The Ultimate Guide to Etiquette

Etiquette refers to the rules of behavior considered socially acceptable and appropriate. These rules govern the way we behave in various situations, whether on a date, at formal dinners, mailing a letter, or visiting someone's home. Etiquette rules change from culture to culture and are always changing: learning about etiquette is an ongoing process.

Meeting People

·      When meeting someone, stand up so you are on an equal level.

·      Look the person in the eye.

·      Introduce yourself as you greet the individual; do not wait for someone else to do it for you.

·      State your name and a little about yourself, when appropriate, such as "Hello, I am Jane Doe and I work for XYZ Incorporated."

·      Give your hand in a handshake, keeping the grasp firm but, comfortable.

·      Make note of the individual's name.

·      Use the individual's first name only if permission has been granted, otherwise use Ms. or Mr.

Phone Etiquette

·      Answer the phone on the second ring, giving the caller a chance to prepare for the call without having to wait too long.

·      Use a friendly greeting when answering the phone, incorporating your name if possible.

·      Smile when talking on the phone, because it will change the tone of your voice.

·      Remove items from your mouth, including chewing gum, when on the phone.

·      Hold the phone approximately two fingers from your mouth so the caller can hear you clearly.

·      End the phone call with pleasantry.

·      Allow the person who called to initiate the hanging up action.

·      If calling for a social reason, such as when calling after a date, only call one time. Wait for the other person to call you back. If you get the answering machine, leave a clear message and wait for a return call, do not call repeatedly.

Dining Etiquette

·      If a man and woman are on a date, he should hold her chair while she sits down.

·      The person who is being treated to the meal should order conservatively, judging the host's budget based on what they are ordering, and ordering accordingly.

·      Upon sitting, put your napkin neatly in your lap.

·      If leaving the table during the meal, leave the napkin on your chair and excuse yourself softly.

·      Use silverware starting from the outside. This means the fork farthest from your plate is for the first course, which is usually the salad.

·      Never place a used utensil on the tablecloth, but rest it gently on your dish.

·      Use the items directly in front of you, and pass them to the right if they are meant for everyone to use, like the breadbasket or salt and pepper.

·      Never chew with your mouth open or slurp your food.

·      If on a date, keep your eyes on your date and ask questions to keep the conversation moving.

·      Eat at the same speed as those you are dining with.

·      When eating something that must be cut up, cut one piece at a time, laying your knife down on the top edge of the plate with the blade towards you for each bite.

·      The gentleman on a date is responsible for discretely flagging down the waiter when the lady at the table needs something, such as a drink refill.

·      When on a date, the man should offer to pay the bill.

Work Etiquette

·      In the workplace, keep your conversation volume low so others can work.

·      Do not offer to help someone else in a personal situation unless you are asked, even if you overhear a private conversation.

·      Avoid strong perfume, scented candles, potpourri, or smelly foods that might disturb those around you.

·      Do not overstep your boundaries when asking questions about the personal lives of co-workers.

·      Date co-workers with caution, always asking yourself whether or not a dating relationship gone wrong will affect your ability to work with that individual.

·      Drink with caution when at business functions, as you do not want your co-workers to see you in an inebriated state.

Mailing Etiquette

·      Place your name, address, and pertinent contact information at the top right hand corner of a written letter.

·      Begin a written letter with the title of the individual you are writing to and the company's address above the salutation.

·      Begin the letter, whether written or email, with "Dear" and the appropriate salutation. If unsure, use Mr. or Ms. with the individual's last name.

·      Address the main point of the letter in the introductory paragraph.

·      Close with an appropriate closing like "Sincerely", “Respectfully” or "Thank You" and your full name, regardless of the type of letter sent.

·      Keep emails brief and to the point.

·      Avoid sarcasm in emails and written letters, as your tone cannot be read.

·      Use proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation, even in email.

·      Do not use all capitals in electronic communication, as this is viewed as yelling.

·      Do not forward emails unless they are asked for.

·      Do not mail chain letters or chain emails.

·      Only "Reply to All" on an email if it is absolutely necessary.

·      Avoid the use of emoticons and "web slang" abbreviations (like LOL).

Etiquette Links

·      A Manual of Etiquette: A guide for women that outlines tips for politeness and good breeding.

·      Dining Etiquette: Provides a question and answer discussion about proper dining etiquette for business students.

·      Email Etiquette: Offers basic guidelines about proper etiquette when sending emails.

·      Helpful Telephone Etiquette Tips: A guide for people who use the phone for telecommunications businesses that teaches proper guidelines for greeting, speaking, and closing when on a phone call.

·      Etiquette for the Social Networking Age: This guide teaches people when it is appropriate to use popular social networking sites for social and business reasons.

·      Professional Etiquette: Guidelines for individuals in business settings that teach how to handle a variety of situations properly.

·      Dating Etiquette: A brief look at the proper way to handle a dinner date.

Etiquette keeps an individual from looking foolish, even in unfamiliar social situations. These rules take some time to learn, but with practice they will become habit. By keeping proper etiquette rules in mind at all times, you will appear polished and sure of yourself in a variety of social situations.

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