Personal Etiquette: How To Make A Good First Impression

NOTE: This is a book excerpt from A Beginner’s Guide to Business Etiquette: Mastering Good Manners is now Blissfully Simple by Crista Tharp. Have you ever been told that your body is another version of a business card? It’s true. It is said that it takes less than 30 seconds to make a first impression. Often, this is before you even open your mouth! Once you do get the chance to speak, will it be professional or will you accidentally offend? Do you introduce yourself with a handshake or not? While we were always taught “don’t judge a book by its cover," unfortunately, we all come to instant conclusions about a person the first time we see them. How do we make sure that impression is a good one?


The most important thing about your appearance is that you should look well groomed:
  • You should be clean and not ill.
  • Your hair should be nicely combed.
  • Both hands should be cleaned and well-manicured. Do not chew your fingernails.
  • Clothes should be pressed and in good condition.
  • Your breath should be fresh.
  • Accessories should be minimal and professional.
  • Women should refrain from wearing skirts or shorts that are too short and necklines that are too low.
  • You should walk tall without slouching; Shoulders back and head held high.
  • Sit tall in a chair and do not slump.
  • Leave at least a foot, if not a little more between you so you are not invading their personal space.
  • Do not chew gum.

Business Wear:

Generally, “office” wear is comprised of a suit jacket with matching slacks or skirt for women. The colors chosen tend to be more neutral and solids. Women’s skirts should be no shorter than just above the knee and can be combined with a dressier blouse. In the past, women would wear hose with closed-toed shoes however, that is starting to be a bit more relaxed. Men should wear a collared solid button-down shirt paired with a conservative tie. Accessories are very simple and not be too bold or large. Men are expected to wear belts and ties and often choose to wear suspenders. Often, you are called to wear a name tag at events in order to promote your company. This name tag should be in good condition, polished if it is gold or silver and placed on your right side high enough to be seen. This makes it easy for someone to see and read it while you are shaking hands.

Business Casual:

Business casual still means professional, but it is a little less formal. Women can wear more casual dresses, suits and skirts that split beneath the knee in addition to more colorful shirts and accessories. Capri pants are also a good option. Strapless/spaghetti strap shirts and dresses are inappropriate, as well as mini-skirts or flip flops. Men can wear pants such as Dockers and shirts that are short sleeved but still have a collar. Golf shirts and polo shirts are acceptable but are still expected to be tucked in. Cargo pants, sweat pants, or beach shorts are inappropriate.

Watch This FREE Webinar!

Join us as Crista Tharp, Wedding Planning Expert, author of A Beginner’s Guide to Business Etiquette, and one of the Midwest’s most sought after event planners shares business etiquette that can make or break your career. This FREE training session is packed with simple, actionable, and crucial up-to-date information on the latest business etiquette trends. Don’t let a simple mistake cost you business or your job! One lucky attendee will receive a FREE copy of A Beginner’s Guide to Etiquette at the end of the session. Must be there live to win! Just a snippet of what you will learn includes:
  • How to make a great first impression
  • The correct way to make an introduction
  • Current Electronic Communication etiquette
  • How to use your cellphone and tablet without offending anyone
  • How to practice proper social Networking Etiquette
  • How to follow correct table manners and conduct business over meals
  • Plus a Q&A at the end
WATCH NOW ► Photo Credit: Shutterstock

In our new YouTube series, "Well This Happened" it's your turn to be the career coach! What would you do if you asked a coworker when the baby was due and she responded with, "I'm not pregnant." Watch the video and cast your vote b posting a comment on Youtube. We'll select one person from the correct answers at random to win free membership to the Work It Daily program. Good luck!

SHOW MORE Show less

If you've ever wondered what a Work It Daily (WID) membership could do for you, a letter we got this week provides a powerful example...

SHOW MORE Show less

There are 3 things hiring managers are trying to initially assess about you in the job interview. This video walks you through what they are looking for and offers insights into the right information to give them. Be sure to check out our free resources mentioned in the video too. They are:

SHOW MORE Show less

Last week during my Office Hours on Youtube, a client asked about how to deal with a workplace bully. After spending many years in corporate HR, I flipped to the other side and became a career therapist. So, I've seen both sides of this situation in the workplace. In this video, I discuss why people struggle to deal with bullies and what you can do to change the situation instantly.

This week, I did something that truly scared me. I sent an email to over 120,000 Work It Daily newsletter subscribers and asked them to answer the question, "What do we do?"

SHOW MORE Show less

A market correction is going to happen. When it does, layoffs will follow. I've been in the HR and recruiting industry for over two decades and have seen three recessions of varying sizes. In the video above, I explain how to tell when a recession is coming and what that means to you and your career. While many people will skip watching this. Or, will watch it and do nothing. I hope YOU are the smart, savvy professional who sees how important it is to prepare for unexpected, unwelcomed career circumstances.

SHOW MORE Show less

In this video, you'll learn how to tell if your career is plateauing due to the Executive Blues. You'll also learn what you can do to fix the problem and get your "executive energy" back so you can keep your career on track and set goals to reach new heights of success!

Want to watch the full video tutorial by J.T.?

CLICK HERE to get access!