Etiquette for Office Parties

At an office party, indiscretions by hosts or guests could embarrass and even spoil relationships. So retain a professional image in your dress and behavior. Here are a few tips to keep in mind at an office party:

  • Dress appropriately: It is an office party – not a wedding reception.Etiquette-at-Office-Party_Business-Etiquette
  • Women: Present a glamorized version of your professional look, without looking as if at a wedding! Avoid sheer, tight, revealing, or too casual attire. Retain your professional image and credibility. Remember you are back in office on Monday!
  • Men: Wear regular office wear with a brighter (not louder) tie or cravat, or polo neck shirt. Avoid too casual or over-embroidered ethnic attire. Your attire should be different from what you would wear to a wedding.
  • Be Punctual: If you are the host arrive early to greet guests, make introductions, steer them to the bar or buffet. If you are a guest, do not be late.
  • For both hosts and guests: Do not monopolize important people, nor stick to friends. Spread the attention. Do not speak or laugh too loudly; nor flirt embarrassingly. Let your manners be noticed, not loud behavior.
  • Make light, general conversation: Do not talk shop, office gossip, certainly do not make jokes with sexual innuendos or controversial comments.
  • Eat and drink moderately: The party is an opportunity to meet people. It is about the conversations and not about the food or drink. So eat moderately. Do not constantly hail waiters for snacks. Do not stuff your mouth nor chew all the time. Do not eat at the buffet table itself. Move away; let others reach the goodies! Drink even less. Avoid being a bar-fly. Drunken behavior has ruined many a corporate career. Hold your drink in the left hand. Keep the right grease-free, clean, warm and dry for the handshake.
  • Goodbyes:
    • Guests: Thank and bid a quiet goodbye to the hosts and to those you were with. Avoid leaving before your seniors do as a mark of courtesy.
    • Hosts: Rise, shake hands, and walk each departing guest to the door.

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Managing Dining Mess-Ups

A basic ingredient for success is to be recognized as an expert at the business angles of marketing, finance or HR. Important though it is, it is not enough. To develop a competitive edge, one needs to demonstrate social skills, one vital one being dining manners. Here are some dining bloopers that need attention:

Handling the napkin: The napkin is not a face towel to scrub your face with! Do not Managing Dining Mess-Ups_Handling Napkinuse it to blow your nose in. Use it to wipe the corners of your mouth when you sip soup; dab it lightly over the lips just before you sip wine; if you sport facial hair, wipe your a moustache and beard occasionally to ensure that no food adheres to the hair; place it on your lap to catch any spills. Open your napkin when the hostess gives the signal by picking up the napkin and placing it on her lap.

Using the implements: Do not pick up any knife or any fork. Do not eat with the dessert spoon till dessert is served. As each course is served, pick up the outermost cutlery and work your way in towards the plate.

Hold the knife and the fork correctly. Do not clasp the knife or fork in your fist as though yoManaging Dining Mess-Ups_Using the implements_Knifeandforku were going to stab it into the food, nor hold it as though you were delicately waving a pen or a paintbrush. Hold the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right so that the handles are inside the palm of each hand. With the tines pointing down, the index finger of your left hand should be extended and should press down on the neck of the fork. Hold the knife so that the cutting edge points straight down on the food, and the index finger of the right hand extends and presses down on the point where the blade and the handle meet.

Starting the meal: If the table seats up to 12, do not start eating till all are served. If, however, the table seats more than 12, it is okay to start eating as soon as a couple of people near you are served. You do not need to wait for the entire table to be served before starting. An Indian hostess often does not eat with the guests as she is supposed to ensure that all her guests eat well. In the western set-up, however, the hostess is the first to place her napkin on her lap and pick up her cutlery as the signal to start eating.

Eating the meal: Slurping liquids noisily and chomping solids with the mouth open, not only looks ugly, but also sounds unpleasant. Over-filling the mouth till the cheeks bulge; talking with food in the mouth.

Read More On:
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Virtual Meetings: Pre-conference preparation


  1. Check if the teleconferencing room is available on the date and time. Remember to reserve the room for your conference.
  2. Make a list of all those who should attend. Inform them of the date and time of the conference. For participants located in different parts of the world, announce very clearly their local time. Give enough advance notice if you want them all to be present.
  3. Learn as much as you can about the attendees at the various distance sites: The fullVirtual Meetings_ Pre-Conference Preparation_Meeting Etiquette name and its correct pronunciation, designation, and importance to the discussion. Some non-intrusive personal details help to establish a better rapport. See if you need to share brief biographical details with and about participants who are not known to each other.
  4. Send the participants the conference agenda well ahead of the conference. Confirm its receipt to help you ensure that all the important points are discussed. A good idea is to ask participants to keep a printed copy of the agenda at hand during the conference to keep them focused.
  5. Arrange the agenda so that the first few items relate to all the attendees. Those participants who are not needed for the rest of the meeting can then leave once their item is discussed.
  6. If you need the participants to study any material for the discussion, send it out well in advance.
  7. If you are using the dial-in option, give the participants the correct access code and telephone number. For those not familiar with the technology, note down a step-by-step procedure.
  8. Give participants your name and telephone numbers in case they need to get in touch with you or experience any difficulty with the teleconference connection.

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Wine Matters: Basic Wine Types and Foods They Complement

Wine is ordered after the entrée, the main dish is decided. If, however, you want to have a glass of wine before you order the main dish, ask for a house wine.

Appetizer: Dry/sweet sherry, red/white Dubonnet, Campari, dry/sweet vermouth, chilled or on the rocks. France drinks Champagne as an aperitif. For hors d’oeuvres, or soup.

White: Chablis, Soave, Pouilly-Fuisse, classic dry whites, served chilled at about 12 degrees, or for at least 2 hours before the meal. The better wines do not need too much chilling. For fish, chicken, veal, and fruit.

Red: Burgundy, Bordeaux, Chianti, served cooled at 15 to 18 degrees. Old red wines have sedimentation. Uncork and allow the wine to breathe at least an hour before serving or decant to aerate them. This enables any unpleasant aromas to dissipate, and also mellows the taste of the wine. Germans prefer white wines; Italians favour red. For meat, game, full flavoured cheese.

Port: Comes from Portugal and has more alcohol content than other wines. Served at room temperature, sweet sauternes, sweet sherry (chilled). For dessert.

Sparkling wines: All sparkling wines are naturally carbonated. Champagne is the queen in this category. Store Champagne in the lower shelf of the refrigerator, do not over chill, but serWine Matters - Basic Wine Types and Foods They Complement, Dining Etiquetteve very cold. The others are burgundy, Italy’s Asti Spumante (sweet, good for dessert or by itself after dinner), sparkling rose. Served chilled like white wine, sparkling wines are best in summer and for lightly flavoured foods.

After-dinner: Brandy, Grand Marnier, and Armagnac, are served at room temp. A sweet liqueur, like white or green crème de menthe, if served over cracked ice, is very refreshing. While Cognac is a double-distilled brandy, and undergoes years of aging in specific oak barrels, Armagnac, which comes from the Pyrenees, is a more aromatic brandy. VSOP must have at least five years of aging, while XO must have seven.

Generally, white wines go with appetisers and white meats or very lightly spiced food, and red wines go with red meats or well-flavoured foods. Ask the sommelier – wine waiter – to advise you. Use the mnemonics below to help you remember some names and combinations:

  • CHardonnay, and CHablis go with CHicken.
  • SOave goes well with SOle.
  • Beaujolais, Bordeaux, and Barolo are best with Beef.

Other Drinks: Cocktail parties can be fun, but ideally do not mix your drinks. If you have started with whisky, that should be your drink for the entire evening; if gin, or rum, or vodka, then stick to that one spirit. You may have vodka with tomato juice, and follow it up with vodka and orange juice. Do not, however, take vodka with tomato juice, and follow it with gin and orange juice.

Wines with Indian foods: Chilled fruity red wines from Beaujolais region, such as Brouilly, Fleurie, or Chirouble are best with spicy foods. Hotter Southern foods require Sancerre, or a Pouilly Fume, or a rich Sauvignon from New Zealand. Alsace Riesling a white wine also is good with Indian food.

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Entertainment Skills: As an official guest at a restaurant

While the rules for hosts are larger in number and more stringent, a guest also has responsibilities to make an official meal a pleasant experience.

When a client invites you to a meal, accept graciously with a “Thank you, I’d be delighted”. If you have any dietary restrictions or preferences, inform your host in advance: “I do hope my being a vegetarian / on a salt-free diet will not be a bother”. Never say: “Oh, Thursday is my day of fasting, so I can’t make it”. This implies that only the food is important and that the company is not!

If you will be late or cannot attend after having confirmed, call to apologize, explaining the delay or inability. If postponing, offer two alternative dates.

Avoid alcohol during lunch, and even at dinner, drink very moderately, remembering that you are not an ordinary guest, but your company’s representative. Do not order the most expensive items on the menu, nor embarrass your host by deliberately opting for the cheapest. Tell your host what you will have and let him place the order with the waiter.Entertainment Skills - As an official guest at a restaurant

If you are not familiar with a particular item on the menu, or the correct manner of eating it, have the confidence to ask how it should be eaten. Ignore accidents caused by others on the table, and apologise very simply if you have caused them. If something is wrong with the food or the service, be discreet about your displeasure, and allow your host to handle the matter.

Since you are the guest, you have the privilege to determine the course of the conversation. Ideally, avoid talking business. If, however, the purpose of the meal is to use the time to discuss business, then after the order is placed, you can start the discussion.

When the bill is brought to your host, do not grab it to pay, nor lean over to look at it, or peer at it furtively. Allow the host to handle it. Men, if your host is a lady and the bill comes to you in error, make as if to pay, but allow her to take the bill from you without any fuss.

At the end of the meal, thank the waiter and the staff. Thank your host in a special manner: “Thank you for your hospitality. It was a pleasure talking to you / I truly enjoyed the afternoon / evening.” Allow your host to walk you to the door or the car. Do not dawdle over your departure, as the host may need to return to the restaurant, or have other matters to deal with.

Your graciousness and charm can lend much pleasantness and value to the occasion. The business and social benefits that accrue from good manners and courteous behavior are great.

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Office Etiquette

Fortunately very few indulge in indecorous office behavior. All the same, they are noted here so that all professionals everywhere demonstrate correct office behavior:

  • Writing or doodling on tables, chairs, walls and soft boards is often done absent-minded, but it disfigures the face of the office furniture and is a constant reminder of poor etiquette.Office Etiquette_Placing legs on the table
  • Sitting on a table during a formal conversation and swinging ones legs while speaking to the others in the room is considered offensive in many cultures. So avoid doing it.
  • Celebrating festivals or personal events is fine if it is a quick, clean and quiet affair.  Do clean up after the celebration. Avoid disturbing others who are working and not celebrating.
  • Taking eatables inside the offices is not permitted in most business rooms. Most employees eat in the cafeterias provided. Some, however, do eat at their tables due to dietary restrictions, heavy workloads and odd working hours. They need to remember:
    • Not to spill food or drink on the table;
    • To wipe off any liquid rings and food particles/ leftovers from the table;
    • To put all leftovers in a paper bag and put it into a rubbish bin outside the room;
    • To ensure that the office does not smell of food; and most importantly,
    • To eat without making chomping or slurping sounds no matter how tasty the food is!

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Etiquette for the Chairman of a Virtual Conference

As chairman, you act as a facilitator and bring order to the proceedings of a multi-site meeting.

  • Once a teleconference is scheduled, avoid delays or reschedules to respect others time. If you cancel, post-pone or advance the meeting, inform all involved.
  • Make sure you take everyone’s time zones into account and not just your convenience or your office timings. Schedule it such that everyone gets to take the call at a reasonable hour in turn.Etiquette for Chairman of a Virtual Conference_Meeting Etiquette
  • Arrive five minutes early and greet participants as they log in. Start on time. Do not wait for late arrivals. It is not fair to punctual participants.
  • Ask new participants to introduce themselves – it serves as a roll call.
  • Spell out time limits for speakers, tell speakers to identify themselves before speaking, and to speak slower for others.
  • Address each participant by his or her name to let everyone know who is being addressed.
  • For a long meeting of an hour or more, schedule and announce the time of a ten-minute break.
  • Welcome as soon as possible someone who joins mid-way. This may save embarrassing moments!
  • Before closing, ask each person by name, if he or she has anything to say before the call is ended.
  • After briefly summarizing the main points, what action is required by whom, and by when, announce that the call is formally over.
  • Send everyone a copy of the minutes. It helps those who had connectivity problems during the call.

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Being a ‘Global’ Professional

In today’s world, professionals crisscross the globe regularly to undertake on-site projects for clients. Though cultures vary internationally, some essential norms of expected behavior are the same world over:

  • Be presentable. Ensure good grooming and perfect hygiene. Dress well, not necessarily formal. Wear clothes that fit well, are clean, well ironed, and correctly accessorized.Being a Global Professional_Business Etiquette
  • Be punctual for meetings, appointments, training sessions and social events. Honor all commitments. If for any reason you are unable to meet a deadline, inform and reschedule.
  • Demonstrate international manners when greeting, shaking hands, exchanging business cards, and making introductions.
  • Use words of courtesy liberally: “Thank You”, “Please”, “May I…”, etc.
  • Communicate clearly: Speak slower than normal; avoid abbreviations and slang; make good eye contact; use positive gestures and postures; and listen without interruption and distraction.
  • Observe the rules of sending and receiving emails: Correct subject line, proper salutation and close, spelling and grammar checks, relevant send lists, numbering points, responding quickly, etc.
  • Eat tidily; chew solids noiselessly; sip liquids without slurping. Develop expertise in dining with knives and forks and with chopsticks.
  • Do not discuss politics, religion, or any potentially controversial subject till you are sure of reactions.
  • Practice acceptable rules of public behavior in malls, restaurants, parks, and on the road.
  • Know the rules of social visits; gifting norms about the right items, appropriate colors, and numbers; and practice correct behavior with the opposite sex.

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Bizetiquettes Recommend:
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Western Dining – Service Norms


Waiters place and remove plates from the right, but present platters of food from your left to serve the diner or to enable him to serve himself. When a platter is presented to you, pick up the serving fork in your left hand, and the spoon in your right. Use the fork to push the food you want onto the spoon, and using either both or only the spoon, place the portion onto your plate. Return the serving implements, setting them side-by-side on the platter.

Waiters at formal dinners can tell merely by the positioning of the diner’s implements whether he is resting, wants a second helping, or has finished. If talking or chewing, place your implements in tDining Etiquette- Service Normshe resting position – fork, tines up or down at the 8 o’clock position, and the knife, with its sharp side facing the fork, at the 4 o’clock position. To indicate that you want a second helping, make eye contact with the waiter. When you finish, set your knife (blade facing the fork) and fork (tines up) down the centre of the plate, or a little to the right, parallel to one another, handles resting on the edge of the plate. Americans set the two implements diagonally across the plate.

Do not put used cutlery directly on the tablecloth; nor lean it oar-like against the plate, with the handles on the table; nor gesture with your knife or wave your fork about; or point the implements skywards while chewing your food. Either `rest’ your knife and fork in the plate or hold them in your hands, keeping them parallel to the plate. If you drop any silverware, ignore it, pick up the next piece, and continue eating. If there is no other implement, discreetly signal the waiter to bring a replacement.

When passing anything, do not help yourself first. Pass to the right, as far as possible. If asked to `pass the salt, please’ pass the entire set, not only the salt. If asked to `pass the bread’, pass the entire basket; do not pick up a roll and hand it over.

Do not sit rigidly, slouch, bend your neck, or take the mouth to the food. Sit up straight, and bring the food to the mouth. While eating, keep your elbows close to your sides; do not place your arms on the table though it is all right to do so briefly in between courses. Avoid playing with the napkin or the flatware, and do not touch your hair or jewellery unnecessarily, while waiting for the next course. Place your hands in your lap when you are not using them to hold cutlery or a glass.

To get the attention of the waiter at a restaurant, quietly raise the hand, make eye contact, and mouth the words, `waiter’. Do not wave your arms above your head, hiss, whistle, snap the fingers, or call out `Hey’. At a home, if it becomes necessary to call the waiter, look up, make eye contact and nod to indicate you need something, and somebody will come over to get you what you want.
With regular practice, the fine art of any dining – Western, Oriental, or Indian – can be mastered, and enjoyed with confidence.

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Etiquette For Virtual Meetings – Preventing Disturbance

Preventing Disturbance

  1. To prevent background noises from causing disturbance, press the `Mute’ button when all present are only listening and no one needs to talk. If someone does need to talk, all you do is release the `Mute’ button.
  2. Do not use a cordless telephone or a cell phone. They tend to pick up static and other disturbing noises from the airwaves.Etiquette For Virtual Meetings - Preventing Disturbance
  3. Use a speakerphone that is `full digital duplex’. Speakerphones without this feature tend to pick up too many background noises, and reduce clarity by breaking voices.
  4. `Call Waiting’ is bound to confuse and disturb if it starts beeping during a conference. Disable this feature on your telephone. (To deactivate, pick up the phone; after you hear the dial tone, enter *70 or 70#; wait to hear the dial tone again; then dial the bridge number).
  5. If you must leave the teleconference for a couple of minutes or so, do not put your telephone on `Hold’. Your `Hold’ music is likely to disturb the others and may make it impossible for them to continue the meeting. If you are using Ready-Call®, you can use the *6 function to `Mute’ your individual line. Of course you will need to remember to un-mute it later!
  6. Avoid making unnecessary noises caused by shuffling papers, placing things on the table noisily, and side conversations.
  7. If you are using a dual-line telephone, put off the ringer for the line not in use, so that the shrill ringing noise does not disturb.
  8. If you are working from the home, please ensure that the radio, TV, small children, and pets are not in the same room from where you are making the call.

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