More mistakes are made with this common appliance than you may realize. The people who make out the tags write or print names too small to read, which, after all, is the purpose of the nametag. Or, if the name is legible in normal light, it can’t be made out in the low lighting that some people think makes a cocktail party glamorous. Whether or not such dim-watted decor lends glamour to an occasion, it certainly lends mystery — as in, “Who am I talking to?”

There is only one proper place for a nametag, as decreed in the First Law of Nametags: Always wear it on your right-hand side! This is because we unconsciously are looking at another person’s right-hand side when we meet them; after all, that’s where the hand we’re shaking is located. Since most people are right-handed, they naturally slap the nametag onto their left side or (if they’re the eager helper at the registration table) place it on the left side of the person they’re facing.

When it comes to reading the nametag of the person you’re meeting, try to do this before you shake hands with them. This will let you maintain eye contact with the person while shaking — even if at that moment his eyes are darting down to read your nametag.

Don’t make the common mistake of leaving your nametag on when time comes for you to get up and speak. This is because that rectangle of white on your dress or lapel is a subconscious distraction to the eye, especially if you’re at a gathering where they attach silly ribbons to your nametag reading “Speaker” or “Director”. When you speak, you want all eyes on your face, not your shoulder.

Therefore, the Second Law of Nametags: Take it off before speaking! You can always put it on again during the standing ovation that will surely follow your remarks.

Finally, there is the Third Law of Nametags: Take it off before being photographed! This will prevent having a picture in which you look as if you have on a label or, worse, a price tag.

From the book How Important People Act.