MISS (CORPORATE) MANNERS

BUSINESS A prospective employer has read your résumé, interviewed you twice, and now invites you to dinner at The Mansion. So eat, drink-and be wary. VALERIE SOKOLOKY, a Dallas corporate protocol expert, says this meal may determine whether you get the job.

“If they [applicants] can’t handle fine dining, they probably can’t handle a business lunch,” says Sokolosky. And as dining and other social skills become the real keys to a rapid climb up the ladder of success, more corporations are turning to Valerie and Company to train their own rising execs.

The dining sessions are upbeat and uplifting. Rules of etiquette are just the beginning for clients who sit down for a full meal that includes conversational tips on how to turn the dinner table into a negotiating table.

Specific advice for dining may vary, acknowledging corporate cultural differences. And etiquette rules are changing, becoming more relaxed in many cases. “It’s okay to have white wine with red meat,” says Sokolosky. Her primary goal is for clients to become more aware of their surroundings and to understand other people’s expectations so that they make suitable choices. For example, she advises traveling Southerners to avoid expressions such as “y’all” and “yes, ma’am,” which may be viewed by professionals in cooler climes as inappropriate.

“More people than ever are recognizing the importance of projecting a professional image outside of the officer Sokolosky says. “People want to know how to do what’s right.”

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