Thursday, March 27, 2008

Background Info on Introduction

As you make the introduction, include a brief bit of information about those being introduced: “Jim just joined our Newark regional office.” When in doubt, be less personal rather than more personal. There’s no reason, for instance, to add the fact that Jim is a real good guy.
Providing a bit of information gives the two people being introduced some basis to begin a conversation. Never underestimate the power of sincere flattery: “Without Jim, our softball team would never win a game.” When the people you have just introduced begin to talk, you can excuse yourself, depending on the situation. One important exception to the “who’s first” general rule is that no one, not even the CEO of your company, is more important than your client. A client is always more important that those in your company. The same goes for an elected official: “Mr. Muldoon, I would like to introduce Ms. Cooper, our chief executive officer. Mr. Muldoon is our client from Dublin.” And, “State Representative Jones, I would like to introduce Ms. Cooper, our chief executive officer.”

Who Should Make the First Introduction?

When making an introduction, introduce the person who is being presented last. Also, keep in mind that social etiquette is based on chivalry, so in a social situation we defer to people based on gender and age by introducing women first and then those oldest. Business etiquette is different because it is based on hierarchy. Gender and age play no role, but rank and authority do.
The rule is that people of lesser authority are introduced to people of greater authority:
“Mr./Ms. CEO, I would like to introduce Mr./Ms. Junior Executive.” Again, remember eye contact. Look at and speak to the greater authority first; look at and speak to the lesser authority second.

Tips on Complimenting Someone

Complimenting people on their appearance is perfectly correct if the compliment is sincere. At the office, however, you’re best to compliment the work, not the clothes. When giving or receiving a compliment, keep in mind the following points:
  • Never ask people where they got their clothes or what they cost.
  • Don’t talk about what you paid for clothes or brag about designer labels.
  • If someone compliments you, it’s not necessary to return the compliment.
The most important thing to remember about business etiquette is that so much of it is based on rank. If you remember this, common sense and a cool head should get you through most situations.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Understanding Business Appointments and Functions

When attending a business appointment, take off your topcoat, and if someone offers to hang it up, surrender it gladly. If not, ask where you can put it, along with umbrella and galoshes on bad weather days. If there is no place to hang your coat, drape it on the back of your chair. But don’t wear your coat inside and don’t carry it around.
When you’re in someone else’s office, keep your suit jacket on. If someone suggests that you remove it, you may, or you may decide not to. Taking off your jacket is sort of invasive: It looks as if you’re moving in. And if you do take it off, don’t roll up your sleeves. You are a guest in that office, and you should behave accordingly even if you are working there for a short time.
Don’t scatter things around. Keep files on your lap. Put your briefcase or handbag on the floor or keep it on your lap. Don’t put things or touch things on the other person’s desk.
Invitations to special business functions often specify the appropriate dress for the occasion in the lowerright corner. If you have any doubts about what to wear, you can call the host or hostess.
Here are the definitions of two types of business functions as described on invitations:
  • Black tie formal means different things in different parts of the country. Black is always correct for men. White jackets are not. Women don’t have to wear gloves and never should shake hands in them.
  • Informal or semiformal is slightly less dressy than black tie. Men should wear a dark business suit, a white shirt, and a dark silk tie with a quiet pattern. Women should wear a dressy suit in an evening fabric, a short cocktail dress, or a long skirt and blouse.

Pay attention to the details of your business outfit

When it comes to dressing, your accessories are every bit as important as the basic outfit. Pay careful attention to details such as shoes and jewelry. Sometimes the little things are what people notice most and remember longest. One jarring detail, such as scuffed shoes or a missing button, can ruin the impression made by a carefully selected outfit.
  • Jewelry. It shouldn’t be obtrusive, and it shouldn’t jangle. Avoid wearing big rings on your right hand so that you won’t have to worry about them getting in the way when you shake hands. Wear a watch, even if your internal clock functions well. Business in the United States runs according to schedules and deadlines, and promptness counts.
  • Furs. Don’t wear furs in the business world. They signal pretentiousness more than they signal success and may actually offend some people.
  • Shoes. If you’re not careful, your shoes can shoot you in the foot. To give them a quick shine, use fabric softener sheets, which you can easily keep in your desk or briefcase. If you wear sneakers for your commute, change both your shoes and socks or hose when you get to the office. Feet tend to perspire a lot in sneakers, and socks absorb odors.
  • Briefcases. Keep your briefcase polished and clean. It should not be overly large nor should it be overstuffed. If it’s beat-up, get a new one.

What to consider before buying business clothing?

When you decide to add to your closet, think in terms of your entire wardrobe. Many variables affect what you should choose for your wardrobe and what you should wear on given occasions. Here are some of the variables you would be wise to consider:
  • Regional variations. Take climate and geography into account. An outfit that looks terrific in Vermont might look odd in Atlanta. The attire of a Wall Street broker will probably look downright funereal in Los Angeles. And colors! What might look fine in the easy sunshine of San Diego would have a jarring effect on Philadelphia bankers.
  • Business environment. Think about the type of company you work for and the kind of work you do. If you’re going to be tramping around a construction site with a hard hat on your head, you should not have high heels on your feet.
  • Type of occasion. Consider the function. You don’t wear elegant jewelry to a breakfast meeting, and you don’t wear a polo shirt, even a $90 one, to a board meeting.
  • Type of position. Consider what you want your outfit to say about you. If you want it to say, “Your investment will be safe with us,” don’t dress in a way that says, “We’re a friendly bunch of folks here.”

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Business Attire Etiquette

Never, ever underestimate the critical importance of attire within the corporate culture. What you wear says a lot about you, and you can damage or even destroy your chances of success in business by dressing inappropriately. What do your clothes say about you? Do they say you have good sense and good taste? Do they say you have self-respect and that you have respect for those you deal with every day? People, particularly your superiors, are apt to conclude that the quality of your work will match the quality of your appearance. If your organization has a dress code, observe both the letter and the spirit of the code right off the bat. Don’t assume that a white shirt and striped tie will fit into any office situation.

For instance, a recent nationwide study by Levi Strauss & Co. and the Society for Human Resource Management revealed that 9 out of 10 office workers now enjoy the freedom to wear casual clothing at least occasionally. If the organization does not have a dress code, you can’t go wrong by studying how the senior managers dress. And don’t be afraid to ask questions. It only means you care enough to get things right. Say to your boss: “I’m a little puzzled by the variety of styles I see here. What kind of dress best represents the company?” Avoid extreme fashions. Don’t buy things just because the fashion gurus say so. Think about what is good for you and your career rather than what is in vogue.

Etiquette During Teleconferencing

Your screening interview may be conducted on camera. Don’t let this intrusion throw you. If you remember the following tips, you can carry it off with confidence. If possible, try to have a telephone conversation with the interviewer prior to the camera session to establish some rapport. You can say that you have never done a camera interview before and are worried about what to expect. If nothing else, this question will generate a little sympathetic conversation. Arrive a little early to familiarize yourself with the equipment. You might be able to adjust volume, brightness, and focus with a remote. Once the interview begins, make no further adjustments unless you are asked to.

Don’t be spooked by the camera’s implacable eye. Think of the interview as a conversation, not an audition. Look at the camera when you speak. If a monitor is nearby, ignore it.
After the screening interview (and perhaps other preliminary interviews), you’ll have a meeting with the hiring manager. This person makes the final decision, and this interview is the most unpredictable. The interviewer usually has no formal training in interviewing, may ask the wrong questions, and may be vague. The hiring manager is casting around for enough information to make the decision. The manager may be looking for that undefined “certain something.”

“So, tell me about yourself.” When an interview poses this challenge, reply by being enthusiastic but honest and polite. Make eye contact. Talk about your strongest skills and your greatest areas of knowledge. Use positive, active language such as “I enjoy detail work. I am committed to excellence.”

In general, it is a good idea to think of a job interview as an opportunity, not as a test.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Etiquette during job interview

In general, you should dress conservatively for interviews. However, dress can vary dramatically from company to company. Khakis and Docksiders might be the standard at one place, whereas wingtips and double-breasted suits are typical of another. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask an employee or someone in the human resources department about appropriate interview attire.

Upon arriving for your interview, enter the room, smile, and make eye contact with your interviewer. Then wait until he or she asks you to sit before taking a seat. During the meeting, don’t fidget or handle things on the other person’s desk. Also, listen carefully to what you are being asked and don’t treat any question as unimportant. If a question is difficult, pause before answering. Compose yourself. At the end of the meeting, thank the interviewer cordially and follow up with a note. Bear in mind that your first interview with a company will probably be a “screening interview.” The purpose of this interview is to screen out applicants. For instance, companies want to know whether you’re willing to relocate, have sufficient language skills, and fill other requirements or prerequisites.

The interview will be held at the company site, a hotel suite, an airport lounge, or even by telephone. You must arrive on time (but no more than a few minutes early). If you are being interviewed by telephone, make sure that you have your materials on hand. If you don’t, get the name and telephone number of the interviewer and call back promptly. Whether you’re being interviewed on site or by telephone, don’t volunteer information you haven’t been asked for.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Be Prepared for Job Interview

Find out everything you can about the company before your interview. Read any reports or brochures you can find. Also, try to contact somebody you know who works at the company, preferably a friend, acquaintance, or someone who attended the same college as you did. Other source materials include

➤ F & S Index of Corporations and Industries
➤ Fitch Corporation manuals
➤ Moody’s manuals
➤ McRae’s Bluebook
➤ Standard and Poor’s Register

Some of the things you should find out about the company you are interviewing
with are

➤ The correct pronunciation and spelling of its name
➤ The business of the company: what it produces or what services it provides
➤ Whether it’s a national or international company, as opposed to regional or
➤ The size of the company
➤ Its attitude toward women and minorities
➤ How long the company has been in business
➤ Its general reputation
➤ The reputation the company has for working conditions and environment

Before your interview, you should also find out everything you can about yourself. Take a long, honest look at yourself and be prepared to talk about your traits. One way to help with this process is to make a list of the important points about yourself, including

➤ Your level of education
➤ How much and what kind of volunteer work you’ve done
➤ Any honors and awards that you’ve received
➤ Your interests, hobbies
➤ Why you want to work for this company
➤ The abilities you can bring to the company

Basics of Job Interview

Believe it or not, you need to know the basics of workplace etiquette right from the start—at the job interview. Sure, you’re anxious, but here is a situation in which how you look and everything you say and do—that is, your overall demeanor—may have a critical impact on your future. You have to be on your best behavior. And the person opposite you seems to have all the advantages. Recruiters and interviewers usually take courses to help them develop sophisticated screening methods. The interviewer has the hometurf advantage, and you do not. You are being measured against standards and guidelines that are clear as a bell to the interviewer, but not to you. But you also have some important advantages of your own, including
  • The company or organization needs someone, or it wouldn’t be interviewing people.
  • The company or organization is hoping you are the person for the job.
These two facts are key. But you also have to be prepared by dressing properly, preparing a list of the points you want to make, and having a pretty good idea of what will happen and how to respond. By doing so, the situation won’t seem nearly as one-sided.

Understanding Business Taboos

Surviving and thriving in the workplace isn’t always easy—and may be especially difficult for those who lack finesse and grace. Here are 10 rather basic behavioral mistakes to guard against.
  • Expressing negative attitudes. If you are feeling and thinking negatively, your mindset will find expression in surliness, bad temper, and general unpleasantness.
  • Wearing inappropriate clothing. Although we like to think that we judge others by their behavior and not their appearance, it remains true that we base our opinions of others, to a large degree, on what we see.
  • Failing to make introductions. Allowing someone to stand around without introducing him or her can make everyone present feel uncomfortable.
  • Disregarding social courtesies. Forgetting to say please, thank you, and excuse me and failing to perform other common civilities makes colleagues and superiors doubt your judgment.
  • Criticizing others in public. Generally, the criticizer comes off looking worse than the person being criticized.
  • Taking messages carelessly.
  • Making people wait.
  • Pronouncing names wrong or forgetting names altogether.
  • Using vulgar and inappropriate language.
  • Giving someone the runaround, which means things like ducking responsibility and giving vague or conflicting answers.
It might be a good idea to keep this list handy and refer to it often.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Understanding Corporate Culture

If you think it would be nice but not necessary to know the rules of corporate etiquette, consider this remarkable statistic from three separate research projects by Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation, and the Stanford Research Institute:
Success in getting, keeping, and advancing in a job depends 85 percent on people skills and only 15 percent on technical knowledge and skills. Needless to say, then, mastering the rules of business etiquette can help your career. The first thing you should know is that these rules do not have the same foundation as those you may have learned as a child. Your childhood rules evolved from the code of chivalry, which called for deference to others on the basis of gender and/or age. However, relationships in the business world (or corporate culture) have always been based primarily on rank, much like any military system. Rank, or the degree of power vested in different individuals, gives a business organization the structure it needs to function effectively.

How you behave toward a peer or toward someone of another status varies with the kind of business and the style of the individual business. Corporate and social behavior in a bank, for instance, tends to be more formal than it would be in an advertising agency. And behavior in a newspaper city room makes an advertising office seem severely structured.

Don’t worry if you’re confused. Some basic rules will help you adjust to various business and professional situations. And behavior that is grounded in good manners—which means having respect for others and concern for their feelings—will allow colleagues to forgive (but maybe not forget) many inadvertent breaches of business or corporate etiquette.

How to Deal with Vegetarians?

If you are a vegetarian, you have a responsibility to let your host know in advance. If one of your guests is a vegetarian, you need to ask for a little more information. Some vegetarians don’t eat eggs or dairy products, for instance, whereas others do. If you’re hosting a restaurant meal, tell the maître d’ that you or a guest is a vegetarian.

Find out whether the restaurant offers a vegetarian menu. Ask for suggestions. It’s a good idea to ask guests whom you don’t know well whether they have any special dietary considerations. If you can’t accommodate them, you can say something like this: “I’ve planned this party around my grandmother’s meat lasagna recipe, but plenty of salads and snacks will be available, or you can stop by later for dessert.” The key point is to not make a big deal out of it.

A vegetarian can skip certain dishes and, if there is a question, simply say: “Everything is fine. I just don’t eat meat.” Comments like “I don’t eat dead animals” are unnecessary, rude, and offensive. In addition to knowing how a restaurant works, you should get to know a couple of good restaurants really well. Become a regular. Learn the names of the key staff people and engage them in conversation when convenient. After a while, you will be greeted more warmly and given special attention in these places. Also, you will feel more comfortable dining there and bringing guests.

Chopstick Tips

In our shrinking world, you may find yourself in a situation in which politeness requires you to use chopsticks. Here is a step-by-step guide to eating with them.
  1. Put the bottom chopstick in the web of your right hand between the thumb and index finger.
  2. Use your two middle fingers to keep the chopstick steady. Hold it firmly but not too rigidly. This bottom chopstick will remain fairly stationary while you are eating.
  3. Hold the top chopstick like a pencil between your thumb and index finger. This one does most of the moving.
You can hold the bowl or plate of food under your chin while you’re eating until you feel really confident. In fact, you can continue to do so even after you have become an expert; it’s proper etiquette in Asian cultures.

A good way to learn is to practice picking up popcorn with chopsticks at home. Although it’s good to know how to use chopsticks, you shouldn’t hesitate to ask for a fork in most situations. In fact, the Chinese are the ones who invented the fork. (And now you know why.)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Ten Toasting Rules

A wonderful toast makes gathered guests feel honored to be together and with you, whereas a bad toast just embarrasses everyone. Here are some tips to help you shine:
  1. Don’t ever toast yourself.
  2. If you’re the one being toasted, just listen quietly to the toast and then say a quick thank-you. Don’t even put your hand on your glass, much less drink.
  3. Don’t read your toast. If it’s too long to commit to memory, it’s too long. Come up with something pithier.
  4. Don’t clink glasses. It’s an old custom involving the driving away of spirits—not a happy thought at any occasion. Besides, it’s bad news for glassware.
  5. Do keep your toast short.
  6. Do toast the host in return if you are the guest of honor and are being toasted You can do this as soon as the host’s toast is finished or later, during dessert. Just keep it short.
  7. Do not tap the rim of your glass to get everybody’s attention—it’s tacky.
  8. Do make a toast even if you’re not drinking alcohol. Anything will do. It’s the thought that counts.
  9. Do toast more than one person. For example, you might toast an entire family that has come to visit, or a whole team.
  10. Do not preempt. The host should be the first one to toast.

Tips for Toasting

Toasting can make even a meal at the local diner a special occasion. It can add a festive air to a gathering and has a way of bringing everyone at the table together. The host proposes a toast, often welcoming a guest to a meal, at the beginning of the meal. The toast may also occur in the middle of the meal, when the host raises a glass to the guest of honor on his or her right. If the host has stage fright, it is acceptable to have his or her spouse make the toast. A guest may also propose a toast, but only after the host.

An example of an excellent toast was given at a dinner for Nobel Prize winners in the State Dining Room of the White House. President John F. Kennedy rose and said, “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, ever gathered at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined here alone.”
You don’t have to be that clever. A typical welcoming toast might be “I am so pleased that you all could be here to share each other’s good company and this good food. Welcome.”

Instead of offering the toast at the beginning, you might want to wait until the end. In that case, you could stand and toast the guest of honor this way, “I am so pleased that you could all be here to welcome my dear friend Florence, who’s come all the way from Rome to visit.” Or “It’s wonderful to have Florence with us tonight. Let’s toast a rare woman who looks at every situation in life as an opportunity to give of herself, to make things better, happier, and more fun. To Florence.” Or be even more specific: “I am particularly honored to have my mother-in-law with us tonight, jogging Jo Fleischmann—triathlete, pal, coach, and mom extraordinaire. To Jo.”

One-word toasts, such as the Danish skol and the Spanish salud, both of which mean “health,” are pretty much universally accepted as symbols of welcome. It’s a nice idea to toast people in their native tongue but be sure to use the correct pronunciation.
Some examples follow:
  • Irish: Slante (SLANT tay)
  • Yiddish: L’chaim (leh KHY yim)
  • German: Prosit (PRO sit)
  • Japanese: Kanpai (kahn pi)

Tips for Tipping in Restaurant

Even if you use a credit card, carry some cash for tips. If you are a regular at a restaurant, or if you have gotten exceptional service and plan to return, tipping the maître d’ is appropriate. A maître d’ who provides you with a great table for a special event or oversees a smooth-running business meal should receive $10 to $20 in cash, depending on the size of your group and the complexity of your special requests. A captain or waiter (the person who takes your order) should get five percent of the bill either in cash or specified on the bill if you use a credit card.

Your server should get at least 15 percent of your total bill, according to the level of service provided. Remember that the server usually divides your tip among the entire service team, which includes bartenders and bussers. The sommelier should be tipped 15 percent of the wine bill if he or she performs special services (such as helping you choose the right wine for your meal). Checkroom attendants get $1 per coat. Add another dollar for each briefcase, pair of boots, or umbrella you or your guests check.