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Etiquette Tip of the Week: Friend etiquette

When we evaluate our friendships, there are certain measures we look for in a friend.  Can I count on you?  Will you be there for me in good times and in bad? Will you be interested in what I have to say?  Will you put aside your cell phone and not text or check messages when you spend time with me?  Will you care about my well being?  Will you be honest with me?  Will you be loyal?

This is exactly what employers are looking for in an employee or an intern.

So be a friend to your employer.
Be on time, don’t cut out early.
Be prepared for meetings and be attentive.
Learn the software.
Don’t say, “It’s not my job,” when help is needed.
When the going gets tough, don’t sneak out the back exit.

In interviews, your preparation, company research, clothing choices and attitude, should all say, “You can count on me.”

Culture and Manners Institute

Etiquette Tip of the Week: In a stressful situation…

Last week, I traveled to a university in Los Angeles to give an etiquette presentation.  As I deplaned after Midnight at LAX, the pull handle on my wheeled carry-on jammed, so now it’s like I’m going through the country’s third largest airport carrying a sleeping calf.

It’s half an hour before the rental car shuttle arrives.  At the rental car place, I am first in line, but I get the slowest agent, so everybody behind me is ahead of me outside in the lot.  The word in the lot, “We have no more cars.”

Not true.  They did have cars, but not many, so whatever came out Door #2 is what you would drive away, no matter what your reservation said.  Everybody before me was complaining out loud, stamping their feet and making audible exhaling noises. I turned to a very weary looking agent in the lot and said, “It’s been a rough night, hasn’t it?”  She said, “You don’t know the half of it!”

A Toyota Corolla comes out.  I said, “I think that’s mine, because I ordered a smaller car.”  But this angry woman with her husband and two teenage sons, who had been behind me in line inside, hissed, “We’re taking that one!”  The four folded uncomfortably into the Toyota and started toward the exit.  The lot agent turned to me, “Would you like that one?”  She pointed to a shiny, new full-sized car at the end of the lot that the angry woman had wanted, but didn’t get.

I ask you this: is it so wrong for an etiquette instructor to smile at the woman still sitting in the exit line unhappily crammed with three men into the Corolla she just pinched from the etiquette instructor?

That’s not the Tip. The Tip is, in any sticky situation when people are angry and complaining, pour some sugar on it.  Remember, the purpose of etiquette is to make the people around you feel comfortable.  Sometimes the people who are there to serve you need to be made comfortable.  Be kind, be empathetic and be patient and good things will come to you.

Culture and Manners Institute

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Please note:  If you have any telephone or Skype interviews coming up, why not take advantage of a private interview room with a landline phone located in the Career Center?  To schedule the interview room, please call the Career Center at 581-1359 or stop by, third floor, Memorial Union.

Portland Water District
May 1, 2014
Interviews:  9am-4pm -  Room 305/Career Center


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Etiquette Tip of the Week: Rules of interviews and alcohol…

When it comes to interviews and alcohol, first thing’s first. If you don’t drink, don’t drink.  In business, it is better not to have alcohol, because you want to keep a clear head. Never walk around an event with a glass of wine pretending.

Here are some of the rules of interviews and alcohol:
While waiting in a restaurant for your interviewer to arrive, do not order alcohol.

If the interviewer asks you if you would like an alcohol beverage, ask first, “Are you having one?” (In an interview meal, the interviewee orders first and the interviewer orders second.)
If the interviewer is not having alcohol, you do not have alcohol either.
If the interviewer is having alcohol, you may join him/her… or not.

If the interviewer is throwing back three and four alcohol beverages, do not join him/her.  Stop after the first.
An interviewer downing multiple cocktails is a red flag.  Remember, you are interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you.

If you do order alcohol, get a glass or red or white wine.  Only because I care, will I tell you not to order white zinfandel when out on business. It’s considered a little on the tacky side.  If you want to keep the ball in the box in your fridge at home, that’s fine.  I promise not to tell anyone.

Plenty of non-alcohol beverages behind the bar: pop/soda, soda water with a lime (looks like a cocktail), or cranberry juice.  Again, better to keep a clear head in business.

Culture and Manners Institute

Etiquette Tip of the Week: Practice professionalism

I often hear employers complain about the lack of “professionalism,” but what does that mean?

Professionalism is about practicing etiquette — behaving in a way that is respectful of others and reflects well on your business.  The purpose of etiquette is to make the people around us feel comfortable.  But people often mistakenly think being more casual will make others comfortable.  Not so. Sometimes being casual creates discomfort.  In business, err on the side of formality.  Here are a few examples:

When writing emails, use a Salutation (Dear, To…) and a Closing (Sincerely, All the best, Regards, Gratefully…). Proofread to eliminate careless grammatical errors and upgrade texting language to full sentences.

Stand up to greet people or when introduced to someone else.

Use honorifics (Mr., Ms., Dr., etc.) until one gives you permission to call one by one’s first name.  In general, if someone seems old enough to be your parent, use the honorific. In college, practice professionalism by calling PhD professors, “Dr.” and any non-PhD staff “Mr./Ms.”

Professional dress from an etiquette perspective means dressing out of respect for others. Whether you work in a casual environment or a traditional suit environment, modest is hottest. Plunging necklines, high hemlines and boxer shorts hanging out create discomfort and distractions.

Speak well of others. Don’t be lured into office gossip. Discuss, don’t argue.

Professionalism doesn’t happen overnight.  It’s a life-long practice, with many happy returns.

Culture and Manners Institute


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the Career Center
5748 Memorial Union, Room 300
Orono, Maine 04469-5748
Phone: 207.581.1359 | Fax: 207.581.3003E-mail:
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469