“Life is like a fine dance. What if we can all dance together without dancing on someone else’s toes?” Joy Weaver said in her “Etiquette Evening“ lecture hosted by Student Foundation April 21.
Weaver, President of PROTOCOL Enterprises, Inc., specializes in corporate and social etiquette training, and also authored the book, Just Ask Joy…How to be Socially Savvy in All Situations.
For the student audience, Weaver stressed the importance of etiquette skills for networking, interviews and all roads that lead to the gates of the workforce. All college graduates leave with all-too-identical credentials, so what differentiates you from your competition? According to Weaver, it’s your “soft skills,” which comprise 85% of your success in life.
“Push your chair in, Lili!”
“Um, how come your napkin isn’t on your lap?”
“Chew with your mouth closed!”
I received my fair share of etiquette training as a child, mostly because my behavior elicited it. But even with the consistent nagging I received, I seem to rely on my common sense for social standards.
Weaver would take the place of my mom for my lack of skills. “What’s common sense it not so common anymore,” she explained.
Here is your cheat sheet on how to be “socially savvy:”
– Applause should be a clasp of the hands, palm to palm, to the left of your body.
– Name tags sit on the right side, high up, name printed.
– Call other people by their name: “The key to success is remembering someone’s name and using it in conversation…Your name is the sweetest sound in any language,” Weaver said.
– Your right hand is your “social hand,” used for handshaking, blowing kisses and waving. Your left hand is your “personal hand,” used for coughing, scratching your head, holding hors d’oeuvres, etc.
– Formal introductions follow the template, “I would like to introduce…”
– A black suit is a power suit.
– Ladies, wear panty hose. (Yes, even though it seems passé.)
– Put the napkin on your lap immediately when you sit down at the table, unless you are at someone’s house, in which case you wait for them to take their napkin first.
– The napkin fold faces you when it’s on your lap.
Soft skills play an immense role in differentiating us from the rest of the pack. Not only do they set us apart, but they also can be the defining factor in forming working relationships with coworkers. A large portion of job related stress is caused by the lack of our peers’ social skills, so challenge yourself to perfect your etiquette so you won’t be the odd one out.