Senior Steps: Proper etiquette

Nancy Dudak

This word takes on new meaning during senior year when professionals and potential employers begin to evaluate how you speak, dress, and eat. The Senior Steps Etiquette Dinner on Monday will offer a wonderful opportunity to polish your skills in a formal dining situation, similar to an interview meal or a banquet with colleagues.

How do you eat a cherry tomato without squirting your companions? Should you blow on your soup to cool it? What do you do with your napkin if you leave the table during the meal? These and many other questions were answered.

Etiquette is not only important at meals. Here are some other tips for professional behavior:

·Turn off your cell phone until the dinner or meeting is over.

·Call waiting is not appropriate in a business situation. It’s better to let the other phone call roll onto your voicemail than to interrupt your current conversation. Not only is the practice rude, but in doing so, you stop any momentum you had leading up to the interruption ¾ which you probably won’t be able to get back.

·Have a professional greeting on your voicemail. Start your message with, “Hello, you’ve reached the voicemail (or answering machine) of…” Don’t make jokes; don’t have screaming or shouting; don’t have background music.

·Don’t display bad habits while on an interview. Avoid alcoholic beverages while on the interview (even if the interviewer has some) and most experts say you should avoid smoking as well.

·Just because an office has a “laid back” atmosphere does not mean that common courtesy and manners are thrown out the window. It’s always better to behave at a higher etiquette level than a lower one.

·Name tags should be placed on your right side because during the handshake (using your right hand), the other person’s eyes naturally follow your right arm up to your head to make eye contact, allowing time to slip another look at your name on your name tag.

·Get used to speaking a bit more formally. Say “yes” instead of yeah. Say “please” and “thank you” regularly. Take the “like” out of your conversation. (I, like, really had, like, a great time. My friend was, like, all excited to, like, finally meet you.)

Remember: Quality is not an act, it is a habit, said Aristotle.