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Posts Tagged ‘business etiquette’

Don’t Damage Your Career at the Company Holiday Party

Many of us have seen our friends, coworkers and even manager do really dumb things at the company holiday party.company holiday party

Here are list of my favorites:

  • Having a few too many drinks and sharing confidential information.
  • Wearing a dress that shows the people you work with more of your body than they should see.
  • Showing moves on the dance floor that you don’t have.
  • Hooking up with coworkers.

Your company holiday party is a company event, and anything you wear, do, or say is grounds for gossip the next day at work.

Don’t become the topic of conversation the day after your company holiday party.

A few rules to live by at your company holiday party:

  • If you wouldn’t want a picture of you wearing it hung up in a conference room, don’t wear it to the holiday party.
  • Don’t get drunk at a company event, ever. If you get ‘chatty’ after two drinks, then two is too many.
  • If you wouldn’t say something to someone at work, don’t say it at the holiday party.

The last rule: Help your friends and coworkers by stopping them from making career limited moves at company events. Rather than watching the train wreck go by as your friends say and do things they shouldn’t, gather your courage, and tell them it’s time to switch to club soda.

You may feel like you can’t give this type of feedback. It is hard to do, unless you’ve made an agreement before the party starts to do so. And even if you do make an agreement to tell people when they do something dumb, it’s still hard to do. But it will probably feel almost impossible if you haven’t set the expectation in advance.

So make a deal with your friends at work. If anyone says, does, or wears something really misguided to the holiday party, you will tell each other without negative recourse. And if all else fails, and you break every ‘rule’ listed here, just call out sick for two weeks after the company holiday party, because that won’t raise any red flags at all.

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Good Business Etiquette is Fast and Easy

business etiquette

You may not impress everyone you meet, hit every deadline, and consistently knock it out of the park. Bad days and breakdowns happen. But there are a few business etiquette practices you can consistently do to make you easy to work with and to present yourself in a professional and credible way.

Business Etiquette tip #1: Listen to your cell and work voicemail greetings. Have you recorded a personal greeting that assures callers they’ve reached your phone? If the message says, “You’ve reached 303-863-0948, callers may wonder if they’ve called the right number and are likely to hang up and call back. And make sure the greeting doesn’t sound as if you recorded it while you were outside waiting for a bus, or standing in line at the grocery store, or under water. You get the point.

Business Etiquette tip #2: Make it easy to contact you. Include all of your contact information at the bottom of your outgoing and reply emails, in a clickable format (versus a non-clickable image). Don’t make people search for your contact information. Oh, and spell check your salutation. I’m amazed at how many spelling errors and typos I see in people’s contact information.

Business Etiquette tip #3: Turn off your out-of-office voicemail and email messages when you return from a trip. Telling people that you’ll be back on January 3rd, in March, makes you appear checked out.

Business Etiquette tip #4: Don’t wear perfume or cologne to work. It likely bothers someone but s/he won’t tell you about it.

Business Etiquette tip #5: Want to avoid people asking you, “Did you get my email?” or sending you yet another email? Reply to all emails, letting people know you received their message and letting them know when you’ll respond. That could read something like, “I received your message. I’ll reply with an answer by Friday.”

I could go on – eating smelly food in a cubicle, taking phone calls via a speaker phone from a cubicle, stealing other people’s lunches out of the refrigerator, taking up two parking spots, almost finishing the coffee, but not making more, borrowing someone’s chair and returning it at a different height, leaving conference rooms a mess, ending meetings late so a posse of people wait outside to use the conference room, flushing the toilet while participating in a remote conference call, but this is a good start. I’m looking forward to listening to your personal yet succinct voicemail greeting soon!

Leave a comment and tell us your easily fixed, work-related pet peeve!


Office Dress Code – Flip Flops and Cargo Pants Are Not Business Casual

No one wants to tell you you’re dressed inappropriately for work.

The office dress code conversation seems to be feedback managers avoid and struggle with the most. Perhaps because attire is so personal, I’m not sure. But I do know that I’m getting more and more requests to train managers how to give employees feedback that their butt crack is showing. Yes, really.

Many employees push the envelope on the office dress code during the summer, breaking out tank tops, jeans and capri’s. The problem with dressing this casually is that some of the people you work with will judge you for it, but they are not likely to tell you. They’ll just decide you have poor judgment and that you may not be the right person to stand in for your boss at a meeting or conference.

A couple of office dress code guidelines to follow, unless you work in a very casual office environment where even the folks at the top wear jeans and t-shirts to work:

  1. Make friends with your iron, or a dry cleaner.
  2. If you put something on and ask “Can I get away with this,” the answer is most likely no.
  3. Ladies, your cleavage should never show at work. Never ever.  It will only limit your career.
  4. T-shirts and cargo pants are not business casual.
  5. Capris and sandals are ok, if your company allows them. Spandex and shorts are not.
  6. Thongs and butt cracks are a no-no. Ladies, don’t wear low rides to work. Men, if your belt sits below your stomach, buy a bigger pair of pants and raise the belt. This will solve the butt crack problem.
  7. Ladies check your skirt length. If it’s too tight or too short, it’s not for the office.
  8. Lots of women are wearing really high heels to work. They look great, at a club.
  9. General rule of thumb, if can comfortably leave work and go to a club or a baseball game, you’re not dressed conservatively enough for work.

Most of these suggestions are aimed at women because women have more flexibility with clothing and thus a greater margin for error. Men have the man’s business casual uniform: khakis and a button down or golf shirt. That’s hard to screw up, unless of course you sleep in the khakis.

Here’s how you can give a woman feedback that she isn’t dressed appropriately for your office dress code:

“I’ve noticed that some of your clothing shows cleavage. When people look at you, I want them thinking about how smart you are and all that you add to our organization. I don’t want them distracted with something else.” Replace cleavage with whatever misstep the person is making.

Here’s another example: “I’ve noticed that you wear short skirts and pretty high shoes to work. We work in a pretty conservative environment. You always look great, but not for our office environment. I’m going to ask you to wear longer skirts, that aren’t as form fitting, with lower shoes. I know this conversation is awkward, and I appreciate that you’re willing to have it with me. When people look at you I want them thinking about how smart you are and all that you add to our organization. I don’t want them distracted with something else.”

Notice, I didn’t say, “You’re not dressed appropriately for work.” The word “appropriate” is too vague and thus doesn’t qualify as feedback. Being vague doesn’t tell the person what to do differently. If your employees felt that what they are wearing to work was inappropriate, they’d wear something else. You need to spell it out. And this is true for all forms of feedback. Be specific and give an example, or you haven’t given feedback and shouldn’t expect anything to change.

Men, you can’t have this conversation with the women in your office. Ask a woman the employee has a relationship with to have the conversation on your behalf.

Read How to Say Anything to Anyone to get the words to have other difficult feedback conversations.

Some of you are currently gasping, thinking there is no way you can have this conversation. Yes you can. I have these office dress code conversations with clients regularly without damaging my relationships. So few people will tell someone when they’re wearing clothing that damages their reputation, when the feedback recipient gets over being shocked and embarrassed, s/he’ll thank you for caring enough to give such honest feedback.


Business Etiquette – Things You Should Never Do In Public

business etiquetteEvery time I get on a plane I’m grateful that skype isn’t allowed and that cell phones haven’t made it to the friendly skies. I can’t imagine sitting in a relatively small, contained space for that long, while numerous people chat away.

There was no such luck in jury duty last week when people passed the time watching TV on their phones and iPads, WITHOUT headphones. Does anyone think this is acceptable business etiquette? Please post a comment here. I’d really like to know.

Watching TV on an iPad and phone are still somewhat of a novelty. My fear is that soon, watching TV in public places without headphones will be like talking on the phone in a coffee shop – the norm. I am apparently, one of the few people who finds talking on a cell phone in restaurants and coffee shops rude. And one of my employees let me know that this makes me sound old and cranky. I can accept that I’m both old and cranky.

If you find yourself in a public place with someone watching TV or listening to music without headphones, here’s what you can say: “Would you mind using headphones?” It’s as simple as that.

If s/he tells you s/he doesn’t have any, then you can say, “Would you mind not listening to music or watching TV without headphones? It’s distracting.” The worst the person can say is no. And if you don’t want to make the request directly, then ask someone working in the location you’re spending time.

If you say nothing, and it bothers you, you’re training people to that it’s OK to fill public spaces with TV and music that you don’t want to be watching and listening to. And both will quickly become the norm.

You won’t get what you don’t ask for.


Don’t Damage Your Career at the Company Holiday Party

company holiday partyMany of us have seen our friends, coworkers and even manager do really dumb things at the company holiday party.

Here are list of my favorites:

  • Having a few too many drinks and sharing confidential information
  • Wearing a dress that shows the people you work with more of your body than they should see
  • Showing moves on the dance floor that you don’t have
  • Hooking up with coworkers

Your company holiday party is a company event, and anything you wear, do, or say is grounds for gossip the next day at work.

Don’t become the topic of conversation the day after your company holiday party.

A few rules to live by at your company holiday party:

  • If you wouldn’t want a picture of you wearing it hung up in a conference room, don’t wear it to the holiday party.
  • Don’t get drunk at a company event, ever.  If you get ‘chatty’ after two drinks, then two is too many.
  • If you wouldn’t say something to someone at work, don’t say it at the holiday party.

The last rule:  Help your friends and coworkers by stopping them from making career limited moves at company events.  Rather than watching the train wreck go by as your friends say and do things they shouldn’t, gather your courage, and tell them it’s time to switch to club soda.

You may feel like you can’t give this type of feedback. It is hard to do, unless you’ve made an agreement before the party starts to do so. And even if you do make an agreement to tell people when they do something dumb, it’s still hard to do. But it will probably feel almost impossible if you haven’t set the expectation in advance.

So make a deal with your friends at work. If anyone says, does, or wears something really misguided to the holiday party, you will tell each other without negative recourse. And if all else fails, and you break ever ‘rule’ listed here, just call out sick for two weeks after the company holiday party, because that won’t raise any red flags at all.


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