December 15th, 2015
It seems like compliments are exchanged as much, if not more, than gifts during the holiday season. If you’re like most, 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.
You may be tempted to respond with denial or self-insult. It’s easy to say something like, “Thank you, but this pie recipe is so easy, a monkey could have made it,” or “Thanks, but I’ve had this outfit for 10 years; it’s practically falling apart!” Others ask for additional reassurance: “Really? I felt like I completely botched that introduction.”
Though you may feel as if you’re responding appropriately, it only undermines the compliment or insults the giver. When you devalue a compliment, you can send the message that you have a low self-esteem, aren’t confident in your work or don’t respect the opinion of the person who gave you the praise.
If you frequently respond negatively to a compliment, retrain yourself to show gratitude. Here are 3 ways to accept a compliment during holiday gatherings and throughout the year:
- Be gracious. Any time you receive a compliment, reply with “Thank you.” It’s a simple, but powerful phrase. The person bestowing the compliment will be most receptive to a humble response. Say something like, “Thank you, that’s very kind of you,” or “Thank you, I appreciate the compliment.”
- Take one for the team. If the compliment is in regards to a team effort, acknowledge the contributions of your colleagues. Some powerful executives reach a point where they no longer publicly recognize or give credit to those who helped them succeed. This is the quickest way to lose friends.
- Never undermine the compliment. Receive every compliment with unassuming gratitude. Avoid phrases like, “Oh, it’s no big deal,” or “Thanks, but it was nothing.” When you downplay a compliment, you may feel that you’re showing humility. Instead, it may make the person who gave you the compliment feel personally rejected.
For more tips on How To Receive a Compliment Without Being Awkward About It, read my article on Entrepreneur.com.
September 15th, 2015
You may have all the awards and accolades and even know your product better than anyone in your industry. In today’s fast-paced and impersonal world, that’s not enough. Those who provide extraordinary service are the ones who are going to attract more customers, close more deals, and get ahead of their competitors. A dissatisfied customer can cost your business more than revenue — it can damage your reputation.
Here are six simple yet powerful business principles that will help you win relationships and earn repeat business:
Keep your word. Your credibility is dependent on your ability to keep your promises
Be honest. Be truthful in every aspect of your business.
Show up on time. Punctuality is a reflection of your overall organization.
Acknowledge mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes.
Handle conflicts gracefully. Disagreements and personality conflicts are part of doing business.
Don’t burn bridges. Today’s foe could be tomorrow’s ally.
For more business principles, read my book Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work.
What is your most important business principle? Leave your comment below.
July 9th, 2015
How does social etiquette differ from business etiquette?
Listen to my “Ask the Etiquette Expert” interview with Jim Blasingame. I talk about how to compare and differentiate social etiquette in our daily lives and how we should behave in the business environment.
July 2nd, 2015
Is it okay if I give a client or colleague a hug or should I always shake hands?
Listen to my “Ask the Etiquette Expert” interview with Jim Blasingame as I talk about the current greeting practices, especially between men and women. Is hugging acceptable, should you shake hands, and who decides?
June 26th, 2015
Interviews can unnerve even the most confident of job hunters. Your palms sweat, self-doubt creeps into your mind, and you think: What if I’m not qualified? Will they like me?
Most people think about job interviews as a way for the company to find the right employee, but they are also a chance for the applicant to interview the company.
I suggest that you take control of the interview, highlight your strengths, and go beyond the job description. Here are 6 ways to ace a job interview:
- Calm down. Anxiety often replaces confidence as you walk toward the boardroom for your interview. But if you’ve been invited to interview, your resume already convinced the company you’re qualified. Don’t think about your interview as a test—consider it a conversation.
- Go beyond Google. If you’ve done your research, you know how the company presents its business. Use your interview to dig deeper. Ask questions about company culture, and get a feel for what your interviewer enjoys about his or her job. Ask something like, “What do you enjoy most about your job?” Or, “What’s the best part of working here?” If the interviewer can’t think of an answer or says something generic, consider it a red flag.
- Bring a notebook. Write your questions down before the interview, and leave space for responses. You’ll appear prepared, confident and responsible—and it will give you something to do with your hands if you feel nervous. Your attention to detail will help you stand out.
- Balance benefits and work. A majority of your questions should focus on the job and what you can do for the company, instead of the benefits. When you ask a benefit question, frame it in a way that highlights your skills, like: “Does the company invest in continuing education for its employees?” or “What training and development programs are available?” It shows you want to continue to learn and grow with the company.
- Show your interest. Ask an open-ended question such as “How do you define success in this position?” This shows you want to be successful and sends the message that you’re seriously interested in working with the company. The employer’s answer will give insight into whether or not you’ll be a good fit.
- Be bold. Don’t be afraid to ask questions that put the interviewer on the spot. Ask, “How does your company foster growth and bring out the best in its employees?” Asking a bold question will highlight your confidence. If you discover the job’s not right for you, thank the employer and use the experience as a way to present yourself in a better light at your next interview.
June 22nd, 2015
Wouldn’t it be great if you could take your animals to work with you each day? Well, on Friday, June 26, you can because it is Take Your Dog To Work Day.
In honor of this special occasion, here are a few pet etiquette tips to observe.
Practice makes perfect. Make sure your dog can interact politely and adapt well to unfamiliar surroundings before you take him to the office. After all, he’ll want to put his best paw forward.
Be respectful of others. Don’t be surprised if some of your co-workers are allergic or uncomfortable around dogs. Honor their wishes and refrain from introducing your dog to them.
Don’t allow your dog to wander. Teach your dog to lie down quietly under your desk or at your feet while you work. Keep your dog off the office furniture and don’t allow your dog to jump on people whenever they greet him. An ill-mannered dog can be a nuisance and may not be invited back to the office.
Proceed with caution. Just like people, some dogs are shy and introverted. So don’t assume all dogs want to meet your dog. Allow the other dogs some time to get to know your dog before you let them play together.
Ask permission. Even friendly dogs can get excited and play too rough if not carefully supervised. Use your best judgment before you introduce your dog to a new dog. It’s never hurts to ask, “Is your dog friendly?”
Try not to leave your dog alone for a long period of time. It’s a moot point to take your dog to work if you have to attend meetings all day. Make sure you have plenty of time to spend with him.
Give your dog a break. Dogs get bored and restless if they are inactive for too long. Be sure to pack plenty of toys for him to play with. Also take your dog outside for a couple of walks during the day. The sunshine and fresh air will be good for both of you.
June 17th, 2015
Once a year, I make a trek to the shopping mall and stock up on all my makeup. In order to keep my skin in tip-top shape, I have searched high and low for the best beauty products. When it comes to skincare and makeup, I spare no expense.
I’m often asked what I use, so here is what’s in an etiquette expert’s beauty bag:
- Image Vital C Hydrating Anti-Aging Serum
- Image Prevention+ Daily Hydrating Moisturizer
- Shiseido Benefiance WrinkleResist 24 Day Cream
- Shiseido Benefiance Extra Creamy Cleansing Foam
- Eminence Wild Plum Eye Cream
- Palmer’s Cocoa Butter
- Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer
- Shiseido Urban Environment Tinted U/V Protector (SPF 43)
- Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua Ultra Light Skin Perfecting Sunscreen Makeup (SPF 15)
- Laura Mercier Eye Basics (Linen)
- Shiseido Natural Finish Cream Concealer
- Shiseido Sheer Eye Zone Corrector
- Laura Mercier Eyebrow Pencil (Blonde)
- Chanel Natural Finish Loose Powder (Translucent 2)
- Lancome Dual Finish Multi-Tasking Powder and Foundation in One (Porcelaine D’Ivoire 1)
- Nars Blush (Orgasm)
- Laura Mercier Matte Eye Color (Buttercream)
- Laura Mercier Matte Eye Color (Cafe Au Lait)
- Laura Mercier Eye Pencil (Antique Jade)
- Lancome Cils Booster XL Mascara Primer
- Benefit “They’re Real!” Mascara (Black)
- Laura Mercier Lip Liner (Baby Lips)
- Christian Dior Lipstick (Rouge Dior 526)
- Laura Mercier Lip Glace (Daiquiri)
And for the most fabulous eyelashes ever, I use RevitaLash Advanced Eyelash Conditioner.
What are some of your favorite beauty products? Let me know in the comments section below.
May 28th, 2015
Being good at what you do is obviously important, but being liked by your coworkers, colleagues and clients is just as important. Without the likeability factor, people are going to be less likely to want to work with you, which can have devastating consequences in business.
Here are 10 habits of phenomenally likable people:
1. They have the BLT factor.
In this case, BLT stands for believability, likability and trustworthiness. Cultivate a reputation that embodies these three key traits. When clients decide with whom to do business, they ask themselves, “Is Mike capable of the work and will I enjoy working with him?” Obviously both criteria matter, but when we need help getting a job done, we most likely choose a congenial person over a more capable but less cordial one.
2. They show empathy.
The struggles and triumphs of your life affect how you empathize with others. Empathy doesn’t require you to agree with someone else’s opinion. You can politely agree to disagree while you thoughtfully consider his or her feelings. Respect others and try to find common ground. A shared experience can form an instant bond.
3. They are reliable.
Entrepreneurs who are consistent and dependable will win contracts and develop long-term professional relationships. Your clients need to know they can count on you to deliver the work reliably. Do your job well and people will begin to see you as consistent and trustworthy.
4. They tell the truth.
It sounds easy until you’re late on a project and over-budget. When you’re faced with a choice, always choose honesty over deception. Integrity has become a rare trait in the business world. All relationships require honesty, but professionalism is rooted in your personal integrity. Always use your best judgment and be transparent with those with whom you interact.
5. They ask questions.
Show sincere curiosity in the lives of others. Ask open-ended questions that begin with “Tell me…” Then really listen to the answer. You’ll discover more about your clients, colleagues and friends through effective listening. Your genuine interest will earn you the respect and appreciation of those around you.
6. They keep an open mind.
When you judge others harshly or gossip on a regular basis, you invite negativity into your life. Consider the opinions of others before you reject them based on your preconceived notions. Everyone is afraid of rejection. When you show others that you’re open, accepting and kind, you’ll attract more friends and opportunities.
7. They show engagement.
Your body language speaks louder than your words. Some gestures, such as crossing your arms or putting your hands in your pockets, can make you appear withdrawn from a situation. When you talk to someone, open up. Make consistent eye contact, smile and nod occasionally.
8. They make a good first impression.
Everyone forms immediate judgments about the people they meet. To make a great first impression, exhibit your professionalism and character. What you wear matters. Dress to impress by wearing clothes that fit well and are in good condition. When you greet someone, introduce yourself and give a firm handshake.
9. They share the limelight.
It’s wonderful to be recognized for your achievements and hard work. However, don’t forget to thank those who helped you along the way. Publicly recognize employees and partners who have worked tirelessly next to you. Don’t monopolize the spotlight or try to give the impression that you’re more important. Instead, be friendly and considerate of others and give credit where credit is due.
10. They work hard at remembering names.
There’s no better way to build a relationship with someone than to remember his name. This simple, yet powerful gesture, makes others feel valued and respected and can help you build a large professional network. Deliberately practice remembering names when you meet new connections. It takes a bit of time and effort, but remembering someone’s name can make a difference in how that person feels about you and your brand.
May 10th, 2015
There was no better place in my hometown to get primped and pampered than Lucille’s House of Beauty. That’s where my mother worked and where I spent a majority of my time when I was growing up.
The beauty shop was always buzzing with cackling women, many of whom shared their most intimate secrets with my mother as she cut and styled their hair. Mom was a master at permanent waves and finger waves, but she was superior at keeping secrets (especially her own).
The shop’s proprietor was Lucille Hunt — a heavyset woman with big breasts and fire-engine-red fingernails. Her hair was dyed light blond and teased so high it looked like cotton candy. Lucille purchased a two-bedroom, one-bathroom house on top of a hill on South Tenth Street, and eventually she converted it into one of the most popular salons in the small town of Haines City, Florida.
The beauty shop had four orange Formica shampoo stations — complete with mirrors, porcelain sinks, and black vinyl chairs that swiveled back and forth, and also went up and down. As a child, I loved to climb in Mom’s chair when she wasn’t looking and spin as fast as I could until I got dizzy.
Posters of stylish women sporting the latest 70s hairdos hung on the yellow stucco walls. Cat Stevens, Roberta Flack, and the Moody Blues played on the transistor radio in the background. The competing scent of permanent wave lotion and Grand Finale hairspray wafted throughout the salon.
The sunroom, which was also known as the dryer room, was located on the east end of the beauty salon. This room housed six orange hairdryer chairs. After Mom washed and rolled her customers’ hair, she’d take them to this room where they’d sit under the dryer for about 45 minutes and read the latest issue of Ladies Home Journal or take a nap. Their heads bobbed up and down as they slept and their cheeks turned beet red from the warm air blowing out of the clear acrylic dryer hoods.
I frequently watched Mom gently take her elderly customers by the arm and escort them all the way from the dryer room to her styling chair on the other side of the salon. Some of her customers were so frail they could barely walk without assistance. They held on to my mother’s arm and slowly shuffled across the room. I rarely saw any of the other beauty operators go to such great lengths to assist their customers the way my mother did. Her customers always appreciated her kind attentiveness.
When I turned eight, I was old enough to help Mom whenever she got busy. I’d sweep up the hair around her chair or greet her customers when they walked in the door. “Go say hello to Mrs. So-and-So,” she’d say. Or, “Jackie, please take the rollers out of my customer’s hair.”
I eagerly hopped up from my chair and did as I was told. I didn’t mind touching the customers’ heads. First, I removed the pink plastic picks from the rollers, then I carefully unrolled the brush rollers and placed them in the wicker basket that sat on the customer’s lap. Mom occasionally glanced over from her styling chair across the room to make sure I kept each curl in tact. She smiled with approval.
As I removed the prickly rollers, the customers would often ask, “Do you want to be a beautician when you grow up, Jackie?” Before I could answer, Mom usually chimed in and said, “No, I want Jackie to go to college and get a degree.” My mother was adamant that I get a good education so that I wouldn’t have to stand on my feet all day long like she did.
Sometimes I’d tell the customer what I really wanted to do with my life. “I want to be a model when I grow up,” I said softly.
In my mind, I already had my whole career mapped out. I wanted to travel the world, wear sequined dresses, appear in magazines and perform on television. I wanted to be just like Miss America 1973, Terry Anne Meeuwsen, and stand next to Bert Parks, sing He Touched Me, watch the audience cry tears of joy and give me a standing ovation. I didn’t want to be a beautician. Instead, I wanted to be famous.
I learned how to carry on a conversation with adults while working at Lucille’s House of Beauty. Mom’s clientele was mostly comprised of little, blue-haired ladies who paid $5.00 a week for a shampoo and set, not to mention an earful of local gossip. Most of the time, her customers tipped an additional $1 or $2, and then they’d tell her to “just keep the change.” On a good day, Mom would usually bring home $15-$20 in tips, which allowed us to get a Happy Meal at McDonalds or, sometimes, a nice dinner at Morrison’s cafeteria.
My mother’s job was far from glamorous. Most days, she was too busy for a proper lunch, so she’d eat Lance Peanut Butter Crackers whenever she took a break. Her fingernails were stained with hair color and she had corns and callouses on her feet from standing for hours. Her lower back was always sore from leaning over the shampoo bowl and washing other people’s dirty scalps all day long. At night, Mom would lie on the floor while my brother and I took turns walking on her spine. She took Tylenol and Doan’s pills regularly.
Despite all her aches and pains, Mom never called in sick, nor did she complain. She adored her customers and they adored her. They were extremely loyal and would have followed her anywhere. Although she didn’t have a college degree, she had excellent people skills. She instinctively knew what her customers wanted; they wanted to look beautiful.
Although she was not rich, she did manage to find a career that she truly enjoyed. She cared about her customers and took great pride in making them look their very best.
In retrospect, I’m not sure if any of my mother’s customers knew how broken she was or how difficult it was for her to put a smile on her face each day, especially since she struggled with alcoholism. But because Mom knew how to pull herself together, no one ever suspected what was hidden beneath her artfully applied make-up and stylish polyester pantsuit.
Behind it all was a kind, caring, vulnerable woman who managed to make ends meet, to keep her wits about her, and make sure that her children felt cherished and safe.
May 5th, 2015
It’s National Teacher Appreciation Week and I’d like to give a special shout-out to my third-grade homeroom teacher, Mrs. Patsy Capps. In 1973, Mrs. Capps helped me find my true passion in life.
Mrs. Capps looked a lot like Jacqueline Kennedy, but she spoke with a sweet Southern accent. She had dark brown hair, teased to perfection, and cherry-red lips. Each day she would ask me to help her sharpen pencils or clean the blackboard and erasers. I was always more than happy to oblige, and was careful to do everything just right. She knew she could count on me, especially when all the other third-grade kids were goofing off.
Mrs. Capps was kind to all her students, but especially to me. One day, she announced that our class was going to perform the play, Hansel and Gretel. Much to my surprise and delight, she cast me in the role of the wicked witch. It was my job to kneel behind the bookshelf in the corner of the classroom and wait for Hansel and Gretel to cross my path. When they approached, I had to jump out in front of them and frighten them with a wicked laugh. (To this day, I can still recreate that same laugh.)
Mrs. Capps and all my classmates loved my performance. I happily absorbed each and every one of their accolades. At last, I had found something I was really good at. I finally gained a newfound confidence and, unlike most of my classmates, I seldom got nervous when I was in a school play or when asked to speak or read. Most of all, I loved the fact that I’d found something that set me apart from all my other classmates, and made me stand out in a good way.
Instead of critically focusing on the things that you can’t do, focus on what you can do well. I found out in the third grade that it’s easy for me to sparkle when I’m on stage. Fortunately, Mrs. Capps saw something in me that I couldn’t see in myself, and she was able to bring out the best in me. She knew that I had a talent for speaking in public, as well as a desire to help others.
Think back to your early successes and times of great enjoyment. Don’t be afraid to dredge up memories that go far back in the past. Ask close friends or relatives about what they regard as your talents. Oftentimes, others see our strengths much more clearly than we do.
To discover which talents are worth nurturing, try several. Then concentrate on the ones that give you the most pleasure. You’ll know you’ve chosen the right one when you lose track of time while pursuing the talent. Some experts refer to this state as “the flow” or “being in the zone.”
When you nurture your talent, you’ll eventually find a way to put it to use it in your everyday life. In my case, I became a professional speaker and a certified etiquette expert. Each time I step “on stage,” I experience profound joy because I get to share my gift with other people.
Everyone has a gift, and it’s worth your while to discover what yours is. It may take a while, but when you finally find it, embrace it and let it take you to the top. No matter how old you are when you discover and develop your hidden talents, you’ll find greater fulfillment, personally and potentially economically, as well.