If you have done any kind of travel, especially for business, you will have noticed there can be huge differences in the way we communicate, ways of dress, leisure activities, and business practices from Coast to Coast. Our cultural norms—how we behave socially or in business from region to region or age group to age group—can feel as dramatic as visiting a foreign land.
According to a prominent social and cultural psychologist, the stereotypes we hear are true – the East is more old and established and the West is more new and free, and this does not differ in the business world.
Crossing the Communication Border
The way people speak – the words, tone, and dialect they use – are one of the biggest differences we see from coast to coast. This can be especially challenging in business settings.
How we greet each other is often unique to a region. In the Northeast, people are less likely to greet people with a “hello” while walking to their office, unless you know the person. In the South and the West, however, if you pass someone in the hallway, or are sharing a long elevator ride, it would be odd not to smile or extend a casual greeting to the individual.
And of course, if you are in the South you can expect to be greeted with a cheery “Yes, Ma’am” or a “Hi Ya’ll!” from all levels of the corporate ladder. By simply paying attention to a greeting you can easily understand where someone’s roots are planted.
Differences within cross-regional communication also apply to indirect communication. In New York City, busy businesspeople move from home to work with purpose. They are accustomed to the busyness around them—to the point where the sounds they encounter from Point A to Point B fall on deaf ears.
Remember Emma Stone’s interview about the filming of the Spiderman movie. Busy New York office workers hustled along and were so oblivious to the action (where cars were literally being blown up) that they had to hire people to react to the situations. You are less likely to see that kind of reaction on the West Coast. Though just as determined and focused in their business life, if cars are blowing up around them, they’re likely to stop and watch the action.
When it comes to business communication, the most important thing to remember is to be open and flexible—and if you’re unsure of what behaviour is expected or appreciated, just ask.
Dressing for Success
Take for example a recent client’s visit to coastal California. In what we would call the business hub of the city, she found businessmen and women dressed in casual attire—especially in the heat of summer. Gentlemen rarely wear suits—opting for pressed khakis and a nice polo shirt in its place. Where suits and ties are a rare occurrence in the West, gentlemen seem to shower with them on in the East.
A West Coast businessperson was surprised on a recent business trip to New York City because of how different the corporate culture felt. Men and women in suits scurried from the subway to the office—grabbing a bagel at the local food cart. Said businessperson exclaimed how New Yorkers moved with intention. She herself felt that she couldn’t keep up with them, and she wasn’t the one in 3-inch heels!
And, much like the South where temperatures and humidity are higher, you won’t see women wearing pantyhose to the office. The atmosphere in the West is definitely more laid back and casual.
An interesting tidbit to note: women who work in the White House or on Parliament Hill must wear stockings or hose and closed toed shoes ALL year round. Though this may be surprising, those that work closely with other cultures must set a high standard and respect other’s cultural beliefs around dress codes.
Since wearing inappropriate clothing to a foreign area can sometimes be awkward and embarrassing, there are things you can do to ensure the comfort of others when faced with cultural and regional differences. Do your homework before your next business trip by making Google your go-to resource. Enter in the address or area, such as Downtown Vancouver, where you’ll be prompted with a street view that allows you to see how people are dressed! Or, simply search for the city’s business attire, such as Business Attire Vancouver, for a host of resources that discuss etiquette do’s and don’ts catered to that city.
Mixing Business with Pleasure
It is becoming more and more common to mix “labor with leisure” – that is, business with pleasure. Attending a cocktail party at your boss’ home, or gathering the team for a brainstorm session over lunch at a colleague’s apartment, is not uncommon nowadays. And if you do visit someone’s home for a business-related function, one of the things that can differ from one coast to the other is whether to remove your shoes. Most likely, if you came from a colder climate where part of the year is under snow, you grew up removing your shoes at the door, before entering someone’s home — winter or summer. It just became a habit. And when you enter someone’s home today, no matter where you live, it’s the first thing you do.
Whereas those that grew up in climates where the walkways remain clean all year round are encouraged to leave their footwear on. Bare feet or sweaty socks on carpets or hardwoods can be damaging and is really not a good practice, but in the battle between dirty shoes and stocking feet – socks wins!
Outdoor leisure activities also differ from region to region. Since the weather in the West is moderate, golf is a popular business leisure activity. Its also not uncommon for businesspeople in metropolitan cities such as Los Angeles to take their clients to NHL, NFL, or MBL sporting events, or to even experience the city’s nightlife. However in the South, you can expect an invitation for something more adventurous, such as hunting. In the Northeast, leisure activities can range from fishing to a night at the theatre.
If you know your business travels will include an activity that’s unfamiliar to you, it doesn’t hurt to do some light research. If you are feeling uneasy about your abilities to do said sport, expressing a light-hearted joke with your company at the start of the day will help ease your tensions.
We’ve all heard the expression that begins “When in Rome…”; when it comes to travelling for business relations, the expression holds true. It’s important to be respectful of local customs and traditions. Prior to scheduling your business travels, it is essential to check the region’s observed holidays. Where Jewish holidays are honored in Southern Florida and the North East, the Midwest and the South are known to embrace the traditions of Cinco de Mayo. However in cities such as New York and Los Angeles, you will likely find that only traditional holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years are observed. These are all important to keep in mind when scheduling business trips.
Respecting cultural boundaries also takes effect in more intimate circumstances such as hugging and cheek kissing. Some things to consider are how long you have known the person and whether you are friends with them outside of the business arena. The setting also comes into consideration here; what if their boss is present? No matter how well you know the person, a handshake may be the better choice in this situation.
Is the Gap Narrowing?
While it’s true that there are definite cultural nuances, it’s also true that these differences seem to be narrowing as younger generations move into the business world. Co-working spaces are opening across the country—east to west. Millennials and Gen Y’ers are slowly changing the way we work and it’s happening everywhere. Working from co-working spaces or coffee shops have become the “norm” for this generation and working traditions are far less formal than what generations before them are accustomed to.
No matter what part of the country you are in, the most important thing to remember is that you are in someone else’s backyard—not yours, so avoid making any judgements. By being respectful, receptive, and inclusive of new cultures and “norms,” you will benefit. And when in doubt, let it go! No one is trying to offend you!
I know Valentine’s Day is here already, but here are some Valentines Day etiquette tips that will ensure a romantic and memorable evening (and keep everyone out of the dog house!)
(Note: If you waited until today to buy a special Valentine’s Day card, you might be stuck with the leftover corny Valentine’s Day cards. Think about making your own card for your sweetie. Homemade gifts are always a hit in the romance department.)
- Turn your cell phones off: It goes without saying that you should give your date your undivided attention at all times, and most especially on such a romantic day as Valentine’s Day. Gentlemen: turn your cell phones off—and leave them off the table–so you’re not tempted to check sports scores during dinner.
- Buying a gift: Valentines Day means different things to different people – depending on how long you’ve been together and how serious the relationship is. A traditional gift of flowers and chocolate are still time-honored traditions, and they fit into most budgets. Remember, it really is the thought that counts. Handwritten love letters are also a hit!
- Mind your table manners: As with any time you’re sharing a meal with someone, be sure to bring along your best table manners. Chewing with your mouth open or shoveling food into your mouth is NOT romantic.
- For the men: Remember the simple things, like opening the door for her, helping her with her coat, and pulling out her chair for her if the wait staff don’t do it for her.
- Who pays? Many women are still looking for that knight in shining armor–chivalry is desirable. So, men, pick up the tab unless your lady in waiting has extended the dinner invitation.
“Valentines hearts beat more passionately than everyday hearts”
Wishing you all a very happy (and romantic) Valentines Day!
photo credit: pixieclipx
Just because you’re single on Valentines Day doesn’t mean you have to miss out on an opportunity to do something special. Defy Cupid this year with these Valentine’s etiquette tips for single guys and gals – and make Valentine’s Day 2017 a day to remember!
- Plan ahead – Prepare a plan of action well before the day arrives so you’re not stuck for ideas when Cupid comes to town.
- Do something nice for yourself – Do you love flowers? Buy yourself a big bouquet. Enjoy chocolate? There are plenty of decadent chocolates to choose from! Buy yourself the biggest box! Men, pick up that gadget you’ve been eyeing since Christmas. Splurge a little on yourself this Valentine’s Day!
- Relax – Schedule a massage or book a day at the spa. Splurge on a bottle of expensive wine, make your favorite dish and eat in front of the TV — watching your all-time favorite movie, in your pajamas!
- Get together with friends – Just because you’re single, doesn’t mean you’re alone. Gather up a group of unattached friends and meet for cocktails, go to a comedy show or a late night flick!
- Host a dinner party – Invite your single friends to join you for a dinner party at your home. Good food, good wine and good company? Now you all have awesome dates on Valentine’s Day.
- Schedule a movie marathon – Themed movie nights are always fun! Host a Casablanca night where everyone dresses like 40s screen sirens or wears a fedora!
- Step outside your comfort zone – Think about something that you are afraid of and give yourself permission to step into doing it! Do something that challenges you!
- Tap into your creative side – Sign up for a pottery class or explore a local art gallery. Your creative self will thank you!
- Give back There’s no shortage of ways you can give of yourself on Valentine’s Day. Spend the day volunteering at your local children’s shelter, soup kitchen or Salvation Army.
Go beyond February 14th and participate in Random Acts of Kindness Day – celebrated around the world February 12 – 18th. Think about how you can go over and above to do something special for someone. Write a handwritten note to an old friend, bring a treat to a neighbor, hold the door open for someone, or pay the tab for the person in line behind you at the coffee shop. The Random Acts of Kindess Week website has more than 280 kindness ideas to choose from!
Valentine’s day can be a lot of fun, even if you’re flying solo this year! With a little imagination and some planning, this special day can be you will never forget!
What are your plans for Valentine’s Day this year? Share with us in the comments below!
Some Valentines Day ideas and etiquette tips that will leave a lasting impression with your sweetie!
- Valentine’s Day is a busy day for restaurants so if you’re planning on taking your date out for a special dinner, make the reservation now. Today. It’s not surprising that all the good restaurants book up far in advance and you don’t want to find yourself running through a drive-thru with your date. That would NOT be romantic, and it may be your very last date. 🙂
- If you’re checking out a new place for dinner, be sure to give some thought to how you’ll get there and where you’ll park. This will avoid being late for your reservation.
- If you’re buying flowers, red roses are classic, but to go the extra mile, consider your loved one’s favorite flower. You’ll definitely gain some points for paying attention if you arrive with a bouquet of her favorites.
- Instead of spending hours sifting through store-bought (often-generic) Valentine’s Day cards, why not create a video message or create a Lovestegram! With a Lovestegram, you can send a Valentine’s Day photo album to your love that is completely personal.
- Just because you’re on a tight budget, doesn’t mean you can’t plan a special evening with your spouse or significant other. Cooking together, with soft music playing in the background is very romantic. Make the evening special by getting dressed up, lighting some candles and setting the table with your best china and a bouquet of fresh flowers.
- If you’re looking for a special gift that costs very little, consider this handmade treasure. What better way to share how much someone means to you than a “10 Things I Love About You Jar!” Just jot down all the reasons the person is special to you (and it can be more than 10!) and put them in a jar. Fancy it up with some fabric and you will have a personal gift that they will never forget!
If you do plan an evening out at a restaurant, keep your phone turned off, or, at the very least, out of sight. If it’s out of sight, you’ll be less tempted to check it. Many times I’ve witnessed couples, seated at a beautiful table in a nice restaurant, each of them off in their own world – on their cell phones, texting or chatting with someone else! If you’re expecting an urgent call, ask to be excused and take your call away from the table, in privacy.
Another tricky question I get this time of year is around splitting the check – or “going Dutch.” The answer to this is simple, for Valentine’s Day and any time of year, “Whoever does the asking, does the paying.” And if you have a coupon deal, best to save that for a night out with your friends.
Lastly, bad manners are a big turn-off, so be very mindful of your manners from the moment you greet your date. Chewing with your mouth open, talking with your mouth full, and shoveling your food into your mouth will not impress. Men, keep the simple things in mind: opening the door for your date, pulling out her chair if the wait staff doesn’t do it for her. Courtesy and respect will never go out of style.
Do you have a favorite Valentine’s Day memory you’d like to share? We’d love to hear it!
We thought we’d have some fun by sharing a few unique ideas we found.
My brother absolutely loved this gift I gave him for Christmas. Help him discover his inner chef—and master the skills for a great meal – with the “Everyday Gourmet” cooking course.
Etsy is a great place to go for homemade gifts, and more. This personalized bottle opener is pretty sharp and I love the packaging.
Flowers and candy are classic, but if you are looking for a unique gift idea, this personalized heart in the sand canvas will definitely show her you’re a romantic at heart. 🙂
You could really be romantic with these “reasons I love you stones.” With sayings like “…because you’re an inspiration” and “… for always getting my jokes,” she’ll love the sentiment. And the pretty bag the stones come in. Or hide them around the house – in places you know she’ll find them. This gift could go on giving all year long!
FOR EITHER OF YOU!
These were a fun gift idea – for any occasion. For Valentine’s Day, they offer a Personalized M & M’s Romance gift box. Very cute.
I gave these personalized fortune cookies to someone a few years ago and they were a hit. There are some yummy-looking Valentine’s Day themed options now/
Take a look at these super cute and unique plants. Very unique gift idea.
If you have a way with words, this may be the perfect gift. Tell your own love story with The Love Book. Very romantic!
When I saw these pillowcases, I knew they would bring a smile to someone’s face. True pillow talk 🙂
What special or unique gift have you received for Valentines Day (or any other day!)? Share some ideas with us!
The holidays are always such a magical time. When I first smell that sharp, festive scent of Scot’s pine in the winter, I know the season is finally here. My family and I celebrate Christmas, and I just love getting into the spirit of the season by listening to Christmas carols and wrapping all the gifts.
My family has a pretty funny history when it comes to gift wrapping. We have gone through several present-wrapping phases. There was a time when we wrapped everything in newspaper, saving money on gift wrap and recycling old paper in the process. A few years later, my sister-in-law made us all reusable gift bags, and we started putting Christmas presents in these bags. However, we always seem to go back to the colorful paper and ribbons, even if wrapping presents with gift wrap takes more time.
I don’t always have time to wrap gifts myself every Christmas. Some years, I hire a teenager to lend me a hand and do the gift wrapping for me. It’s a nice opportunity for a young person to earn some extra money during the holidays. Hiring someone else to take on gift wrapping also helps me from getting overly stressed by everything I need to do during the holidays.
During the holidays, we can be doing a lot of dining and entertaining. Women in particular have a habit of wanting to do everything — I know this from personal experience. There’s this desire to attend all the events, make sure the food is delicious, the house is presentable, the presents look pretty sitting under the tree, and be the best hostess at every event. It is incredibly demanding and can take a lot of the fun out of the holidays, but one strategy can help you finish your to-do list without all the stress.
If you are in charge of planning an event — such as an office party, a family gathering, or even a Christmas caroling outing — start by identifying everything that will need to get done. Pick out the tasks you will most enjoy doing and assign those tasks to yourself.
Next, print out the rest of the tasks on individual slips of paper and put them all into a hat. Pass the hat around to everyone who will be attending and have them draw a task at random. Each person who will be attending the event now has a role in putting on that event. Delegation can be a very important tool when planning, but it’s not something everyone takes advantage of.
This method can be very beneficial in the professional setting. Everyone is chipping in and working together as a team toward a common goal. People can practice teamwork while getting to know their co-workers better.
Whatever tasks this time of year brings, I find that when to-do items are delegated, everything gets done, and you can still enjoy the pleasures of the holiday season.
Supersize these nuggets, then share them with others. Have fun networking!
- When you meet people at a networking event, shake hands, smile and look them in the eye. Greeting people warmly is always welcome.
- Have professionally designed and printed business cards available to give on request. Better yet, make a point of asking others for their cards . . . that way, you can follow up and not wait for them to contact you.
- Listen well when talking with others. Use your eyes, heart and brain as well as your ears to engage in a full conversation. Never look over the person’s shoulder to pick out someone “more important.”
- Take opportunities to praise people for the contributions they make. Letting them take a bow makes you both feel good!
- Make a point of regularly connecting with people on your key contact list, even when you aren’t requesting something from them. They will feel nurtured by your outreach.
- Follow up your networking conversations within a day or two (that’s why you ask for the other’s card). Graciously follow through on any agreements you make—and do it as soon as practical.
- If you’re in a conversation with people who are badmouthing others, do the reverse. Say positive things instead; “goodmouth” them as recommended by Susan Rhohan.
- Acknowledge what others do and who they are by sending cards, emails or letters. Frequently congratulate those in your networking circle on their ideas and achievements.
- Always ask people how you can help them accomplish their goals. Get specific details and follow through on what you promised. Doing that will build loyalty and trust every time!
You’re ready to take on the corporate world. Your work clothes are impeccable, your resume is polished to a perfect sheen and you’ve got the references, skills, and ambition to back it all up. That’s everything, right? Wrong.
When you’re prepping for a job search or promotion, don’t forget to clean up your social media accounts. Social media a pivotal tool for resourcing and building brand awareness — both for professionals and businesses — and it’s becoming a more prevalent screening tool for human resources departments.
According to themuse.com, a corporate job board and job seeker advisory, three out of four hiring managers check candidates’ social media profiles — even when they aren’t linked. But wait; it gets worse. One in three employers rejected candidates because of something on their social media profiles. That means there’s a good chance those photos of the wild weekend you had a few months ago could cost you a job, promotion or even your career.
It’s not just irresponsible content that can get you fired. Recruiters and HR departments alike can be turned off by anything, from the mildest profanities to politically divisive posts, provocative pictures, illegal drugs or alcohol, discriminatory remarks, poor communication skills and openly badmouthing previous employers.
In the digital age, even when you’re not working, you’re working. It’s vital to present a consistent, professional personal brand across all platforms. For more tips on how to execute your social media presence impeccably, visit our blog at www.margaretpage.com/social-media-fiascos-avoid-scandal.
The social media revolution has conditioned us to think that everything must be shared: Our thoughts, our schedules — even our meals! But while all of that sharing might be great for friends and family, the rules are different for business. An embarrassing post could block you from a promotion or a new job. In fact, it might even cost you your career.
According to the blog The Hiring Site, 60 percent of employers use social media to screen job candidates. Human resources departments may ask that you install device management software on your personal cell phone or iPad if you also use it for business, and some human resources departments actually track their employees’ private Facebook and Twitter accounts.
So how can you protect your accounts and present the best version of yourself? Here are a few practical tips that may save you heartache.
Think like an employer. Before applying for a job, scour your social media accounts for incriminating photos — it’s best that you do so before human resources does. (This is especially important for people just entering the job market.) Remove any photos that contain evidence of excessive alcohol consumption, drug use, obscene gestures, or illegal activity. Remember, a company is making an investment in you — and you need to do everything possible to make yourself seem worthy of that investment. If you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see it, delete or untag yourself (or both).
Add Timeline Review to your Facebook account. Timeline Review allows you the first and final say over what appears on your Facebook page. All posts made to your page first must be approved through the review process; you may delete whichever posts you don’t care to keep. To turn Timeline Review on, click at the top right of any Facebook page and select Settings, then click Timeline and Tagging in the left column. Look for “Review posts friends tag you in before they appear on your Timeline?” and click on Edit, then select Enabled from the drop-down menu. Keep in mind that mentions of you may appear elsewhere on Facebook, such as in search, but Timeline Review gives you a bit more control over your own page.
Set your accounts to private. Setting your accounts to private is the easiest way to maintain control over what the public sees. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all allow private account settings that are available to other users only by request. An employer will be able to see your comments on other people’s pages, but your own accounts will be protected.
Make your wishes clear. Be honest with your friends and family members: Let them know that you need their discretion. Ask them to refrain from posting and tagging without your permission. If you encounter resistance, it might be time to unfriend that person — both in social media and in real life!
Deal with problems directly. Everyone makes mistakes, but move swiftly if you encounter a photo or post that could make trouble for you. Speak directly to the person who put the photo or information on social media — in this case, a phone call or face-to-face meeting is best, if possible.
How have you overcome an embarrassing situation on social media? Tell me in the comments below!