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Formal Etiquette Rules

Stephen Rampur Mar 12, 2019
Etiquette is simply an organized behavior that stems from good manners. They play an extremely important role in formal meetings or gatherings. Let us have a look at the guidelines of formal etiquette rules.
Etiquette is a way of displaying professionalism. It is the capability to undertake tasks or deal with things in a mature manner. Although the terms 'etiquette' and 'good manners' seem ancient, they still work well with creating an impression. Formal etiquette is so vast and important, that we have books pertaining to the same.
The role of formal etiquette comes into practice while interacting, mainly with people from different countries. As cultures differ, the feeling of discomfort may be dominant in such interactions. In such cases, if good etiquette rules are followed, it makes it easier to maintain a comfort level with unknown people.
It is mostly seen, that person grounded with good manners, surpass formal situations successfully. An invitation for a formal gathering or meet may require you to follow a few formal rules which may include habits like; a quick response to a formal invitation, handing garments like coat, gloves, etc., the way of greeting people or interacting with them, etc.
Maintaining a behavior based on these rules will save you from a lot of embarrassment. Also, if the formal event is being held in another country, it would be wise to go by the saying; "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."

Formal Etiquette - A Deeper Insight

Appropriate Dressing

Dressing includes a decent attire in sober colors. For an evening event before six, a dress code for men be, a dark suit with a white shirt and a tie. For women, it would be a late afternoon wear or a theater suit.
However, if the event is held after six, a black tie, or a tuxedo (a dinner jacket) would be more appropriate. Women can wear an evening gown with matching footwear and jewelry. Carrying a clutch instead of a handbag may look more elegant.
If women are wearing gloves, it is suggested to take them off, before shaking hands with people. It is a must that both, men and women wear polished clean shoes. If the party has a determined dress code, you should dress according to that.

On Arrival

Being punctual is extremely important. Do not make it later than five to ten minutes. On the other hand, do not arrive before time either. For men entering the venue with a woman, chivalry counts. Open the door for the woman first and enter only after she enters the place. Hand over outerwear such as hats, umbrella, gloves, etc. to the check assistant.
After entering the place where the event is being held, greet people as you meet them. Introduce yourself and the people who accompany you, with the others present at the venue. It would be wise to wait and try interacting with people for a while, after arriving. Do not start eating or drinking immediately after entering.


While greeting a man at the venue, offer your right hand with the palm facing sideways. While greeting a woman, offer your right hand with the palm facing upwards. Gently hold the woman's fingers and lift it slightly. It is safe to gift the host with something that matches the occasion. Do not talk about business matters with the host as you meet them.


Sitting before being asked to be seated, is considered ill-mannered. Wait till the host requests you to be seated. If you are with a woman, make sure you pull out her chair first. Only after having her comfortably seated, make yourself comfortable. When a woman leaves the table and arrives back, the men seated at the table, should stand up.
It is important to sit in an erect posture, as body language creates an impression too. Also, make sure you sit still. Do not fidget with things around you or shake your legs constantly while you are seated.

Raising a Toast

If you are raising a toast, make eye contact with the person you are raising it to. Do not tap the glass with any utensil to draw attention before raising the toast. Clearing your throat before delivering the speech is fine.
If someone is raising a toast to you, you need not stand. The others will stand while you remain seated. Do not tap glasses together, after the toast is raised, just tilt the glass in the direction of the other person.
Also note that, alcohol is always better if consumed in minimal. Do not binge on drinks and make sure you do not get out of your senses. Have your drink sip by sip, don't down the entire drink in one go.


While interacting with the host or people at the venue, use a polite tone. Make sure, your tone is not too loud. Do not talk about personal matters, keep the discussion formal. Keep your phone on silent mode or better switch it off. If at all you have to take a call, excuse yourself and then answer the phone. Don't just walk off while talking on the phone.


This is the main part where most of the formal etiquette rules are to be used. Do not reposition the standard table setting. If a woman has hand-gloves on, they should be removed and placed on the lap, but not on the dining table.
Wait for the host to unfold his/her napkin. Thereafter, place your napkin on your lap. The food should always be kept on your left, while the drink should be on your right.
While food is being served, do not move your dining plate to the food. Wait until everyone on the table is served, only then start your meal. Also see that you do not make noise by slurping, burping or while chewing your food.
Don't speak while you have a morsel in your mouth. Use appropriate cutlery to lift the food. If you are uncertain as to which cutlery is to be used and how, wait for someone else to use it and then follow them.
The napkin should be placed on your lap till the end of your meal. After the food is over, the host will first place his/her napkin on the table. After which, you should place your napkin neatly, to the left of your dinner plate. Do not move the plates and other utensils. Avoid using a toothpick, wearing make up or combing your hair at the table.


Finally, once the event is over, thank the host for the hospitality. If you happen to leave early, or notice that the host is busy attending the other guests, leave him/her a thank you note, or make a courtesy call after the event.
Your actions would speak more about you as a person. Following the aforementioned rules will only signify your respect for others and yourself. It will make a good impression on the others, while you would come across as a confident and well-mannered individual.