For the unfamiliar, Jane Austen’s world of ‘Pride & Prejudice’ is a complex ecosystem of social appropriateness set within the time context of a Victorian era. Communication is very particular, almost rehearsed and follows a certain set of protocols. Men posture themselves a certain way while every lady dons her best-laced clothes or hand fan. Spoons don’t clink against the cup while stirring, and introductions, regardless of however informal the event, are made as formally as possible. While this sense of English appropriateness might drive some cultures crazy, we all understand the importance of some degree of basic etiquette. There are certain unwritten rules that exist within a social context that require a fair amount of politeness, respect and sensitivity. These protocols for behavior can look different in an informal context but are a little better defined within a business environment. In this article we will examine a few such protocols:
- Formal introductions:While casual settings call for an intro that can be as simple as a “Hi”, introductions made within a business or professional environment, require a proper “hello” and a polite handshake. It is also best to introduce someone with their full name. If you are introducing yourself and happen to have a fairly complicated first name, it is considered appropriate to introduce yourself with your proper name and then tell the person what they can call you, be it a shorter form of your name or a nickname. This avoids the awkward scenario of the person forgetting your name because of it’s complexity.
- Standing up to meet someone: Most eastern cultures naturally understand the importance of standing up to meet or greet someone. Regardless of the cultural context, standing up to be introduced to someone is considered respectful and communicates an appropriate acknowledgement of his or her presence. If you are unable to standup for whatever reason, leaning forward at least indicates an intention that you would stand up if you could.
- ‘Thank you: After specific meetings such as job interviews, it is always appropriate to send individual thank you cards to the people who were involved in the interview process. The appropriate window of time to do this would be within 24 hours of the meeting. Keep in mind that regular mail can take time and when possible it may be better to thank someone via email. The thank you message itself must be simple – thanking them for their time and consideration of your application. Unnecessary words of groveling endearment are inappropriate and may be taken as an underhanded attempt at gaining favor.
- Chivalry only when necessary: While it is considered thoroughly proper for a man to open the door or pull a chair for a woman under most circumstances, in the context of a professional setting, like a lunch meeting, this type of chivalry is unnecessary. While most societies consider men and women equal, it is an unspoken rule that this aspect must be accentuated within a professional environment. In such a context, actually displaying chivalry might be considered as awkwardly unprofessional.