What Does Etiquette have to do with Nursing Leadership?

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.
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.
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:
and focus when you hear the name.
the person’s name. For example, “It is a
pleasure to meet you, Margaret.”
the name to something or someone. For
example, “I have a daughter named Theresa and she spells her name like you.”
the person a question about the name? 
For example, “Do you spell Kathleen with a C or a K?”
at the person’s nametag.  his will help
you remember the name and know how to spell it.
down the name or ask for a business card.
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
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.
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:
and be friendly to everyone.
yourself to people you don’t know.
clustering in small groups with people in your department.
more time listening than talking.
“shop talk” during social gatherings.
sure to greet senior management. Use
engaging small talk.
you don’t call people by their first names at work, don’t start at the social
the serving staff with respect.
messy foods. Keep your hands clean for shaking hands.
aware of your body language. Don’t act
your hosts before leaving.

can and should learn some basic business etiquette. The better you become at it, the more you
will be sought after for opportunities and positions. These tips can help you handle awkward and
challenging situations that could diminish your confidence, tarnish your
reputation, and derail your career aspirations.


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.