Professional social situations can be awkward. Rules governing professional social situations differ a bit from the rules that govern our personal social situations. For today’s leaders, it is important to recognize that there are some etiquette rules to be followed when doing business in professional social situations. From introductions to paying the dinner bill, how leaders conduct themselves in professional social situations is critical not only to closing the deal but also to leading by example. If leaders want others in their organizations to begin to handle professional social situations more effectively, then leaders must model that behavior.
Etiquette Rule #1: Introductions – always stand when being introduced to someone and say your entire name in the way you would like to be introduced to others. When leaders are introducing themselves to others, it is important to pay attention to how other people introduce themselves. If they use Dr., Mr., Miss. Mrs., etc. then that is how you will introduce them to others. In addition, pay attention to body language. In some circumstances, a firm handshake is appropriate while in other circumstances, a hug is appropriate. Pay attention to the body language and cultural norms.
Etiquette Rule #2: Listen! Listening is one of the most important leadership skills and is critical to business etiquette. Listening is an attitude that leaders project to others. If leaders do not listen, then they are projecting an attitude that the speaker is not very important. Be sure to always pay close attention and actively listen to others when they are speaking in a professional social situation.
Etiquette Rule #3: Send Thank You Notes! In today’s technological world, handwritten thank you notes are not as common as they use to be. Effective leaders understand the importance of hand writing a thank you note and sending it to colleagues within 24 hours of a meeting. It will set leaders apart from others by showing that the meeting was important enough to follow up with a thank you card.
When doing business at the restaurant, there a few things to keep in mind.
Etiquette Rule #4: The Host pays the bill! If you are the one who invited someone else to a lunch or dinner meeting, then you are the host. The host should always take care of the bill. Make sure to arrive at the restaurant early and make arrangements with the waiter to bring the bill to you. Always make sure there is no argument about who pays the bill.
Etiquette Rule #5: Do NOT take a to-go box of food home. When doing business in the restaurant, leaders should not ask for a to-go box with their left over food. The focus of the meal should be business and not food, so leave the food behind. Leaders should stay focused on the business and end the meeting without worrying about taking home food.
Finally, the most effective leaders lead by influence and example, not by title or position. The way leaders handle themselves in professional social situations will set the example for others.