The coronavirus is changing the way we navigate daily life, from avoiding handshakes to steering clear of crowded public places. At the same time, the vast majority of us do not have the luxury of being able to retreat to a sunny desert island for the next few months. Life must go on, albeit with a few adjustments as we get used to this new reality. To this end, we have compiled a guide to some of the coronavirus etiquette conundrums you may encounter over the coming weeks.
New ways of greeting
Traditional greetings such as handshakes and the ‘social kiss’ have fallen by the wayside as people try to avoid close contact with others. Over the last month or so, we have all seen videos of hilarious alternatives to the traditional handshake. From elbow bumps to waving or feet touching, people all over the world have been coming up with inventive new ways to greet one another.
While avoiding handshakes may be a sensible precaution in the short term, how can we ensure that our first impression doesn’t suffer? Rest assured that a friendly smile, eye contact and open body language will go a long way towards building rapport and creating a favourable, lasting impression.
Those of you who work in a business environment may have to find new ways to communicate in place of face-to-face meetings. If you are connecting with clients or colleagues via video conferencing, make sure that you are in a quiet place where you will be free from interruptions for the duration of the call. Switch off your mobile phone so that you are not tempted to check texts, emails or other notifications.
On another note, do not dispense with the small talk. People who are working from home with little or no contact with the outside world may be feeling lonely and isolated. A little bit of chit-chat about the weather or the upcoming weekend before you delve into business, helps break the ice and establish a friendly atmosphere. But keep it positive – there is enough doom and gloom about coronavirus and other world events in the media without you adding your own downbeat commentary.
Telephone and email etiquette
Restrictions on face-to-face meetings and networking events are likely to result in an increase in emails and telephone calls. When you are making a work-related phone call always check that it is a convenient time for the other person to talk. Make sure that you have a clear purpose for your call and keep all conversations brief and to the point.
Internetiquette or Netiquette are relatively new words, which refer to the use of good manners in our online communication. It is estimated that emails already take up about half the workday for the average person. With an increasing number of people working from home due to fears over coronavirus, emails are likely to consume even more of our time.
However, while we try to work faster and more efficiently, we must not forget the social rules that accompany any form of communication. It is important to make sure that your emails always have a clear subject line and are written in full sentences using polite language. Always proofread your email before hitting the send button and do not write anything in an email that you would not say to someone’s face.
coronavirus Hygiene Etiquette
The official advice is still that frequent hand washing is the most effective way to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Hand sanitizers are like gold dust at the moment but if you’ve managed to get your hands (no pun intended!) on one, keep it in your bag and use it after touching door handles, lift buttons, handrails and traveling on public transport.
Do not pass your mobile phone to other people to show them photos or videos, and use antibacterial wipes to regularly clean it. If you have to cough or sneeze make sure that you do so into a tissue or, if none is available, into your upper sleeve. If you see someone who is ignoring these hygiene etiquette rules, it is absolutely fine to politely remind them to wash their hands or suggest they get some tissues.
Don’t skimp on kindness
How should you behave if someone in your family, friendship group or workplace becomes ill with coronavirus? Apart from following any government advice on self-isolation and other precautions, treat the person with kindness and consideration.
Keep in touch via telephone or email and ask if there is anything you can do to help, such as leaving food, books or magazines outside their front door. Under no circumstances should you make derogatory remarks or cruel jokes. Avoid talking about death rates or other alarming statistics, which may induce panic and anxiety.
The most important thing to remember is that the principles of kindness, courtesy and respect are still at the heart of etiquette. Be conscious of how your actions make others feel and do not insist on handshakes, invade people’s personal space or make light of their anxiety.
Please do share with us in the comments section, any adjustments you have made to your day-to-day life because of coronavirus.
If you feel that you are in need of etiquette training, but are unable to travel to London, we offer one-to-one classes via Zoom or Skype. We work across all time zones and sessions are arranged at times that are convenient for you and the tutor.