Social Skills – Eyes Up & Shake Hands

Eyes Up!

A friend recently sent me an article that appeared in the AJC (Jobs section – 11/27/16) entitled “Manners and etiquette can help your career”  — hmmmm, sounds like the underlining theme in L.I.F.E. – Social Skills (book 2) and certainly got my attention to read more, so let me share.

This article highlighted Mary Jean Billingsley’s workshop to help professionals who “don’t have a clue” about the impact some general etiquette practices can have on them. She preaches that one has to believe that it matters and etiquette equals civility and respect. The writer lists her top suggestions which include behavior related to eye contact, phone practices, conversations, and dining protocol as factors influencing impressions. Hmmmmm, again same points I believe we need to be teaching our teenagers and I’m covering in Book 2.

So, I took this as a sign to start revealing a few general etiquette questions from my new book (which should be on the market by Feb. 1 – fingers crossed) and you can quiz those around you to see if “they have a clue” … regardless of age or profession. Let’s start with eye contact, shaking hands, and personal space …

  1. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best), rate your eye contact and explain your response.
    Answers will vary, so discuss the answer given. After all, good eye contact does not come easily to everyone. This nonverbal method of communication is a skill that involves consistency without turning into a stare down. Although many cultures have different rules about eye contact, here in the U.S., facial expressions with long glances are typical and expected. The goal is to be engaging, not creepy. With practice, becoming a pro at eye contact is easy and needed throughout life. (Ms. Billingsley states in her workshops that eye contact is important and the lack of it could partly be blamed on our use of phones and computer screens. She points out that this “heads down” habit inhibits personal connections and I have to agree. How about you?)
  2. Why is good eye contact important in the United States?
    Answers will vary, but here are some possible ideas:

    1.  Shows self-confidence
    2.  Demonstrates one is paying attention and interested
    3.  Demonstrates significance of person talking
    4.  Sign of trustworthiness
    5.  Demonstrates professionalism
    6.  Illustration of good manners
    7.  Portrays that one cares
  3. Should a male or female initiate a handshake?
    Either — do what seems natural. Gender roles are not the issue here. Just do it! Do not shake across a table (as pointed out in the AJC article) and always have a firm handshake (illustration and steps outlined on page 46 in L.I.F.E. – Social Skills). Now would be a good time to practice a handshake too!
  4. Define personal space.
    Area surrounding an individual that they psychologically believe belongs to them and therefore should not be invaded.
  5. In America, how many feet would be considered the average distance for “personal space”?
    Approximately 3 feet in all directions. Of course, factors like how well you know someone or their individual space preference could alter this “3-foot rule,” but remembering to respect the 3-foot bubble will keep you out of trouble the majority of the time.

So, how did this experiment/quiz go? May seem like common sense, but we see more and more being written about this kind of etiquette and the desire for our youth to be exposed BEFORE they are in their career field. I want to thank my friend, Sue, for sharing this article and will follow-up with future blogs tieing this article to content in book 2. Hope that is ok with you …

Make the most of your day!

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