A couple of years ago, I published a book called Straight Talk for Success. A few months after it came out, I received an email from a young guy named Jim whose boss had given him a copy of Straight Talk. In part, here’s what it said…
I read your book Straight Talk for Success, excellent. You are indeed the common sense guy! I have learned a ton from reading that book from how to brand myself, to dinner etiquette (glass on the right, bread dish on the left, outside-in with utensils). Truly found your book easy to read and loved it…
I am 27 and feel like a sponge for all this information.
Just wanted to thank you for your words of wisdom and for writing about some of the unwritten rules in business.
That was great. I always like to receive positive feedback on what I write. However, I was gratified that by sending me an email, Jim was putting to work some of my advice on creating positive personal impact. He showed me that he is a guy who understands the basics of etiquette.
Have you ever sent an email to an author thanking him for what he’s written? Did you get a response? Please leave a comment sharing your experience – positive or negative – with us.
Here’s a personal story about this. A while back, I was in the New York City area. When I’m there I listen to Q 104.3, the classic rock station. Maria Milito was on as I was driving to the airport. She played a great set. When I got to the airport, I logged on to the Q104.3 site and sent her an email telling her I enjoyed her show. I got a response from her in less than a half hour. Everybody likes positive feedback – trust me on this career advice.
Back to Jim’s email to me — sending a thank you note to someone who has done something for you is common sense and proper etiquette. Sending a note to a stranger whose book you read and enjoyed is even better. By doing so, Jim branded himself (in my mind at least) as an interpersonally competent guy, and someone who is business savvy.
In reality, there is no difference between business etiquette and social etiquette. Well mannered people always focus on making other people feel comfortable and appreciated – whether in a business or social setting.
As Jim points out when he mentioned business dining etiquette, there are some rules to follow. But the rules only make it easier to concentrate on the conversation instead of worrying about making a social gaffe. Most people will overlook minor faux pas if you are truly gracious. It is a good idea to brush up on dining etiquette before important business lunches or dinners and interviews.
Sharon Hill is a friend and etiquette consultant. She once told me a story of a young man who lost a sales job because he didn’t know how to properly eat a foil-wrapped baked potato. Do you know how to eat a foil-wrapped baked potato properly?
Personally, I think that this is a sad story – for the young man and his potential boss. Not knowing a minor point of dining etiquette shouldn’t disqualify an otherwise qualified candidate from a job offer. If that’s the candidate’s only flaw, he can learn that lesson once and be on his way to a successful career. However, in this case the hiring manager saw it as a deal breaker – and he had the ultimate say-so.
When it comes to etiquette there is an old saying…
Those who know, know. Those who don’t know, don’t know. Those who know, always know those who don’t know.
Think about it. Take the advice of this career success coach. Learn and follow the basic rules of etiquette – especially dining etiquette. You’ll look polished. You’ll present well. More important, you won’t have to worry about the rules when you’re in a social situation. You’ll be able to concentrate on the conversation – which is the important reason for any business meal.
The common sense career success coach point here is simple. Successful people create positive personal impact. You can create positive personal impact by becoming known as a gracious person. Follow the career advice in Tweet 73 in Success Tweets. “Be gracious. Know and follow the basic rules of etiquette. Everybody likes to be around polite and mannerly people.” Small things – like saying “please” and “thank you,” smiling at others, taking a second to hold a door for someone who has an arm-full of packages, allowing someone to cut in front of you in traffic – are the marks of gracious people. A strong personal brand also helps create positive impact. If you build your personal brand on gracious and ethical behavior, you will be well on your way to success in your life and career.