Guest post from Kathleen Pagana:
Anyone committed to career advancement faces the challenge of interacting well in business and social settings. By using the guiding principles of kindness, consideration and commonsense, professional etiquette can help you initiate new relationships and enhance established ones. Etiquette is about relationships. It can guide you in unfamiliar situations and help you know what to expect from others.
Let’s use a sports analogy. Suppose you want to join the volleyball league at your medical center. If you know the rules and know how to play the game, you could be an asset to the team. Likewise, in the workplace, etiquette makes you a welcome addition to a leadership team. It increases your confidence in dealing with all levels of colleagues by leveling the playing field. Many business programs have recognized the importance of business etiquette and have included it as part of their educational requirements. Although nursing education has focused on leadership and management, etiquette has been the missing link for success in the workplace.
Over a long career in nursing, I have often been challenged by business etiquette concerns in positions, such as patient care manager, military officer, faculty member, academic dean, and board member at a healthcare system. Professional etiquette has helped me handle these challenges. Let’s discuss five situations where etiquette can help you target your leadership potential.
1. Making introductions
You may wonder if it matters who is introduced to whom in an introduction. Yes, it does. There is a pecking order to introductions. The person of honor is mentioned first, and the other person is introduced to him or her. The higher-ranking person is the person of honor. For example, suppose a new graduate is being introduced to the nursing supervisor. The supervisor is mentioned first and the new nurse is introduced or presented to him or her.
Suppose you need to introduce Mike Smith (new graduate) to Theresa Deska (supervisor). Here is an example of a proper introduction: “Theresa, I would like to present Mike Smith. Mike is a new graduate from Lycoming College. Theresa Deska is our surgical supervisor.
2. Shaking Hands
Did you know you are judged by the quality of your handshake? You want to present a confident, firm handshake. Those few seconds can weaken or empower a relationship. Be sure to stand up, make eye contact, and smile.
If someone ignores your attempt to shake hands, gently drop your hand to your side. There are cultural and religious preferences that affect a handshake. For example, in the Hindu culture, contact between men and women is avoided, and men do not shake hands with women.
3. Remembering names
It means a lot to people to hear their name. People are impressed when you remember their name. However, many people have trouble remembering names. Here are some tips to help:
· Listen and focus when you hear the name.
· Repeat the person’s name. For example, “It is a pleasure to meet you, Margaret.”
· Connect the name to something or someone. For example, “I have a daughter named Theresa and she spells her name like you.”
· Ask the person a question about the name? For example, “Do you spell Kathleen with a C or a K?”
· Look at the person’s nametag. his will help you remember the name and know how to spell it.
· Write down the name or ask for a business card.
· Ask the person for a helpful way to remember how to pronounce the name. For example, when people ask me how to pronounce Pagana, I tell them to think of the word “banana.” Then say, “Pah-gann-a” like “bah-nann-a.”
4. Presenting business cards
Every leader needs business cards for networking. You can attach a business card to a report or note. This lets the person know you are the sender and provides your contact information.
Cards should be presented with the content face up and readable. The receiver should be able to glance at the card and make a comment. For example, “I see you are the nurse manager of surgical services.” Make sure the card you give is in good condition. Don’t use a card if it is soiled, bent, or ripped, because it will not portray a positive impression of you.
5. Mingling at receptions and cocktail parties
Your career aspirations can be enhanced or limited by your behavior as you navigate these potentially disastrous social gatherings. Inappropriate behavior can undo years of good impressions.
Attending work-related receptions shows you are a team player and gives you a chance to get to know co-workers in a less formal setting. Here are some guidelines for presenting yourself in a professional manner:
· Smile and be friendly to everyone.
· Introduce yourself to people you don’t know.
· Avoid clustering in small groups with people in your department.
· Spend more time listening than talking.
· Minimize “shop talk” during social gatherings.
· Be sure to greet senior management. Use engaging small talk.
· If you don’t call people by their first names at work, don’t start at the social event.
· Treat the serving staff with respect.
· Drink responsibly.
· Avoid messy foods. Keep your hands clean for shaking hands.
· Be aware of your body language. Don’t act bored.
· Thank your hosts before leaving.
Author bio: Kathleen D. Pagana, PhD is the author of “The Nurse’s Etiquette Advantage: How Professional Etiquette Can Advance Your Nursing Career.” She is a best-selling author of almost 2 million books with translations in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Chinese, Greek, and Polish. She is also a dynamic keynote speaker who motivates professionals to reach their goals though presentations on leadership, business etiquette, and life balance.