Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Gift Giving at Work

Some of the most difficult questions about gift giving concern the workplace. Exchanging gifts with business associates is an area of behavior in which careful thought and prudence are especially important.
Rule 1: Extravagance shows bad manners and represents poor strategy.
Rule 2: Modesty and quality are the key words.
The gift should be personal enough to tell the recipient that you gave some thought to it. You might have to talk to someone’s spouse or secretary to learn what a person’s hobbies are or what kind of music, books, or foods would make a special treat.

The Ease of Registries

Establishing an electronic gift registry is a bit more complicated than simply setting up a registry at an upscale department store. When you set up an e-registry, you can indicate the sort of gifts you would like to receive. The registry will contact your circle of family and friends to get some ideas about their interests and preferences when it comes to gifts they would like to receive. Those contacted can also provide hints about what to buy for others on your list.
Selecting a registry:
  • Make sure the registry includes a large number of retailers to give you and others a wide range of choices.
  • Select a registry that notifies your family and friends of your wish list so that you don’t appear overly avaricious.
  • Make sure the items purchased are shipped directly from the retailer, instead of through the registry or another entity. You don’t want the gift going through too many hands before it arrives.

E-commerce and Registries Etiquette

Selecting, purchasing, and sending gifts electronically can be a wonderful convenience, but you must do some thinking first.
Before placing the order, decide whether to have the gift sent to you, which will allow you to wrap and personalize it, or directly to the recipient. If you choose the latter, here are some things to consider:
  • Find a reputable, reliable e-tailer, one you’ve used previously or that has been recommended by friends.
  • Have the item gift-wrapped. Most e-tailers provide this service.
  • Send a card or note telling the recipient that something is on it way.
  • If you are the recipient, call or e-mail right away to say thank you and to let the person know the gift has arrived. You must then follow up with a thank-you note.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Things to Consider Before Giving a Gift

Here are 10 questions to ask yourself when giving a gift:
1. Why am I giving it?
2. Is it sincere?
3. Am I giving it without strings attached?
4. Does it reflect the receiver’s taste—not mine?
5. Is it too extravagant?
6. Is it kind? (Beware of gag gifts.)
7. Is it appropriate? (No candy for a dieter.)
8. Can I present it in person?
9. Is it presented beautifully?
10. Do I feel good about giving it?
Let’s expand a bit on the first point, which is really the most important consideration. The first question you should ask yourself is why you’re giving the gift. We give gifts to say thanks to a business associate for an introduction, to someone who gave a lunch or dinner in our honor, to a couple for dinner at their home, to a person who gave us information that helped land business, or to someone who treated us to dinner.
You might also give a gift to congratulate someone on a promotion, an award, a marriage, a birth, an anniversary, or a birthday. And when choosing a gift, don’t forget the reason you are giving it. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to find, choose, and send gifts for every occasion.

  • If you’re tempted to buy a youngster war toys, check first with the parents. Some people have very strong feelings on the subject.
  • Never give children pets unless you have cleared it with the parents beforehand.
  • Joke gifts may get a laugh at the moment of giving, but can leave a sour aftertaste.
  • The value of a gift is enhanced by the fact that it arrives on time and is nicely wrapped.
  • Handwritten notes should accompany gifts. If you must include a greeting card, add a written note to whatever printed sentiment the card contains.
  • A gift of money can be most conveniently given in the form of a check or cashier’s check. Cash is more appropriate for a child. When giving cash, include a note mentioning the amount in case some is lost or mislaid and to help the recipient when it comes time to send a thank-you letter. Your note can say something like “I hope these ten dollars will fund your victory pizza after the game.”
  • Generally, money is a gift given by older people to younger people. It’s a good idea to try to learn if the recipient is saving for something special and to include a note saying the gift is to bring the person closer to that goal.

Ending Conversation Gracefully

It is very important to close a conversation gracefully. As humans, we need two things when dealing with others—acknowledgment and closure. We need people to acknowledge our presence. That’s why you might not mind waiting when a clerk says, “I’ll be right with you,” or even just looks at you and nods briefly. The need to be acknowledged also explains why you are so annoyed when a receptionist says, “Please hold,” and cuts you off before you can say anything. By the same token, it is annoying when people just drift away after a conversation without some acknowledgment that a conversation has occurred. When you feel a conversation has run its course or you have to move along, wait for a break in the conversation and then say something like “Well, I’ve got to say hello to our host (or George or my aunt, for example).” “That food looks delicious. Think I’ll have some. Excuse me.” “I’m going over to the bar for a refill.” (Don’t try this one while holding a full glass.)
Then say something like “It was good talking with you. I enjoyed learning about Ireland.” If others at a party interrupt and you cannot end the conversation properly, make some sort of parting gesture, for example, brief eye contact and a wave. Giving a talk and holding a conversation have a lot in common. Both work better if you are relaxed and natural. In a way both put you “on stage.” If you try to put on a show or if you are not entirely sincere, your listeners will pick up on it. So don’t say things you don’t believe, even something as trivial as complimenting someone on her hat or dress or telling someone that he looks terrific when you both know he doesn’t.

Keeping A Conversation Going

Listen. When people say, “He’s a good conversationalist,” they usually mean that he is a good listener. Don’t lie in wait for one of those natural conversation breaks so you can jump in with your next prepared statement or question. Interrupting is the most common and among the most irritating errors people make in conversation. Let people know that you’re listening through eye contact, but don’t stare fixedly at them.
Also, ask open-ended questions such as “Why did you decide to volunteer?” or “How did you become involved with our group?” Questions that result in yes or no answers stop the flow of conversation.
People like to be asked their opinions and impressions concerning major news events:
“I heard this morning that the mayor resigned. Makes you wonder what’s behind that, doesn’t it?”
Every topic has its own natural life span, and if someone is going on endlessly about one thing, it is a good idea to cut in as tactfully as possible. If, for example, the back and forth about the mayor is lively and quick, settle down and enjoy it. If it begins to sag under its own weight, try changing the topic. The easiest way is switching to a related subject. “Speaking of politicians (or speaking of retiring or public figures or our city) ….”
When you’re engaged in a conversation, keep in mind the following don’ts:
  • Don’t perform. Performing happens when you are concentrating too hard on the impression you want to make on the other person.
  • Don’t speed-talk. Sometimes people who are anxious to make a point try to spit it all out quickly, as if they’re afraid they won’t be permitted to finish the thought.
  • Don’t slow-talk. A sure sign that you’re dragging things out is when other people finish a sentence for you or nod to indicate they understand even before you have reached the point of your remarks.
  • Don’t let your mind wander. Try not to watch other people moving around in the room while someone is talking to you.
  • Don’t hold a drink in your right hand. Doing so leads to damp, cold handshakes.
  • If your palm is sweaty, it’s okay to give it a quick swipe on the side of your trousers or skirt before extending it for a handshake.
  • Don’t broach touchy subjects. Avoid discussions about your health, the cost of things these days, mean gossip, off-color jokes, or controversial issues—particularly when you don’t know where the other person stands on the subject. On the other hand, it is okay to disagree. Wait until the other person has spoken and then introduce your point of view without being judgmental.
Don’t say, “That’s completely off base,” or “You couldn’t be more wrong about that.” Instead, say something like “I disagree because …” or “Well, another way of looking at it is ….”

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Introducing a Speaker

Introducing a speaker is usually an easy job. Your basic objective is to get the speaker to the podium without a lot of fuss or delay. Leave yourself out of it as much as possible. Don’t launch into a long story about what good friends you are with the person you’re introducing.
Get hold of a biography and pare it down. Hit the highlights and emphasize what is of particular interest to this group. Make the tone warm and welcoming. If the event is a family gathering, a retirement party, or something similar, you can be a little more sentimental than at a seminar, lecture, or business function. But, still, brevity is the best policy.