Once a month, the Young Women’s Alliance hosts a Saturday Session.  These sessions are similar to their monthly meetings but are smaller (less than 20 people) and much more interactive. Below is a blog that Cassandra Harrison of the YWA posted after I had the pleasure of joining them for January’s Saturday Session.

Etiquette.  I think we can all agree it’s something that is a bit lacking in our society.  But it’s still a skill that is highly valued, particularly in the business world.  On Saturday, January 19th, several YWA members attended a Saturday Session with Sharon M. Schweitzer, JD, to brush up on their etiquette skills.

Now this wasn’t a ‘which fork goes with which meal’, ‘which red wine with what entrée’ event – not that I couldn’t personally use that help –  but rather we learned about those little etiquette skills that you don’t think about, like appropriate eye contact in the workplace. Do you know where and how to look at your boss during a conversation? It’s the eye triangle – from direct eye contact through the middle of the forehead. Don’t look below the nose and definitely not below the neck.

Here’s another one: handshakes. Ladies, this is where we need to beef it up. Don’t be afraid to shake the man’s hand, firmly. You rock, let him know it! Don’t crush his hand, but don’t do the limp fish either.  Web hand to web hand, shake from elbow, other arm straight to your side. Two pumps but Texans can get away with three or four, because well, we’re friendlier.

I’ll give you some more freebies.

  • Handshakes are the only appropriate workplace interaction.  I know we ladies like to hug.  But let the boss go for it first.  Here’s another thing – all the power is with whoever shakes first.  So get in there!
  • We’re a more casual society but avoid defaulting to first names in conversation AND in email, unless invited.
  • Never hi or hey – always HELLO. As your grandma always said, ‘hay’ is for horses.
  • Speaking of names – introduce yourself with your full name, not just your first.  Donald Trump doesn’t say, “Hey, how you doing? I’m Donald.” Neither should you.
  • Nametags.  Always the right side.  Done.
  • Eat some protein before networking event.  No one wants to talk to the woman shoving cheese bites in her mouth.
  • Business cards.  Get some.  Vistaprint is easy and cheap.  Also, leopard print should be saved for your Saturday night stilettos.  Not your business card holder.  Simple and clean.

My favorite lesson was on how to break into conversations. We’ve all been in that uncomfortable situation. It’s not easy and it’s a learned skill.  But Sharon offered some great tips.  Sorry, that’s not a freebie.

We also discussed email etiquette.  I’ll give you this – avoid BCC.

young-womens-allianceFinally, the etiquette skill I think is most needed in our society – cell phone etiquette. This just takes common sense. Don’t yell, don’t leave the phone on the table, and show respect to those you are with by being present in the conversation, not checking your Facebook status. Log off and hang up.

Dress shabbily, they notice the dress. Dress impeccably, they notice the woman. – Coco Chanel