Ask the Etiquette Expert: 8 Rules for Texting at Work

by Jacqueline Whitmore

Credit: Adobe Stock

Dear Jacqueline,

I have an employee who always seems to be texting on her personal phone. She keeps it beside her computer and checks it every few minutes. It looks like she’s more interested in her social life and I feel it’s unfair to all of us in the office who work hard and stay focused. What are your recommendations about excessive texting in the office? How do I put this to an end?

Best regards, Tired of Texts

 

Dear Tired,

Your problem is not uncommon, I often hear complaints about excessive texting at work and socially. Texting has become a normal part of our daily lexicon, often to the point where we prefer to text rather than actually speak to people. In fact, a Gallup poll reported that texting is a dominant way Americans under 50 communicate.

The problem is, there isn’t a lot of guidance around what, for most people, is a casual form of communication. Many employee manuals and orientations don’t cover texting at work, which makes knowing what to do or not to do all the more stressful.

If this person’s behavior is disruptive to your work, you must address the issue. Make sure you pull this employee aside and speak with her in private. You can say something like, “Jill, I want you to be as productive as possible while you’re here at work, so I have to ask you to put your phone away. I’ve noticed that you’ve been texting more frequently lately and it’s becoming a distraction.”

Communication is key. Give your employee an opportunity to state her case. Who knows, she may be dealing with a sick child at home or some personal matters that require much of her attention. Let her know that you care about her success and will work with her to make sure she has enough time to handle these issues without interfering with her day-to-day responsibilities. Be sure to document your conversation just in case she refuses to stop this behavior and you have to take more drastic measures in the future.

Otherwise, if you do nothing, it sends a message to other workers that this type of behavior is acceptable, and can ultimately be counterproductive to your company’s success. Establish some company guidelines around texting. Here are some suggestions: READ MORE

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Graduation Etiquette: The Dos and Don’ts of Gift Giving

by Jacqueline Whitmore

Credit: Adobe Stock

Graduations can be expensive. No one knows this better than Jon Barber, a well-known optometrist in Gainesville, Florida. Living in a college town, he receives more than his fair share of graduation announcements each year, even from students he doesn’t know, including his patients’ children.

“Choosing the right gift used to be difficult for me, but I’ve learned that gift cards to restaurants or electronic stores make the best gifts,” he told LifeZette. “Most grads love food as well as the latest and greatest gadgets.”

Graduations can be expensive. No one knows this better than Jon Barber, a well-known optometrist in Gainesville, Florida. Living in a college town, he receives more than his fair share of graduation announcements each year, even from students he doesn’t know, including his patients’ children.

“Choosing the right gift used to be difficult for me, but I’ve learned that gift cards to restaurants or electronic stores make the best gifts,” he said. “Most grads love food as well as the latest and greatest gadgets.” Read more.

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Ask the Etiquette Expert: How to Eat at Your Desk Without Offending Others

by Jacqueline Whitmore

Photo credit: Adobe Stock

Dear Jacqueline,

Every morning one of my co-workers brings in a fried egg sandwich for breakfast. Not only does he make a considerable amount of noise unwrapping it, the stench of grease and overcooked eggs wafts through the office. I know I need to say something, but how do I approach him and what are the guidelines (if any) around eating food at one’s desk? Sincerely, Stuck with the Smell

Dear Stuck with the Smell,

Many people eat at their desk and they have no idea how offensive the smell (or the noise) can be. Here are a few tips to help you handle the situation with tact and diplomacy.

Look at it from their side: First of all, consider that your co-worker is probably not aware of the problem his eating habits are causing within the office environment. From his (or her) point of view, there is no problem, so you’ll have to start there.

Set up an office policy: If your workspace is large enough, or already has a kitchen or staff room, you may want to send out an overall message that food is to be stored and eaten in the kitchen area only and never at one’s desk unless you’re working on a tight deadline. This may solve the problem without having to face the offender directly.

Read more.

 

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A Dozen Ways You Don’t Realize You Are Making a Bad Impression at Work

by Jacqueline Whitmore

Everyone has a few habits they could improve but you may not even recognize that you have some of these habits. When your bad habits interfere with the work environment it becomes detrimental to the company’s common goals. That leads to bad relationships with coworkers and clients.

Here are 12 ways you could be sabotaging your success by making a bad impression at work.

1. Always being late.

Do you find yourself always rushing into work or meetings 10 or 15 minutes late? Rather than make excuses, give yourself an extra half hour each day to offset possible obstacles including traffic, scarce parking or last-minute phone calls and emails. Perennial lateness causes undue stress for yourself and shows a lack of respect for others. If you know you will be late, let others know ahead of time.

2. Being disorganized.

Piles of files, hundreds of emails and messy stacks of paper in every corner of your office undermine an impression of competence. If you aren’t in control of your surroundings, how can you be trusted with heavy responsibilities? Don’t try to thrive in “organized” chaos. Lighten your load by tackling a little bit of clutter each week. If you can’t find time to clean up the clutter, hire a professional organizer.

3. Grooming at your desk.

Clipping or cleaning your nails, combing your hair, spraying hairspray or cologne or picking your teeth at your desk is a definite no-no. Do this at home, or at the very least, in the privacy of the restroom or behind the closed door of your office.
Read more.

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9 Ways to Kick Off the New Year With a Bang

by Jacqueline Whitmore

It’s always kind of a letdown when the holidays end. The decorations come down, the parties and the gift giving come to an end, and there’s no more fruitcake. Okay, maybe you’re glad there’s no more fruitcake, but other than that, it’s time to cheer up.

The New Year offers a bright, shiny opportunity to clear the slate, make a fresh start and set new goals. Here are nine ways to kick off the New Year with a bang.

1. Take a break.

After the hustle and bustle of the holidays, allow yourself a break in the action. Break from the norm and take a couple of days off to take a day trip, catch up on your sleep, or go to lunch with a friend. A new landscape will help you de-stress and open your eyes to new possibilities. This is also a good time to write thank-you notes to all those who gave you gifts during the holidays.

2. Create a vision board.

Use this quiet time to reflect on the year past and plan for the new one to come. Pick one or two big things you’d like to accomplish and create a vision board. Bestselling author Jack Canfield believes a vision board serves as a tangible representation of where you are going. In other words, it represents your dreams, goals and your ideal life. Set your goals for each month, quarter and the year, and lay out weekly and monthly action steps that will help you reach them.

Related: The Vision Board Is Your Internal GPS System to Realizing Your Dreams

3. Tidy up.

Clear out and spruce up your working space. The new year is also a good time to purchase new office furniture or accessories. Pack away last year’s files and make space for new ones. Clean out your email inbox and electronic files. Organize end-of-year records. Dust, vacuum and decorate in order to get those productive juices flowing. Read more

 

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Stand Out From the Competition With Handmade Holiday Cards

by Jacqueline Whitmore

It’s that time again. Time to send out the proverbial holiday card to clients, customers and friends. If you’re like most people, you’ll search for a holiday design through a card catalog and place an order. Or you might pick up a box or two of cards from your local store, sign your name and send them out.

But if you want to be different and set yourself apart, send a handmade card instead.

While a holiday card is always appreciated, many arrive with only a signature or (heaven forbid), a printed name that doesn’t say much for a personal touch.

Crafting a handmade card is a great way to stay in touch with your clients. It also offers you the opportunity to show your true personality and creativity.

Most receivers of handmade cards keep them for a very long time (or forever) and often share or post them for others to see. Your thoughtfulness will always be top of mind. Here are some ways to get started. Read more.

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The Business Benefits of the Handwritten Letter

by Jacqueline Whitmore

Photo credit: Adobe.com

You open up your email in the morning and you are greeted by dozens, if not hundreds, of emails. You meet the postman and collect the day’s flyers and bills. Every day it’s the same old thing, so why not break out from the norm, stand out, and make an impact? Bring back the handwritten letter.

Because the Internet is so convenient, it is easy to dash off an email. But electronic messaging simply does not have the same impact as a carefully-composed letter. It is a thrill to find the hand-addressed envelope hiding amidst the junk mail. You can guarantee that your letter will be the first item opened.

It has become so rare to receive a handwritten correspondence that the receipt in itself is a celebration to be savored. In the words of writer and literary critic Anatole Broyard, “In an age like ours, which is not given to letter-writing, we forget what an important part it used to play in people’s lives.” Read more.

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Etiquette Errors That Can Sink Your Career

by Jacqueline Whitmore

business meeting
When I was growing up, I craved positive reinforcement and would do anything to get it. Instead of expecting it, I had to earn it.

If you’re under 30, you grew up in an age of positive reinforcement. Coaches gave you trophies for showing up; parents said you could do or be whatever you wanted. These accolades gave you extreme confidence as well as a sense of entitlement.

Now that you’re entering the real world — and negotiating the complex issues it presents — you may be in for a rude awakening. Almost any job you take (assuming you find one) demands that you learn and apply new skills. Doing so will be difficult, time-consuming, and at times demoralizing. This process is normal — and so is the anxiety and frustration it evokes.

The trick is to master some basic etiquette essentials so your transition to adulthood is as smooth as possible. Here are some errors to be sure to avoid, as well as tips to try — after all, your life will be simpler if you know the rules. Read more.

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6 Steps to Turn Your Passion Into a Career

by Jacqueline Whitmore
Jacqueline Whitmore and her students at China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, China.

Jacqueline Whitmore and her students at China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, China.

Are you tired of showing up for work day after day just because you’re supposed to? You go not because you want to, but because you have to in order to put food on your table and keep a roof over your head. You’ve clearly lost that loving feeling for your job and now you don’t know what to do about it.

I, too, was in the same boat 18 years ago.

In 1998, I got laid off from my job at The Breakers. “What am I going to do now with my life?” I thought. That’s when I decided to buy a computer, printer and fax machine and turn my 300 square-foot attic into an office. I applied for a business license and opened The Protocol School of Palm Beach.

I also hired a web designer to design a website for me and I acquired the highly coveted URL, EtiquetteExpert.com. I’m happy to report that my website is my number one marketing tool.

From that point forward, I was well on my way to living my passion. Today, I have taught business etiquette to thousands of men and women around the world, including China, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Turks and Caicos and Switzerland. I write for numerous publications including Entrepreneur.com and I produce a monthly newsletter.

Each day is exciting and challenging at the same time and I’m glad I was brave enough to take the leap of faith. It certainly has paid off in more ways that one. I continue to meet fascinating people and share my passion with others.

Maybe it’s time to find out what you’re really passionate about and turn that into a career. If you’re interested in starting your own etiquette business, I can help!

I offer a “Train To Become a Corporate Etiquette Consultant” course throughout the year. This course is customized to meet your individual goals and needs. If you’re thinking of taking that leap, give me a call.

In the meantime, here are six steps to turn your passion into a career. (Read more)

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Minding Your Manners When Dining Abroad

by Jacqueline Whitmore

A Tea Discussion

Lack of preparation seems to be a shortcoming for many U.S. executives who conduct business overseas. Few people take the time to do their homework so they can learn to interact comfortably with people of other cultures. Executives from other countries, on the other hand, often spend substantial time and money researching U.S. businesses and social customs.

To stay competitive, cultural competence and a global mindset are a must. You must be willing and able to adapt to the client’s culture and ways of doing business. Of particular interest are the nuances of dining out in a foreign country, since we all must take meals, often together. Here are some of the cultural differences you might encounter. Read more.

 

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