Career Services: Etiquette an important workplace skill

November 24, 2014 / by / 0 Comment

By Alexa Wennet
GCU Career Services

The practice of etiquette is on the decline, yet it is one of the most important ways to demonstrate confidence, trust and professionalism.  Practicing workplace manners is especially critical during the holiday season as employers generally may be more jovial and inclined to conduct business over meals as opposed to in the office.

Whether you are just entering the workplace or have many years invested in it, here are some tips to making a lasting and positive impression by using proper etiquette.

The handshake is often the most important nonverbal signal in a business encounter and communicates who you are.  Here are some tips for an effective handshake:

  • Make sure your hands are free of food and grease.
  • If your hands are sweaty, nonchalantly wipe them along the sides of your pants before extending them.
  • When you extend your arm for the handshake, make eye contact and smile.
  • Make sure your handshake is firm but not floppy like a dead fish.
  • Don’t crush the other person’s hand.

A business meal is an extension of your work day. Your ability to interact professionally in a relaxed restaurant atmosphere can determine how you are perceived by management, colleagues and potential clients. Knowing basic table manners is a must. If you’re rusty, review an etiquette guide for a refresher. But here are a few tips to follow:

  • Check out the restaurant ahead of time to familiarize yourself with the menu.
  • Place your handbag on the back of the chair.
  • Leave on your suit coat.
  • Order a mid-priced meal.
  • Avoid messy pastas and alcohol during a business lunch.
  • Take small bites so you can easily swallow and reply quickly.
  • Place your napkin on your chair when leaving the table.
  • Stand up when being introduced to executives or other colleagues.
  • Relax and participate in the conversation.
  • Be polite to the hostess and server by saying “please” and “thank you.”
  • When you are finished, move your knife and fork to the four o’clock position so the server knows to remove your plate.
  • Never ask for a doggy bag.
  • The person requesting the interview and/or business meeting should always pay the bill.

If you’re nervous about the table setting, remember to start at the outside edges of your utensils and work your way in. Your dessert spoon and fork will be above your plate. As soon as you sit down, place your napkin on your lap, sit up straight, keep your elbows off the table, and don’t speak with your mouth full.

Expressing gratitude is an important etiquette practice that is becoming less frequent. The written ‘thank you’ is something that sets you apart from other professionals. Take time to appreciate colleagues, supervisors and mentors who assist you in your career. Here are two tips when writing:

  • May be hard copy or emailed.
  • Be specific and address aspects of the position/company or the conversation held.

GCU Career Services is here for you. Stop by the office in Camelback Hall or call 602-639-6606 to connect.  Or visit to utilize any of our online tools to identify your career path, build your resume, research career options or apply to current job postings.

About the Author
Leave a Comment