Failure to Stand Could Mean a Failure to Succeed
Several years ago upon entering my daughter’s high school guidance office for an appointment, two male students and their belongings were sprawled and strewn across all the available seating. They ignored me and continued to address each other as though no one else were present. I almost asked them to remove their jackets, backpacks, books and other paraphernalia to make room for me to sit, but I was so fascinated by their behavior that I opted to wait and see if their manners would kick in. They didn’t.
More recently, I introduced a group of college students to a dignitary. One student failed to stand up when he was introduced. This student is kind and mannerly, but apparently didn’t realize that it is an accepted practice to stand when being introduced.
Stand and Deliver
Failure to stand on certain occasions can damage your brand. Just as people will remember a poor handshake, they will also recall if you failed to stand when meeting them.
Standing shows respect for the person or persons who have approached you, as well as interest, energy, awareness and professional polish. Remaining seated in certain situations can overshadow everything else that you are doing correctly; smiling, proffering a firm handshake and / or offering a pithy comment.
It’s permissible to “half-stand” in certain circumstances, rising a few inches out of your seat. Use the half stand when you find it difficult or impossible to rise fully, such as when you are seated in a booth or boxed in behind a banquette or project / conference table, if you have risen several times from your seat at a dining table or you have items on your lap that make it difficult to stand up fully.
If you are in the middle of a conversation or have just taken a bite of food, you should excuse yourself, swallow whatever you are eating, stand up, complete your greeting, sit back down and resume or rejoin the conversation.
Unless you are disabled and physically unable to do so, following are some occasions when you should stand or half-stand:
- Upon being introduced or greeted
- Greeting someone who is joining you for dinner or another occasion
- You are called on in a lecture hall or classroom
- When you are called upon during the Q&A period after an address.
- While attending networking events (Avoid sitting alone or with the same people – get on your feet and mingle!)
- Offering your seat to others (Standing to offer your seat to the elderly, disabled, pregnant, parents with infants or children or struggling with packages is courteous and civil.)
- Saluting the American Flag, for the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem (Stand and place your right hand over your heart; men should remove their hats and may hold them over their hearts. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you should stand out of respect and simply remain quiet, as you needn’t place your hand over your heart or join in unless you so desire.)
- When offering a toast (Standing to toast is the general practice unless there are ten or less seated, in which case it might be more comfortable for everyone if the person making the toast remains seated, but this is optional. When the toaster stands everyone should stand except the person or persons being toasted; the toastees should remain seated and not drink to themselves.)
- When being acknowledged while seated in the audience (Show respect and stand up, graciously smile, nod around to the audience – including those to each side and behind you — and hold up your hand and make a little wave in reply to the acknowledgement. You need not say anything.)
- At sporting events (Stand with everyone else when important plays are made or tension is mounting, but avoid standing and blocking the view of others who are seated. If someone blocks your view, ask the person kindly if he would mind sitting so that you can see. Be considerate of others and avoid arguments.)
The Rules for Women and Men
In business, both women and men should follow the same rules for standing. At a formal social event when everyone is dressed to the nines, it’s expected that when a woman or girl approaches the dining table or stands to leave, the men and boys at the table should stand as well as a sign of courtesy and respect. Women are not expected to stand for men in a formal setting. In other less formal social settings, women may stand to greet men or women, but this is optional. In certain situations, social or professional, remember the etiquette guidelines about standing and use your best judgment.
For those confined to wheelchairs or otherwise unable to stand up for a greeting or introduction, greet them and shake hands while they are seated but keep a reasonable distance so that you do not tower over or them or cause them to strain their necks looking up at you.
Rising to — and for — the occasion will always serve you well!
Until next time,