“Branding” is used to describe almost everything these days: products, businesses — even humans. This month’s tip is all about building your own etiquette brand. How do you think people are describing you? Will it be good or bad? Are you doing the right thing? Why or why not? The following will set you on the right path to success:
1. People will care about you if you care about them. I hear this comment all the time: Why should I care about my boss, co-worker, sibling, relative, or friend, when she or he doesn’t seem to care about me? What other people do or say to you has nothing to do with what you do or say unto them! This is not, as the Bible suggests, an eye for an eye. Don’t lower yourself. Treat everyone with the same level of courtesy, kindness, honesty, respect, and consideration.
2. Be clear about your brand and make decisions based on it. When planning my etiquette brand, I consciously thought about the kinds of people I like to hang out with: People who are fun, yet are equally nice in their overall behavior toward others and me. I realized there are certain types of people who just aren’t my cup to tea: those who use profanity and those who drain my positive energy. Truly, these are good people, yet how they have chosen to live their lives is not the same as how I am choosing to live mine. So when it comes to etiquette, work at attracting and sustaining friendships among people who display the same good qualities you aspire to possess.
3. Excel in what you know best and then work on what needs improving. In “Soar with Your Strengths,” by Donald Clifton and Paula Nelson, the authors discuss an approach to succeeding in every aspect in life. Rather than concentrating on fixing our weaknesses, we should be focusing on enhancing and soaring with our strengths. In time, the weaknesses are out-shadowed by our strengths, leaving the diminished weaknesses easier to manage. For example: When parents see their child achieving “A” grades in every subject but one, they often choose to divert all their resources and energy to helping their child bring up their grade in the weaker subject. Instead, had the parent put all their resources into developing their child’s interests in the “A” subjects they like.
4. Being different is fine. Students often tell me they are afraid of standing out at an event due to acting correctly, such as wearing a name badge differently and using a fork in their left hands. The people you call friends will like you, despite your being a little different and more correct. Branding often means standing out from the crowd. When it comes to etiquette, standing out may mean you are doing the right things at the right time and in the right way.
5. Be real in all you do. I once tried using minor swear words in my speech, just to blend in and be more “real.” I quickly discovered this was not me. Not only did I feel awkward, I sensed people were truly miffed at hearing such words out of my mouth, even though other people say them regularly. I thought this was a harmless way of wanting to be more like others. Wrong! I was not striving toward the highest and best standards at all times. Being real also means not doing certain things for the wrong reasons, such as giving someone a gift or writing a thank-you note just because you want that person to think favorably of you (also known as kissing up). For the best results physically, mentally, and spiritually, show etiquette without any expectation of gain or reward.
6. Etiquette is a lifetime of practice, practice, practice. It’s like being a broken record.* You have to do it repeatedly: displaying, showing, and reminding yourself and others of the correct and appropriate behavior. This is how we will all help to change the world in which we live.
7. Be proud without being a braggart. Do you know people who are always telling you about the great things they do for others? While it’s great to be proud of your accomplishments, it’s also good etiquette not to brag about it. Instead of tooting your own horn, the goal of etiquette branding is having others talking positively about you. Etiquette is all about doing things silently and without anyone noticing. Do the right thing without any pre-meditated strategy in mind.
8. Don’t give up It is said, “The road to success is never finished.” Building an etiquette brand is not easy, nor is it something you can stop working on at any point. It’s not something you turn on and off at will. It must be a way of life in all you do at home, at work and out in life. We all get weary from time to time, and ask ourselves, “Why am I doing this… especially when the other person doesn’t appreciate anything I do or say? When this happens, call me for some consoling, and remember Tip Number 1. Be strong in knowing you have chosen the best path to living the best life possible, one step at a time.
BONUS: William Arruda, the personal branding guru, says, “All strong brands exhibit the three Cs of brand communications: Clarity, Consistency, and Constancy.” For another perspective on branding your business, see an article by Arruda, “Top Ten Willisms” [hyperlinked] … also at http://www.thepersonalbrandingblog.com/author/william-arruda/. It was the inspiration for this article.
*For those of you too young to know what a broken record means, it is a term from when phonograph records were the only way to hear recorded music, speech and sounds. It is a flat round disc with groves that held the sounds we played on a phonograph. When a grove got scratched it would cause the playing needle to fall into the same grove over and over again, thus playing the same sound over and over and over again… hence the term known as playing a broken record.
Question of the month: What is your etiquette brand? What stories do you have to share about the times you showed your etiquette brand or had people touting it back to you?