One of the biggest misconceptions that people have about etiquette is that it’s just knowing what fork to use. Now don’t get me wrong…Continental dining skills is a VERY important skill to master because it’s the easiest way for people to determine your level of business savvy, status, polish and sophistication. However, it’s a tiny part of the total package of etiquette and why it is crucial to your success in business (and in your personal life).
Side note: If you don’t know what Continental dining is, or you’re not eating in this manner, you seriously should consider hiring a certified etiquette consultant to teach you or taking Modet’s eLearning course (http://www.modetinc.com/e-learning-info/e-learning-course).
When people ask me what the heck is etiquette, I say “etiquette is the glue that makes relationships stick.” In a nutshell, that’s really what it is. Etiquette is the ‘how’ of your interactions with other people. It’s ‘how’ you build relationships, it is the ‘how’ of:
- getting promoted or getting hired over someone else
- effortlessly making small talk
- not embarrassing yourself in front of clients or co-workers
- getting a second date with the person you’re interested in
- not unintentionally offending others
- networking effectively (most people network the WRONG way)
- confidently walking up to a stranger and introducing yourself
- making a positive impression on your girlfriend’s/boyfriend’s family
- …this list could go on and on but I’m sure you get the point
Etiquette deals with the way other people perceive you. Accept it or not but the saying “perception is reality” is true. Let’s look at an example in our work lives. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could promote ourselves and give ourselves the raise we think we deserve? Unfortuantely that isn’t the case and it is another person who determines your career advancement. It’s great that you consider yourself a team player, but if others perceive you as introverted or only out for yourself then the promotion goes to someone else. Fair? NO! True? YES!
It’s not about changing ‘who’ you are, it’s about understanding ‘how’ you’re being perceived by others and making small adjustments if that perception is getting in the way of you accomplishing what you want in life. Etiquette is non-verbal communication, emails, cultural awareness, small talk, introductions, coffee meetings, presentations, body language, yes…dining skills, and SO much more.
There’s a lot to etiquette but to keep it simple on why it is so important to your success, just remember, “etiquette is the glue that makes relationships stick.”