Social/Conversational Etiquette

Social/Conversational Etiquette

Social/Conversational Etiquette

The way you interact with others says a lot about you.  Learn how to project polite and professional appeal.


Introducing Yourself 

Make sure to look people in the eyes and smile in order to seem confident and approachable.

If you are seated while being introduced to someone, stand to greet that person and shake his or her hand. Have a firm handshake, but avoid death grips.

If you are given a name tag, put it high on your right shoulder; that way, while you shake hands, people can follow the line of your arm straight up to your name without having to scan your chest.

Introducing Others 

When introducing two people to each other, introduce the lowest ranked person first, then reciprocate.

Logistically this means you must look at the higher ranked person and say, “Ms Throckmorton, I’d like to introduce to you Mr. Thomas, an intern in our IT department. Mr. Thomas, this is Ms Throckmorton, the director of technical publications.”

When dealing with people outside of the company, clients are considered more important than anyone working within the company, and hiring managers are more important than job seekers. You can omit titles when introducing people of the same rank and position.


When talking with people at the workplace, in a networking session, or even over coffee, there are some basic tips for discussion that will make your conversations more enjoyable:

Basic Courtesy

Try not to interrupt people in the middle of a story. If you must interrupt, always excuse yourself and try to get back to what the other person was saying as soon as possible. This shows people that you value their ideas and company.

Don’t talk too loudly or for too long; these actions might make you seem self centered.


Stay away from negative conversation and never tell rumors or point out major faults in others. These actions build mistrust and are generally unpleasant.

If you feel the conversation going sour, switch the tone as soon as possible. Close the negative topic and ask a question to redirect the conversation. If all else fails, talk about the weather, but keep the conversation positive.

Cat got your tongue?

For some people coming up with conversation topics can be really difficult. If you struggle with this, equip yourself with easy conversation starters. Before going to a work party or professional gathering,

Try watching the news or reading an interesting article.

Read articles from a professional journal.

For networking, you might want to brush up on your strategic introduction. Being ready to quickly and clearly describe yourself shows confidence and direction.

If you get stuck in an awkward silence, you can bring up any of the above topics. Asking people questions is always a great way to keep a conversation going as well: People love to talk about themselves or a topic about which they know a lot.

Body Language

At social functions, try keeping your hands as free as possible: Don’t carry a huge notebook or bag, and if you must eat something, hold it in your left hand to save your right hand for hand shakes.

Show that you are focused on the conversation by keeping eye contact, nodding, smiling, and using other nonverbal affirmative gestures.

If you are alone, try not to zone out. Make eye contact with people and smile at them. These actions will make you more approachable.