Minding your manners can be vital to landing jobs and promotions

You’ve been invited out to an interview dinner and it’s time to order. You really have a taste for Filet Mignon, but what should you order?

Each day you come into the office and speak to everyone but your supervisor. You begin to think, is your behavior correct?

Manners are among the greatest gifts parents can give their children. These are vital social skills for success in everyday life, and I’ve personally heard many say, “good manners will open doors that the best education cannot.”

Unfortunately, you may not learn about proper manners when you’re young. The good news is that there are many resources such as books, manuals and training to learn.

One of my favorite books on etiquette is the “Complete Business Etiquette Handbook” by Barbara Pachter & Marjorie Brody (1995).

“Etiquette is a set of traditions, based on kindness, efficiency, and logic that have evolved over time,” Pachter and Brody wrote. “They give you a structure in which to operate. Think of them as rules of the game. Would you play golf or football without knowing the rules? And even if you would, do you think you’d be asked to play again?”

Etiquette was never just about how to use utensils or “do I sit or stand when a woman leaves and returns to the table?” Those are important, but we have many areas of etiquette that demand our attention, such as how to leave a job, office protocol, weddings, dining, tipping, engagements, how to introduce someone and more.

A person can miss out on a new job, lose their job, or miss a promotion simply because they lack manners.

Carlos Johnson, associate consultant for global talent acquisition with Lilly Company said, “from a company perspective, we hope that candidates would have done the research on the company culture (i.e., everyday and interview dress).”

It’s important that candidates conduct their research prior to the interview because etiquette will make you stand in or stand out, said Johnson.

“Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others,” 20th century etiquette maven Emily Post wrote. “If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.”

Etiquette isn’t complicated, but it requires our attention, because surveys indicate we have a lot of work to do. In a 2015 Survey developed by Accountemps, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals, managers viewed etiquette problems differently than employees. The most common abuse cited by chief financial officers was being distracted during meetings (27 percent), while workers pointed to gossiping about colleagues (28 percent) as the most prevalent breach of workplace etiquette.

Here are a few common courtesies of life that will help you mind your manners:

▪  Fights and gossip have no place on social media and will be costly, whether you were right or wrong.

▪  At a restaurant, give your server your full attention when they come to your table, thank the person throughout their process of serving you, and tip your server at least 15 to 20 percent of your total bill. If your server has provided excellent service go higher, and remember that the majority of their wage is tips.

▪  Use of slang or foul language is a no-no. “It reflects poorly on one’s character and undermines the confidence of the business being conducted,” said James McWhorter, owner of SpiderSavvy.

▪  Avoid topics such as politics and religion.

▪  Don’t drink alcohol. I recall hearing about a management trainee in an accounting firm who drank too much. He got loud and obnoxious, and did not receive an offer to stay with the firm.

▪  Don’t have private conversations in public. “Just this morning I overheard a social security number being recited aloud over a business transaction,” McWhorter said. “Other conversations mention names, places, and information that should only be shared in a more private space.”

▪  Typically during a dinner or lunch interview, the host will cover the cost and you should order a modest selection off the menu. You can inquire for recommendations from your host as to what to order but, this is not the time to try Filet Mignon.

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