Office Etiquette

Unless you work by yourself, your ability to get along with others will determine whether you enjoy your job, whether you are able to work as part of a team and whether you are seen as someone to be promoted. Navigating the workplace politics can be draining and difficult to manage, especially if you are not a political person yourself. I still maintain however, that it is easy to navigate politics if you follow these simple rules.

1. Treat everyone as you would like to be treated. That includes all co-workers, not just your boss.

2. Check your ego at the door. Learn how to be part of a team to solve a problem, not to have your voice heard just for the sake of listening to it. If you work hard and contribute to the tasks at hand, you will be seen as an integral part of the team.

3. Don’t gossip. Do I have to say more? You don’t know where your information may go and let’s face it, picking sides can be a death trap for your career. If backed into a corner with someone who gossips, explain that you feel uncomfortable talking about anyone and would best be left to finish your work. And always remind yourself that gossip hurts, not just you but the other person.

4. Put a smile on your face. We all have down days, but it is important to leave our moods at the door. No one likes a moody co-worker and it will affect your opportunities for advancement. Yelling at co-workers has a nasty way of coming back and biting you……well you get it!

5. Stay away from sex, politics and topics that are inappropriate at the office. If you want to socialize outside of business hours, make plans away from work but keep the conversation focused on the tasks at hand.

When you are intentional about who you are at work and your level of professionalism, others begin to see you as a leader, someone whom they can trust and someone who is in line for a promotion.

 

 

Write a Thank You Note!!

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In our elementary and high school classes we practice the art of writing thank you notes. Some say this is a long lost art in the computer age, I disagree……a thank you note sets you apart and leave a lasting impression. Our students wrote a letter of thanks to our Prime Minister citing one special thing they are thankful for in Canada. Posted below is his response!

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How I Wear My Coat!

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I have to admit, I am steering away from the usual blog posts on etiquette to draw your attention to two blogs that I enjoy reading. The first is….. .http://www.therichlifeonabudget.com/…..a great blog about ….well…..living a rich and inviting life….on a budget.! Let’s face it, style does not cost a lot of money, it’s how you present yourself and how you feel about yourself that can influence how others see you. Today yours truly (me) is featured on in the segment “How I Wear My Coat”…….see if you can find me!!

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The second website blog that I like is http://www.gentlemansgazette.com/ . It is a great style blog/website for men’s fashions. A retro and present day look at styling for men.

Enjoy the browse and have a great day!

Snow Day Etiquette! Top Ten Etiquette Tips to Stay Warm!

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Yes, there is such a thing as “snow day etiquette”! Today in parts of Canada, the snow and windchill factor is making it impossible for schools and business’ to open. Parents are quickly making alternative plans for their children and offices are working at a lower capacity than usual. So how does this affect etiquette you ask? Well believe it or not, I have witnessed bad snow day etiquette from people I had not expected. So here are some tips to get you through the day.

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1. If you are not having life saving surgery, chill out! Nothing is worth endangering the life of others or yourself by trying to speed around town. Stay home.

2. If you are physically able and like to shovel or blow snow, once you have done your own driveway, how about helping out a neighbour that may not have the physical ability to clear their lane, sidewalk or driveway.

3. Check in with the elderly or those who may need extra support during this time. You don’t even have to go outside, just pick up the phone and call. It will be met with great affection!

4. If you have children, check the windchill before sending them out to play. Frostbite can be nasty and although you might be going nuts with them inside, a frostbit child inside is much worse!

5. Don’t dump your kids on an unsuspecting relative or friend. If you must be at work, negotiate with a friend or relative to help your children but offer to return the favour on a Saturday morning or another time.

6. Remember all of the people who are trying to make your life a little better during this time. Your snow plow drivers, sidewalk cleaners, police officers, fire fighters etc. These people MUST work during cold snaps so show them the utmost respect and gratitude.

7. Stop your whining about winter. I know for many people, the choice to live in Canada was decided at birth but honestly, deal with it! We are blessed to live in one of the riches countries in the world, putting up with winter is the price we pay!

8. Try something new at home today that you might not regularly do for yourself. Watch a movie, clean out a cupboard, spend time playing a board game with the kids, write a letter, anything to add uniqueness to your day will beat the blahs.

9. Make sure your pets are safe and warm. It is easy to forget about Fido outside but the weather is just as harsh on our pets as it is on us.

10. Give thanks for a day to rest and reflect. Use your time wisely if you are home, enjoy some solitude at work, life is good!

Five New Years Resolutions You Can Actually Keep!

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I don’t know if you are like me but I find that I make a New Years resolution and then approximately two weeks later break it.  Let’s face it, to change a behaviour it takes approximately 21 days to replace a bad habit with a good one. So perhaps it is time to revisit the type of resolutions we are actually making to ourselves. Perhaps it’s time to focus on resolutions that are positive and life giving vs. negative ones. The difference between “I have to lose weight” vs. “I want to be healthier this year”. There is a subtle difference of wording but it can make all the difference in how our minds interpret and process the information. And……whether we can stick to our goals. As an etiquette expert, I believe that there are some some resolutions that are absolutely doable and life giving at the same time. Resolutions that make us focus outside of ourselves and in turn help us inwardly to become better spouses, parents, friends, and employees/employers. Here are my top five “do-able” resolutions.

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1. Make a point everyday to meet someone you do not know. This can be done by engaging in a conversation with the customer service representative at your favorite store or taking time to chat with a co-worker you have never met. A smile and a “hello” can start the conversation. This helps you to engage in a variety of different ways with a variety of different people. As you initiate conversation you build your network of people and potential clients and/or friends.

2. Resolve to organize your outfits the night before to a.) solve feeling and looking like you “threw” an outfit together, and b.) to reflect on your “to do” list for the following day. If you know there is an important meeting, even though it is casual Friday, there can be no mix-ups in the rush to get to work or school the next day. When you plan your wardrobe, you feel more confident and together.

3. Practice intentional listening. When you are in conversation with someone, really listen to what they have to say. Observe as you are listening, to their nonverbal language, their posture, eye contact and the placement of their hands. If someone is telling you something important, make sure you are making eye contact with them as well as using your own body language to exude understanding.

4. Practice your voice inflection. I know, this seems stupid, but there is nothing worse than a 20  minute presentation delivered in a monotone voice. Practice even the most mundane conversations. “Hello, how are you?” can mean so many different things to people depending on the tone of your voice. Practice sounding joyful, thankful, excited and caring…….you will be surprised!

5. Practice using gratitude words like “thank you”, “your welcome”, “please”, “have a great day”, “that was nice”. As my Granny use to say….you attract more bees with  honey than with vinegar. These gratitude words can make all the difference in how you are perceived at work, home, school and socially. Forgetting to incorporate these words into your vocabulary can affect your future prospects.

I hope these tidbits help you to have a happy and prosperous New Year!!

Holiday Season Guest Etiquette

It’s that time of year when travel and overnight stays become part of the mixing and mingling that is a tradition of the holiday season. Here are some tips to keep it civil.

1. If you are a guest, bring a small hostess gift as a sign of your appreciation.

2. Inquire ahead of time if you have pets whether you are allowed to bring them. Someone may be nervous around your canine friends or perhaps suffers from allergies,  so it is best to check and if bringing a pet is a problem hire a pet sitter or put Fido in a kennel.

3. Don’t help yourself to food unless instructed to do so.

4. Don’t be demanding. If you are chilly in the night, wait until morning to ask for another blanket or see if there is a way to turn up the heat.

5. Don’t hog the bathroom. If space is limited, be mindful of others needs and keep your primping and prepping to a minimum. This is especially helpful for teenagers to understand.

6. Offer to help with meals and if staying for a substantial amount of time, offer to purchase dinner at a nice restaurant for the host family.

7. Do clean up after yourself and others. Staying at someone’s home is not like staying at a hotel, the host is not the cleaning staff. Make your bed, pick up after yourself and offer to help out with chores. If it is snowing, perhaps offer to shovel the walk.

8. If you need transportation from the home, hire a taxi or rent a car, do not assume your host is going to drive you everywhere.

9. Don’t make long distance calls on their land line. If you cannot use your cellphone, always ask permission and pay for the long distance call.

10.After your stay, write a thank you note to your host describing some of the highlights and how grateful you and your family feel having spent time with them.

Tipping

Nothing says “thank you for all you have done” like a good tip. This is the time of year when people wonder what amount to give  to those who provide services throughout the year. Here is a list for you to consult as you think of the blessings these people provide in your life.

Dog Walker: 1 weeks pay

Yard/Garden Workers: $20-$50 each

Babysitter: One evening’s pay and a small gift

Live-in-Nanny: One week’s pay and a small gift

Doorman: $15-$75

House Cleaner: 1 weeks pay

Hair Stylist: Cost of one session

Esthetician: Cost of one session

Newspaper Delivery Person: $10-$30 or small gift

Personal Trainer: Cost of one session

Errand Person: $20-$60 depending on how much and how often

 

 

Sneeze Please!

The other day I sneezed and my two girls reminded me that covering my face with my hand was poor sneezing etiquette………I should have sneezed into the fold of my arm. What????? Yes, they reminded me that sneezing and coughing should not be covered with the hand but rather into the fold of the arm (as it folds in front of one’s face), this trick is to avoid passing one’s germs to another in the event of the hand touching anything after the event! I knew about the coughing, but sneezing? When I thought about it, they had a point, our hands are great transport agents for all sorts of germs. So……….remember your cough, cold, sneezing etiquette this winter and save someone the sniffles!

Non-Verbal Communication

Did you know that what you don’t say is just as important as what you do say? Our non-verbal gestures tell the world how we really feel in any situation. If I slouch my shoulders, wear a frown and keep my eyes focused on the floor, it tells the world, that I am shy, nervous, fearful and not confident.If I am having a conversation with you and do not look you in the eyes, it says I am not interested in what you have to say. All of these non-verbal gestures can work against you in a social, business or personal relationship. Have you ever been on a date with someone who chews with their mouth open and talks with their mouth full? Ugh! Here is a list of do’s and don’ts of non-verbal cues.

1. Always walk and stand with your shoulders back.

2. When talking to someone, never cross your arms in front of you, it says you are not happy to be in the conversation.

3. Put your cellphone away when making small talk. There is nothing ruder than a person preoccupied with their phone rather than the conversation.

4. When speaking with someone, look them in the eye and listen intentionally.

5. Don’t talk with food in your mouth or chew with your mouth open. Take small bites of food so that you are able to make smalltalk especially at a work related event.

6. Do shine your shoes, press your clothing, and pay attention to how you smell. Bad body odour and overpowering cologne can turn someone off in an interview or on a date.

7. It takes 72 muscles to frown and only 14 to smile so give your face a break and smile! A smile says you are an open and happy person, the kind of person people like to be around.

8. Clean your glasses. I  know some people who never clean their glasses and talking to them is like a history trip on what they have been eating over the last week.

9. Ensure that your handshake is firm. Limp or Iron-clad handshakes convey messages that do not come across as confident and if too strong can actually hurt the other person.

10. Breathe. When you engage in some slow breathing it calms you down and that shows in your face and in your body. Calm people make other people feel comfortable in the presence.

 

Overcoming Shyness

I had the following question posed to me the other day. How do you get rid of shyness? The individual with whom I was speaking was in her late 30′s and found her lifelong shyness was now keeping her from achieving success in her business. Most pointedly was her inability to make and maintain eye contact with customers. Her co-worker indicated that her inability to make eye contact with others made her seem aloof and uninterested in what they were saying. She felt anything but aloof. What to do and how to deal with it has become a major issue for her. While I believe shyness never really “goes away” there are ways to navigate it that will result in you feeling comfortable in any situation.

I gave her the following advice:

1. Take a deep breath when meeting someone for the first time and if looking into their eyes is too intimidating, start by looking between their eyebrows at their face.

2. Maintain a steady gaze at this area until you feel comfortable enough to move your gaze to one of the eyes.

3. It can help to shake the other individuals hand as a reminder to look at them.

4. When greeting, find something complimentary to say to the other person. This puts the other person at ease and will loosen the tension you may feel inside.

5. Rehearse your “elevator” speech so that you are not at a loss of words when you are speaking with someone you don’t know. Just two or three minutes of facts and questions for the other person. For example: “Hi, my name is …………., how are you today?” (all the while maintaining eye contact)

6. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Ask a friend to help you practice making eye contact, shaking hands, making small talk.

7. Make sure you are professionally dressed as that helps boost your self-confidence.

8. Smile!

9. Make a conscious effort in all situations to put yourself “out there” by shaking hands, make eye contact, smile and introduce yourself.

10. Set a daily goal as to how many new people you want to meet. Practice makes perfect!