Times may have changed, but courtesy never goes out of style. In today's world sometimes it's complicated to figure out how to do the right thing. Local etiquette expert Karen Hickman answers your questions or helps solve your dilemmas on Fridays in The News-Sentinel and at news-sentinel.com.
Q. Karen, my son is in his last year of college and will be looking for a job soon, but I am concerned about his lack of social skills. What things do you recommend he focus on in order to be more socially aware?
A. Your son isn't unusual in not appreciating how important social skills are to one's success in life. However, regardless of the lack of understanding, people do sabotage themselves in getting ahead due to their lack of social savvy. Here is my top-10 list of things people do that can be a liability for them:
•A poor handshake or refusing to shake hands (germaphobes beware).
•Lack of eye contact (eye contact should be made 40 percent to 60 percent of the time in conversation).
•Poor table manners (your table manners should be impeccable).
•Poor grammar (using poor grammar makes one sound less intelligent, regardless of your grade-point average).
•Inappropriate dress (understand the power of dress).
•Gum chewing (not acceptable in public).
•Swearing and off color remarks (inappropriate in the work environment).
•Taking phone calls and texting in meetings and in front of others (suggests you don't value those at the meeting).
•Not returning phone calls and emails in a timely fashion (calls and emails should be returned within 24 hours).
•Not sending a handwritten thank-you note (handwritten notes are always in style).
Take the time to critique your own social skills. It's never too late to improve.