Do You Have the Manners to Soar?

How Up-to-Date Are Your Manners and Understanding of Etiquette?Are you an Etiquette Pro or an Amateur?

Need a refresher?

Seasoned professional or new graduate. It doesn’t matter. If you lack manners and understanding of basic etiquette in the workplace and elsewhere, your career will be stunted. No one wants a slob or buffoon on their payroll or in their presence.

Remember, every time you’re in public, you represent either your workplace or your family.

Having manners means you are a respectful person and considerate of others. Use of etiquette can convey respect of other cultures, traditions, or religions.

Social interactions are important to being successful in life, so teaching youth and refreshing ourselves on etiquette and manners are invaluable. You can’t practice or teach what you don’t know.

These aren’t dated and old-fashioned.

These are timeless rules of etiquette and signs of good manners.

The lists are not meant to be all-encompassing or all-inclusive.

Contact me below for additional questions about etiquette by category.

BASIC MANNERS

  • • Ladies first. Always. Open the door for a woman and allow her to enter before you. Restaurant managers-teach your wait staff to take a woman’s order first.
    • Men-open a woman’s car door. This is not sexist or old-fashioned. It’s respect.
    • Always hold the door open for someone with their hands full, the elderly and the handicapped.
  • Men walk on roadside of sidewalk; women on inside.
    • Offer your seat to an older, pregnant or impaired rider on public transportation, always.
    • Don’t block views of people shorter than you are. If you’re tall, stand back.
    • Avoid interrupting people while speaking.
    • Move your grocery cart to the edge of an aisle, not the center.
    • Park in one space and never in a handicapped spot, unless you are.

DINNER TABLE MANNERS

Napkins: Place the napkin in your lap upon seating. Unfold it on your lap not above or on the table.

Eating: Never start eating until the host has been seated and starts eating. Always eat with your mouth closed. Avoid chomping and making out loud noises. Don’t talk with food in your mouth.
Wine Glasses: Refrigerated wine (like white wine) and champagne glasses are held by the stem so your hand does not warm the liquid. Red wine glasses may be held by the bowl.
Count Your Drinks: Limit your alcohol intake to 2 or less drinks, especially at business dinners.
Forks: Work from the outside in. The short fork is the salad fork. Start there. With each new course work your way in toward the plate. When you are done, place the utensils side by side at an angle on your plate-fork tines facing up, knife blade facing the center of the plate. This signals the wait staff you are finished. [Technically, the utensils are to be placed at 4:20 on a dinner plate-pretend your dinner plate is a clock.]
Soup: Don’t put crackers in your soup anywhere but at home. If it’s too hot, stir, don’t blow on it. Spoon away from you towards the center of the soup bowl.
Toasts: Do not drink to yourself if you’re the one being toasted. Do not stand, unless you are already standing.
Salt and Pepper: Do not sprinkle seasoning on your food, unless you’ve already tasted it. If someone asks for the salt, pass both the salt and pepper.
Passing: At family style service where bowls are on the table, always pass the service bowls to the RIGHT.
Restaurant Service: Waiters serve food from the left and beverages from the right. If a waiter offers you food from a platter, use the fork from the left (where it is at your place setting) and the spoon from the right.
Cutting Food: Only cut one or two bite-sized pieces at a time, not the whole piece of meat.
Unwanted Food: The method you used to put food in your mouth (fingers or utensil) is what you use to remove the food. A pit or bone is removed with fingers.
Restroom: Don’t just get up and leave the table. Say, “excuse me; I’ll be right back.”
Phones: Never lay your phone on the table. Turn the ringer off. Don’t check scores, Facebook, or anything during dinner. It’s rude.
Hands: Keep them out of your hair. When not using your utensils, keep them in your lap. When holding one utensil, keep the other hand in your lap.
Place of Honor: It’s always to the right of the host.
Leftovers: Never ask to take leftovers home from a formal dinner party or business dinner.
End of Meal: The host will place her napkin to the left of her plate. That is when you do the same. This signals the end of the meal.

BUSINESS/WORK

Introductions: At a business function, introduce yourself with your first and last name. Speak to the person you wish to honor first. Introduce yourself when there is a break in the conversation. In a business setting, always introduce people by saying their title and full name first, and then follow with a brief interesting or relevant piece of information about the people you are introducing. Always say, “Ms.” if you don’t know a woman’s marital status. [See “Introduction Primer” below.]
Attire: Dressing well is a form of good manners. Wear clean, non-wrinkly attire with polished shoes. If you wear nail polish, make sure it’s not chipped. Look put together, at all times.
Face-to-Face: Knock on the door or cubicle and wait until the person turns around before you start speaking. Don’t speak to her back.
Phones & Meetings: Put them away. No texting during meetings. And, please refrain from checking scores, news updates, etc. when you’ve been invited to participate and listen.
Break Room: Respect the shared space. Clean up after yourself. Throw away your food containers. Wipe up spills. If someone else leaves dishes or trash, set a great example and clean it up.
Your Voice: Talk at a moderate volume, especially in work spaces with cubicles.
Phone at Desk: Set it to vibrate or low. Don’t use an offensive ring tone.
Music: Keep the radio low or use headphones.
Smells: Don’t take off your shoes at work. Don’t bathe in perfume and cologne. Avoid eating a smelly lunch at your desk.
Timely: Show respect for your co-workers. Show up on time. Use the restroom and get your coffee before the meeting is to start.

RSVP

RSVP is an acronym of the French phrase, “Respondez s’il vous plait,” or “Respond, if you please.” It is used on invitations because the host needs to know the number of guests to prepare for. How much food and liquor to buy? How many place settings are needed?
Sure, it can be difficult to commit to an event so far in the future but do your host a favor and give them a courteous reply by the date requested on the invitation.
And, if you say you are coming, attend. Hosts pay for your presence. Be there.

THANK YOU NOTES

The thank-you note is essential in both everyday life as well as in business correspondence. Writing and sending one shows not only appreciation but indicates part of your personality to others.
Job Interview: After a job interview, send a hand-written thank you note. Proofread it first.
Post Party: A hand-written thank you note after a party and/or formal dinner is always appreciated.
Newlyweds: Contrary to popular belief, brides and grooms don’t have a year to send out thank-you notes. There is no reason to not get them done within a few months after the wedding. Gift givers have every right to be upset if one is not received in a timely manner or never received.
Gifts: Just as you never attend a party or wedding without a gift, always remember to mail a hand-written thank you note for a gift received.

SOCIAL MEDIA & TECHNOLOGY

Don’t Post Ugly: Resist publishing a photo of a friend or family member if they aren’t looking their best. Would you want them to post you looking less than great? No.
No Light or Sound: Turn the light and sound off on your phone during a movie, play and/or concert. You don’t want to be the annoying patron.
Restaurants: In a restaurant, phones should be silenced. If you receive an important call, you should excuse yourself and go outside to take the call.
Drunken Posts: Social media and alcohol should be avoided together at all costs.
Dinner. Be present. Keep your phone silenced during dinner, especially with friends and individuals of a certain age/generation. It’s a sign of respect.
Check Out: Never order or pay for something while you are on the phone.
In Line: Don’t chat away while in line for something. No one wants to hear your personal conversations.

Hygiene

The fact that one even needs to mention manners regarding hygiene is a bit disturbing. Parents-teach your children how to present themselves in public. Adults, haven’t you been taught better?

Nails. Clipping your finger or toenails is never appropriate in public. Not on your porch. Not on the bus. Not while in line. Not in the movie theatre. Nowhere but the privacy of your bathroom.
Teeth: Flossing should be done at home, or at least in a bathroom. It is not fun for people around you to watch you get stuff out of your teeth. Brush in private too. If you must use a public bathroom, please clean the sink.
Tweezing: Another private bathroom function. Remove hair in private not while driving or while in lines.
Hair: Avoid brushing or combing your hair in pubic, especially in restaurants where it flies around.

HOUSEGUEST

Someone is nice enough to offer you a place to stay during your get-away. Be someone who gets invited back.
• Arrive with a gift-a bottle of wine, a candle, a book, kitchen tools, something to show your appreciation. Even if the host suggests you don’t need to do this. Do it anyway. It’s the right thing to do.
• Buy or bring some groceries. Your host is not responsible for all of your meals. Never ask to change the menu for a meal the host is preparing. If you have dietary restrictions, let those be known before your arrival. Bring food items that only you would eat.
• Ask permission to use items in the house.
• Prepare a meal or pay for a meal out.

• Keep your space and the bathroom clean. Put the toilet seat down.
• Conserve linens and towels-even if you use a different towel every day at home don’t expect your host to provide one daily. Bring your own if that’s your practice.
• Ask about house rules-use of TV, electronics, dishwasher, smoking, etc.
• Lend a hand-walk the dog, do the dishes, etc.
• Strip the bed and collect linens as you prepare to leave-ask host first.
• Send a thank you note when you arrive home.

THE CHECK WHEN EATING OUT

Nothing causes more heartburn than knowing who is “getting the check” after a dinner out. Clarify it before accepting an invitation. Generally, if you say “let’s go out” that usually means the bill will be split. But, if you invite someone somewhere it means that you’ll be responsible for the bill.
Birthday: If you or a group is going out for someone’s birthday dinner, you all pay for the birthday person. If you can’t afford to chip in, don’t go. The person choosing the restaurant should be mindful of varying income levels of the group and choose a moderately priced restaurant.
Tips: If you put part of your charge on a card and pay cash for the other, you TIP on the total not just the part on your card. Also, carry one-dollar bills to tip the bartender and coat check attendant.

Cost: Never announce the cost of the dinner, if you’re picking up the check.
Split the Check: Only make this suggestion if all parties ordered similar priced meals. It’s unfair otherwise.

Introduction Primer

When performing introductions, here are two steps to proper business introductions:
Step 1: The first person’s name you say is always the most important person.
Step 2: Thereafter, everyone else’s name is introduced to that most important person.
ALWAYS say the most important person’s name first. In business, rank and status are the primary determinants to who takes precedence over whom. A client always outranks the CEO or President. Gender and age are typically not factors.

  • NEVER use the word “meet” when introducing people. Rather, for an informal introduction, use the words “this is” as the bridge between saying the most important person’s name first and then introducing the second person. “Jane Smith this is John Doe, our new staff member. Jane Smith is our CEO.”

Other reminders

  • Keep the forms of the address equal. If you use Ms. Smith, you must use Mr. Doe. You should not say, “Jane Smith this is Mr. Doe..”
  • In regular situations, it is best to use both a person’s first and last name when making introductions. To use only a first name is not introducing the total person.
  • Do say something about the people you are introducing so they will have something to discuss after introductions. Then you may excuse yourself to meet and greet others.
  • When introducing  dignitaries and other notable people, such as elected officials, you may want to use the word “present” instead of the words “this is” or “introduce.”

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Have a rule of etiquette you think must be added to the list? Let me know on the form below.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

©Copyright. January 2018. Linda Leier Thomason

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