Sharon Kornstein, W’80, speaks about business etiquette.
On the evening of January 28, 17 men and women from diverse professions gathered at the offices of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher Flom LLP, to learn from Sharon Kornstein, W’80, founder and president of ImageDesign LLC, (www.imagedesignconsulting.com), an image consulting company. Kornstein began the evening asking participants to shake hands with their neighbors and then supply feedback. Luckily, we all had good handshakes. Kornstein described the handshake as the only appropriate physical contact in business, which, if properly done, conveys self-esteem and authority. The evening touched on the do’s and don’ts of introducing clients, business dress vs. casual dress, and the nonverbal-communication messages that we send. After about 45 minutes of discussions on individual situations and scenarios, the evening ended with dining etiquette and an explanation of the American and continental styles.
Sharon Lowenheim, WG’81, a professional organizer and owner of Organizing Goddess (www.organizinggoddess.net), found most useful the discussion of business dress, elegant business casual and business casual. “Appropriate dress is so different from industry to industry. We tend to get comfortable with what we are used to. As a service provider who works across industries, it’s so valuable for me to be reminded that I need to tailor my outfit to the client’s firm.”
Alan Rackson, W’83, owner of Rackson Technology Solutions, found some concepts that he thought he understood to be less straightforward than he realized, based on the number of questions asked by fellow alumni and the discussions that ensued. “It was obvious that Sharon has studied business etiquette in detail and is a subject matter expert!
While some of her presentation was common sense and behaviors I had known about, it was nice to hear them again in a concise presentation as a healthy reminder of social and business do’s and don’ts. I also came home with several new helpful tips, such as the concept of mirroring someone’s posturing in situations where you are unfamiliar with cultural customs. This was an excellent event, with a great topic, discerning audience and a knowledgeable speaker, that will propel my social networking and career forward. Thank you, Wharton Club of New York.”
Dress: Business dress is a continuum, with business casual at the top end of midlevel dressing. For men, always wear a collared shirt (a jacket is optional). Keep accessories at the same level as your clothing. Consider your industry, corporate culture and activities for the day when deciding on the level of dress.
Introductions: Introduce the more important person first and then the other person to him or her. The client is more important than the boss; the elected official is more important than your friend.
Dining: Use silverware from the outside in; your napkin doesn’t go back on the table until you’re through eating. Glasses are on the right, bread plate on the left. • Meeting: Eye contact, smile, firm handshake and strong posture are key. Practice the nonverbal technique of mirroring: Get in sync with your conversational partner’s nonverbal communication by using the same body language — drink when the person takes a sip, cross or uncross your legs, and lean forward or back when the person does. Keep communication open by holding your hands at your side, not across your body.
Sandra James, W’78, of Deloitte remarked, “The information Sharon shared with us on etiquette is helpful not only in our business relationships but can be applied to our interactions outside of work as well. With the many opportunities there are to network in this day and age, it is always good to know how to approach a group of people at an event and when not to approach a group. Sharon was able to get everyone involved in the discussion, and hearing about lunch etiquette in different cultures from other attendees, for me, was very educational. This was a very good topic, and Sharon did an excellent job presenting the information. Thank you for reaching out to Sharon to speak to us.”
Sharon Kornstein’s discussion was organized by Jennifer Gregoriou (W’78), as part of the WCNY Speaker Series. For those who missed the event, Kornstein can be reached at: www.imagedesignconsulting.com.