From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development

December 2010
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Reminders. Civility in introductions and at meals
Filed under: Interviewing
Posted by: site admin @ 5:30 pm

Whether you are traveling to the far corners of the world,
dining out with colleagues or visiting speakers, attending
a meeting or interviewing, there are a number of things
that are expected behaviors.  These are expressions of
civil behavior.  What people notice are not that one does
behave civilly, but that one does not.

Does it cause a person to lose a client– maybe, a job
offer–probably not.  But it puts us at ease when we
understand that we are giving respect to people when
we know what to do in situations.

 - Face the person to whom you wish
to introduce and make eye contact
  - Place yourself an arms length distance
(considering the crowdedness and noise
level in the room)
  - Offer your right hand (use only one
hand;  i. e. do not reach the left hand out
to hold an elbow), arrange to make palm
to palm contact in a firm yet friendly
grasp.  Hold the hand a couple to a
few seconds.
  [It is good practice to have your hands
dry and warm to the touch.]
  -   Say:  “Hello, my name is Shawna
Jones and I am a senior at Brandeis.”  Say
your name and offer something basic about
yourself that relates to the event. [Speak
after you have no food or drink in your
  - Provide the person a chance to introduce
herself or himself to you. 
[Be prepared to engage in small talk related
to the location, day, weather, etc.] 

When we are with others, it is appropriate
to introduce them to third parties who you
might know.
It is common practice to say both persons’
names and mention information that allows
each person to have some context about
each other and perhaps something they have in
common with each other.

  - If people are seated, ask if a seat that you
see untaken is indeed not being used by some
one else.  Ask permission to sit there.
  - If there is planned seating, ladies should be
seated first or given the opportunity to sit first.
  - Sit in an attentive, comfortable and straight
posture.  Refrain from placing your elbows on
the table.  Think about when you are going to
stand and get up as you place yourself in your
  - Introduce yourself to others
at your table taking enough time to
get people’s names, so that you can
remember and pronounce them well.
  -  Common spoken courtesies are
expected of and to everyone from the
waitstaff to the guest of honor– please,
thank you, etc.
  - Pass items across your body not in
front of others.  When passing salt, pass
both salt and pepper.  If you are unable to
reach something, ask a closer person to
reach the item for you.
  - Place your napkin on your lap before
eating, leave it in a easy to reach place,
if you get up, and use it strategically during
the meal.
  - Only begin eating after everyone has been
  - Tactical planning is sometimes needed in
tighter configurations if there is a left-handed
  - Place used items that are intended for
further use on plates or side dishes, rather
than on the table.
  - Signal the server when you are finished
by placing knife and fork together on the
plate in front of you.  Consider keeping
the napkin until you rise from the table.

  - Ask the waitstaff questions to understand
servings, offerings or preferences.
  - Be considerate of price when placing your
order, if you are not paying.
  - Alcohol is often offered.  Know your limits.
In important gatherings, it is sometimes better
to ask others to order first to see how others
are dealing with alcohol.  Watch your limits.
  - cell phone etiquette is especially important.
off or vibrate.  If you must speak to someone,
get up and leave the table. to a quiet place and
return promptly.
  - Left-overs from a meal are left at the
restaurant at formal meals.  Informal meals
can be treated differently, depending on who
you are with.


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