Winning Etiquette TIPS For Showcasing Your Best Self During the Holiday Season
As I sat down to write my annual Holiday Etiquette eNewsletter, I could not overlook the fact that we are now working in a rapidly changing world. However, good manners never go out of style! They are just a way of showing other people that we have respect for them.
Whether you’re raising a glass at your office dinner party or rubbing shoulders with key influencers you would not normally have access to, you want to ensure that you showcase your best self.
In this month’s Special Holiday eNewsletter, I will provide tips to ensure you finish 2015 with a stellar reputation and presence. Specifically, sharing a positive holiday experience with your business partners can help you to rekindle and refresh relationships and reinforce positive memories that can bring new opportunities in your career.
1. Do Not Judge, Or You Too Will Be Judged
As someone who has had the opportunity to view the generational shifts around the world, it is not so much the differences that present the greatest challenges, but the reaction to them.
Everyone – regardless of age, has to recognize and accept the fact that things are now different. Unlike the past, when younger workers automatically took their cues regarding conduct from office veterans, today’s Generation Next marches to the beat of their own drum.
Wherever you are in this generational timeline, understanding that there are distinct differences will help everyone to create a harmonious atmosphere during the Holiday Season, as well as all year round.
Whether you’re attending an informal holiday office party at your boss’ home or a more formal event at your corporate headquarters, treat it like a business function.
- Act like you’re the host responsible for making people feel comfortable and respected.
- “Working a room” simply means that you circulate. Always enter a group of three people rather than two people, as they may be having a personal conversation.
- Be the first to offer a warm handshake. Shake hands for the length of time it takes to learn the color of the person’s eyes.
- Reintroduce yourself to those you don’t know well in your company. Share why you’re excited about the work that you do. Short and sweet but you’ll make the impression that you care!
- Use people’s names and where possible, make it your business to introduce people to each other, particularly if someone’s spouse is standing there in awkwardness.
- If you aren’t being introduced, initiate the introduction by saying: “We haven’t been introduced formally and I’d like to meet you.”
- Do your homework and prepare for small talk in advance. Go to the party armed with safe icebreaking topics like extra-curricular activities, sports, upcoming vacations, etc. Avoid “talking shop”, gossiping, tooting your own horn and discussing controversial subjects such as race, religion or politics.
- Knowing you will be meeting with executives you have had little contact with in the past will require you to some research. Ask individuals (in advance) who know these people what would be topics of interest to discuss with them.
2. Diffuse The Photo Bomb
We live and work in an age where everything we do and say can be captured at the simple click of a button. Whether taking pictures standing next to your CEO, or capturing someone while they are off-guard and relaxed, the era of the safely orchestrated picture is gone. It is as if we live in a Candid Camera world, and whether we like it or not, our image can be blasted out for all to see in a matter of seconds.
- Before you click, ask permission. A good rule of thumb is to be considerate of the other person before creating a memory on virtual film.
- Use good judgement – while capturing the spontaneity of a holiday party moment may seem fun and acceptable at the time, things may look much different in the morning – especially after it has been posted and shared on Facebook.
- Ditch your cell phones during the event. Whether you are attending a casual holiday event or seated at a dinner table, discipline yourself to be in the present. Using cell phones or texting demonstrates that you are disengaged or bored with the company around you.
- Send photos the following day, with a note expressing how nice it was to spend time with the individual. This is especially effective if you wish to be memorable to that person.
3. Alcohol: Abstinence Versus Responsible Drinking
In his recent television appearance, The Pitbull of Personal Development Larry Winget suggested that people attending an office party should stay away from liquor.
His reasoning is that even though it is a party, you are for all intents and purposes still at work. Especially given the fact that others – including your boss, are watching.
While abstinence is certainly a good idea if you are prone to over indulgence – there are also ways you can enjoy the festive spirit should you chose to do so.
- Drink responsibly. Play it safe. Allow yourself to one drink, knowing you can still be at your best.
- Protect your colleagues if you notice that they are overindulging and becoming loud.
- If you don’t drink, order a club soda in a wine glass. Therefore you won’t have people trying to push you to drink nor will you make those drinking feel uncomfortable.
- Hold your glass in your left hand so that your right one isn’t cold and clammy when you shake hands with others.
- Remember, the “condition” in which you leave says as much about you as the presence you established when you arrived.
4. Timeless Advice
My mother used to tell me that good manners demonstrate the character of a person.
Regardless of the type of event, the following tips will serve you well whether you are at the holiday office party or having lunch with your boss, co-workers or clients.
- If you are attending a cocktail party, arrive on time but if you must be late, do not show up later than 30 minutes.
- Resist the urge to remain with your usual companions, to “put in an appearance” and leave. Your contribution to the overall success of the evening will be viewed in a positive light.
- Don’t transform into ‘the food monster’ that lurks by the free buffet table, inhaling anything that is not moving. Above all, never double dip at the buffet table!
- Exercise extreme caution when you want to demonstrate greetings that could be misinterpreted. For example, clasping both your hands over the other person’s hand when you first arrive or leave is usually the safest route.
- Certain cultures are not comfortable with greetings that require any physical touch. Do your homework to make sure you know the appropriate way to greet them.
- Never be the last one to leave the party. You do not want to appear as if you have “closed down the bar.”
- Your invited clients are your responsibility. Introduce them to key people and try to build commonality between the parties so that they can enjoy engaging dialogues with others. This frees you up to socialize with other people who are important to you.
In closing, my sincere hope is that you can use these useful tips to showcase your “best” self – which by the way should not be limited to just the holiday season. Be mindful of different cultures, generations and hierarchy. Don’t make others wrong for their values or customs. Act like a global ambassador who demonstrates respect for everyone. You only have one chance to make a first impression.
“Seek popularity, not based on power, but popularity based on admirable qualities.” – Anonymous
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