Updated: Feb 23, 2021
Modern etiquette is about far more than which fork to use and what to do with your napkin.
Technology has a continual impact on our lives and etiquette has needed to evolve in order to keep us polite and efficient. Tomorrow’s leaders know this, and have an advantage over those who do not. Think about what comes to mind when you think of etiquette. Probably a dining table full of stiff people trying to eat soup, right? I don’t blame you — and as enjoyable as I find the history of dining etiquette and table manners, modern manners are more about navigating careers and reaching your goals. Instead of “Which fork is mine?” or “What do I do with my napkin at the end of a meal?”, there are more nuanced questions and things to consider because of today’s digital world. Try asking these questions instead: Do you know how to send a business email versus a social email? Are you confident in your verbal communication skills? Are you as good at listening as you are speaking or typing? How do you know when it is appropriate to text in a meeting and when it isn’t? Tomorrow's leaders need to have answers for each of these questions in order to navigate the nuances of technology etiquette as swiftly as their social etiquette. Finely-tuned etiquette skills can help you land a job, accelerate your career and grow a strong network of professional relationships. Career paths are rarely linear or easy. Rather, they are dynamic and hard work, in and of themselves! Even just getting started on your career path is tough. According to Glassdoor, a corporate job post receives 250 resumés, and only two percent of those are called in for an interview. If you are in the two percent, you have the education, knowledge and talent for the job—but, so does the rest of the two percent. You need to have something extra that can set you apart. That is etiquette. LinkedIn says that eight in ten employers believe that soft skills are increasingly important to company success. Employers say that a growing trend for recruitment is finding candidates who possess soft skills. Up to eighty percent of HR specialists find it difficult to fill positions because while candidates are qualified, they lack soft skills. Having a knowledge base of etiquette can help you build your soft skills toolbox to get the job or promotion you want. I love being able to offer etiquette instruction and advice to help others, especially to those beginning their careers. It is very rewarding to see young leaders use their etiquette skills as a compliment to their talent and work ethic to help them achieve their goals. It is inexcusable, to me, for an otherwise qualified person to not succeed in their career because they lacked the proper etiquette training. Everyone deserves the chance to be well-rounded. Yet not everyone received etiquette instruction when they were young. That’s part of the reason I’m always thrilled to offer my services to tomorrow’s young, upcoming leaders. I have been asked to help train many students at a local university over the past few years in dining etiquette, introductions, dress codes, gifts and more. Most of them had not had much etiquette training growing up, yet they realized how important it was if they wanted to be successful. Since then, I’ve been able to catch up with several of these former students, and it is always exciting to see where their newfound etiquette skills have taken them! I recall one young woman who was painfully shy and afraid to introduce herself. We worked together on the proper form of introductions. She’s now gained confidence, is able to extend her arm, look the other person in the eyes, and share her first and last name! Trust me, with etiquette, the smallest things can have the biggest impact. She went on to nail a lunch interview (dining etiquette still comes in handy here, as I instructed her to order something simple and never spaghetti), and practiced her active listening skills during the interview. She was authentic, talented and possessed all the right soft skills. I was not surprised to hear she landed the job! Everything you say, type and do at work is a reflection of who you are. Be authentic and start your career, or jump-start your career, with a toolbox full of talent, hard work and plenty of etiquette skills. That is how modern manners work in this digital age. That is how we prepare tomorrow’s leaders, starting today.