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How we communicate with our “homies” does not always play well with a wider viewing audience. Casual chat (absent standard business greeting) may be fine for text with friends, but is frowned upon in more formal circumstance.

When meeting someone for the first time, err on the side of formality. First ascertain if that person has a title: e.g., “professor,” or “doctor;” if not, use Ms. or Mr. unless they instruct you to do otherwise. Assuming that if a gender difference exists recipients are “OK” with using their first name is unacceptable (see Women in Medicine: Female Physicians get called ‘Doctor’ less than their Male Colleagues), as is thinking they would prefer Ms. or Mrs. instead of a title they have earned. In a nutshell: exercise greeting equality.

When introducing individuals to one another, start with the higher status person first:

Boss X, I would like you to meet Y.”

If you have forgotten a name immediately upon meeting someone, the following are a few tactics for covering your faux pas; these include: (1) asking for a personal business card; (2) inquiring as to how a new acquaintance spells his or her first/last name; (3) offering to input their e-mail address into your cell phone, and (if all else fails); (4) exercising honesty as the best policy (fess up and ask!) (Business Insider, 2015). Conversational recipients might think you are choosing to be discourteous when you address them in the generic (as the saying goes, there is nothing sweeter than one’s own name); a saying of which sales people are fully aware. A little Dale Carnegie goes a long way, especially when we are trying to make a positive impression (as does removing barriers, like ear buds and sun glasses).

When someone continually uses your name in greeting (and you fail to reciprocate) they may categorize your nonchalance as a deliberate snub; an impertinence compounded by the fact that he/she may be the one who routinely initiates greetings. Proactivity, regardless of how someone else behaves – makes us feel good, at the same time setting a higher congenial standard. Staring colleagues down (or looking the other way) creates enmity, and brands us as uncivil to boot. Likewise, “Hey buddy” and clasped handshakes are inappropriate when status differences exist between you and the greeting recipient. Across cultures and continents formality is a must, and an expected business practice, with behavior varying across countries; also see

A little education, whether traveling abroad or remaining at home, can refine our interpersonal protocol.


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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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  2. Organized for Efficiency » Blog Archive » Dress for success to impress on March 10th, 2018 at 7:31 pm
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