I hope you are grossed out reading this, because i’m itching just talking about it. The infestation of missing professional etiquette is so bad, that it reminds me of Stephen King’s 1982 horror comedy Creepshow. To be more specific, the skit where the guy in the lab had a bug infestation.
For quite sometime in both professional and personal environments; i’ve noticed 2 key things have been lacking:
Firm handshakes with eye contact
Today I got a handshake from a military doctor and it was amazing. It took me back to a time when people knew how to shake hands and had really great professional etiquette. Now with the rise of unwashed hands, it’s important to know that I understand why some people don’t like shaking hands. However, there is a difference between not wanting to shake hands and not knowing how. Though if you are really grossed out by shaking hands, you should also be grossed out by that bagel someone broke with their bare hands, then you came back later and ate it.
If you are in a situation where you are shaking hands with someone; make sure it’s quick, firm (not creepy) and there is eye contact. Even if you give someone a not so firm handshake, eye contact is essential. Simply because when you’re introduced to someone, you should look at them. My father actually taught me about shaking hands when I was really young. I still use what he taught me today.
Handshakes standing up
This really makes me cringe. When I was eight months pregnant at a military ball last year, people were introducing themselves to me, so I stood up to shake their hands. Everyone kept saying I didn’t have to stand up. However, for me it was a force of habit. Though I could have sat down because I was pregnant.
Having said that, if you have a handicap or something in your hand, it’s okay to shake someone’s hand sitting down. Or maybe someone walked over to you, too quick and you were only able to stand up halfway. That has happened to me before. I still like people to see my effort. In the grand scheme of things I often find it very disrespectful when people shake someone’s hand sitting down. This is specifically if the other person is standing up.
While these two things may seem minutiae to some, they really aren’t. That’s the same thinking that’s causing this massive infestation. When you’re networking in any professional setting what truly makes you a professional is your etiquette, not just how many years of experience you have in an industry.
We’ve all gotten so used to bad professional etiquette that we make excuses for everything. For example, when you’re at a store counter waiting to checkout and the cashier continues to talk to their co-worker about “last night”. Never once saying hi to you even when you said hi to them. Then they ring everything up and just tell you the total like you didn’t just say hi! You’re making excuses saying to yourself, “well there’s no good customer service anywhere anymore”. That’s that infestation talking!
We don’t have high hopes for people so we allow minutiae to become the normal. Which in turn becomes a bigger issue. The infestation spreads like wildfire. Next thing you know; people are saying whatever they want to whoever they want, open letters are getting written, and well…. you know the rest.
In that Stephen King comedy skit the bugs ended up coming out of the guys mouth! The infestation of missing professional etiquette must be exterminated!