Etiquette and Mannerism: Section I – General Etiquette & Office Etiquette
It is essential to follow etiquette and manners by everyone living in a society to make it civilized. Following etiquette and manners is also essential for creating one’s interactions with others. Etiquette is a code set of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group, and manners as per oxford dictionary is a way in which a thing is done or happens.
Although etiquette and manners both vary according to the culture of a society, few rules of behavior are common to humankind. They are different only in terms of etiquette being more specific and manners being more generalized. Manners teach you that must respect your elders while etiquette consists of things like the desired way to address your trainers or, maybe, the prime minister. You must not think too much about the difference between etiquette and manners as most of the time you will find them overlapping. You will also find that many people who follow etiquette do have good manners.
In this section, we will be majorly focusing on general Etiquette and Office Etiquette.
The basic etiquette followed collectively as good manners are known as General Etiquette.
Why should one have knowledge about General Etiquette?
If you learn good manners at a young age, it will be easy for you to adapt and respond to the behavior of others in socially acceptable ways. In other words, you will get tuned to the behavior and norms of the society unconsciously. This tuning happens by practice and observation, not through instructions. One important reason why parents want their children to be part of social gatherings is that they would learn social etiquette and mannerism.
To appear decent and civilized in your interaction with people, it is desirable that you behave like a gentleman or a gentle lady. Remember, your etiquette and manners are tested in advance situations when you tend to get rough. If you make a bad impression in such trying times, then it spoils your reputation. Later, you may regret your undesirable behavior to the people who were affected by this behavior.
The following sections throw light on some behavioral traits that are essential to inculcate etiquette and manners for behaving in a socially desirable way.
- Be Polite and amicable
At home or outside, your friendly behavior can pull many people close to you. To neat appear friendly, you must wear a smile along with your home. A smiling face does not cost much but it can make your interaction with others easy and friendly. Never wait for others to wish you first. Take the initiative and offer appropriate greetings to them. Have you ever realized that the smile you wear is contagious? Try it next time in your interactions with others by adding friendly words like ‘please’, ‘thank you’, ‘so nice of you’, ‘good day’, ‘excuse me’, etc. This way you can show kindness to others. This will certainly be reciprocated. Never think people do not value your friendly behavior. They certainly do.
- Be a sport
Not that have to crave to be helper, but if there is a chance, try to open the door for someone. If someone fell down in front of you, help to collect the belongings. Never slam a door on the face of someone if the person is standing at the door.
- Value time
To be in time is one parameter that can gauge your seriousness and behavior. Be punctual whether in office or to be a doctor or your child’s school or even while boarding a flight or train. The is part of your etiquette, and these habits cultivate through the passage of time.
- Be respectful
Show respect for the fellow being, especially to elders and women. Lend your ear if the other person wants to voice his/her opinion. Do not intrude on the personal space of others both physically and otherwise. If you are with the person of authority, your language and non-verbal cues should be full of humility. Speak out only if you have something to say, else be a good listener.
- Allow others to go first
This is a sign of respect for others. How uncivilized and childish does it look when you push others to move ahead before them? Have patience and let others move first whether standing in a queue, driving or walking. If you come across an ambulance or a lady with a child – give them a priority. Also never try to overtake your senior colleague as it is disrespectful. Gesture the person if they are in a hurry to go ahead and you do not mind.
- Keep Mobile ringtone volume low
The world is full of noise. Therefore, civilized behavior demands that you keep the ringtone volume of your mobile low. You will realize the need for this necessity on observing your own adverse reaction to the loud ringtones coming from others’ mobiles in the office premises. Also, do not talk loudly on the mobile. One must be sensible to know where and how to talk on ones’ mobile.
- Follow etiquette while eating with others
Observe good table manners while eating with friends, family members and colleagues. Do not speak too much while eating. Keep your elbows off the table. Do not bend on others to reach out to something on the table. Use friendly expressions like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ without hesitation. But the first one needs to understand the use of right utensils on the table.
- Introducing at an event
In an event be it casual, traditional or professional one must always give a one-sentence description of what they do follow after their name. In an event, if you know the participant do not hesitate to introduce them to others. But do not mix up their names. If you do not feel confident enough for this task, ask the participants to introduce themselves.
The etiquette followed in the professional setting/workplace is called Office/Professional/Workplace Etiquette.
Why should one have knowledge about Office Etiquette?
You may have found academic knowledge, but if you lack in social skills at the workplace, you may not ascend the ladder of success. You reflect maturity and smartness if you have good social skills and the employer has confidence in you that you can represent the organization in a better way. If you lack proper etiquette, it can tarnish your image and sour your professional and personal relationships with others. Sometimes you would be unaware of what went wrong in your professional and personal interactions with others. Remember, professional etiquette keeps changing, but a few remain the same. For instance, earlier addressing your boss by his/her first name was totally unaccepted. Today, it is in vogue. Good manners do evolve with common sense, that is, if you observe what is going around you, you will learn manners automatically. However, when facing certain situations for the first time, a few tips will be useful. Of course, there are some common courtesies which you must follow when you interact with people professionally.
- Etiquette at meetings
As you meet a person, you are expected to greet him/her. Your first impression on the person must be good. For this, you should smile and do a handshake, as appropriate in the given situation. During a handshake, you should also make eye contact to exude confidence and your interest in the meeting. If you make a firm handshake, it reflects your confidence. A limp handshake shows a lack of confidence and gives the impression that you are not interested in the person. To make a good impression at a meeting, adhere to the following etiquette:
- Do stand while introducing others or being introduced.
- While introducing the participants, provide essential information about them along with their names. For example, “Kalpana, please meet De. Sharma, dean Research and Consultancy Unit, BITS, Pilani”; Or, “Seema, this is Kalpana Kannan, Professor at the IIT Bombay”.
- Try to address people by their titles and last names. The way to address people varies from country to country.
- Do a confident handshake along with simultaneous eye contact.
- Etiquette at business dining
Indian habits of eating and dining have a lot of variety; therefore, one has to learn the dining and eating etiquette consciously. Sometimes during a job interview, you may be made to eat a meal so that the interviewer could observe your dining habits. If you do follow the dining etiquette, chances of your rejection increase.
Regarding the dining etiquette, you may be increased to know the proper use of your hands while eating, how to use table napkins, in which hand should you hold the fork and spoon, etc. The following tips help you to learn the dining etiquette.
- Look for the host to indicate your seat on the table.
- Put the napkin in your lap before beginning to eat.
- If you have to order, always opt for easy to eat dishes
- Do not impose your choice of food on others. Let others also give their choices
- Wait for all to start.
- Put your hands on your lap if not eating.
- Sit in the right posture with arms close to your body.
- Do not bring your head to the plate, but take food to your mouth.
- Match your eating pace with that of others.
- Keep the conversations rolling on.
- If you have to excuse yourself, keep a napkin on the chair.
- In the end, place the napkin close to the plate.
- Move the chair to its original position after you get up.
- Involuntary awkward actions
Sometimes certain awkward actions happen involuntarily, like sneezing, yawning and hiccups. How to cope with them? You must be prepared to deal with these reflexes. I remember in one of the meetings a colleague started sneezing continuously and he did not carry a kerchief. He was wiping his mouth with his shirt. Such acts give wrong impressions about the individual.
Apart from these, the following are the basic workplace etiquette:
- Be punctual
Being late to the office is a sign of having a casual attitude towards work and it looks so unprofessional. On the contrary, being on time always represents you as someone who is reliable, and organized.
- Dress decently and smell good
Dressing manners are the way we communicate through our clothes. Dressing means a lot when going for an official meeting so ensure you dress elegantly according to the office environment. Smelling well is not an obligation, but it is considered a subtle human manner that one should use a mild perfume or deodorant to displease anyone because of their body odor.
Ask before borrowing something
Borrowing anything from someone is a huge responsibility since we have to return the borrowed things as it is. One must seek permission and pay heed to the attitude with which you approach for borrowing thing should be very genuine and polite.
- Don’t interrupt in others matters
It is always recommended to stay out of other’s personal issues and personal lives. Helping others is not a bad thing but it should only be done when the person is comfortable sharing it with you and when you are asked to do it.
- Avoid being a part of gossip
Being a part of gossip is the most common thing employees do during lunch hours despite it not being a good habit as per the workplace mannerism, one should stay out from engrossing in such things. And if anyone comes to you to initiate such talks, then you should be very clear with your intentions of not entertaining such chats.
- Keep your desk clean
Keeping the desk untidy creates a bad impression on others. So keep it tidy and organized. Refrain from eating at your desk as the food particles can spill in between the keyboard, making it greasy & inconvenient for use.
- Refrain from being loud but audibility should be there
Speaking loudly is not a good way of verbal communication manners. Whether you are talking on a call or talking to a colleague, you must inculcate the right audible frequency of the voice.
- Never hesitate to learn things from co-workers
Learning is an ongoing process in fact learning should never be stopped. When any peer or co-worker is willing to transmit us any new technical updates, or something which we might aware of but didn’t actually use it, we should appreciate and happily gain it.
- Help others, if they need it
It’s always exceptional being enlightened and thoughtful kind. Your personality should be like you are accessible and people can reach you when they really require your help, be it in accomplishing targets, meeting deadlines for a project or some experienced or rather rational suggestions.
- Be a team player
When one works in a team he/she learns how to work, communicate better and meet the deadlines within the given time frame thereby encouraging each other’s work and skills. We should always effectively initiate working in teams rather than leading and journeying alone. Working in teams also enables us to learn new skills or contrasting ways of doing things smartly, as each new brain adds its diligence to the task.
Behave decently with each and every person in the office
Courtesy should be a vital ingredient of our language which should never exclude. One should communicate with civility, kindness and relevantly in concern with the matter. When it comes to a professional talk with colleagues or our bosses one should not get over-friendly. For professional talk one must simply talk statements which make sense without beating around the bush.
To conclude on a happier note, one should pay heed and take care of our actions and reactions at the workplace. Matter of fact one should even act responsibly while using our office commodities, furniture, and other appliances like the copywriter machine (Xerox machine), the water-cooler or refrigerator, the microwave, and other such aides.
Also, never go blank to give respect to your co-workers and employers, the more you grant it the greater your earn it. Be a remarkable personality and impart these simple etiquette in yourself bearing in mind the famous saying which states that;
There are some things that money can’t buy and Etiquette is one of them. If you want to join Personality Development Class please call to avail free counseling.
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