When I tell people I’m an Etiquette Consultant, here is real footage of how the conversation usually goes.
Them: What do you do?
Me: I am an Etiquette Consultant.
Them: Really!??! So…like, you teach people which fork to use and how to eat?
This is the conversation OR they mention something about afternoon tea, they share something about a dining etiquette course they took in school, or they recite their favorite “do” or “don’t” in an effort to make conversation.
For some reason, people automatically think of table manners when they think of etiquette. And while all of these things are all part of etiquette, they are only one small facet.
The truth is, etiquette is bigger than which fork to use at dinner, it is deeper than when granny used to fuss about getting your elbows off the table, and it extends farther than not talking with your mouth full.
Etiquette is about being aware of yourself and others so you can make the best decision in social situations. Think of it as a combination of social intelligence, self-awareness, and soft skills. Read on.
There’s I.Q. intelligence – i.e. how “book smart” you are in the classroom. Then there’s E.Q. emotional intelligence, or how well you read your own and others’ emotions. But have you heard of S.Q.social intelligence? Yep – this is a thing, and a pretty important one.
Social Intelligence is the ability to manage relationships and navigate social situations. It is how to read the room and read other people, and how to respond and communicate in interpersonal interactions. Having social intelligence helps you utilize sound discretion in various situations, and help you build the relationships that contribute to a healthy personal and professional life.
“Hard skills will get you the job, but soft skills will help you keep it.” I’ll raise you one. Soft skills will get you promoted, higher pay, and a better title as well. We’re talking leadership, critical thinking, problem-solving, public speaking, teamwork, communication, relationship building, and plenty others.
In fact, 85% of job success comes from having well‐developed soft and people skills, and only 15% of job success comes from technical skills and knowledge (Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation and Stanford Research Center).
The ability to leave lasting positive impressions, build authentic relationships and – let’s lower the bar a bit here – not offend people when you meet them is critical in doing well in your current job, landing one if you are looking, or getting the upgrade to the next one. Your career depends on how well you understand your workplace culture and expectations.
Etiquette is about social intelligence and soft skills, but at the core of all of this is knowing yourself. This is where it all begins – self-awareness.
Once you understand more about yourself, you can understand more about others, and about how you move in social situations. You are empowered to navigate situations with the best intelligence there is – My.Q – the ability to understand “myself” – my reactions, my emotions, my energy, my strengths, my weaknesses, my limits, my boundaries, and my triggers.
So while knowing which fork to use is key when dining in public, at weddings and galas, and in any formal occasion, etiquette is about knowing yourself, honing your soft skills and relationship building, and being able to navigate people interaction — at all times, in all places, and with all people.
But, shout out to all the grannies though. We love you!