With the New Year approaching, and formal/casual gatherings abound, I thought a guide to better etiquette would be in season. Now you may be thinking â€œwho cares?â€ In actuality, etiquette is very important and can help you navigate through some awkward situations. So take a read and learn the art of etiquette, abridged style.
1. The Arrival. Plan to arrive at the gathering 15 minutes later than the time printed in the invitation. Trust that your host/hostess designated the appointed time for a reason and respect their time and space. Giving those 15 minutes allows time for other guests to arrive, giving you a higher likelihood of lively conversation.
2. Come with a gift. Try to offer a gift that is valuable to the host or hostess. If your hosts are wine connoisseurs, a wine might be of value. Fresh flowers might be of value to other hostesses, etc. It is not always the monetary value that matters. Give some thought and give something of value. (Special note: If you are indeed bring a food/beverage item as a gift, do not expect the hosts to serve your gift at the gathering; they are not obliged.)
3. Getting into a conversation. When arriving to a gathering, it might be awkward to break into a conversation that has already begun. To â€œbreak into the party,â€ start small. Look for groups of two or three or someone standing alone. Start with polite small talk (i.e. comment positively on the room, party, or kindness of the host/hostess). Then begin to fish for topics that your acquaintances are interested in.
4. Leaving a conversation. When leaving a conversation, do so tactfully by excusing yourself. Thank the group for an interesting round of conversation and tell them that it was very nice that you had the opportunity to meet them. When speaking with one person, a tactful way to exit a conversation is to introduce them to someone or vice versa. See step 5 for proper introductions.
5. Introductions. During introductions, there are two major rules. The first being that the younger is always introduced to the older, more distinguished individual. The second being that a man is always presented to a lady. (Special note: The latter does not apply in business settings.)
6. The â€œare you getting married yetâ€ question. Ah yes. The age old question for the twenty-somethingâ€™s. This question might be quite awkward at times but to this, I suggest that you make it an opportunity to learn something. Ask the questioner how they knew that their spouse was the â€œoneâ€ and how they knew when it was the right time to take a plunge. By doing so, youâ€™ll learn more about your questioner and also pick up some premarital tips for yourself.
7. Making an exit. Remember to thank your host(s) before exiting a party. Wait for an opportune time when the hosts are free and let them know that you appreciate their hospitality and delightful company.
There you have it, 7 steps to better etiquette. Maybe Iâ€™ll write again sometime about dining, interviewing, and other etiquette skills. For now, I bid you farewell. Merry Christmas and have a very happy New Year.