Manner Monday: Casual and Formal Introductions

Every Monday Blogging4Jobs invites our resident Etiquette Expert, CareySue Vega (@Etiquette101), to share tips when it comes to etiquette in the workplace during our own Manner Monday segment. This segment is for the practitioner who is focused on creating a more etiquette-friendly environment. ‘Casual and Formal Introductions

Casual and Formal Introductions

The topic of how formal or casual to be when greeting customers at the show came up during a recent Trade Show Booth training I created for a company that exhibits at many different shows throughout the year.

The question came about specifically when we were talking about the handshake.

We came to the conclusion that there is no clear-cut solution. Yes, a good handshake and firm grip are essential components of making a good first impression, but how do you select how to greet someone most effectively after getting to know them? Are handshakes usually appropriate, too?

We began by learning about the origins of the handshake. According to several sources, this custom first emerged when men would approach one another, offering their right hand to shake as a sign that they were coming in peace and not brandishing a weapon. Women did not begin shaking hands until more recent years. You might have noticed how the handshake has changed over the last few seasons if you watch Downton Abbey. During an introduction in the first few episodes of the series, the women would subtly clasp their hands in front of them while nodding. You will notice Mary initiating handshakes very frequently because she has been taking the helm in managing the estate for the past two seasons. Additionally, if you’ve just taken a continuing education course in professionalism or etiquette, you were probably told that business decorum should be gender-neutral and that both men and women should shake hands firmly when they meet new people.

We discussed how a person’s intuition comes into play after learning about the background of the handshake and its significance in a first impression. Are the person’s hands open and available to shake as they approach your booth? Is their posture welcoming toward you? No, a handshake might not be appropriate straight away if their hands are full or if their body language is closed off. For the time being, all that may be required is a simple verbal hello to start the relationship.

What about a client you are already familiar with? Do you hug them or give them a high-five? When you’re with “friends,” a traditional handshake can seem awkward sometimes. Once more, the focus of the conversation was on how crucial intuition and understanding body language are for these introductions. And sometimes it just comes down to following their lead—do they want to shake hands the old-fashioned way, pull you in for a “man-hug,” or come at you with a full-on hug? It’s a lot to juggle in a few seconds, but reading body language, comprehending options, and using your intuition are all crucial steps in establishing comfort during the introduction stage. And if all else fails, offer up a nice firm handshake, a smile, sincere greeting, and you can’t go wrong!

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CareySue Vega

Carey Sue Vega is a business and youth etiquette expert. For ten years, she honed her skills with an international audience as Cruise Director for the Norwegian Cruise Line. Vega has been featured in numerous radio and television shows and magazine articles, sharing her etiquette expertise.  She’s also social savvy with social media. Connect with CareySue.


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