During National Business Etiquette Week, we are putting a tuneful twist to this year’s celebration with our theme of Business Etiquette: The Soundtrack—with musical reminders of some of the most important business etiquette tips every professional should know.
Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You: Frankie Valli may have been a little more attentive than needed because good business etiquette dictates that direct eye contact should be made in the range of 40 to 60 percent of the time in an interview or business meeting. If you make eye contact less than 40 percent, you may be seen as shy, shifty, hiding something, or lacking self-confidence and authority. On the other hand, if eye contact is more than 60 percent, a person will feel put on the spot, examined, or under a microscope.
Something to Talk About: Bonnie Raitt’s classic song is also a reminder of how to improve your small talk in a professional setting or business-related function. To master the art of small talk, be well informed on topical events; put the focus on the other person and less on yourself; don't interrupt; and listen more than you speak. Small talk that should be avoided includes health or diet habits; gossip; off color jokes; and controversial issues if you don’t know everyone in a group.
I Want to Hold Your Hand: The Beatles may not have been singing about shaking hands, but the classic song reminds us of the importance of this time-honored gesture. First of all, always be ready to initiate or receive a handshake in business and social settings by always having your right hand free. When a handshake is initiated, use your hand with the thumb up and fingers out and never extend your hand with the thumb down and fingers curled. Shake from the elbow, not the wrist or shoulder with two smooth pumps in a shoulder-to-shoulder stance.
Hello: As both Lionel Richie and Adele surely know, introducing yourself is how you make yourself known to others and you should always do so with confidence and authority. Remember, it is your duty to introduce yourself especially in the following scenarios: when you recognize someone and he or she does not recognize you; when attending a social or business gathering; when seated next to someone; or when the person introducing you does not remember your name.
Say My Name, Say My Name: You know how Beyoncé advises people to remember her name? By repeating it twice! When you meet someone new in a business setting, use the person's name in conversation—and use it often because repetition builds memory. And when you do meet someone new, slow down, listen carefully and pay attention to that person by looking at their face. Most of us can recall faces better than names and then you can associate the name with the face. You can also use a personal connection such as someone else you know with the same name to help you recall the new person’s name in the future.
Taking Care of Business (Cards): OK, we are asking for an official pass on this last musical reference, but it may help you to remember how to properly present your business cards in the future. Because your business card is part of your visual communications package, it should be given to someone in such a way that the recipient remembers the giver. Present the card with the print facing the recipient so the recipient will not have to turn it around to read it. You should also carry cards in a card case to keep them fresh and protected and remember to never give out a business card that is defective, out of date, or soiled. Also, try to avoid passing out your cards like a blackjack dealer because handing your card out indiscriminately will make you appear pushy and unprofessional.