You know that guy that everyone talks about behind his back, the one that many would peg as “rude” or “socially awkward”? Well, if you don’t know the person we’re talking about, chances are it may be you.
In the modern world, it sometimes feels like being gentlemanly has become a distant memory. Whether far-too absorbed in their technology or just lacking an awareness of common courtesies, we see more and more men ditching the concept of the old school gentleman, and hopefully, they’re doing so without realizing it.
We’d like to steer these wayward souls back in a direction of being stately and polite, especially considering it takes little to no effort at all and can completely change the course of a relationship. First impressions mean everything and the more manners you show during that first meeting, the more likely you will be to get a second.
Whether it’s a business meeting, a lunch with someone you’ve had your eye on, or even just connecting over the internet, keep these etiquette mistakes in mind and make sure you do the exact opposite.
To Thine Own Phone Be Glued
This gets top billing because it has become the biggest offender when it comes to social interactions. We’re so glued to our smartphones these days that we often forget that, when someone else is talking, we should set them aside.
If you’re so engaged with the notifications that continuously pop up and have an OCD on checking them immediately, before you meet up with someone, put your phone on silent, turn off vibrate, and keep your phone in your pocket.
We’ve forgotten how to “live in the now” and try to live in a hundred different places at once by obsessing ourselves with Instagram and Facebook, Reddit and 4chan, and all other manner of social media. There’s nothing worse in a social meeting than when the other person opts to pay attention to their phone more than you.
If you can muster the strength to ignore notifications and decide to keep the sound on, when your phone does ring, check to ensure it’s not an emergency or a call you just have to take and, if not, put it back in your pocket. If it is an important call, excuse yourself from the table and take it. Don’t make them listen to one side of your conversation.
The Split Personalities
Speaking of social media, try not to forget that something you post could be seen by people you don’t want to see it. Treat Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as if you’re sitting face-to-face with the people you’re reaching out to. If you wouldn’t make a comment about someone’s weight to their face, then don’t say it on social media.
Two things can happen if you run your mouth off on these online outlets:
You can wind up portraying yourself as something you’re not and ruin first impressions of you
Someone you didn’t intend to see your post may see it, leading to potentially awkward friendships or, even worse, abrupt termination of employment
These places aren’t your safe haven to say whatever comes to your mind. They’re public outlets and unless you make them private to literally everybody, you can’t trust that something you post won’t make the rounds.
The Sit Down Greeting
Unless your legs are broken, non-functioning, or any other terrible scenario, you can, and should, muster the strength to stand when meeting somebody new. Refusing to stand up to shake the hand of your new acquaintance is disrespectful and shows just how invested in the new interaction you really are. Shaking one’s hand is a sign of mutual respect and standing to receive or offer a handshake is just plain good manners.
This may not fall under “manners,” but when you do shake hands with someone, make sure you offer a firm grip and your palm is against theirs.
Dressing to Disappoint
How you look doesn’t only tell others about yourself but it also lets them know how you view your meeting with them. Think of it – you’re about to meet an executive at your new firm and they show up wearing khaki shorts and a Hawaiian button-up. You probably won’t be too impressed with him but you’ll also recognize that he had no intention of discussing anything of importance with you.
Dress not only to impress but to also show your intentions. If it’s a business meeting that you want to end with some high praise, go the extra mile and wear a tie. Meeting a girl for the first time? By dressing moderately nice, you’ll show that you cared enough to put in the effort.
There was once a time when our favorite four-letter words were taboo. Now, you can’t walk five feet in a crowded mall without hearing them at least a dozen times. They may be far more socially accepted in public but that doesn’t mean you should be bringing them to your first meeting.
There’s a popular belief that a person that curses frequently does so because they can’t formulate other adjectives to describe their feelings. In other words, cursing a lot is said to be a sign of low intelligence. While you may have a large vocabulary, resorting to shocking four-letter replacements does tell a different story.
You also risk coming across as crass, crude, or rude, and when it comes to important meetings at work or with your boss, cursing should be reserved for your inner dialogue.
Forgetting Your Audience
During a business meeting about last quarter’s tremendous drop in sales, you probably don’t want to bring up your plan to get “tore up from the floor up” over the weekend. It’s imperative to remember whose company you’re in, especially as your brain starts to wander and insists you talk about last night’s episode of “Game of Thrones.”
Remain aware of your audience and avoid topics, words, or phrases that may cause an uncomfortable rift. For instance, you may not want to discuss your love of filet mignon when sitting with someone you know to be a devout vegan. Sure, you may think veganism is weird, but respecting one’s beliefs and practices, so long as they don’t hurt or hinder those around them, is a great way to get on their good side.
Hogging the Floor
You may have a lot to say and the person you’re with may be more-than-willing to listen to it all, but conversing with someone should be a two-way street. Don’t take over the flow of dialogue and make it all about yourself. Take a break and ask a question, give them a chance to say what’s on their mind, even if it’s only a one sentence answer.
Not hogging the conversational flow shows that you’re willing and able to listen and putting the ball in their court lets them know that future encounters with you won’t be a one-sided snooze fest for them.
When dealing with business meetings, make sure you get a complete thought out or at least make your initial point before handing the metaphorical mic off. You don’t want to come across as scattered or ill-prepared and like you’re stalling for time.
Timeliness is Next to Godliness
You know what people love to do? Arrive on time and then have to wait 15, 30, sometimes 45 minutes for the other party! Really, you should try it out the next time you’re meeting someone for the first time.
That is, of course, if you want it to end in a disaster. There are few instances where arriving late is acceptable, despite whether it’s a social get together or business meeting. Excuses like:
There was so much traffic!” really don’t hold much water, especially nowadays when every device at our disposal can get us around slow-downs on the road.
Be courteous and plan to arrive ten minutes early as some have the mantra “If you’re on time, you’re late!”
The whole “no phone” rule really extends beyond mobile devices. If you have a tablet, laptop, handheld gaming device, smartwatch, or any manner of handheld technology, unless the person you’re meeting with specifically requests it, leave it at home.
Outside of being difficult to resist the urge to look at or play with it, if you bring something like a laptop, your guest may think you planned for your interaction with them to be dull enough to require some technological intervention.
Smartwatches are tricky, but if you’re insistent on wearing it, just don’t make it a habit to check it.
Are you looking to kill the conversation? Because bringing up politics or religion is a great way to kill conversation.
When you’re first getting to know someone, don’t impose your political views on them unless they specifically ask for it. You may think the presidential candidate Y is a smooth talker with no decent plans for the country, but that’s not something you should make evident so soon in the budding relationship.
It may be weird to see this connected to “good manners,” but talking politics has become tantamount to how rude putting your elbows on the table was once considered. Which, while not as widely practiced or viewed as rude, still keep your elbows off the table.