Archive for March, 2011
Monday, March 28th, 2011
Spring, is all about cleaning up from the doldrums of winter. So how about a fresh outlook on your walking and driving habits?
I’m human, too. I used to run late for meetings and appointments. Pressed to arrive at my destination on time, I’d aggressively push that red light, speed around slower traffic, and elbow my way across the street and into a crowded elevator. I’d make the meeting on time, feeling anxious, aggravated, and too exhausted to take on the task at hand. I realized I preferred to arrive at appointments alive, calm, and ready to be creative. I cleaned up my act and poor transportation habits and happily share these tips for you to do the same. Remember, the road rage you prevent may be your own!
Before You Leave
1. Be realistic about how much time your trip will take. When traveling to an unfamiliar place, check one of the on-line mapping programs—maps.yahoo.com or mapquest.com—to gauge the distance and time required. Allow extra time for high-traffic periods and poor weather and road conditions.
2. Cheat on your departure time. Set your clock or computer to ring 15 minutes ahead of when you absolutely need to leave the office. When that alarm rings, cease whatever you are doing. If you aren’t finished with your work, it certainly will be there when you return. Close down your tasks and leave, no matter what.
Think about it, had you suddenly realized you were supposed to be someplace, wouldn’t you have dropped everything and left anyway? What’s the difference? The difference is by closing down 15 minutes before you need to leave and allowing yourself the proper time to get to your destination, you save yourself anxiety and worry.
3. Organize your belongings. Establish a place near your office or home door to place items you need to take with you, including the telephone number to the location or person you are meeting—just in case. Knowing exactly where to find your keys, your cell phone, and the file you need for the meeting will save you anxious minutes prior to departure.
4. Watch your step and wait your turn. Wait and do not step off the sidewalk until it is your turn to cross the street. In addition to being dangerous, when you wait in the street you block the right-of-way of drivers who want to make turns. By law, if a driver sees a pedestrian on the street, the driver must stop and allow the pedestrian to cross. Even if a pedestrian waives the driver through, if the driver does not stop, he or she is subject to a moving violation. On many high-traffic streets the lights are configured to allow all pedestrians to walk at the same time, separate from the vehicles. Be patient and wait for the proper light for pedestrians to cross the street.
5. Share the sidewalk. When strolling down the street, stay to one side of the space and allow others to pass. If you’re walking with others, some of the group may need to walk behind the others, allowing other pedestrians to pass in either direction.
When You’re Driving
6. Please stop at red lights. Running red lights is my biggest rage about drivers on city streets. Unless you are already in the intersection, when you see a yellow light, consider it a red light and stop. Especially when you are more than one car-length away from the intersection, do not step on the gas pedal thinking you will make it across. Sure you may make it this time, but as time goes on, inch by inch your perception of that car length will become longer and longer, to the point you will find yourself going through red lights more and more often. Ultimately you may cause an accident, hurt someone or get a ticket. Simply don’t do it. Relax. Take a deep breath and allow yourself to do the right thing by stopping.
7. Weaving is for rugs, not traffic. Changing lanes without signaling, making turns from the incorrect lanes, and weaving around slower vehicles without regard to other drivers are all illegal, and dangerous.
8. Passing lanes are for passing. When driving on highways, the far left lane is properly a passing lane. Do not stay in that lane indefinitely; use it for passing only. Don’t be oblivious to the cars behind you. Go with the flow of traffic.
9. Tailgating is a party, not a driving style. Driving too close to another car is rude. What purpose does this serve? Tailgating only causes fear to the person in front of you and frustration to you. Please leave at least one car length between you and the car ahead when on city streets. When on the highway, leave 3-seconds between you and the car ahead—that is, when the car ahead of you passes an object (sign, pothole, etc.), it should be 3 seconds before you pass that same object. This means the distance between you and the car ahead gets longer as your speed increases.
10. Limit your hankering to honk. The automobile horn was created to warn other cars in emergency situations. Honking a horn, especially at a crowded intersection, serves no purpose. Your car horn is not an all-purpose frustration vent to get other people to move out of your way.
Take a few minutes today to consider your behavior and attitude about getting places on time. I believe that springing into good pedestrian and driver habits will make you a better citizen and a happier person. Less worry and aggressive behavior may even make you healthier. I know from experience that you will make appointments on time and have a greater feeling of inner peace, confidence, and authority when you plan ahead and travel with courtesy. Behind the wheel or walking the streets, keep in mind to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Question: What other items do you have to add to this list? Do let us hear from you by entering your comments below. You may also reach us at Info@AdvancedEtiquette.com. If you enjoyed this article and want more, subscribe to our “Etiquette Tip of the Month” newsletter—at no charge—filled with great monthly tips on all sorts of topics from international business and social etiquette and protocol to everyday life subjects. It will be great to have you as a member of our happy family of subscribers at www.AdvancedEtiquette.com/subscribe.
Friday, March 25th, 2011
Readers weigh in.
The greatest joy derived from producing monthly newsletters is the response from readers. A recent post, “Conference Attendance Courtesies” sparked several emails about the virtues of magnetic name badge holders. One reader reported she had purchased a magnetic badge holder to have and use at all events, just as I have. Note: This is certainly appropriate, unless you have a surgically placed medical devices in your body. Indeed because we received so many comments on various aspects of nametag etiquette we’re dedicating this month to the topic:
Guidelines for writing your own nametag or badge:
1. When preparing nametags, think through the purpose of the nametags. Always show the names in spoken order… that is your given name, followed by your surname or last name, and affiliation. Think twice about the need to provide any information beyond these basics
2. Use only big, bold block letters in all caps or with upper and lower case letters. Avoid script or cursive handwriting and do not add personalized touches that could be confusing. No matter how well lit a room may be, it is always more difficult to decipher cursive handwriting, particularly by those from other countries or ethnic origins whose first language is not your own.
3. Except for specialized events honorifics and titles are not typically used on nametags. These include Mr., Mrs., Ms. Dr., PhD., or M.D.; General Manager, President. Because nametags are intended to quickly show a person’s simple identity, they should only indicate first and last (surname), and affiliation.
“Hello, my name is” nametags:
1. I confess to personally not liking this particular style of nametag. Admittedly, they do serve a purpose for very informal occasions. But, they do seem very elementary and out of place in a professional setting. It’s best to use clean, professional-looking sheets, either with or without colored borders
To me, nothing is more disappointing than to attend a conference or professional meeting, only to arrive at check-in and discover the nametags are terribly under-presented — names are printed too small, company affiliation so small you can’t make it out, and every other detail shy of your birth date is loaded onto the badge.
When handwriting your own tag, write your information in a size at least one-quarter inch high. Allow as much white space as possible; it helps others to read the badge more easily.
When generating pre-printed tags on a computer, take care when choosing an appropriate font and font size. For tags I produce personally, I find 40-point Ariel type is a good starting point for first and last names and affiliation. Sometimes it take a little extra time to employ a little trial and error to find the correct font size and balance. I assure you it will be well worth the effort for the optimum results.
Use of an affiliation and logo:
Even though it’s important to give due attention to the sponsoring organization, always remember that the most important information on the nametag is the person’s name. By this I mean, the bulk of the space should be devoted to presenting the person’s full name; thus, the scale of the logo or sponsoring affiliation should be much smaller in comparison to the attendee’s name. It should never be the reverse.
Printing the first name larger than the last name:
While there are no hard and fast rules governing whether to enlarge the person’s first name, I submit that it’s best to print both the first and last name in the same size font. With so many men and women sharing the same first name, it can be confusing seeing lots of Susans or Stevens walking around. This underscores the value of regarding one’s own name as one’s personal branding vehicle.
Creating your own reusable name badge for use at various events:
While arriving with your very own custom-designed nametag assures your name and affiliation will be presented to your absolute liking, it may not be in your best interest to do so. Consider this: event planners usually create nametags specific to a particular occasion as a way of identifying—at a glance—those who legitimately belong at the event and those who don’t. By wearing your own personal nametag, you may inadvertently convey the impression of being a party crasher.
Where to place a nametag or badge:
Networking — whether at professional functions or at social events, always wear it on your upper right shoulder. Here’s why:
1. By wearing the tag or badge as high up on your right shoulder as possible it gives other people the best and easiest view of both the tag and your face.
2. As you extend your right hand for a handshake, your eye and arm are already being drawn to the right side of the person you are greeting.
3. Because the upper most part of your chest is the flattest area below your shoulder, this helps your tag to lie flat and be more secure.
This third point is especially relevant to women. Most of us feel feel awkward drawing attention to an area of our bodies we would prefer not be stared at. Placing the tag high in an easy to read and visible place, keeps the focus on the tag where it should be.
Company ID badges: Many companies require the staff to wear name badges for instant identification purposes. In this case, it’s customary to wear such badges on the left shoulder.
Placing nametags straight and in plain view:
Never allow your nametag to be worn crooked, sideways or upside down. It sends a negative message to others, usually implying a lack of respect for the occasion or lack of care or interest in your personal appearance.
Especially never wear a badge upside down. Though it may sound silly, believe it or not I know a man who deliberately wears his name badge upside down. He claims it’s, “The best way to meet women.” Why? Because, he says women will go out of their way to approach him just to help him correct what they perceive as his oversight. My friend claims men are far less likely to mention it or bother helping. Needless to say, I don’t recommend this practice to anyone. In my book this tactic sends the signal, here’s a person who cares little about the image he conveys. Who would want to convey the impression that something as simple as properly wearing a name badge was purposefully missed? …what else might be missing? In other words, while it is possible that one person may take this for humor; another person may take it as incompetence. Why risk creating this kind of confusion?
Question: What other items do you have to add to this list? Do let us hear from you in the area below. You may also reach us at www.AdvancedEtiquette.com. If you enjoyed this article and want more, subscribe to our “Etiquette Tip of the Month” newsletter—at no charge—filled with great monthly tips on all sorts of topics from international business and social etiquette and protocol to everyday life subjects. It will be great to have you as a member of our happy family of subscribers at www.AdvancedEtiquette.com/subscribe.
P.S. To view a video on name tag etiquette, click the link or log onto http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmDCb4neM64. As you know, videos are some times more fun and easier to understand. Also for a 10% discount on purchasing name tags and badges, mention Advanced Etiquette when ordering at www.nametag.com
Thursday, March 24th, 2011
This tip was suggested by Marilyn Johnson of IBM Corporation. Like many busy people around the world, Ms Johnson regularly participates in conference calls as a viable alternative to traveling for in-person meetings. She asked me about the commonly accepted codes of conduct and behavior—conference call etiquette—to ensure everyone feels at ease and produces a successful meeting. My main response is that participating in a telephone- or video-conference call is much like attending an in-person meeting, with a few twists.
1. SYNCHRONIZE YOUR WATCHES: Our individual clocks are not synchronized. Bookmark and use the world clock at http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/ as your official time piece when scheduling all your tele- and video-conference calls. Make every effort to be on time. Set your alarm at least 10-15 minutes before the conference call is to begin.
2. USE A LAND LINE: Avoid using a cell phone if at all possible. Technology is not up-to-speed in providing clear, uninterrupted transmission. If you must use a cell phone and are unable to use a mute feature, place your finger over the hole into which sounds are transmitted unless you are speaking and keep it there throughout the call. When speaking, make every effort to keep your comments brief. Listening to someone speaking over a cell phone for any length of time can be tiresome.
3. KEEP TECHNOLOGY SIMPLE: Disengage the call waiting, on-hold music, and other telephone special features that may disrupt the meeting. Place a small note on your telephone to turn these features back on when the call is completed.
4. USE A HEADSET: As a single participant, avoid using a speaker phone. The voice quality and clicking sounds caused by turning on and off the mute feature or picking up and lowering your telephone handset to engage the speaker is annoying. Holding a handset for a long period of time is tiring. The best way to enjoy long conference calls is a headset. It reduces the ambient noise in the room and leaves your hands free for taking notes.
5. ORGANIZE YOUR MATERIALS: Ready yourself for a conference call just as you do when attending a meeting in person. Review the agenda and ready all materials ahead of time. Formulate your questions, ideas, suggestions, and comments and jot them down for the meeting. Contact the facilitator to confirm meeting goals and objectives. Gather the supplies you will need for the meeting such as a pen and paper, a printed copy of the agenda, beverage, and the telephone number and codes you must call.
6. PREPARE FOR THE LONG HAUL: Just as for an in-person meeting, stop your work in advance and be sure to visit the rest room. An extra step necessary for a conference call: Place a sign on your door or cubicle so others will not disturb you during this time. For video calls, avoid wearing a heavily patterned shirt or tie, clean your desk, and be sure the area behind you is not distracting to those watching.
7. REMAIN PROFESSIONAL: Speak professionally at all times. Be sure to introduce yourself before speaking each time. Control yourself from using slang, acronyms, sarcasm, and jokes—even if commonly used in your in-person business meetings—as they rarely work as well on the telephone.
8. STAY FOCUSED: It’s easy to be distracted during a conference call. Avoid the temptation to check email or do any other work while attending this meeting. Be attentive to the flow of the agenda and discussions, just as in an in-person meeting. You never know when you may be called upon for your thoughts. However, avoid making any audible sounds, such as “yeah, hmm, huh?, a-huh” during the course of the call. Remain as silent as possible while other participants are speaking.
9. ANNOUNCE YOUR ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE: If you come in late to the call, be sensitive and listen first to what is being said before interrupting to announce your arrival. Wait until a convenient break in the conversation or agenda item to introduce yourself with minimal extra commentary as to why you were delayed. If you must leave the call early, let the facilitator and group know at the beginning of the meeting that you have a time conflict. When actually leaving say “It’s Syndi and I’m leaving the call now.” If you re-enter, announce yourself only at an appropriate interval, otherwise, remain silent.
Special Guests Have Special Tasks: If you are a presenter or guest speaker on a telephone- or video- conference call…
• CONFIRM WITH THE FACILITATOR WHEN YOU WILL APPEAR on the agenda and how long you will be given to present your portion of the meeting.
• PROVIDE THE FACILITATOR WITH A COPY OF YOUR MAIN TALKING POINTS plus any background reading materials well in advance for distribution to all participants for review.
• BE AMONG THE FIRST PARTICIPANTS ON THE CONFERENCE CALL, just as you would at an in-person meeting.
• CALL ATTENTION TO THE PAGE NUMBER OR ITEM you are discussing, one by one, as you go through your items on the agenda.
A conference call facilitator, moderator, or leader needs to take charge of the entire meeting—before, during, and after the call.
1. SCHEDULE PARTICIPANTS: Set a time and contact all participants. Invite all special guests. Twenty-four hours before the meeting, confirm the agenda and specific guidelines for the call. Let all participants know who else will be in on the call.
2. MAKE EVERYONE TECHNO-SAVVY: If someone has not participated in a conference call previously, be sure to review both the mechanics and the etiquette involved. Give all participants the telephone number, and explain to them how the call will work, and who to contact if it doesn’t. It is especially important to explain how to use the mute feature for the call. For most telephone systems this is either a *6 or #6 to mute and un-mute your telephone.
3. CREATE THE AGENDA: Prepare and distribute an agenda and other background reading materials to all participants for review and comments. Try not to cover too many topics in any one agenda. As with all meetings, the best policy is to use the KISSS method and keep it simple, short, and sweet. It’s better to hold several short meetings than one long one. Allow time in the agenda for open discussion of items, just as in an in-person meeting. For calls much longer than 60 minutes, schedule appropriate quick breaks for everyone to take a stretch and leave the call for a moment.
4. ARRIVE EARLY: As with an in-person meeting, arrive at the meeting ahead of other participants. For conference calls, about 3 minutes ahead of the scheduled time.
5. MAKE INTRODUCTIONS: As the first order of business, conduct a role call by having all participants introduce themselves. Unless you are sure everyone knows everyone’s voices, request that each person identify themselves each time before speaking. If new callers enter the call late, at an appropriate break in the discussion, ask new callers to introduce themselves. Depending on the specific conference calling system you are using, explain how you want people who wish to speak to identify themselves, such as a flag via email or simply waiting for the appropriate break in the previous person’s comments.
6. KEEP UP THE PACE: Throughout the meeting, take initiative in moving the agenda along, calling attention to every page number or agenda item you are about to discuss. Be clear in your introduction to each section as to whether it will be an interactive time or a listening time where all participants should be muting their telephones for best listening.
7. GET EVERYONE INVOLVED: When you notice certain participants are not contributing, request comments from them by name, such as, “Susie, we haven’t heard your views, what do you think?”
8. STICK TO THE AGENDA: Manage the timing of each item on the agenda. Reel in those participants who get off point. If you are getting close to the end of the scheduled time, but not the end of the agenda, you must stop and consult with your participants. Make an educated guess on how much more time you need. Ask all participants if they are available to meet longer. If not, be prepared to reschedule.
9. SIGNOFF WITH STYLE: At the end of the conference call, recap the meeting, review action items and next steps with reminders of all due dates, and thank everyone for participating.
10. RAISE YOUR HAND: For video and group conference calls, a way to avoid everyone speaking at once is to request participants to raise their hand and be acknowledged before speaking.
Question: What other items do you have to add to this list? Do let us hear from you by locating this article at www.AdvancedEtiquette.com/blog. You may also reach us at Info@AdvancedEtiquette.com. If you enjoyed this article and want more, subscribe to our “Etiquette Tip of the Month” newsletter—at no charge—filled with great monthly tips on all sorts of topics from international business and social etiquette and protocol to everyday life subjects. It will be great to have you as a member of our happy family of subscribers at www.AdvancedEtiquette.com/subscribe.
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BLOG QUESTION OF THE MONTH: What pet peeves or uncomfortable situations are in your workplace that prevents you from fully enjoying your job?
Let me hear from you. Please submit your comments at the end of this blog.
Tuesday, March 1st, 2011
Photo provided by Global Adjustments
“We tend to refer to people by the jobs they do rather than their names. This can be disrespectful, especially lower down the professional order.”
This article was inspired by my dear friend and colleague Ranjini Manian, founder of Global Adjustments, in India.
Ranjini’s article tells about an intern named Max who when asked to run an errand to deliver an important letter, Ranjini realized a great lesson…
Ranjini: “Yes, please, Max, do that. My driver will take you there, and you can try to speak to the Executive Assistant,” I added helpfully.
“Your driver?” said Max, stopping in his tracks. “You mean Rajan?… He is a person.”
Ranjini: “Yes, of course, you’re right, Rajan will take you,” I said hastily. And it made me think of the disconnect between what we profess and what we do in India.
We profess to have unity in diversity.
We profess to see oneness in all.
We profess to speak with respect.
Yet, every now and then, we are apt to forget the person and simply look at the job he or she is doing.
For the longest time I had been battling to establish the identity of the garbage collector who comes to my home on his rounds in the neighbourhood. People would say to each other at home, “Kupai-karan is here” which translates as “garbage man” or “kachada-wallah”. I would think, this man has a name given to him by his parents which defines him and is something he is proud of. Calling him by his name rather than referring to the “duty” he does would be respectful of his sensitivities. We found out he was called Ravi, and referred to him by name in due course.
But while talking to Max, I realised to my discomfiture that I had fallen into the trap of referring to a person by his “job description” rather than his actual name.”
Ranjini continues on to describe how Americans often address people by Sir, Madam, or Ma’am as a sign of respect. We also use titles such as Mr. Ms, Mrs., Doctor or Boss in the same way. Yet at times we also use titles and words “to reduce a person to a role that is perceived as being of a lower order,” Ranjini states. This is so true, especially when calling someone using words such as, “Boy” or Waiter in a demeaning way.
“Guard, I am expecting a visitor, please let the car in”; “Watchman, where can I park?” — such references are common in, say, a big apartment complex where such jobs are usually manned by a shifting population of employees and we don’t take the time to find out their names.
Let’s remember this as we go around in our hi-tech cities, software parks, amazing airports and malls, and come face-to-face with the people who clean the restrooms, the people who serve the coffee, the personnel directing traffic in the car parks, and the many ‘nameless’ others who keep the system running on well-oiled wheels.
When we address a person by his or her given name, we’re affirming her identity. And when we take the trouble to get the pronunciation and spelling correct, as well as any honorific that may go with the name, we’re offering due respect to the individual. Not to do so is unforgivable, because we’re showing we don’t value the person’s individuality and identity.
So, whether we’re referring to the famous few or the many men-in-the street, let’s remember that no one is faceless or nameless. Each of us is an individual, unique and special, irrespective of our status in the social pecking order. We each come with a bit of the divine in us!
Max gave me a timely reminder, and hey, I recommit to living in awareness of this good habit. What about you, new managers?”
This article was first seen in both The Hindu Business Line and also published in the Global Adjustment’s blog where you can view the full original article.
Copyright 2011. Article excerpts were printed with permission from Ranjini Manian and Global Adjustments to Syndi Seid and Advanced Etiquette. All rights reserved.
CONCLUSION: May this message be a reminder to us all… it sure was to me. It isn’t enough to remember a person’s job, title or role, but to also know who they are as a person by name. This is truly the “key to success” in achieving a great quality of life.
As much as I love people saying, “Oh, yes, she’s that etiquette lady,” I love it best when they also know my name, Syndi Seid… even when they may mispronounce it… at least they’re getting there!
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