Workplace etiquette: notch it up everyday to improve your success

workplace etiquette in actionNotch up your behavior by practicing good workplace etiquette everyday. People will notice and it will affect you long term success. Remember etiquette is not something that you know, it is something that you do. This requires commitment to good habit forming practicing and maintenance of established successful practices. Keep this simple list of common sense reminders handy as a way to check in. Ask yourself have I actively demonstrated three of these traits today in a way that someone else might notice? Ultimately the true test is not about whether you have internal understanding but about whether you exhibit recognizable behaviors.

  1. Arrive at work early enough that you can get your blog time and coffee and still be in your chair when the day starts.
  2. Try to anticipate certain tasks before they are asked of you, like finding a report you know your boss will ask for, before she does so.
  3. Adhere to your office dress code. Take pride in your appearance, it matters. Make sure clothes are clean and ironed, that your hair is brushed and the your person hygiene doesn’t leave anything to be desired.
  4. Don’t spend your time making personal calls or surfing the web. It’s not what you are paid to do.
  5. Be punctual throughout the day for breaks, deadlines, your lunch hour, as well as for leaving for the day.
  6. Never gossip about co-workers. Not even for out for coffee on the weekend. Hold yourself accountable, if you wouldn’t say it in front of them don’t talk about your co-workers.
  7. Don’t flirt with co-workers or business colleagues (like clients). Others will notice that you are focusing on your personal life rather than the job at hand, and it won’t reflect possitively on you.
  8. Watch your language. This doesn’t just mean swearing, but also how you choose to phrase or present situations, and the tone of voice you choose to use.
  9. Pick your battles. While disagreements may arise and be solved by level heads, being stubborn or argumentative will get you nowhere fast.
  10. Remember to rely on consideration, respect and honesty whenever you find yourself wondering what is the best course of action in a difficult situation.

The costs of incivility are real. Christine Porath and Christine Pearson outline some of the effects in The Price of Incivility at the Harvard Business review.

Remember workplace etiquette: everyday is an interview for the next promotion, raise, client or opportunity you would like to earn.

Toasts and Toasting: Tips you can use Today

Offer a great toast to honor any occasion.

toasting glassesThere are few traditions as sacred as that of the toast. What may have started as a libation offering to the gods became a tradition for honoring guests. Once upon a time, a host drank from the communal vessel to prove goodwill (and the absence of poison) before offering drink to a guest. Now we use the toast to formalize relationships and offer praise at the most elaborate of functions, but never underestimate or forget the power of the informal toast to convey that same honor and goodwill among friends and family gathered with much less formality.

Here are a few modern etiquette tips to help you toast like a pro:

How to Give a Modern Toast:

  1. Set the Stage: The contemporary toast may be offered by anyone for any purpose. A toast is a simple and gracious means of calling attention to shared gifts; whether it is thanking the cook for the meal, family members for attending, team members for hard work, or volunteers for effort. The venue can be a business lunch or a family gathering, but the elements of a simple informal toast remain the same and can be used to great effect.
  2. Fill Your Glass: While you might associate a toast with champagne, don’t be afraid to make each toast your own; fill your glasses with something as meaningful as what you plan to say. You can toast with with whatever you prefer to drink. It is the message you deliver, not the beverage you consume, that gives the toast true meaning.
  3. Get People’s Attention: Stand, raise a glass or hold a meaningful silence long enough to be noticed. Resist the urge to bang on glassware with silver or clear your throat repeatedly. Don’t forget the power of your words, they are magic. “Excuse me, could I have your attention for just a moment? I’d like to propose a toast…”

  4. Speak from the Heart: A successful toast is best kept simple. Be brief and speak from the heart. Keep the attention on the person being honored. Mention the honoree and the reason for the toast, then raise a glass and drink. It really is that simple.
  5. Cheers!: Formally, everyone stands for a toast. In today’s more casual, contemporary world, it is common to remain seated and toasts are not always ‘exchanged’ between the host and their guests. Anyone who feels so inspired may propose a toast and the idea will sometimes catch fire at a gathering. Think about all of the opportunities we have to share food and drink with others. There is usually someone present who deserves acknowledgement.

The Power of a Great Compliment

Give someone a great compliment!
Red Balloon

At the very core good etiquette is the ability to make someone else feel good. There is very little in the world so effective at making someone else feel good as a well-delivered compliment. But what does that sound like? What makes a great compliment great?

The magic is in you. There is no magic word or words that will work in every situation. The magic comes from your sincerity and your genuine good will. Here are some things that will help make that happen.

  1. Stay in the moment. Be present with the person you are complimenting. Look them in the eye. Smile. Let your eyes smile too.
  2. Be spontaneous. Don’t always say the same thing. Notice good work, changes someone has made, or admirable attributes. If you are bringing up something you have planned to mention allow for some spontaneity in how you talk about it.
  3. Use the right dosage. Like all good medicine, too much of a good thing can make anyone sick. Keep the compliment proportional to the specific thing you are mentioning or the situation.
  4. You might try a compliment that acknowledges something difficult someone has achieved or overcame. A struggle can bring out the best in anyone and acknowledgement of that can be particularly satisfying.
  5. Don’t always comment on someone’s appearance. While it might be nice to have someone notice a ‘good hair day’ no one wants to feel like they are being evaluated or judged on their looks alone.
  6. Be generous with compliments. Offer them to friends, family, and colleagues. Try a few on yourself while you are at it. Compliments make everyone feel good and they are free.

How To Eat Soup the Proper Way

gif of soup spoon dipping away showing how to eat soup
How to eat soup

The short answer to “How to eat soup?” is to eat it so you don’t make a mess.

Soup tends to drip off the soupspoon on the way from the bowl to your mouth. You can take two steps to reduce the chances of drips.
1. Dip your spoon into the soup with the spoon facing away from you and then scoop the soup away from you rather than towards you.

2.As you lift the spoon out of the soup, gently touch the underside of the soupspoon to the far edge of the soup bowl. This little tap will remove any soup from the underside of the spoon, leaving the drip on the edge of the bowl and not falling into your lap.

While at first scooping away may seem awkward, you will quickly learned how easy it is to do, and you’ll stop finding soup spots on your blouse or tie.

Slurping is another issue in regard to eating soup. The noise is both distracting and unpleasant for the other people at the table. Generally, people slurp because the soup is hot. Instead of slurping to cool the soup, try gently and quietly blowing on the soup in the spoon before taking it into your mouth. Once cooled, the spoonful can then be put into your mouth without slurping. At a very formal meal, refrain from blowing or slurping. Instead, hold the filled soupspoon low over the bowl for about 30 seconds to cool, and then proceed to eat it.

Is it okay to tip a bowl to get the last tasty spoonful of soup? Of course, it is. Just tilt the bowl away from you (again to avoid spills or drips on you) and do it quietly, without clanking your spoon against the bowl.

Definition of Etiquette

“Consideration for the rights and feelings of others is not merely a rule for behavior in public but the very foundation upon which social life is built.”
― Emily Post, Etiquette 1st edition
Book pages showing a knife and fork in the proper hands as the definition of etiquette
The definition of etiquette

Definition of Etiquette

The philosophy of etiquette is timeless and everlasting, whereas manners – the outward expression of the underlying principles of etiquette – are ever-changing. Manners, by their very nature, adapt to the times. While today’s manners are often situational, tailored to particular circumstances and the expectations of those around us, they remain a combination of common sense, generosity of spirit, and a few specific guidelines or fluid “rules” that help us interact thoughtfully. And as fluid as manners are, they all rest on the same fundamental principles of etiquette: consideration, respect, and honesty.


Consideration is being aware of and understanding how a situation affects everyone involved. It is thoughtful behavior, which informs actions that will affect others in a positive way. Consideration prompts us to help a friend or stranger in need, to show appreciation, to offer praise.


Respect is demonstrated by actions, appearance, and words that honor and value others, regardless of their background, race, or creed. It’s demonstrated in all your day-to-day relations—refraining from demeaning others for their ideas and opinions, refusing to laugh at racist or sexist jokes, putting prejudices aside, and staying open-minded. Being inclusive is a way of being respectful – that is, making an effort to learn about and accept others whose backgrounds and cultures are different from one’s own. We also show respect not just by what we refrain from doing but also by intentional acts, such as being on time, dressing appropriately for the occasion, acknowledging value in the ideas and beliefs of others, or giving our full attention to the person or people we’re with.
Self-respect is just as important as respect for others. A person who respects herself isn’t boastful or pushy, but is secure in a way that inspires confidence. She values herself regardless of her physical attributes or individual talents, understanding that integrity and character are what really matter.


Honesty is acting sincerely and being truthful. Honesty compels us to choose to act with integrity in ways that honor and respect others. It eschews the “white lie,” which denies both consideration and respect. Honesty allows us to apply empathy to find the positive truth and act upon it, without causing embarrassment or pain.

Two Other Essential Qualities

Graciousness and kindness are an integral part of courteous behavior. Graciousness is the ability to make other people feel welcome and comfortable in your world. Kindness is much like consideration but it also reflects the warmth in your heart.

“Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.”
― Emily Post

For a sampling of more amazing Emily Post quotes on the definition of etiquette please visit our Emily Post Quotations page or A_Z quotes.

Ring Regulation: In what order should you wear your rings?

Wedding ring and band in proper order.

twitter & header image - ring order

What is the proper way to wear your wedding rings?

Q:I have my engagement ring on first and then my band – but I have noticed most people wear it just the opposite the band is on first and then the engagement ring? Is is okay to wear either way?

A: Just before the ceremony, the bride switches her engagement ring from her left hand to her right. At the ceremony, the wedding band is placed by on the bride’s left hand. After the ceremony, the engagement ring is returned to the bride’s left hand on top of the wedding band. Therefore, it is considered more appropriate to wear the engagement ring on “top” of the wedding band. However, it is still your choice as to the order of your rings.

Download: The Bulletin Board Rule

Sometimes it can be difficult to decide if a communication is really “public” or “private.” One of the best tests we know is to apply the bulletin board rule: If you can put whatever you are communicating up on a bulletin board for anyone to read, then it is a public communication. In that case, you can email it, text it, tweet it, record it on voicemail, or post it. But if it doesn’t pass The Bulletin Board test, then think twice before hitting that send button or recording that voicemail.

The Bulletin Board Rule

Download a copy of the Bulletin Board Rule to post in your office.

For more information about Business Etiquette Seminars, please contact Daniel Post Senning at 802-860-1814 or


The Continuing Importance of the RSVP

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times: RSVPs still matter! Very much so. While no one is obligated to accept an invitation or to explain the reasons for not accepting, you do have an obligation to let your host whether or not you will attend. Unfortunately for hosts, no one will come running to your door and demand that you finally reply to that invitation that has been sitting on your coffee table for three weeks. We live in a more casual society today, but a host planning an event still needs to know how many people to expect. And more than that, just as someone is being kind when inviting you to an event, you should be just as kind to reply to their invitation.

So, the next time an invitation lands in your mailbox or inbox, be sure to do the following:

Take your cue from the invitation

If you received your invitation by email, then an emailed response is acceptable. If the invitation is to a wedding and includes an enclosed card, then send your response by mail. You can judge the required response by the formality of the invitation itself.

Respond in a timely fashion

Generally it is best to reply as soon as possible. For written invitations responses are made within several days of receiving the invitation. For in-person or phoned invitations, you may provide your response when asked or await until you have checked your schedule. Simply let the person know that you will call as soon as possible.

Keep replies brief

There is no need to go into great detail if you must decline the invitation. Write a simple and polite note of regret.  If you feel like you must offer an explanation, be sure it is brief.

Reply even if you have a potential conflict

If you would like to accept an invitation to an informal or casual event but have a tentative conflict, contact the host or hostess to explain the problem. If the event is formal, however, your delay might inconvenience the host, so it’s best to decline the invitation.

When replies aren’t requested

If the invitation does not specifically request that you RSVP, then a response is not necessary. However, it is always polite to notify the host when you cannot attend.  A phone call will usually suffice, though you might send a personal note or an email.