Most people I know seem to get irked when, while attending cocktail parties and in intent conversation with someone, somebody taps them on the shoulder to say “Hi.”
Although the intention in good, one must know the proper way to approach people in social gatherings. Here is the best way to approach someone you would like to greet the next time you attend a cocktail party.
First of all, notice the body language. There is what we call the closed circle and the open circle. You can easily distinguish between the two. A closed circle is two or more people standing close to one another, and they are in intent conversation.
Everyone in the circle, which is usually small, meaning two to six people, are all actively participating in the conversation, and they are standing with very little space between them. When you see a closed circle it would be inappropriate for you to interrupt the conversation by tapping one of the people in the circle to say “Hi.”
On the other hand, an open circle is two or more people standing at arm’s length from each other. It can be a small group of people or a large one. You will notice that the conversation is quite light, and the people in the group come and go. Also, not everyone in the group is actively participating in the conversation.
This is a circle you can easily join, since most of the people in the group are standing at a distance from each other. This means that anyone is welcome to come and go. If you know a person in that group, it would certainly be appropriate for you to interrupt and say “Hi,” and your greeting will be welcomed and not seen as an intrusion.
Also, it is important to note that when you are in a cocktail party whether for business or for a social event, you carry your drink in the left hand, and leave your right hand free (and dry) for shaking hands when you meet new people.
Note that it is inappropriate to give someone a kiss on the cheek if it is the first time you meet the person. Furthermore, if you are at a business cocktail party, it is inappropriate to greet anyone with a kiss unless you are close friends. The appropriate business greeting is always a handshake.
If you are attending a business cocktail, have your calling cards handy within easy reach. This is so that you do not have to flip open your wallet or dig into your purse just to retrieve a calling card. It is more appropriate to place the calling card in a card holder.
And as a final tip, do not walk around with food in your right hand and a drink in your left. You will be placed in an awkward situation when someone tries to shake your hand. Consume your food first at the cocktail tables, then you can go around and mingle.
Remember that cocktail parties are for you to network and get to know new people, so do not isolate yourself or simply stay with the people you came with. It is perfectly acceptable at cocktails parties for you to approach people and introduce yourself. As a matter of fact, it is accepted behavior.
So in your next cocktail party, whether for business or as a social gathering, simply remember these tips, and your night should go smoothly.
For questions on etiquette and manners, you can e-mail the author at [email protected]