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Career Etiquette Tip of the Week*

Oct. 13-16

Oh my aching back!  People who talk about health complaints without coming up for air are a real pain in theÖ well, you know.  Also avoid taking medications in front of people in your place of business.  In any medical emergency, suspend the rules.

If nosy people ask personal questions or offer unsolicited advice about your health, simply say, "There are some things that are personal that I will not discuss."  You may add, "But thank you for your concern."

Oct. 5-9

When enjoying soup, scoop away from you with the soup spoon. If you scoop toward you, you are more likely to splash on yourself.  Sip out of the side of the spoon.  Do not cram the whole thing in your mouth.

Do not slouch over your food.  Sit up straight and bring the soup up to you.

Sept. 28-Oct. 2

When can you begin eating after you have served yourself at a buffet?  Technically, you can begin eating as soon as you take your seat.  However, in a business setting, it is a good idea to wait until two or three other people join you, so you do not appear impatient or ravenous.

Sept. 21-25

A U.S. Senator is addressed as "Senator." ("How do you do, Senator Goodworthy?")  A U.S. Representative, State Representative, and State Senator are addressed as "Mr." or "Ms."  ("Thank you for speaking to our group, Ms. Doright.")  Do not say, "...Representative Doright," or "...Congressman Doright."

If the U.S. Representative, State Representative or State Senator has a medical degree, you may address them as "Dr."

Sept. 14-18

During a business meal, keep pace with the people with whom you are eating. Finishing too far before them will make them feel rushed.  Finishing too far after them will make them feel like a hostage.

Keeping pace with others at the table is not always easy to do.  Some people eat so fast, it feels as if you are in one of those hot dog eating contests.  You know, the ones where a contestant consumes 40 or 50 hot dogs in 10 minutes?  If others finish before you and you have to leave some food on the plate, leave it.  Remember, your primary objective in a business meal is to do business, not to eat.

Sept. 8-11

When inviting someone to a meeting at a restaurant, offer the person you are meeting with the choice of two restaurants.  Never use the open-ended, "Where would you like to eat?"  They may be thinking steak and lobster while you are thinking soup and sandwich. Or if they do not have any idea where to go, you have put them in an awkward position.

If the person you are meeting with has invited you out previously, reciprocate with an invite to a similar restaurant.  Do not try to out do them with a more expensive restaurant.


August 31-Sept. 4

In a business meal, the host -- the person who has issued the invitation to the meal -- orders last.  The guest orders first.  Wait until after you order before you begin discussing business, or you will seem too pushy.  With a business breakfast or lunch, talk small talk for 10-15 minutes before ordering.  At a business dinner, talk 20-25 minutes before ordering.

August 24-28

Informal dinner: serve plates from the left, remove from the right. 
Formal dinner: serve plates from the left, remove from the left.

Do not lick plates or fingers clean in either case.

August 17-21

To make the best impression with your handshake, reach for the person's palm, not the fingers.  Use a firm grip, that shows you are confident.  If you give a weak handshake where you donít really grip the other personís hand, you appear weak, insecure, non-committal. (Message: "I am a doormat, feel free to walk all over me.") And let's be honest, when you are on the receiving end of the "fingers handshake," it's kind of a yucky feeling.

When you squeeze the other personís hand so hard, it hurts, you appear domineering, angry, inconsiderate. (Message: "Please hire me, I want to scare the living daylights out of everyone in your workplace.") 

Shake a woman's hand as firmly as a man's hand.  To give a woman a lighter handshake is an insult.

August 10-14

Wait for hot items to cool. Do not blow on your soup to cool it, because you might splatter on someone else. Do not take the ice from your beverage and use it to cool hot soup or a hot beverage.  Never use your spoon to scoop ice out of your beverage and do not even think about using your fingers. 

If you are in an interview or an important business meeting -- waiting for hot soup or a hot beverage to cool demonstrates patience.

August 3-7

When traveling by airplane on business, you are representing your company. Dress professionally as you would for the business meeting to which you are traveling.  Do not dress like you are on vacation.  (Shorts and flip-flops are not a good image to project for your company...even if your company sells shorts and flip flops). 

There is always a chance that you will run into someone on the airplane who is from the company you are to meet with, or a representative of another company with which you do business.  Dressing down makes you appear too informal and not credible.  Also, if your flight is delayed and your luggage lost, you may have to step off the plane and go straight to your meeting. 

Stick with professional attire for the trip out and the trip home.  You never know with whom you will be sitting and what they can do for your career.

July 27-31

If you have a little bitty fork resting at a diagonal in the bowl of your soup spoon on the right side of your place setting, it is not for your baby carrots or your baby squash.  It means the first course will be a seafood course, such as oysters, shrimp or crab. 

If the little fork has two prongs, instead of three, the seafood course will be escargot (snails).

July 20-24

Lemon wedges are to be squeezed.  Lemon slices are a garnish--they are there to look pretty.  To keep a lemon wedge from squirting the person next to you, poke it with the times of a fork before squeezing it, or even better, cup your hands over it.

* compliments of the Culture and Manners Institute


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