Please welcome another wonderful Guest Blogger to the mix! Marilyn Pincus is a talented author and business etiquette expert. We have invited Marilyn to the Blog to share some of her tips with you.
We’re challenged each day to keep-up with change. Sometimes, we’re running as fast as we can and it’s still difficult to keep-up. It’s a relief to realize that some things don’t change. Those things rarely make headlines but perhaps that’s a glaring omission on the part of those who determine what is newsworthy.
A smile helps to make someone feel welcome. Rising from your chair when a guest enters your office is a sign of respect. Making eye contact with the person with whom you’re speaking indicates you’re paying attention. Arriving at a conference dressed appropriately for the event notifies on-lookers you’re not there to party! Okay so your business attire isn’t exactly body-language or, is it? As an Administrative professional you may readily agree personal appearance plays a vital role in 9 to 5 life. Arrive at the office in an outfit that could double as clothing worn to clean a garage and do it when out-of-town company executives are visiting and imagine the fall-out. Without moving or speaking you’re saying a lot and none of it is nice. It follows that good grooming and cleanliness have a high-priority in business circles too.
Where did you hear this before? It certainly isn’t new.
These are some of the things that haven’t changed with the passing of time. Business attire may be more relaxed than it was a decade ago and more business people may opt to be “on a first name basis” but these are minor tinkerings.
If you’re training newly hired employees or mentoring to an assistant you may want to mention that once they nail business etiquette basics they will use them forever. That’s the good news! The flipside is; as your value to the executives you support increases your command of business etiquette expands. In short, you know more and must demonstrate it.
No resting-on-laurels allowed!
Doing business with people from other countries and different backgrounds makes it necessary to become aware of customs and practices which are unfamiliar to you. “Awareness” is a subtle component of good Business Etiquette. As a matter of fact, heightened awareness will serve you well in all aspects of your business career. Listen. Observe. Make inquiries. Do what you can, within boundaries, to make others feel comfortable. Making people feel comfortable so the business of business can proceed is the goal.
“Manners are a sensitive Awareness of the feelings of others,” observed Emily Post, an etiquette expert (1873 – 1960) who wrote extensively on this topic.
“If you have that Awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.”
Speaking of forks; a keen awareness will lead you to proper ways to proceed when you tackle special occasion tasks. Many of these are guided by rules that don’t change. Some are:
• Dining table manners.
o Use the outside fork (i.e., the one placed furthest from the plate) for the salad.
o Don’t rest your elbows on the table.
• Making introductions.
o A junior executive is introduced to a senior executive. Mr. senior executive I’d like you to meet Mr. junior executive.
o Anyone is introduced to the “guest of honor.” Celebrity Smith I’d like to present our company President, Carla Banks.
• Flags and seating arrangements.
o When displaying a group of flags (presumably at a company gathering in the USA), the United States flag is always positioned on the speaker’s right (the audience’s left), which is the place of honor.
o Protocol dictates seating assignments when “titled” people sit on a podium. Which elected official should be seated where? Does a member of the military deserve special consideration based upon “rank”? The seat of honor is to the right of the host. The second ranking guest sits at the right of the second-ranking company executive. (I invite you to refer to Chapter 6, At-the-Podium Protocol in my book EVERYDAY BUSINESS ETIQUETTE for more information.) Professional meeting planners are usually well informed on these matters and Help is available from various sources. The important thing is to be aware that do’s and don’ts exist. That doesn’t change!
One thing more that shouldn’t change is “your insatiable appetite” for useful information. So while you applaud your current know-how and recognize it will continue to serve you well – you will continue to stay-on-top-of-things.
“Politeness and consideration for others is like investing pennies and getting dollars back.”
-Marilyn Pincus, Author
Marilyn Pincus, Inc.