards when you enter the building. Kill with kindness any security personnel, receptionists or administrative professionals you meet along the way. They are all part of your interview process. Be upbeat, pleasant and make eye contact with everyone you meet on your way in and out.
Waiting Room Shocker:
There is one story that, when I tell it in a university setting, I can see the whites around the eyes of the students.
A woman approached me after a talk in Oklahoma and said, "I am the receptionist in my office. The hiring manager has asked me to keep an eye on the job candidates in the waiting room and report back to him which ones are talking on their cell phones, checking messages or texting. Those are the candidates we do not hire.
Avoid using your cell phone or text messaging while sitting in the waiting room before an interview or even a sales call (which is in itself, an interview). Take out a notebook and study your notes (for surely you have done your research on this company -- their leadership, mission statement, sales figures, etc.) Go over the answers to tricky questions in your head. Even if you usually review notes on your phone or PDA, use something else so you don't appear to be checking messages. Leave the impression that you are focused on the business at hand and not distracted by other things in your life.
Voice Messages: "After the Beep":
Ever get one of those voice mail messages where you couldn't quite make out what the caller was saying? The person could have been mumbling or talking like his house was on fire. Perhaps the person was calling in from out where the elephants go to die and cell service was a little spotty.
When leaving a voice mail message, speak clearly with a smile in your voice. State your name, company and phone number at the beginning of the message and repeat your name and phone number at the end of the message. Say the phone number slowly each time, as if you are standing in front of the person who is writing it down. That way, the person listening to the voice mail message does not have to keep replaying the message to take down your information. Or if the number was hard to understand at the beginning of the message, the repeat number will confirm it.
Reply to All Gall:
It is a week before the elections. The races are tighter than a gnat's...well, it's not polite to say.
Someone has sent you an email on a political issue. There are at least 50 other people you do not know copied on the email. You feel so strongly about what is said in the message that you are certain it is your civic duty to hit "Reply to All" because it is a matter of life and death that you let everyone you don't know...know exactly how you feel about this political issue.
Wrong. It's not about you. Do not engage in "Reply to All" debates. Respond to the original sender if you must, but leave all the other unwilling participants out of it. Better yet, let it go.
The Most Cowardly Act:
If you have an interview or a business meeting with a potential client at a restaurant, kill your wait staff with kindness. How you treat the wait staff is a reflection of how you will treat others -- whether they are people reporting to you in the workplace, co-workers or the clients themselves.
Mistakes are made. Be patient and try not to send an item back unless it is so dangerously undercooked that it is crawling off the plate. Do not make the wait staff run back and forth to the kitchen. Avoid giving special instructions that might make you appear high maintenance. ("I'd like a slice of lemon in my water...I'd like the poppy seed dressing on the side...") If you are on a diet, the diet resumes after the business meal.
People who like to show the wait staff who is boss end up looking like jerks. Bullying the wait staff is the most cowardly act, because they cannot fight back without a possibility of losing their job. Treat the wait staff as you would like to be treated if you were the one serving the meal and handling five other tables.
The Peter Brady Party:
No one wants to have what's known as "a Peter Brady party" where no one shows up. Once you commit to attend an event, honor that commitment. Do not throw over your host/hostess for a better offer or assume there will be plenty of people there without you.
R.S.V.P. on an invitation means, "Respond please." Inform the invitee whether you will attend or not attend the event. "I think I might be able to be there..." is not the right answer. When you answer an invitation, you are responding or replying. There is no such thing as "RSVPing." (It would not exactly have a nice ring to it, in any case.)
If you decline an invite, it is not necessary to state a reason why. Gifts for an event which you will not be attending, such as a graduation party, birthday, shower or wedding, are optional.
If you have an interview or a business meeting with a potential client at a restaurant, kill the wait staff with kindness and be forgiving of mistakes. How you treat the wait staff is a reflection of how you will treat others -- whether they be people reporting to you, co-workers or the clients themselves.
Be patient and try not to send items back unless something is so dangerously undercooked that it is crawling off the plate. Avoid giving special instructions ("I'd like a slice of lemon in my water.") and asking for items "on the side," ("I'd like my poppy seed dressing on the side.") or anything that might make you appear high maintenance. If you are on a diet, the diet resumes after the business meal. Treat the wait staff as you would like to be treated if you were the one serving the meal and if you were handling five other tables.
Last Modified: September 13, 2011