The way you carry yourself in public says a great deal about your background, including your upbringing and your education. Wealthy individuals set the societal standard for etiquette and have for centuries. Those new to wealth that don’t have the benefit of generations of training, a Swiss finishing school education and years of exposure to the habits of high society should put into practice these seven social etiquette principles.
Bring Something to the Conversational Table
Today’s conversation demands that participants be well-versed in current events. Proper social etiquette deals with conversations more than any other public activity. What is the point of knowing how to conduct yourself during a conversation if you do not have anything substantive to say? Always be prepared to start or join in on a conversation with something interesting and relevant to offer. Exercise caution should the topic turn to religion or politics, and always play the peacemaker if an uncomfortable situation arises.
Keep Your Hands to Yourself (Sometimes)
If someone extends their hand for a shake and your hands happen to be dirty, smile, apologize and graciously decline. Your companion will no doubt appreciate your consideration toward his health and well-being.
Maintain Eye Contact
Maintain eye contact when speaking with someone. This important gesture communicates more than your words alone. It shows that you possess a sincere interest in both the conversation at hand and the person with whom you are talking. Especially avoid looking over one’s shoulder to see who else is in the room, as tempting as it may be.
Accept Compliments Graciously
Many people erroneously believe that false modesty is good etiquette. This could not be further from the truth. You should always graciously accept a compliment when it is given no matter what, and don’t forget to lavish generous praise on those who helped you, if necessary.
Bring a Thoughtful Gift
Whenever you are invited to a get-together, especially by people you barely know, it is good practice to bring a thoughtful token of appreciation. Perhaps your hosts are wine collectors and a nice 2007 California Cab Franc is in order. Perhaps she is an avid gardener and an unusual orchid would brighten her day. Whichever you choose, think carefully about your hosts and select a gift that best suits the occasion. Never arrive empty-handed.
Interrupting Is Never Appropriate
Never interrupt someone while she are speaking, even if you vehemently disagree with what she is saying. At the same time, do not appear as if you intend to interrupt. Wait for your turn to speak and exude calmness when responding. When all else fails, add “we’ll have to agree to disagree,” then smile and change the subject.
Technology Is Great, Except When It’s Not
Never text in public or take a phone call while in the middle of a conversation unless it is an absolute emergency. Set your phone to vibrate instead; if it is an emergency call or workers from your SEO company need your immediate attention, excuse yourself and proceed to a hallway or empty room to take the urgent call.
The common thread among these tips is that considering the feelings of others underscores our own character. Those with means understand appearances matter — and reputation is its true currency.