Eight ways to use etiquette to your advantage

Looking for a job? A Date? New Friends? Here’s how to put your best foot forward.

Lets face it, LIFE is one long series of interviews. Filled with challenges and disappointments, you may not always land the opportunities you seek. With any luck, each step will bring a new direction, promotion, or change. If this sounds easier than it actually is, remember you’re not alone. Plenty of budding entrepreneurs and famous CEOs have competed for and lost jobs. We all struggle with the age old question of how can I set myself apart?

The competition is cutthroat, and if you’re lucky enough to get an interview, you don’t want to blow it. According to USA Today, you have exactly three seconds to impress, win over, and connect with a prospective interviewer. It is essential that you make a good first impression. You might be asking yourself, “What can I communicate in three seconds?” and the answer is PLENTY. Your expression, handshake, and appearance convey confidence, your ability to fit in, and ultimately your ability to be successful.

Whether you seek a job, a date, or just a new challenge in your life, understanding and employing the following behaviors will help ensure a positive outcome:

To beat 85% of your competition, you simply have to show up…on time. It wont hurt to look your best and remember that simple people skills make a big difference. Smile, sit up straight, and listen attentively. A firm handshake and eye contact will establish your confidence, credibility, and respectability.

Avoid distractions – yes, that means putting away the cell phone for an hour, but it also means focusing! Be in the moment and avoid annoying habits like jiggling pocket change, smacking or chewing gum loudly, or making strange sounds. Okay fine, it is 2015 so you can have your cell phone with you on a date, but you should never answer it and continue to talk!

Call people by their name, it’s a great way to establish rapport. Not only does it give them a personal connection to the conversation, it makes them feel good. Show genuine interest in your date, the company or the opportunity by asking questions and sharing personal (and appropriate) information about yourself. Failure to display your personality will only delay the inevitable. Remember the outcome should be a win/win for everyone involved.

Never interrupt, talk over or around someone while they are speaking. Include everyone in the discussion, and avoid only speaking about yourself. Realize that conversation is a two way street and people will like you more if you take the time to show interest in them.

Always have table manners. Ideally, your encounter will include a meal. Careful, you can tell a lot about a person by the way they handle themselves at the dining table. Avoid fussing over your order, hassling or being rude to the server. It sends a bad message regarding how you deal with people in general. Don’t look at it as an excuse for a free lunch, order the most expensive thing on the menu or finish your meal before everyone else. Relax, slow down and enjoy the conversation with your dining companions.

Never cancel unless there is good reason. If this is important to you, it is important to show up when scheduled. If you can’t make it or your plate is full, be upfront with others but recognize you may not get a second chance.

Appreciate and use spellcheck. It is not hard and takes no more than a few seconds. Proof reading texts, emails, and your resume may seem tedious, but it could save your reputation from a less than flattering image.

Practice email courtesy etiquette. Avoid getting too friendly, casual, brief, or using acronyms like TTYL, LOL or the like. Without physical interaction we are prone to forget our manners. Never use email to deliver bad news, criticize, or deliver important or time-sensitive information.

Most importantly, regardless of how things are going, be kind, respectful and appreciative of the opportunity to interview for the position. Thank them for their time. Use good judgment, it is a reflection of your attitude and character. Even if you do not want the job or another date it is your social responsibility to treat them with courtesy.

Credit // Author: Katherine Mason Young

Katherine Mason Young is helping audiences of all backgrounds learn everything they wanted to know about etiquette, but were too afraid to ask. Katherine covers what to do, what not to do, and all the rules in-between. Learn more at campuspeak.com/mason-young.