We’ve all heard this word “etiquette” before and we know it’s something we should have but we don’t quite know why it’s important. We don’t understand why there has to be guidelines for how we interact with others. After all, isn’t everyone unique and shouldn’t we be able to express ourselves accordingly? While that is true, when you come in contact with others you want to have a pleasant experience and you don’t want to stop others from having one as well. Let’s answer some basic questions to help understand etiquette.
1) WHAT IS ETIQUETTE?
Etiquette is basically knowing what to do, how to do it and when to do it. It is presenting yourself in a polished way and positively engaging with others. It is your mannerisms, tone of voice and being mindful of others’ personal space. Etiquette can range from something as simple as saying “please” and “thank you” to more complex things such as whom do you introduce first – your boss or your client? Other definitions of etiquette are:
- Being punctual and dependable
- Not using derogatory language
- Apologizing for any errors or misunderstandings
Below are some basic examples of proper etiquette:
- Sending a RSVP by the deadline
- Calling someone “Mr.” or “Ms.” with their last name until told to use their first name
- Waiting until everyone has been served before eating your meal
- Sending a thank you note after a job interview
It’s the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” So, it’s really quite simple….or is it? If etiquette was that simple why do we struggle with it so much?
2) WHY DO WE NEED IT?
Knowing proper etiquette can put you in the good graces of others and save you some embarrassment in difficult situations. You can also “rescue” other people who might be unsure. Having proper etiquette will present you as a polished person who can be successful in most situations. It will stop you from offending someone who may have different viewpoints. You should keep in mind that interacting with others is the foundation for being able to recommend you to others. Not having proper etiquette could keep someone from saying good things about you.
3) WHEN DO WE NEED IT?
Practically in all situations some form of etiquette is needed – social settings, formal dinners, meetings, interviews, etc. 40% of jobseekers do not get the job they want because they present themselves poorly in their manners. Other times you need etiquette are:
- When you’re meeting someone and want to make a good first impression
- When e-mailing someone and want to convey your message appropriately
- When interacting with instructors and professors in school
Now that you understand what, why and when you are all set to begin practicing proper etiquette. Don’t worry, if you make a mistake a smile goes a long way!