Our blog post guest this week and next week is Deborah Thomas-Nininger with DTN Productions. Deborah is helping answer a lot of questions that have arisen since COVID related to business etiquette.
Business etiquette has gone through many evolutions over the years, and due to the current pandemic, many people are in a state of “what to do now” confusion.
Our IRL business interactions, present, and future, such as networking, dining etiquette, and meeting manners, need a pandemic courtesy overhaul.
There has never been just one arbiter of etiquette, and today is no different. Etiquette mavens, just like opinions, are in abundance. As someone who has been teaching business etiquette and soft skills/people skills for over twenty years, I am happy to offer my tips and suggestions.
Should we resume hugging our familiar favorites? Do we still shake hands but only after passing the anti-bacterial gel around?
- Even with my favorites, I no longer initiate a hug when meeting, but I also don’t refuse theirs (my choice) if they offer it. If you are not comfortable receiving hugs, be ready to handle that graciously – a rebuff can be awkward!
- Rather than immediately offering a handshake, I suggest giving a smile, a head nod coupled with a verbal greeting. I am experiencing it all…people offering handshakes (I choose to accept them), people who give elbow bumps, and people who say, “let’s skip the handshake!”
Meetings are going to look different as we consider a variety of pandemic conundrums.
- Perhaps add a space between chairs rather than sitting side by side – my clients have made that switch in my workshops and recent keynotes, and it works just fine!
- Presenting business cards hand to hand can be replaced with placing your card on the table in front of them or sliding it over to them – I’ve tried it and find people are doing the same. And of course, hand-to-hand presentation of cards still happens, as well as the reemergence of virtual cards.
- Community food is challenging at best – think of it as buffet etiquette on steroids! People notice who touches the food, and now, if you’re breathing on it. A number of my clients are going food-free for their meetings; bring your own beverage for the time being.
- And don’t forget to consider a hybrid meeting model – perhaps give the option of some people attending the meeting virtually if they are more comfortable.
- When weather permits, outdoor options for meetings are fantastic on so many levels!
Business Dining/Entertainment is back on our schedules, and we are under the microscope (no pun intended.)
- Table manners have always mattered, but now bump up the obvious hand-washing, anti-bacterial gel expectations.
- The sharing of dishes, appetizers is subjective – personally, I am avoiding them for a while.
- Be convivial and avoid the pandemic topic if possible…people are tired of rehashing it over and over again.
- If you’re the host on the golf course, at the table, or at a sporting event, it is your job to ensure everyone’s comfort and enjoyment. Anticipate what might be needed to show your guests you have thought of their safety.
More great tips from Deborah will be posted next week. Be sure to check back to learn more about business etiquette.