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Heather Sprandel Sam M. Walton College of Business Career Development Center. Present Your Best Self!. Social Etiquette Basics. How do you have presence in a room of people? Wear clothes that make you look competent, successful and capable and have a finished appearance defined as:

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present your best self

Heather Sprandel

Sam M. Walton College of Business

Career Development Center

Present Your Best Self!

social etiquette basics
Social Etiquette Basics
  • How do you have presence in a room of people?
  • Wear clothes that make you look competent, successful and capable and have a finished appearance defined as:
        • Clothing that is comfortable but appropriate and well-coordinated,
        • Clothing that is clean, mended, pressed and neat,
        • Neat hairstyle, and
        • Cared-for nails.
social etiquette basics1
Social Etiquette Basics
    • Know how to make a good entrance into a social setting.
  • Present a solid, self-assured hand shake.
  • Know how to properly introduce yourself and others.
  • Stand tall. Have good posture.
  • Use your eyes. Have direct eye contact with people.
remembering names
Remembering Names
  • Stop telling yourself you don’t remember names and start telling yourself, “I’m good at remembering names.” This statement, repeated often enough, can counteract any negative message about not remembering names.
  • Slow down, listen carefully, and pay attention when you meet a new person. Deliberately take the time for more than an exchange of names.
  • Use the person’s name in conversation. Use it often. Repetition builds memory. For example: “Did you grow up here in Arkansas, John?”
  • Look at the person’s face. Most of us can recall faces better than names. Associate names with faces.
  • Use a personal connection such as someone else you know with the same name. “My very best friend is named Rebecca!”
remembering names1
Remembering Names
  • Tell the person what you’ve heard about them. “I have heard so many great things about you. I understand that you’ve made quite a contribution to the RFID lab serving as their intern.”
  • Be conscious of your body language. Let the other person know that you are happy to meet them.
  • Be focused when meeting someone and saying goodbye to someone.
  • If you recognize that someone doesn’t remember your name, rescue them! Immediately shake their hand, smile and reintroduce yourself.
  • What do you do if you can’t remember someone’s name? Put them at ease by focusing on your own embarrassment. Extend your hand, smile and say your name. They are likely to say their name, too.
proper introductions
Proper Introductions

Making introductions is not complicated; rather, it is a logical process. You properly introduce a less experienced (subordinate) to a more important, senior person. For example:

  • A younger person to an older person
  • A peer in your company to a peer in another company
  • A junior executive to a senior executive
  • A fellow executive to a customer or client
  • An unofficial person to an official person
  • A fellow U.S. citizen to a peer from another country.

Making an introduction

The key to making a proper introduction is explaining who people are:

  • “Dr, Cronan, I wanted you to meet Sue and Scott. They’re both interns at our organization and are spending the summer working on the database project. Sue and Scott, this is Dr. Paul Cronan from the University of Arkansas.”
the perfect handshake
The Perfect Handshake

A quality handshake feels:

  • Firm, strong, represents a decisive person who may take risks and is in control.
  • Warm and enthusiastic, especially if you like or are happy to see the person.

When do you shake hands?

  • When introduced or saying goodbye to someone.
  • When someone comes into your office or home to visit.
  • When you meet someone outside of your home or office.
  • When entering a room where you see people you know and are introduced to people you’ve never met.
  • When leaving an event (i.e., meeting, reception, dinner, party) and saying goodbye to friends and associates.
  • When you congratulate someone for winning an award, giving a speech or receiving recognition for an accomplishment.
making small talk
Making Small Talk

How do you make small talk that leaves a good impression?

  • Have depth and breadth of knowledge. Be well-informed.
  • Focus more on the person you are talking to rather than focusing on yourself.
  • Don’t interrupt or finish people’s sentences.
  • Listen intently – with your eyes and ears.
  • Think before you say something.
making small talk continued
Making Small Talk (continued)

Bring closure to your conversation before talking to the next person in the room. Statements to bring closure to your conversation might include:

  • I know there are many other people you’d like to visit with here. Thank you for taking the time to visit with me. It’s been a pleasure. (Shake hands)
  • It has been so nice seeing you and getting to know more about what you do. I’ve given you my card, so please don’t hesitate to call me if there is anything I can do for you. I’ve enjoyed visiting with you and hope we see each other soon. (Shake hands)
making small talk continued1
Making Small Talk (continued)

Subjects to avoid:

  • Money (i.e., how much money you make, how much something costs, how much land or cattle someone owns.)
  • Personal, intrusive questions (i.e., How old are you? Are you married?)
  • Ugly comments about other people (i.e., gossiping)
  • Controversial issues (i.e., religion, politics)
  • Inappropriate jokes
making small talk what do you talk about
Making Small Talk: What do you talk about?

Making Small Talk: What do you talk about?

  • Talk about big things going on in your life


  • Home improvement project
  • Your favorite volunteer activity
  • A new addition to your family (i.e., child, puppy)
  • Nature
  • Your surroundings
  • Favorite books
  • Recent movie you’ve seen (non-controversial)
making small talk people like to talk about themselves
Making Small Talk: People like to talk about themselves


  • “I read the paper this morning, what do you think about “xyz”?”
  • “We are so fortunate to have you visiting our organization. Have you ever been to Arkansas before?”
  • “Please forgive me. I should know, but what is it that you do?”
  • If someone is new to town, ask about their move and whether they have gotten settled yet.
  • If they have children, ask about their school situation or extracurricular activities.
  • When someone travels a lot, sympathize with their being away from home.
  • “Isn’t this a beautiful party? Our host (name) has done a fabulous job decorating.”
good conversationalists
Good Conversationalists

The bottom line is this . . . a good conversationalist:

  • Makes people feel good about themselves and feel important;
  • Allows people to learn about new and interesting things; and
  • Helps the time pass quickly.
basic table manners
Basic Table Manners

Basic Table Manners: Beginning

When should you seat yourself?

  • Wait until your host signals to sit down. If the hostess does not signal, take the chair nearest you.
  • If you are the host, invite guests to specific chairs by saying, “please sit here.”
  • There are two common approaches to determining when to begin eating your meal. Whichever method is used, it should be followed at the start of each course of the meal.
  • At smaller events, it is common to wait to take a bite until everyone at the table has received a serving and the hostess has begun eating.
basic table manners continued
Basic Table Manners (continued)

Posture -- "Elbows, elbows, if you're able -- keep your elbows off the table!"Proper posture at the table is very important.

  • Sit up straight, with your arms held near your body.
  • You should neither lean on the back of the chair nor bend forward to place the elbows on the table.
  • It is permissible to lean forward slightly every now and then and press the elbows very lightly against the edge of the table, if it is obvious that you are not using them for support.
when you are the host
When you are the Host

Take note of the way you offer additional servings to your guests:

  • Urging someone to "have another (or a second or third) helping" can be seen as an unpleasant insinuation that the guest has eaten too much.
  • It is best to phrase each offer of food as if the dish has just been brought out for the first time.
the napkin
The Napkin
  • Using the napkin at formal occasions, as with much else associated with etiquette, should be a delicate affair.
  • It is meant only to be dabbed at the lips and should not get dirty in the process.
  • It might seem that the napkin is provided precisely so that it can help the diner clean up any mess that might occur during the course of the meal. Of course, this was its original use, (once the tablecloth itself ceased to be used as a napkin), and at an informal occasion such as a barbeque, it still performs this service.
the napkin1
The Napkin

To Start

  • As soon as you are seated, remove the napkin from your place setting, unfold it, and put it in your lap.
  • At some very formal restaurants, the waiter may do this for the diners, but it is not inappropriate to place your own napkin in your lap, even when this is the case.
  • If your napkin falls on the floor during avery formal event, do not retrieve it. You should be able to signal to a member of the serving staff that you need a fresh one.
  • If you leave the table during the meal, place your napkin on your chair or to the left of your plate to signal you have left the table but will be returning.
the napkin continued
The Napkin (continued)

To Finish

  • When you leave the table at the end of the meal, place your napkin loosely next to the right of your plate.
  • It should not be crumpled or twisted, which would reveal untidiness or nervousness, respectively; nor should it be folded.
  • The napkin must also not be left on the chair.
what does an 8 course meal look like
What Does an 8 Course Meal Look Like?
  • 1st Course: Carpaccio of Pepper-Crusted Venisonwith Tangerines, Chiogga Beets, andWalnut-Mint Jus (appetizer)
  • 2nd Course: Roasted Garlic and Bloomsdale SpinachSoup with Fresh Herbs and Parmesan (soup)
  • 3rd Course: Warm Sweet Prawn Salad withShell Beans, Chicory and Salsa Verde (salad)
  • 4th Course: Sorbet (to clear the palate)
  • 5th Course: Sage-Crusted Medallions ofVeal Tenderloin with Sautéed Pearsand Crispy-Creamy Potato Galette (entrée)
  • 6th Course: Garden Salad (salad)
  • 7th Course: Fresh Fruit and Imported Cheese
  • 8th Course: Warm Caramelized Apple Tartwith Vanilla Crème Fraîche Ice Creamand Black Currant Coulis (dessert)
using your utensils all with the right hand forks knives spoons and more
Using Your Utensils All with the “Right” HandForks, Knives, Spoons and More

Holding a Utensil

  • In general use, both spoon and fork are held horizontally by balancing them between the first knuckle of the middle finger and the tip of the index finger while the thumb steadies the handle.
  • The knife is used with the tip of the index finger gently pressing out over the top of the blade to guide as you cut.
the zig zag method
The Zig Zag Method
  • By American custom, which was brought about partly by the late introduction of the fork into the culture, allthree utensils are intended for use primarily with the right hand, which is the more capable hand for most people.
  • This leads to some complicated maneuvering when foods, such as meat, require the use of knife and fork to obtain a bite of manageable size.
  • When this is the case, the fork is held in the left hand, turned so that the tines point downward, and hold the meat in place while the right hand operates the knife.
  • After a bite-sized piece has been cut, the diner sets the knife down on the plate and transfers the fork to the right hand, so that it can be used to carry the newly cut morsel to the mouth.
  • Do NOT cut all of your food at one time before eating. One bite at a time!!
please pass the salt
"Please Pass the Salt"
  • The proper response to this very simple sounding request is to pick up both the salt and the pepper and to place them on the table within reach of the person next to you, who will do the same, and so on, until they reach the person who asked for them.
  • They are not passed hand-to-hand, nor should anyone other than the original requester sprinkle her food when she has the shakers in her possession.
  • The reason for this, as Judith Martin points out more than once, is that American etiquette is not about efficiency. Often, the most refined action is that which requires the greatest number of steps to carry it out (as in, for example, the zig-zag method of handling a fork and knife).
eating soup
Eating Soup
  • Dip the spoon into the soup, moving it away from the body, until it is about two-thirds full, then sip the liquid (without slurping) from the side of the spoon (without inserting the whole bowl of the spoon into the mouth). The theory behind this is that a diner who scoops the spoon toward himself is more likely to slosh soup onto his lap
  • It is perfectly fine to tilt the bowl slightly -- again away from the body -- to get the last spoonful or two of soup.
foods to avoid
Foods to Avoid
  • Spaghetti
  • French onion soup
  • Buffalo wings
  • Ribs
  • Bony fish
  • Shellfish
  • Big sandwiches
  • Cheesy food
  • Foods requiring special utensils
  • Unfamiliar foods
table manners specifics
Table Manners: Specifics

What happens if stray food comes off your plate?

  • Use your fork to pick it up and put it back on your plate
  • If it is impossible to pick up with your fork or spoon, use your fingers when no one is looking. Remember to wipe your fingers on your napkin after doing so.

Seasoning your food

  • Taste your food before seasoning.
  • Don’t overdo it – even if you are accustomed to doing it at home. Don’t drown your potatoes in salt or your steak in ketchup. Think about the chef and what will complement his/her presentation.
table manners specifics1
Table Manners: Specifics

Toothpick or no toothpick?

  • Do not use a toothpick at the table. If you have something stuck in your teeth, drink lots of water to get it to move. If it is hopeless, go to the bathroom to remove it.
  • When you are eating an appetizer that has a toothpick that has been served by a waiter from a tray, don’t put a used toothpick back on the tray. If the waiter does not have something special for you to place the used toothpick in, find a trashcan or ashtray.

The Bread Basket

  • The French Loaf – tear what you want, place back in basket and pass the basket.
  • Tear into bite-sized pieces as you eat the roll or piece of bread
table manners specifics2
Table Manners: Specifics

Alcohol – To Drink or Not?

  • There are many different theories on this. Should you drink alcohol or not?
  • Some say no, never, especially if you are on a job interview.
  • Others say that if the other people at the table have ordered a drink to feel free to order one as well.
  • Moderation is key. Limit yourself to no more than two drinks.
  • Always check to see what your company policy is regarding alcohol use. Your company may have a cocktail limit per person or request that you do not drink when doing business with clients or each other.
table manners specifics3
Table Manners: Specifics

Once-Used Placement

  • There are numerous rules and prohibitions regarding the proper placement of eating utensils once they have been used.
  • Essentially, used flatware must never be allowed to touch the surface of the table, where it might dirty the cloth.
  • It is not proper to allow even the clean handle of a knife or fork to rest on the cloth while the other end lies on the plate.
  • At the end of a course, a utensil must not be left in any dish that is not flat -- the soup bowl, for example, or a shrimp cocktail dish, a teacup or a parfait glass.
  • All these items are usually presented with a plate underneath the bowl or cup, on which the utensil must be placed after use.
table manners specifics4
Table Manners: Specifics

What if you are left-handed?

  • If you have a chance to say something to the host in advance, feel free to let him/her know you are left-handed and would appreciate sitting at an end seat.
  • If you don’t have a chance to say something, tuck in your elbows and do your best not to hit the person next to you. You may want to alert the person sitting next to you that you are left handed sitting in an awkward position.
etiquette references
Etiquette References
  • The Art of the Table, Suzanne Von Drachenfels
  • The Little Book of Etiquette, Dorothea Johnson
  • Commonsense Etiquette, Marjabelle Young
  • New Complete Guide to Executive Manners, Letitia Baldrige
  • The Etiquette Advantage in Business: Personal Skills for Professional Success, Peggy and Peter Post
present your best self1
Present Your Best Self!


Contact: Heather Sprandel –, 575.3824