You run into an old boss with your new boss. Who do you introduce first?
A client walks in two hours late to dinner and everyone else has already finished the main course– what do you do?
Stumped? Better keep reading.
In today’s workplace, people skills trump other business skills. Mastering your business manners is a crucial career survival strategy.
Ignore it, and you may soon find yourself pounding the pavement with millions of other people. But take these simple etiquette lessons to heart, and chances are you’ll not only get to keep your job but also vastly improve your odds of moving up in the organisation.
Put your business etiquette to the test and see if you have what it takes to get that raise or promotion you’ve been vying for. If you didn’t know the answers to at least five of these questions, your career could be stalled.
Vicky Oliver is the author of three books, including the bestselling 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions. These questions are an excerpt from her latest book, 301 Smart Answers to Tough Business Etiquette Questions which will be released in October.
These questions have been reprinted with permission from Sky Horse Publishing.
1. When you bump into your supervisor in the elevator, he asks how your latest project is faring. It's faltering. do you tell him?
A. Yes. Honesty is the best policy.
B. No. There could be spies from a competitive company lurking in the elevator.
C. No. You promise him a conference report is in the works.
D. No. Worried that the truth will lower your marks on your upcoming performance evaluation, you spin the facts to make it sound like there is still hope.
3. You're taking a taxi with three superiors from the office. You:
A. Get in first, and slide all the way over. (You've heard of apple-polishing. This is seat-polishing.)
B. Get in second, so that you can take the uncomfortable middle seat.
C. Get in third.
D. Get in fourth, so that you sit up front with the driver.
It depends on how many people are taking the cab and their hierarchical rank in comparison to yours. The question asked was about taking the cab with three superiors.
If travelling with more than two bosses, offer to sit in the front of the cab with the driver (and fantasize about the day in the not-too-distant future when you'll be Boss). However, if travelling with two bosses or fewer, enter the cab first and slide across the seat to the far side to make way for your superiors (unless one of them kvetches about sitting in the middle).
Since there is more room in the front than in the back, occasionally, heavyset people prefer to sit up front. If one of your superiors offers, by all means let him.
5. When two people are discussing business, how far apart should they stand?
A. 10 feet. (Or even further-- if one of them hasn't showered.)
B. 7 feet.
C. 6 feet.
D. 3 feet.
Chances are, no one will be standing next to you with a ruler, but as a general guideline, three feet is the standard distance in the United States.
But check local customs before conducting business in a foreign country. In Singapore, people stand approximately 2 to 3 feet apart. In India, people stand a bit farther apart, between 3 and 3 ½ feet. In the Ukraine and Russia, the distance is approximately 2 feet. In Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela, the distance is closer, as it is in Mexico.
Is someone standing so close that you can practically feel him breathing down your neck? Do not back away as it may cause the other person to step forward in an attempt to close the gap. An American's personal space is greater than that of an Arab or a Russian, but smaller than that of someone British.
While answer 6D seems like the more considerate policy, it alerts your interviewer even earlier to the fact that you're running late. If she's the type to stew about small breaches, it gives her five more minutes to conclude that you're not the right person for the job.
It's savvier to call the moment you were supposed to arrive, profusely apologise for your lateness, and tell her when she can expect you.
7. You eat spaghetti with a:
B. Fork and spoon.
C. Fork, knife, and spoon.
D. You avoid eating it at client dinners since you're not exactly sure of the protocol and you're worried about splattering it everywhere.
This takes some hand-eye coordination, but if you're good at video games, mastering the two-utensil trick is a no-brainer.
First, take a deep breath. Then, pick up both utensils. Hold the fork diagonally with your right hand and the spoon in your left. Gracefully lift a small portion of spaghetti with the fork and twirl it against the cupped part of the spoon until it forms a neat, little bundle. Then pop it into your mouth. For extra points, practice this skill at home before you show it off at a business dinner. Perfect your technique until you're the Derek Jeter of spaghetti eaters--and you'll never be tempted to tuck your napkin into your shirt to protect it. One small spoon for spaghetti . . . one short step to conquering lobster and chicken with bones!
At a client dinner, the client is the most important person. Even if he is abominably late, it's only polite to rise when he enters. Let others fuss about getting him wait service.
9. On a plane, you overhear two passengers talking loudly and it's difficult to concentrate. What, if anything, do you do?
A. Politely ask them to keep their voices down to a dull roar.
B. Ask the flight attendant to ask them to keep their voices down.
C. Say nothing. Hushing them would violate the Great Etiquette Paradox™.
D. Turn around and throw them glare darts with your eyes, hoping the two loudmouths will get the message.
10. Which American gesture is considered rude abroad?
A. Thumbs-up sign.
B. OK sign.
C. Chin flick.
D. All of the above.
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