Magazine article The CPA Journal

Etiquette: A Competitive Edge in Business

Magazine article The CPA Journal

Etiquette: A Competitive Edge in Business

Article excerpt

What an impressive accounting office! The facilities are state of the art and all employees are well trained to perform their responsibilities. A walk through the facility reveals well-dressed and well-groomed personnel. But as customers and colleagues get to know individuals associated with the office, how impressive are they? Specifically, how good are the social and interpersonal skills of the people within the organization? Do they tarnish the firm's image by committing one etiquette faux pas after another? Or, do they enhance the firm's image and improve the working environment and morale of everyone?

The purpose of this series of articles is to provide some basic rules of etiquette and social skills that could help build bridges, instead of fences. The areas discussed are certainly not exhaustive; there are several books that could serve as desk references on the subject if greater coverage is needed. We begin the series with a discussion on handshaking, introductions, and apologies.


From ancient times, handshakes have been used as a form of greeting. And still today, good public relations begin with a handshake. It sends messages to others, and we are initially "sized up" by it. Guidelines for this nonverbal communication include-

* hold the entire hand out firmly and positively, smile, and make good eye contact;

* have the arm straight with the thumb pointing up as the hand is offered;

* shake firmly, and web to web to include the whole hand;

* avoid sandwiching the other person's hand with a two-handed shake, which may appear condescending; pumping the hand and arm (glad-handing), which tends to come off as phony; a bone-crushing handshake that may give the impression to the other individual that you are trying to overpower them; or a limp handshake, which says you are either unsure of yourself or disinterested in the other person.

A handshake given in a business setting should not consider gender. Therefore, either the man or the woman initiates a handshake. Both parties should stand to permit good eye contact.


Introductions often accompany a handshake. The appropriate business introduction begins with saying the name of the highest ranking person first. …

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