There is a lot of etiquette about emailing, commenting online, accepting wedding invitations and even dog walking etiquette, but what are the do’s and don’ts when it comes to meeting rich people? What is the etiquette around rich people? When you meet people for the first time, it’s natural to want to share information, so why treat the rich differently? They are just people, right? Yes and no. Rich people who want to protect their money, status and privacy are on high alert when they meet people for the first time.
They don’t like to talk about their wealth, bank balance or lifestyle with anyone, especially someone they don’t know. Its bad etiquette. Whether you meet them at a conference, a wedding, or through friends, here are five topics you should avoid when first meeting someone you are told has, or comes from money. People make these 5 mistakes all the time. Avoid these and you can feel totally comfortable and get to know them at the same time.
Because as they say, if someone is a mean horrible person, money only makes them mean horrible and rich.
Rule Number One – Ask ‘What Industry Are You In?’ Not ‘What Do You Do?’
It’s considered bad manners to ask people what they do. For the super rich, the answer might be ‘nothing’. You can see how it can seem rude or in bad taste. For others it might be a career in the family business, collecting artifacts from the 3,000 BC or looking after their investments. Either way, it can feel intrusive, and that kind of transparency is not always welcomed. You could come across as opportunistic instead of someone who simply making small talk.
Rich people are warned to watch out for people who might take advantage of them or who have their own agenda. Paranoid or burnt in the past, their internal alert systems are triggered when questions feel more like a survey than a chat. Avoid crossing the line and sending out these signals. Besides there are discreet ways of finding out what somebody does for a living.
After all, the more you talk to a person, the more relaxed you both become, which makes talking about work, hobbies, friendships and family more organic and natural. You can take the lead and talk about your own line of work or introduce topics that might be business related. When there is an opportunity, ask for the person’s business card.
But don’t be disappointed if there is only a mobile phone number or just a name, no email, no title. Calling cards come in all shapes and sizes and the wealthy often don’t carry a card at all. If they are interested in following up the conversation, they will ask for your details.
Another way to find out more is to ask them what industry they are in. This gives them the freedom to decide how much they want to reveal to you. They can discuss the industry in detail if they choose, or open another line of conversation without offending you. This way you build trust naturally.
Rule Number Two – Saying Things to Impress Rich People is Fake. Don’t Do It.
The wealthy are used to having people around them trying very hard to impress them. Don’t be one of them. It can make you look insecure and needy. They will simply put you in a box as yet another person trying very hard to play someone they are not. They might appear polite, as they lean away from you, but they are onto you. Maybe you’ve had an interesting past, but this isn’t the time to share your resume or that whole world should know about it.
There is a perfect balance of how much you can share to put yourself in a positive light without kind of coming across as self-indulgent. It’s about finding the perfect balance. As a rule, do not list places you’ve been you’ve been to or name people you know or possessions you have acquired. You want to leave them curious enough to ask questions about you. Staying modest is the best etiquette there is.
Rule Number Three – They are Only Possessions. Don’t Quiz, Brag, Discuss or Flaunt.
After a few drinks, people feel free to ask very direct, personal and awkward questions like, ‘what kind of car do you drive?’, ‘I own a yacht, do you?’ or ‘Are you on the Forbes list?’ Its not polite but it happening more and more. Social media makes it easy to see other people’s lives online.
But when you come face to face with someone, does that give you the right to ask anything? Honestly, this kind of questioning is nothing more than snooping. You might be curious but please ask these questions. It’s impolite and embarrassing for everyone.
Number Four – Never Talk Negatively About Your Financial Situation
The flip side of bragging about your financial situation is to talk about your current lack of finances. This is a taboo topic that should be avoided with people you barely know. It could come across as if you are asking for a hand out, fishing for a new partner or wanting a loan. Your etiquette is on shaky ground. This doesn’t mean you can never talk about your financial situation. But you need to wait until it is appropriate.
Rule Number Five – How Do You Do? Etiquette
Everyone says ‘Nice to meet you’. But the rich and wealthy still use the older more genteel and formal greeting of ‘How do you do?’ It might be a small thing, but ‘Nice to meet you’ is something that sticks in their mind as being too casual and incorrect for a first meeting, and they will subconsciously file that away. That’s not how you want to start this friendship.
If you want to surround yourself with wealthy people, people of money, born with status and connections, you want to feel comfortable in their company. Avoid these 5 etiquette faux pas, and you will have a greater chance of getting to know them better.