Polishing professional etiquette

Kathleen Dickey ’67, a certified business etiquette consultant, presented to Immaculata students during the fourth annual Etiquette and Professional Presence Dinner that the Office of Career Development offers to all students. Dickey, who graduated from Immaculata with a Bachelor of Arts in French, has noticed how the “rules” of etiquette have changed.

What has been the biggest change in etiquette over the years? 
What was a “no-no” that is now acceptable?

The biggest change in etiquette pertains to women in the workforce. Years ago, a woman’s handshake could appear aggressive if it was extended and firm but today a firm handshake shows confidence and competence. Whether in the boardroom or traveling, women should exhibit the same professionalism that men do. Good communication skills, firm handshakes, 
and strong eye contact are now a part of women’s professional lives as well.

Is it a fair assumption that most students already knew proper etiquette when you were a student at Immaculata in the 1960s? Would you say this is true today of college-aged students?

Yes, as a student at Immaculata, I found fellow classmates to be mannerly, appropriately dressed and able to practice correct table etiquette. As a result of technology and a much faster-paced world, students need to be aware of maintaining their communication skills to demonstrate their competencies. The same can be said for the manner in which they dress and their dining skills. Students today must realize they will be judged on all of these “etiquettes,” or professional points.

What etiquette “norm” from years ago are you glad to see disappear?

Years ago when entertaining clients at a business meal, hosts felt obliged to order an alcoholic beverage if their client did. Today, this practice no longer exists. There is no pressure or necessity to match your client’s “martini order.” I feel it is a healthier and more professional way to conduct oneself than years ago.

What would you like to see reinforced today?

Correct table manners should be reinforced today. Fair or not, you are judged by your table manners. In such a fast-paced world, there is no time to fret about not knowing which fork to use. Again, competence at the table demonstrates confidence.

How important is business etiquette to prospective applicants? Can they really lose a job because of poor etiquette?

The importance of business etiquette cannot be stressed enough for prospective applicants. Jobs are often lost because of bad first impressions. Our image comprises 55 percent of what is believed about us in business. Knowing how to present yourself as effective, confident and reliable is as critical as any business skill on your resume.

Etiquette Norms

1. Appropriate business attire
2. Correct handshake
3. Proper introductions
4. Timely eye contact
5. Square posture
6. Proper speaking skills (correct grammar)
7. Proper dining etiquette
8. Awareness of 
electronic etiquette (no cell phones at the table, 
cell phones on silent, etc.)
9. Sensitivity to other cultures
10. Respect of personal space

Author: aduncan

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