Friday, March 27, 2009

March 23 — Manners guru Anna Post on "The Etiquette Advantage in Business"

Etiquette expert Anna Post (great great granddaughter of the queen of good manners, Emily Post) charmed a room filled with dozens of businesswomen at a networking event on March 23 honoring past winners of the Washington Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business awards.

Anna’s top tips included 7 Best Business Social Practices:

1. Arrive on time.
2. Avoid the temptation to socialize only with colleagues.
3. Commit to introducing yourself to at least three people at an event.
4. Don’t stuff your plate or over-imbibe (know your limit: follow the one drink rule, or don’t drink at all).
5. Include others who join your conversation. This is a Golden Rule.
6. Avoid dirty laundry and controversial topics.
7. Send a thank you note to the host within 24 hours of the event, if possible. Be gracious and be brief (3 to 5 sentences is appropriate).

Other useful tidbits came from Anna’s Tips on Proper Table Manners:

1. What do you do with your napkin when you are finished? Leave them on the left of your plate, not your chair. Why? “If the napkin is stained with lipstick or gravy and you are wearing light-colored pants the possibility of having a stain increases).
2. When do you start eating? “When the host begins, or when the host nods to you to begin.”
3. When do you start talking business? If it’s a social event, wait until after you order. If it’s a business dinner meeting, wait until the entrees have been cleared. “The goal of a business meeting is usually to get to know each other,” Anna explained. “But let the host be your guide. If he or she launches into a business discussion over the salad, go with it.”
4. Chew with your mouth closed. Period.
5. Who pays? The host, or the one who did the inviting. “But if you insist on treating the host to the meal, make it clear that this is your intention — before the check arrives.”

Anna also advised the audience to spend one night each year in their own guest room. “This allows you to test the box springs, see if there is a draft in the room, and basically get a real feel for what your guests are experiencing.”

And when you bump into a work colleague on personal time, be a 24/7 professional. “You always need to be prepared to switch gears, so don’t ignore your family to attend to your colleague — simply make warm, polite introductions. Your public life and work life are bound to collide, so handle the situation with grace.”

Indeed, being graceful, authentic, and polite is the key to having the etiquette advantage in business, Anna insists. “As today’s workplace becomes increasingly competitive, knowing how to behave can make the difference between getting ahead and getting left behind.”

For more information Anna Post, visit The Emily Post Institute:

By Hope Katz Gibbs, founder Inkandescent Public Relations

By Hope Katz Gibbs

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