Archive for the ‘Communications’ Category
Wednesday, May 1st, 2013
Have you ever borrowed an item and never returned it? Have you promised to send a potential client or friend something, and never followed through? Have you said you’d call someone to invite him or her to lunch, but you never do it?
Worst of all, have you ever borrowed money or promised to pay someone a referral fee and never paid the money?
In a recent seminar I attended, a discussion broke out where nearly everyone had experienced some sort of unfulfilled promise. They all agreed it was a terrible situation happening among not only adults, even youths and teens were equally affected.
When I thought about this more deeply, I realized that both parties in these situations lose. The people who did not receive what was promised have sore feelings that will be forever remembered. These could lead to built-up negative feelings about the other person to the point where people vent through gossip, orally and even on social media.
For the people who did not fulfill their promise, their respect, reputation and level of integrity are diminished, if not lost. The longer the situation stays unresolved, the more possible that it can develop into loss of friendships and job promotions. Worst of all, the people can become the subject of malicious and exaggerated comments over time.
I’m bringing up this subject as a reminder to us all: We must make every effort to always fulfill our promises—small and large—and to only promise something when we truly intend to follow through.
Beginning this weekend, think about your unfulfilled promises:
- Make a list of all items you have ever borrowed. Locate them and return them. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had the item for years…better late than never in returning it.
- Do the same thing for the overdue sending of information, the money once borrowed, and the like. Get it together and do the right thing by getting that info and paying the person back.
Of course, when fulfilling the promise, enclose a nice handwritten note of apology for the delay and, in some instances, enclose a nice gift of appreciation.
Every fulfilled promise builds respect, integrity and reputation and shows others how trustworthy and honorable a person you are with the highest levels of integrity. Conversely, every unfilled promised equally adds to poor impressions and ultimately loss of friendships and business. Forever true in this digital age, the world—in an instant—knows all that is good and bad. We see all the highest praises and the greatest criticisms.
Actually, I rather like social media when it comes to business practices, as it is helping to build better businesses through comments shared on intolerance of poor behavior and lack of service. For anyone who serves customer and clients, now you see how extra crucial it is that all promises are kept and fulfilled. This is a major pet peeve most customers have of service providers.
And moving forward, pledge to never make new promises you know you’re not going to fulfill and keep and fulfill those you do make.
Question: What stories do you have to share about people you know who have not fulfilled their promise(s) to you? Here’s your chance to vent… no real names, please. Just share the story with perhaps fictitious names in the area below.
Tuesday, September 4th, 2012
Do you know people who say, “I’m sorry,” yet continue the same offense over and over? A woman recently shared how much she disliked a friend who always apologizes for being late. Yet the friend continues being late for every occasion. Finally, she has given up on the person ever being a closer friend.
When you say you are sorry, you are supposed to mean it and make a conscious effort not to do it again. Over-using these words for every trivial situation — and especially for the same offense — diminishes its effectiveness, resolves nothing, and does not instill confidence toward rebuilding a relationship. Actually, it leaves the relationship with added frustrations.
“Love Story” author Eric Segal wrote the famous line, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” But this is not correct thinking. I loved my Dad (who passed away in 2007), but I never heard him say, “I’m sorry” for anything. He would ignore the situation through a number of silent tactics. It would have been nice to hear him say, “I’m sorry” when it was called for.
Instead, I gravitate towards the words of Ella Wheeler Wilcox:
“There’s one sad truth in life I’ve found
While journeying east and west -
The only folks we really wound
Are those we love the best.
We flatter those we scarcely know,
We please the fleeting guest,
And deal full many a thoughtless blow
To those who love us best.”
So why is it that some people have such a difficult time apologizing? In seeking the answer, I found a great article by Brett & Kate McKay, titled: “How to Apologize Like A Man.”* This article describes how difficult it is for men to say these two simple words, why men don’t apologize, when to and when not to apologize, and how to apologize. It’s an interesting perspective that applies to women as well.
When saying, “I’m sorry,” here are five simple guidelines to follow:
1. Accept ownership and responsibility for your actions by admitting the mistake as soon as possible. Do not wait too long, as it will lose its impact.
2. Show sincere regret for what you have done by saying, “I’m sorry for…” or I apologize for… ”.
3. Explain why it was wrong to have done what you did, and how you see the damage and harm it has caused the relationship.
4. Ask the person to forgive you by saying, “Please forgive me.”
5. Finally, pledge you will do all you can to have this not happen again.
Apologies are meant to resolve the situation and rebuild a relationship. By practicing these simple steps, you are on the right path to retaining lifelong friendships.
Question: This tip came about as a result of polling people about their civility pet peeves. Several people submitted how they couldn’t stand people who constantly said, “I’m sorry” and apparently didn’t mean it, which prompted me to write this article. If you have civility pet peeves to add to my list, please share them. I’d enjoy writing about them.
*For those unable to use the link above, the article is also at: http://artofmanliness.com/2009/08/23/how-to-apologize-like-a-man/?utm_source=Daily+Subscribers&utm_campaign=79c71fefd4-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email/.
Monday, July 2nd, 2012
Every week I see articles on lack of workplace etiquette and civility. It appears co-workers, friends, and family members are not getting along and this is fast becoming an epidemic. People are also using the demise in civility and etiquette as a barometer for leaving jobs or cutting off friendships and relationships.
This month I’m sharing a ton of information on civility, including a list I’ve compiled on the subject, results of a hot-off-the-press annual survey called, “Civility in America: A Nationwide Survey,” plus links to more articles and additional free information you can download to help you in managing performance. I hope you will find all this information as eye opening as I have. Some 63% of Americans believe we have a major incivility problem in our country, and 81% of those surveyed believe incivility in our government is harming our country’s future.
Civility in America 2012 Overview, plus links to the full 14-page Executive Summary and Press Release (Also at http://www.webershandwick.com/civility/ and at http://www.webershandwick.com/civility/docs/2012_Civility_ExecutiveSummary.pdf)
Here is a list of incivility acts I have gathered from multiple sources. Do any of these resonate in your workplace or daily life? What other items would you add?
It is uncivil when people are:
- Using swear words
- Not greeting coworkers when arriving at work
- Shouting to others across the room or between cubicles
- Not offering guests a beverage or help hanging up coats, especially on rainy days with a dripping umbrella
- Taking calls on a speakerphone when others are within hearing range
- Wearing sloppy, un-pressed, or too-revealing attire
- Offering a weak handshake and failing to make eye contact
- Displaying poor dining skills
- Answering cellphones or texts during conversations, meetings, and meals
- Discussing personal problems, situations or affairs in too much detail
- Purposely embarrassing co-workers for the fun of it
- Not showing respect to the person conducting a meeting, speaking out too much in a meeting, or failing to understand their own rank during a meeting
- Showing up to work as though they just rolled out of bed, with messy hair, dirty finger nails, wrinkled or dirty clothes, messy make-up, bad breath, or dandruff
- Taking what isn’t theirs out of the refrigerator and bringing in stinky food to heat up in the microwave, such as leftover curry, fish, or garlicky dishes; taking the last paper towel sheet and not replacing the roll; or leaving messes for others to clean up
- Speaking too loudly, especially while using headphones and cell phones
- Talking too much during work and constantly bothering people with various comments
- Showing inappropriate photos of spouses or children
- Openly having an affair in the office
- Fighting with a spouse on the phone within earshot of others
- Not respecting other workers’ personal space.
- Chewing gum and making snaps, pops, and cracking noises. Sucking loudly on mints or candies
- Interrupting when someone is making a point in a meeting or delivering a presentation
- Not honoring someone else’s ideas and suggestions or taking them as one’s own
- Smirking to show they don’t agree with what the other person is saying
- Not contributing to a potluck lunch at work but eating more than others and taking home the leftovers
- Clueless about how to make a proper introduction
- Clipping nails at their desks, no matter how private
- (For men) Wearing pants that are too short, so socks and shin show when legs are crossed. Carrying lots of change in their pockets and jingling them all the time.
- Not enforcing a civility policy if they are managers, such as office rules, dress codes, and behavior. Also, while common sense guides most of us, people may be new to a professional environment and aren’t sure how to act
- Telling people about personal problems when asked how they are, instead of simply replying, “Fine, thank you, how are you?”
BONUS: Three tip-of-the-iceberg articles on workplace civility:
Look for more information in the months ahead on this crucial topic that is tantamount to our well-being.
Let me here from you if you would like me to come speak to your group about “workplace civility.” Be sure to add to the above list by submitting your pet peeves of incivility in the workplace and life to this blog or email me at Info@AdvancedEtiquette.com
Thursday, September 22nd, 2011
First, a special thank you to Greg Dalton for submitting the suggestion to write about proper introductions. It is a subject I am asked about often; yet to fully discuss it, can get a bit involved. Therefore, to keep within the style intended for this publication—brief, fun, and educational—this month’s tip is only the core of proper business introductions. For additional information on personal, international, country specific, and diplomatic introductions, please contact me with your questions and I’ll be happy to address them.
When performing business introductions, here’s what I call my 2-step golden rule to proper business introductions:
||The first person’s name you say is always the most important person.
||Thereafter, everyone else’s name is introduced to that most important person.
ALWAYS say the most important person’s name first. In business rank and status are the primary determinants to whom takes precedence over whom. Gender and age are typically not factors.
NEVER use the word “meet” when introducing people. For example, read the following sentence and tell me who’s the CFO and who is the newly hired staff member. “Jane Doe, I would like you to meet John Smith.”
Which person is the most important person in this sentence? Who sounds like the most important person? Is Jane or John the CFO?
We just learned the most important person is the first person. Yet by the way this sentence reads, it appears John is the more important person of the two. So who’s the CFO?
When you use the word “meet” to introduce someone, you will always throw the emphasis off toward to the wrong person, thereby falling out of protocol for a proper business introduction. In my mind, throw that “m-word” out of your default brain and mental dictionary of proper introductions.
Rather, for an informal introduction, use the words “this is” as the bridge between saying the most important person’s name first and then introducing the second person. “Jane Doe this is John Smith, our new staff member. Jane Doe is our CFO.”
Be careful not to get too wordy when using the word “introduce.” For instance, which of these three sentences are correct?
||Jane Doe may I introduce John Smith
||Ms. Doe may I introduce to you Mr. Smith
||Jane Doe may I introduce you to John Smith.
|ANSWER: A is correct and best by using the fewest words; B is correct although wordy; C is not correct, because by switching the words “to you” to “you to” you have again thrown the emphasis onto the wrong person.
||Keep the forms of the address equal. If you use Ms. Doe, you must use Mr. Smith. You should not say, “Jane Doe this is Mr. Smith.”
||In regular situations, it is best to use both a person’s first and last name when making introductions. To use only a first name is not introducing the total person.
||Try to say something about the people you are introducing so they will have something from which to springboard their own conversation. Then you may excuse yourself to meet and greet others.
HOT Tip! For a fun 3-minute video recap of the above, log onto“How to Give Proper Introductions in Business Settings,”… also shown at http://youtu.be/dLncsmU1vH8.
Whenever introducing dignitaries and other notable people, such as elected officials, you may want to use the word “present” instead of the words “this is” or “introduce.” It is the style most often used in diplomatic and international arenas.
Monday, August 8th, 2011
This year 24 September 2011 has been designated “National Punctuation Day” by my good friend Jeff Rubin and his wife Norma. In their honor, and to celebrate this important day, I am sharing a few solutions of my own on word and punctuation usage. Check out their site that is filled with fun and useful tips: http://www.advancedetiquette.com/blog/communications/punctuation-is-etiquette/.
One goal of Advanced Etiquette is to make people feel comfortable and at ease in social situations. While proper punctuation and word usage may not be directly related to having good manners and etiquette, using language correctly is part of presenting yourself to others with the best image possible. When you say or write something incorrectly, it sends uncomfortable signals to the listener or reader, similar to the screeching sounds of running your fingers across a chalkboard—yipes! Using correct punctuation and words will elevate your stature in both social and business situations
1. It’s versus Its. “It” is the exception to the possessive rule. Generally you add an apostrophe to indicate ownership. For example, this is Syndi’s newsletter.
“It’s” breaks the rule. It’s means “it is;” “its” is possessive.
2. There versus Their. Which is correct?… “Cheryl and Pam walked there dogs” or “Cheryl and Pam walked their dogs.” Choose Door Number 2. There is a location (among other meanings) but their is the pronoun for more than one person.
3. Further versus Farther. Further means time or quantity, as in, “He wished he could pursue the subject further.” Farther means distance, as in, “He threw the ball farther down the field than expected” and “New York is farther from Denver than Omaha.” English being an ever-changing language, some dictionaries now say these words are interchangeable. I find this unfortunate; to me these are, and should remain, totally distinct and separate words.
4. Less and More are not Fewer and Greater. Less and more refer to quantity. For example, “She filled the blue cup more (or less) than the red cup.” Fewer and greater refer to number. I am bothered every time I see “Express Line, 10 Items or Less.” These signs are incorrect, which irritates me to no end. The signs should read “Express Line: 10 Items or Fewer.” Every time I see this, it makes me think about never returning to that store. Their image as an educated, professional establishment goes straight to the bottom of the list.
5. Zero or O. Zero is a number. O is a letter. While most people are careful to type the right character, many folks are less careful when talking. In speech, use the word zero to state a number. For example, “the area code for San Jose, California, is four zero eight.”
6. Stationery versus Stationary. Use your beautiful personalized stationery to write a thank-you note for the business lunch; use a stationary bike to keep in shape. Stationary means to stay in one place and stationery refers to materials for letter writing.
7. Compliment versus Complement. Give a compliment to a friend whose jewelry complements her eyes. One refers to giving praise and the other mean to have something match or “go along” with something else.
8. Hyphens and Dashes. A hyphen is a very short horizontal line used between compound words such as your telephone number and zip code+4. To be correct, say the word “hyphen” not “dash” when stating your telephone number and/or zip code+4. A telephone number should correctly be stated as “area code 415-hyphen-346-hyphen-3665.”
A written dash is a longer horizontal line used to set-off a comment or interruption within a sentence. It is stronger than a comma and less formal than a colon. Verbally, these kind of comments are called “asides.”
For further information on National Punctuation Day, see www.NationalPunctuationDay.com
Question: What other items do you have to add to this list? Do let us hear from you 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.
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.
SHARE THESE TIPS: To receive a FREE, nicely formatted copy of this month’s tip to forward to others or print out and provide for your office, email us at Info@AdvancedEtiquette.com with the subject Conference Calling Etiquette.
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.
Monday, February 28th, 2011
Networking—a fancy way of saying getting to know people—is an important part of business. At general events, it is one of the most effective ways to gain new clients and customers and increase your business revenues. Networking at industry affairs is an excellent way to meet others who work in your field. You can even use networking concepts within your own organization, to get to know folks you do not work with on a day-to-day basis. If you are among the many people—including myself—who say they plan to increase their networking efforts this year, here are a few basic networking etiquette tips to achieving the optimum results from your efforts.
BEFORE THE EVENT
Plan Ahead. Pick out what you plan to wear at least 24-48 hours ahead of time, so you won’t get caught only having dirty clothes in the closet. Set aside all you will need for the event, including a copy of the invitation, directions to get there, and a pen and pad for notes. Most importantly make sure you have an ample supply of business cards to give people you meet. Even when unemployed or a student you can print your own cards with basic information on it… Name, Telephone, Email Address, plus a title or one line description of the position you are seeking.
AT THE EVENT
Arrive on time. Before entering the event, preview the guest list or the display of pre-printed name tags to target two to three people to meet during the event.
Introduce yourself. Be brave, most people will appreciate that you’ve taken the initiative to speak to them. I recommend always introducing yourself with both your first and last name, company affiliation without any titles or honorifics, and a smile. It amazes me so many people still introduce themselves with just their first name and no company affiliation, as if they are still five years old at a friend’s birthday party!
Extend your hand for a firm and friendly handshake. When it comes to shaking hands, I believe in the law of the draw in the Old West…whoever extends their hand first is the winner. It should be you, regardless of being a man or woman. Always push your hand in all the way to meet web-to-web, with your fingers together and your palm straight out and thumb up. Never give a finger tip hold or short handshake which is commonly just squeezing the other person’s hand short o meeting web-to-web. Remember a good handshake is completed by shaking a woman’s hand no differently than a man’s hand. There are no double standards in business.
Rehearse your introduction. Plan the best way to briefly describe yourself and the products and services you provide, from a benefit-and-results basis. Avoid long, technical descriptions that simply tell the person boring facts as well as the sales pitch approach. Instead, make the tone a friendly yet informative conversation.
Make business card exchanges meaningful. The “speed dating” days are over when networking amounted to saying, “Hello, my name is Jane Smith, have a card.” Instead, only exchange cards with someone when it will be of benefit to both of you. There are two basic reasons to give someone your card: when the other person asks for one or when you offer assistance with something they want or need and want them to follow-up with you. After giving them your card, then ask for their contact information.
Enter group conversations sensitively. When entering a group, approach and stand quietly for a second or two. Wait for a break in the conversation or for someone in the group to look your way. If no one looks in your direction and everyone continues the conversation without any break or glance in your direction, exit immediately with “excuse me.” It is apparent they are in a heavy conversation, not choosing to invite anyone else into the conversation.
Exit conversations politely. Even if you are face-to-face with someone you’ve wanted to meet at this event, avoid monopolizing their time. Keep your time from being monopolized by someone else, as well. After a reasonable time, exchanging some meaningful information, comfortably move from the conversation by saying, “Please excuse me, I’ve enjoyed speaking with you.” Then smile and move on.
Introduce yourself to tablemates. When being seated at a large table, go around the table to introduce yourself before taking a seat. Choose a seat on the opposite side of the person(s) you’ve just met, leaving seats on either side of you vacant, to be filled by other arriving guests. This way you will comfortably meet everyone at the table.
AFTER THE EVENT
Follow-up. The key to successful networking is to show you are interested in the people you meet. For the most impact, sending a personal handwritten note—by regular mail, within 24 to 48 hours—to every person you met and reconnected with at a networking opportunity is the best. Emailing and placing a personal telephone call is also appropriate, including writing or calling someone who has helped give you leads and referrals. Be sure to fulfill any promises you made to people you’ve met. .
Get permission before sharing contact information. Check-in with someone before you share their contact information, even when you think you are doing someone a great favor. In instances where I have gained overall permission to share someone’s information, I send both parties an email, stating: “By copy this message to both of you, I am referring Jane Doe to John Smith, in hopes you two may be of service to each other by….” Then I include full contact information on both people. This way everyone is fully informed of the situation.
For additional information on “Online Discussion Group Networking Etiquette Do’s and Don’ts” (also at www.quintcareers.com/online_networking-dos-donts.html) and for tips on “Etiquette for LinkedIn and the Professional Networking World” (also at http://www.intuitive.com/blog/etiquette_for_linkedin_and_the_professional_networking_world.html)
Tuesday, January 25th, 2011
Meeting Etiquette Part 1 focused on attending business meetings from a participant’s point of view. Now, we move on to how to be the best possible meeting leader.
1. Take the lead. Learn how meetings are run. Get familiar with Robert’s Rules of Order as the foundation of how all meetings are conducted. How closely you choose to follow it will depend on the level of formality of the meeting.
The person who organizes and leads the meeting has full charge over whether the meeting is a success. If that person is you, you must take control and manage every detail, including how the meeting is run, the tone and pace, what topics are discussed, how participants behave, and what outcomes and results occur by the end of the meeting. You are also in charge of follow up.
2. Schedule the date and time. As far in advance as possible, alert everyone you are inviting. Specify the date, time, location, and purpose. Ask participants to respond within a few days to confirm their availability. Doing this well in advance gives you the flexibility to choose alternate dates if the majority cannot attend.
Initially, send an email to everyone you want to attend, listing at least three dates and times. Ask everyone to respond with all the dates and times they are able to attend, and the most popular date and time will be the winner.
To avoid annoying extra emails, ask people to respond only to you or to the single designated person, not to the entire group. Or, address the email to yourself and use the “Bcc” box, and then list everyone’s name in the body of the mail so people will know who is invited. This method guarantees no one will send other emails “To All.”
3. Confirm any guest speakers. Part of your job is to coordinate all details with the guest speaker. Confirm all details in writing-and orally, if possible, including: the date and time, exact address or location, driving directions, the start and end time of the overall meeting, and the exact start and end time for the guest speaker to present. Other helpful information might include parking instructions, background information on the company or organization, and a list of all participants, as appropriate.
4. Draft an agenda. Send a draft agenda as soon as possible to gain input and approval. If a person needs more time on the agenda, they can ask you to add it in advance, as running overtime will not be acceptable.
Try not to cover too many topics in any one meeting. The “KISSS” method is the best policy: keep it simple, short, and sweet. A brief, one hour or less, targeted meeting will always be more productive than a longer two+ hour meeting where too many items are discussed.
About two weeks to a full week in advance, distribute a final agenda, attaching all pertinent reading materials to review before the meeting. State clearly which reports certain individuals are expected to make and ask speakers to bring copies of their reports for everyone at the meeting. This way each participant can be fully informed without the speaker having to read every word. Written reports will also help those who were absent catch up. As the facilitator, always ask for an electronic version of the report so you can send it to those who were absent.
For optimum productivity, have all reports submitted ahead of time so everyone will be well informed when they attend. Those who must be absent can submit their comments ahead of time, and the time at the meeting can be full spent on discussions.
Show specific start and end times for each report, to keep things flowing and not run overtime. For example:
8:45 a.m. Check in and get coffee
9:00 Welcome and Overview of the meeting
9:10 John’s Report
9:30 Jane’s Report
9:45 Old/New Business
9:55 Final Q&A, Next steps, Wrap-up
When writing the cover memo or email, clearly state the meeting will begin and end on time, and state that everyone is expected to arrive on time. Review the guidelines on conduct you expect throughout the meeting, including raising hands to speak, and to please turn off all cell phones, and other electronic devises during the meeting.
5. Make your opening remarks. Either have people introduce themselves, or introduce everyone yourself, adding why you have invited these individuals to attend, and from what perspective you think their contributions will be most helpful.
State the purpose of the meeting and what results and outcomes you hope to achieve by the end of this meeting.
Review the guidelines for proper conduct at the meeting, such as raising hands and sticking to the agenda timeline. Make a final reminder about turning off all cell phones and other electronic devices, so people will give their full and undivided attention to the meeting. Ask if anyone has to leave the meeting early or is expecting an important call. If no one responds, you should have a fully attentive group.
Also ask for whether anyone has last minute items to add to the end of the agenda or if anyone has any questions before you begin.
6. Keep the meeting flowing: Throughout the meeting, move the agenda along, calling attention to every page number or agenda item you are about the discuss. Be clear in your introduction to each section as to whether it will be an interactive time or a time to just listen. Your foremost goal is to drive the meeting toward constant results.
When you notice certain participants are not contributing, request comments from them by name, such as “John, we haven’t heard your views on this, what do you think?” Do not allow a few individuals to monopolize all discussions.
Manage the timing of each item on the agenda, reminding a speaker or the group when they are going on too long or getting off point.
Do not rely on a wall clock in the room. Bring your own small portable clock to have in front of you. There’s nothing more distracting than watching someone’s head constantly looking up at the wall.
Stick to the agenda. Establish what is called a “parking lot list,” whenever people get off track.
Encourage free communications, managed through raised hands and only having one person speak at a time. Build an environment where everyone is encouraged to share points of view and new “out of the box” ideas. Build a T.E.A.M., “Together Everyone Achieves More” spirit among the group that makes attending meetings fun and productive. There are no dumb ideas and no one should be made to feel as though his or her contributions were not welcomed.
Do not let the meeting get out of hand. Disagreements and arguments can be healthy to allow participants to air their opinions. However, make sure all comments are directed to you, the chair, and not at the person on the other side of the argument. If the discussions turn ugly, step in and take back control of the meeting to move on.
7. End the meeting on a positive note. Take a time to recap the meeting discussions, reviewing all action items and next steps with specific names attached, and reminders of all due dates. Finally, thank everyone for attending.
8. Follow up promptly. Immediately following the meeting, on the same day, send attendees a quick e-mail thank you note for attending the meeting. Keep this message brief and positive.
In a separate email, recap everything that took place at the meeting, and what is expected of each person in the days and weeks ahead. Sending this written redcap will serve three purposes: Those who were absent will get caught up; If no one took minutes, you now have a record of what transpired; and it will serve as marching orders for individuals who have assignments before the next meeting. Without a to-do list, we all forget things.
Send the recap within a week of the meeting, while your notes and mind are still fresh. The longer you wait, the fuzzier your memory may become. Mark your calendar with all due dates and follow-up with individuals to ensure progress.
BONUS: Pre-printed name cards and/or name tags for each participant are a nice touch at meetings where not everyone knows each other. I like having both. When name cards are printed properly in large, bold letters, it helps me learn who is speaking, and name tags help me to identify people during breaks. You can also ask people to pass around the appropriate number of business cards. Participants can place them on the table in front of them in the order in which people are seated.
QUESTION: What other items do you have to add to this list that will help make every meeting the most productive? We’d love to hear from you.
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Thursday, January 13th, 2011
I’m surprised by how many inquiries I’ve received lately from clients and others about how to behave at meetings. More people while in meetings are viewing emails, texting, holding side conversations, and plainly not paying attention. Because of this problem, I am dedicating two newsletters to this topic, starting with how to behave as a participant of a meeting. In Part 2 I’ll cover what to do if you’re the chair or facilitator of a meeting.
1. Be prepared. When you receive a request to attend a meeting, know why the meeting is necessary, who called it, who else is attending, and be clear about what results or outcomes are expected. Review the agenda and figure out what is expected of you and what you should contribute beyond simply attending. In other words, take a proactive, leadership role by always learning exactly what is going to happen at a meeting. Never show up cold.
2. Organize your materials. No later than two weeks before an important meeting, set up a temporary file or location to organize and set aside all information needed for this meeting. Make sure you include a pad and pen.
3. Synchronize your clock. Bookmark and use either the official U.S. time site of is http://www.time.gov/ or for the world www.timeanddate.com/worldclock as your “official” guide when setting your clock and alarm. Absolutely stop what you are doing at least 15 minutes before the time you need to leave the office to get to the meeting on time. Use this time to gather all the information you need and to visit the restroom to check your appearance. If you are speaking at this meeting, take at least an extra 15 to 30 minutes to review your notes and practice your presentation.
4. Be on time. For an out-of-the-office meeting, arrive at the meeting location at least ten minutes ahead of the meeting time. For in-house meetings, get there about five minutes ahead. Use this time to get nicely settled and relaxed. Perhaps visit the restroom one more time to check your appearance, or get a cup of coffee or water for the meeting. You always want to be relaxed and prepared when the meeting begins, not harried because you just rushed in.
5. Seating arrangements: Depending on the level of formality, seating may be designated. If you are unsure, ask the chair where to sit. In the American style, the meeting the chair sits at the end of a long rectangular table, with all participants on either side. The most senior person or guest speaker sits to the right of the chair. At international meetings, the chair typically sits at the center of the table, with participants seated on either the same side (usually senior staff), or opposite the chair (other guests and participants).
6. Stay focused on the meeting: It’s easy to get distracted, but your job is to stay attentive to the flow of the agenda and discussions. You never know when you may be called upon for your thoughts. Do not hold side conversations. At most slip someone a note saying, “Let’s talk after the meeting about…” Do not succumb to the temptation to check email, take a phone call or text messages. Turn all electronic devices to vibrate or turn them off completely… and leave them off. If you and everyone else gives their undivided attention to the meeting, it will result in higher productivity. Maybe you’ll even get out faster because everyone is focused. Do everything in your power to keep your mind occupied, so you won’t doze off or be tempted to make side comments with the person next to you.
7. Be a good team player. Once the chair or group has made a decision on something, get with the program and make that decision turn out positively, even when–and especially when-the decision was contrary to your opinion and overall vote.
Never complain afterwards about the decisions made, items discussed, or against specific people at the meeting. Air grievances with the chair, or perhaps with the specific individual who concerns you.
8. Other meeting etiquette tips:
• Keep an open mind to all ideas and comments shared. Don’t attack a suggestion by saying things such as, “That’s a dumb idea” or “That won’t work.”
• Especially important for high level and international meetings, allow more senior level individuals to contribute and speak first, before you and others.
• When speaking, do not go on and on. Get to the point and end your comments.
• When arriving late, quietly take a seat. Express your apology at the next appropriate break.
• Be familiar with the general principles of Robert’s Rules of Order. Typically all meetings follow this format. The higher the level of formality, the higher the expectation that all participants be aware of how it works.
• Never interrupt or talk over anyone else. Allow the other person to finish his or her comments before you chime in. Raise your hand to be acknowledged by the chair before speaking, if that is the correct style. Don’t just jump in, unless you know this is an acceptable practice.
• Address all comments to the chair, even when responding to someone else’s comment, unless doing so is an acceptable practice within that group culture.
• Being a welcomed participant of any meeting requires you to be aware and adaptable to the many nuances, styles, and cultures. At the first meeting, remain silent until you are sure that when you choose to speak, your words will be well received.
• As the saying goes, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” It is inappropriate to share meeting information with others. Consider all discussions and information confidential, unless otherwise stated. When in doubt, ask the chair.
• Keep your cool. Don’t take things personally or find offense to comments. Remain calm. Never raise your voice; always speak in a professional, low and even manner of voice and tone.
• Last and most importantly… Absolutely no electronic devices! Contrary to popular practice, it is not appropriate to check email, text, or take cell phone calls during a meeting. Your 100% focus should be on the meeting, not on other activities. As you enter the meeting room, do check and turn off—or to vibrate—all electronic devices.
QUESTION: What other items do you have to add to this list? Do let us hear from you by locating this article at http://www.AdvancedEtiquette.com/blog. You may also reach us at http://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 http://www.AdvancedEtiquette.com/subscribe.If you have other tips you think would be appropriate to this article, please let me hear from you. Your help will be most appreciated.
Friday, October 15th, 2010
This tip was based on a viewer question submitted through Staples.com.
QUESTION: Some of my colleagues tie up the printer by printing huge reports and spreadsheets. It’s inconvenient and sometimes it seems down right rude, but it’s also part of the work. Should I say something? What’s the protocol on printer use? Also, who should replace the toner and paper when the machine runs out?
RESPONSE: Most importantly, anyone sharing office equipment must use it with the utmost respect, care, and courtesy. You must also be sensitive to the needs of others. Remember, if you expect everyone with whom you work to clean up after themselves, you must model that behavior yourself.
Consider instituting these guidelines for your shared printer:
1. MULTIPLE PHOTOCOPIES. If you have a big print job, perhaps requiring more than ten copies of more than five pages each, consider printing one set and photocopying the rest. Photocopiers are typically faster and less costly to operate than printers. The efficient worker makes every effort to plan ahead in sending large print jobs to the photocopy department for duplication.
2. SCHEDULE AROUND OTHERS. If you must send a large job to the printer, try to schedule it when your co-workers go to lunch, or on a break, so you can complete your work uninterrupted.
3. BREAK UP LARGE PRINT JOBS. When you must complete a large job during prime work time, break up the large job by printing 25 copies at a time, allowing co-workers to print their work between sets. Overall, let small print jobs take precedence over large print jobs.
4. KNOW WHO IS IN CHARGE. Designate an attendant, and have it be part of their job responsibilities, to restock the paper shelf and other equipment supplies, as needed, and know who to contact when repairs are required.
5. ESTABLISH A SUPPLY SYSTEM. Do your part in maintaining the supplies needed to operate the machines. Decide as a group that the printer should never be left empty of an ample supply of paper in all bins, and that everyone understands the system. As a reminder, mark the last ream of paper with a large marking pen: “LAST REAM! Contact (name) at (extension number) to restock shelf” and remind everyone to contact the attendant when they open that ream. Depending on the needs of your company, you may want to mark the last two reams.
6. KNOW BASIC MAINTENANCE. Every person using shared equipment should be trained on how to use it properly and to take care of everyday situations, such as how to un-jam the machine, replenish paper bins, and, as appropriate, replace the toner cartridge.
7. LEAVE THE MACHINE OPERABLE. If the machine stalls or jams, or an indicator light appears, take time to undo the jam, fix the problem, or alert the attendant before leaving the machine. Never leave a machine in an inoperable state without letting others know.
8. AVOID WASTING PAPER. When using letterhead, colored paper, or any other type of specialty paper, be sure to remove all extra sheets before leaving the machine. Leave the bins with an ample supply of plain white paper.
BONUS: KEEP IT CLEAN. Avoid eating, drinking, or setting food and drinks near the printer. Accidents do happen.
NOTE: If you would like an authorized FREE copy of the above guidelines to post near your shared printer, please email us at Info@AdvancedEtiquette.com and we’ll be happy to send you a copy, suitable for framing.
FORWARD THIS NEWSLETTER. Pass this article to anyone you know who works in an office with a printer. In fact, make a copy of this article and keep it in your wallet or purse to hand anyone you know who complains about someone’s printer etiquette. Invite them to contact me with continued dialogue on this topic. I’d enjoy hearing from them.
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 http://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.