September 14th, 2014
Most people have no idea what an etiquette expert’s life is like. Just in case you’re wondering, here are 15 things you don’t know about me:
- If I had to pick a new career, I would be a travel writer. I’m sure there are a lot of perks that go along with that job.
- I never changed my last name after I got married. My husband’s last name is Gleason, but I’m not “Jackie Gleason.”
- I feel most comfortable wearing a t-shirt, yoga pants and bedroom slippers.
- When I was born, my mother named me after her idol, Jacqueline Kennedy.
- I love to write, but I’m remarkably slow at it.
- I’m terrible at math. My least favorite subject in high school school was geometry.
- I got my first job at 14. I was a secretary for the Public Works Department in Haines City, FL. (I’m still grateful for my excellent typing skills).
- One of my favorite movies of all time is Gone With the Wind. I can relate to Scarlett O’Hara in so many ways.
- One of the best days ever was when I got my first book deal.
- I love watching QVC but I rarely order anything.
- I learned all about poise by competing in beauty pageants during and after college.
- I collect Junior League cookbooks.
- My dog Abigail is named after Abigail Thomas, my writing coach and the bestselling author of A Three Dog Life (soon to be a movie starring John Travolta and Salma Hayek).
- I met my husband at the Solid Waste Authority (a.k.a. the county dump) in 1993.
- I grew up eating bologna sandwiches, Swanson TV dinners and SpaghettiOs.
September 11th, 2014
The loss of a friend or family member can be an extraordinarily challenging time. For those closely related to the deceased, the pain of mourning is even more intense. Your support can make an enormous difference.
I reached out to my friend and fellow etiquette expert Karen Hickman, founder of Professional Courtesy, and we came up with the following dos and don’ts of grief etiquette.
- Even if you don’t know what to say, it’s important to acknowledge someone’s loss. Saying, “you have my sympathy,” or “I am sorry for your loss,” is appropriate. Or just saying, “I am thinking of you,” is sufficient.
- Avoid saying things such as, “they are in a better place,” or “at least they are not suffering anymore.” The surviving family members may not agree with you and it can be perceived as insensitive.
- If you want to say more, say something about the deceased such as, “Bob was a wonderful man and will be missed by all who knew him.”
- If you are not sure if someone shares your religious views, tread softly with any religious-related comments.
- If you are sending a pre-printed sympathy card be sure to add a line or two in your own handwriting. It adds a personal touch to the card.
- If you send email condolences, try to follow up with a written note, too. Again, it is much more personal, and notes and cards may be saved by family members and reread in the future.
- Instead of asking “How are you?” when you visit a grieving friend or family member, consider saying something like, “I am glad to see you. I have been thinking of you.” It can be difficult for someone to answer a specific question immediately after they have lost a loved one.
- Don’t ask a widow if she thinks she will marry again. That is a personal question and may unintentionally come across as rude and insensitive.
- Try not to ask too many questions about the details on the cause of death. Getting too personal can be intrusive. Family and friends will share what they want you to know.
- Be careful in minimizing someone’s grief just because they lost a loved one who was elderly.
- Instead of saying, “Call me if I can do something for you,” take the initiative and just do it. Someone who is grieving doesn’t want to have to make any more decisions than they absolutely have to and they probably won’t call you. Offer to take the person out to lunch or to a movie. Your kind friendship will be remembered and will mean more than you know.
August 26th, 2014
1. Ensure you’ve got a legitimate grievance.
When you’ve had a bad day, you may feel as if the world is out to get you. To avoid unnecessary conflict, step back from the situation and evaluate if it’s worth your energy to complain. There’s a difference between a cheeseburger that was slightly overcooked and one that made you sick. Always give others the chance to rectify the situation before you ask for a refund or launch into a tirade.
2. Find the right person to contact.
Before the Internet, people sent letters to companies when they had a complaint or compliment. Today, a letter sent to a company’s customer service department may or may not receive a response. You’re chances of getting a quicker increase when you voice your opinion on social media. Try sharing your complaint on Facebook or Twitter and you will reach thousands of readers. The threat of poor publicity or a lost customer will most likely motivate the company to respond — and correct the problem.
3. Avoid foul language and threats.
Be careful not to go overboard when you express your frustrations. Keep your complaint brief and stay on point. Personal attacks, inappropriate language and unfair threats will only put others on the defensive. You’ll get much better results when you speak firmly but kindly.
4. Don’t feel forced to take down a bad review.
Once a complaint has been addressed, the company may ask you to take down a negative online review. If a company responds to you promptly and appropriately, consider removing the complaint. However, you should not feel obligated to do so. A company should never stipulate that a review must be removed prior to issuing a refund.
5. Give a great review when it’s been earned.
Complaints shouldn’t be the only feedback you provide a company. When you receive extraordinary service or someone goes above and beyond to help you, say so. Leave positive reviews on the company’s Facebook page or Twitter feed, speak to a manager about your positive experience, or directly thank the person who helped you. At the very least you’ll brighten someone’s day.
August 20th, 2014
Daimler employees can head to the beach this summer without worrying about checking emails, sparing their partners and children the frustration of work-related matters intruding on the family vacation.
The Stuttgart-based car and truck maker said about 100,000 German employees can now choose to have all their incoming emails automatically deleted when they are on holiday so they do not return to a bulging in-box.
The sender is notified by the “Mail on Holiday” assistant that the email has not been received and is invited to contact a nominated substitute instead. Employees can therefore return from their summer vacation to an empty inbox.
“Our employees should relax on holiday and not read work-related emails,” said Wilfried Porth, board member for human resources. “With ‘Mail on Holiday’ they start back after the holidays with a clean desk. There is no traffic jam in their inbox. That is an emotional relief.”
Reading work emails on holiday is a divisive issue. For some, an out-of-office reply is seen as a tool of the work-shy. For others, a regular digital-detox is considered essential to good mental health.
Personally, I’m in favor of the “digital detox” idea and I hope more companies jump on the bandwagon. It’s important for two reasons:
- It makes for happier employees so there’s less burnout.
- Employees can go on holiday or take a break without having to worry that they might get reprimanded for not doing their job. This alleviates a tremendous amount of stress.
Here are my top 7 email etiquette tips to observe when when going away on vacation.
- Set up an “Out of the Office” auto-reply. If you won’t be accessible during your holiday, make sure your clients and customers can contact someone who can help in your absence.
- Limit your email time. Try not to check your email more than 2x a day when you’re on holiday. Otherwise you won’t have a vacation at all.
- Don’t check email first thing in the morning. If you do, it sets the tone for your day and may ruin your holiday plans.
- Change your voicemail. Your voicemail message should reflect when you will be out of the office. Also leave the name of someone who can help in your absence.
- Talk to your supervisor. Before you head out of town, discuss your vacation plans with your supervisor so you are both clear on what is expected and what your plans are.
- Just say no. If you’re going somewhere where you might not have Internet access, or going on your honeymoon, for example, it’s fine to say you’re not going to be available. This way, the company can plan on coverage while you’re away.
- Don’t feel guilty. If you do decide not to check your email while you’re on holiday, don’t feel guilty. You’re supposed to be on vacation and disconnected, after all. It’s not a vacation if you end up working all day.
I was recently interviewed by Richard Quest of CNN’s Quest Means Business about this topic. Click on this link to watch the video.
Do you check your email while you’re on vacation? Are you in favor of a “No Work, No Email” policy? Please leave your comments below.
August 13th, 2014
When was the last time you received a handwritten thank you note? Perhaps it’s easier to remember the last time you expected to receive one but didn’t.
“I’m too busy,” is an all-too-popular excuse for not sending thank you notes these days. As a child, my mother always insisted that I write a thank-you note to anyone who gave me a present or did something special for me. Even today, I try to write a note or send a card a couple of times a week.
Whenever someone gives you their time, advice, or a helping hand, that’s reason enough to express your gratitude. Here are some tips on how to write the perfect thank-you note from my bestselling book, Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work.
- Write the note by hand. This personal touch will convey that you cared enough to take the time to sit down and think about that person. If you think your handwriting is barely legible, print.
- Invest in good-quality stationery. Rather than buying generic note cards with “Thank You” printed on them, consider purchasing a set of premium correspondence cards or fold-over notes with your name elegantly engraved. (My favorite stationery store is Crane.com).
- Keep it short. Three or four carefully crafted sentences are usually enough to get the point across. In your note, mention something specific about the event or gift.
- Address it properly. When writing a thank-you note, it’s bad form to misspell a person’s name. Be mindful of the details.
- Send it promptly. A thank-you note should be sent within one or two days after someone does something special for you. Even if you feel that too much time has lapsed, send a thank-you note anyway. You’re better off sending it late than never.
Bonus tip: A thank-you call is appropriate in some casual circumstances and e-mail is better than nothing at all. But save these methods for when the situation is informal.
August 4th, 2014
There’s something magical about a summer vacation. The weather is sunny and warm, everyone’s generally in a good mood and trips often include time spent with cherished friends and family.
Here’s how to ensure your summer plans are stress-free — for you and those around you. Because we all need to learn how to be a courteous summer traveler.
Travel by Air
1. Prepare ahead of time. Research the rules of your particular airline to find out what luggage requirements they have. If you plan to leave from a busy airport, give yourself enough time to go through security and make it to your gate — even if there are long lines. Know when and whom to tip. Bring some singles so you can tip all those who assist you along the way, including the skycap who checks you in at curbside. Plan to tip at least $1-2 per bag.
2. Pack appropriately. Take only the items you need to cut back on luggage charges. Remember that overhead compartments on planes are intended for carry-on luggage only. Store purses, laptops and backpacks in the space underneath the seat in front of you.
3. Check before you recline. Airline seats recline to allow passengers to sleep and relax, but it may cause discomfort for the person behind you. If you intend to recline your seat, turn around and let the person know.
4. Be respectful of those around you. Airplane seating is tight and interaction with your seatmates is inevitable. Keep the volume of your headphones at an appropriate level and lower the light on your electronic devices so you don’t disturb or distract the person next to you. Many people are sensitive to strong scents including garlic and onions so be mindful of that if you eat your lunch on the plane.
5. Allow those in front of you to disembark first. Rather than grab your luggage and make a run for the door, follow protocol. If you need to make a connection or know you’ll be in a rush, try to arrange to be seated near the front of the plane.
Rules for Road Trips
1. Don’t text and drive. Safety should be your top priority. If you need to find a restaurant or look up directions, pull over. It’s not worth putting yourself or others at risk. Practice good cell phone etiquette.
2. Add extra time to your trip. Plan ahead for stops to eat meals, get gas and use the restroom. You may hit traffic or need to reroute unexpectedly. If you add a buffer, you won’t have to stress about arriving on time.
3. Drive courteously. The best way to start your vacation off right is to remain calm on the way to your destination. One way to relax is to listen to your favorite CDs or a audiobook.
4. Bring plenty of snacks. To avoid eating junk food, pack a cooler with healthy snacks, water and juice. Sliced vegetables and fruits make a great addition to classic favorites like pretzels and trail mix.
5. Rotate drivers. Long trips by car can be exhausting, especially if there is traffic or inclement weather. Swap places with a travel companion so you can take a few minutes to relax, rest and grab a bite to eat.
What are some of your favorite rules of the road?
August 3rd, 2014
I’m often asked how to become a business etiquette expert. The simple answer is, “Start!”
It’s not necessary to become certified, licensed or earn specific credentials — unless, of course, you want to be taken seriously in this business. If you want to earn a reputation as an etiquette expert, there are a few steps I recommend you take as you start your business.
Join professional organizations. In addition to business associations in your city, such as your local Chamber of Commerce, there are a number of national groups you should consider joining. These organizations offer excellent conferences as well as opportunities for networking and continuing education. Here are some of my favorite professional organizations:
- Association of Image Consultants International (AICI)
- National Speakers Association (NSA)
- American Business Women’s Association (ABWA)
- Toastmasters International
Set your business up for success. There are a few critical decisions to make before you take on your first client. Here are a few things to get you started:
- Pick a name. What do you want to call your business?
- Decide on a business model. How do you plan on making money? Research what the competition is charging.
- Establish a key market. Do you want to train children, teens, college students or corporate executives? This will determine how you market your business.
- Set up your business’s legal structure. Consult your state’s Department of Commerce or the Small Business Association (SBA) to find how to legally start your business. Decide whether you want to be a sole proprietor, form an LLC or incorporate.
- Hire a good accountant.
Seek out educational opportunities. Your best opportunities for learning will come in the form of books, research, networking and formal training.
- Attend etiquette workshops, classes and conferences. If you haven’t already done so, attend a reputable train-the-trainer program with someone in the industry with whom you admire and respect.
- Hire a business coach. Many business etiquette experts, including myself, offer training and private coaching opportunities for new etiquette professionals who want to develop a solid business model. Find a coach that suits your style, personality and goals.
- Become a certified business etiquette consultant. Seek out opportunities to access specialized training and get certified. For more information on my certification class, click here.
- Join a Mastermind group. Mastermind groups, such as The Consultant’s Connection, provide business owners a comfortable environment to discuss challenges and successes with other like-minded entrepreneurs.
If you’re interested in becoming an etiquette or image consultant, I recommend my home study course. It will give you time-tested tools and strategies for launching a successful business etiquette business. You’ll learn everything from which services to offer to how to market and run your business. Interested? Contact me to learn more.
July 23rd, 2014
Etiquette Tips For High Powered Business Dinners
In today’s professional world, business etiquette extends beyond the office. It is often the case where you are required to attend a formal dinner alongside executives and decision makers of your company so it is crucial that you adhere to tableside etiquette standards.
People with good dining manners can win over their colleagues and bosses and those with poor conduct may miss out on career progression.
Don’t let your flawless business plan be overshadowed by your dining faux pas. You’ll want to avoid these dining disasters at all costs.
- Don’t hassle over the check. If you’ve invited someone to dinner, always pay. Better yet, discreetly give the maitre d’ your credit card before your guest arrives to avoid a potentially awkward situation when the check comes at the end of the meal.
- Stick with the familiar. A formal dinner with VIPs isn’t the time to try out a new establishment and risk bad service or bad food. Choose a restaurant familiar to you. The best choice is a place you’ve dined at often. Better yet, pick a place where the servers know you and give you outstanding service. Nothing is more impressive than being greeted by name when you enter a restaurant.
- Don’t order first. Allow your guests to order first, then follow their lead. Be aware of your dining companion’s dietary restrictions. Mirror your companion’s preferences and dinner will go more smoothly. If your companion orders just three courses, follow suit. Don’t go overboard and order a five-course meal. It is also the host’s responsibility to choose the wine.
- Be a good listener. Get to know your dining companions through dynamic conversation. Ask open-ended questions. Be interested and interesting and the conversation will flow organically. Don’t be afraid to share a few personal stories. This is the best way to establish a personal connection.
- Don’t check your phone. Put people first; technology second. Your phone calls and text messages can wait. Turn your phone on silent and leave it in your pocket or handbag. You may have trained yourself to respond to every beep and buzz, but give your dining companions your undivided attention. Everyone will appreciate your attentiveness.
Etiquette is a very important factor in determining the success or failure of a business or a person so next time you are invited to a formal dinner with executives from your company, make sure you bring your best to the table.
July 18th, 2014
Etiquette is one of the many keys to help you progress in your career and in life. It is a set of unwritten rules that apply to social situations, professional workplaces and relationships.
Specifically on the business world, is a valuable and essential skill-set that will make you stand out from others and enhance your presence.
The relationships you build are critical so establishing good rapport is significant if you want to progress your professional future, especially as you deal with high net worth individuals.
People with good etiquette are rewarded and noted when in the company of distinguished professionals and it is important to make a good impression. The way you dress and carry yourself impacts the way others perceive you.
Here are five tips when dealing with VIPs and high net worth individuals:
- Do your research. Make a good impression by reading everything the person has written. Learn more about his career and passions. Check his website or blog frequently, sign up for his newsletter, “Like” his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.
- Don’t rush the process. If you want to cultivate a relationship with a VIP, don’t ask for assistance or favors prematurely. The best way to meet a VIP is through another connection or referral. A personal introduction ensures you have been vetted — someone who knows and trusts you already.
- Address correspondence correctly. In every letter or email, be sure to spell the recipient’s name correctly. If you omit his or her name altogether, it’s a giveaway you have sent the request to a list of people and it’s unlikely you’ll receive a response. Show your admiration and respect by personalizing your message.
- Flatter his work. When do you do something for someone, they are more willing to help you. If you have read his latest book or purchased one of his products, mention it. If his work or advice has made a difference in your life, tell him.
- Send a thank-you note. Even if you receive a negative response, send an email or, better yet, a handwritten note to thank the VIP for their time and effort. Let him or her know you appreciate the response. If his advice or actions were helpful, explain how your situation turned out.
July 14th, 2014
Everyone craves praise, but to accept a compliment with grace is an almost universal challenge. If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you’re eager to receive a compliment — especially from someone you admire — but aren’t sure what to say in response.
Many people downplay compliments to avoid the appearance of conceit. It’s so common that sociolinguists have categorized the three responses to a compliment: acceptance, deflection or rejection. Rather than humbly accept or outright reject the kind words, individuals often choose to deflect or dilute the compliment.
Click here to learn how to accept a compliment and read the full article at Entrepreneur.com