Media & News

Test Your Business Etiquette IQ

Written by: Tiffany L. Adams, CELI President & Cincinnati Business Courier Columnist

Click here for published article in the Business Courier.

The Stanford’s School of Business 2013 Executive Coaching Survey revealed the worst flaw in CEOs and other leaders is their lack of self-awareness. Are you self-aware and business savvy?  Take this quiz and learn the answer.

Grading Scale: O points for wrong answers. 1 point for correct answers.

         Business Etiquette:

1.          Who is appropriate to introduce first, the CEO or the junior client who is a recent college graduate? Hint: The person of greater importance is introduced first.

2.          True or False? - When cancelling a business appointment, it does not make a difference if you or your assistant cancels on your behalf.

3.          True or False? - When inviting a new acquaintance to join your professional network on LinkedIn, it is better “netiquette” to write a personal message rather than use the LinkedIn verbiage.  

4.          True or False? - If you receive an email requesting action and are unable to respond promptly, it Is best to ignore it until you can respond with the appropriate detail.

5.          True or False? - If you send an email to a new acquaintance who is older and/or higher ranking, it is acceptable to address the recipient in the salutation by their first name to encourage an immediate personal connection.

Dining Etiquette:

6.      True or False? – There is no difference between where you should place your napkin when you excuse yourself in the middle of a meal or at the end of the meal.

7.      True or False? – When you are the guest of honor who is the recipient of a toast, you should respond by graciously raising your glass and taking a sip.

8.      True or False? - When you are extending an invitation for a business lunch, it is proper for you, the host, to decide where to dine and to avoid offering your guest the choice of the restaurant.

International Protocol:

9.      True or False? - USA and Israel have the same 5 day work weeks, Monday – Friday, so it’s acceptable to schedule a conference call with an Israeli business associate during these days. 

10.   True or False? - If uncertain about the proper greeting with a foreign counterpart, it is better to use your own country’s greeting to avoid the risk of embarrassing yourself and creating an uncomfortable situation for all.


1. The junior client - Clients are always considered more important than an executive regardless of their age, net worth, or status.

2. False – Even if an assistant has been the primary contact, it shows more professional courtesy for you (not your assistant) to personally call to cancel and immediately offer future meeting date options.

3. True – Raise the bar by writing a personal message.  Mention specifics like where you recently met, shared interests or common friends, or the reason for connecting.

4. False - Respond promptly with a brief reply stating for example, that you have a pressing deadline or will be traveling, but will provide the requested information within a specific timeline.

5. False - Always begin with more formality and use an honorific (Mr., Mrs., Ms.) in the salutation until you are granted explicit permission to use their first name.

6. False – Place your napkin on your seat when excusing yourself during the meal as a signal to the wait staff to not remove your meal. Place your napkin loosely folded under the left side of your plate when finished.

7. False – One never drinks a toast to oneself.

8. True – The burden of restaurant choice falls on the host. Furthermore, if you invite, you pay.

9. False – Since Israel does not have a full separation of church and state like the USA, they observe the Jewish Sabbath on Fridays and Saturdays making their work week on Sunday – Thursday. Research a country’s work days, customs, and religious holidays before scheduling any appointments.

10. False – If possible, do cross-cultural protocol research beforehand. Otherwise, pause and mirror the foreign counterpart’s greeting.

How did you do?

SCORE 7-10    Wow! You have a keen sense of self-awareness. You clearly understand how to use smooth communication skills for meaningful relationship-building. You are a leader who inspires others to excellence in this global marketplace.

Score 4-6   You’re doing alright but there is room for improvement.

Score 0-3   Ouch. Consider learning more about business etiquette and international protocol to better position yourself for success.