Business Etiquette Blog with Margaret Page

Latest "Etiquette Edge" Posts

The Fundamentals of Photo Etiquette

July 3, 2017

camera in a cameraHave you ever been caught by surprise when someone snaps a spontaneous photo – and later realized that your distorted face was posted somewhere for all to see? With Facebook and other photo-sharing networks growing life wildfire, many of us have had this unfortunate experience, and the feeling that follows is downright awful! Such careless regard for others’ feelings translates to bad photo etiquette.

Remember, permission is very important, for both taking and sharing a picture of someone else.

This lesson is especially important in dealing with other cultures. All around the globe, people believe that when someone takes your picture, they trap your soul. Carelessly snapping shots of an Australian Aborigine or Native American could be considered a grave offense, and even land you in jail!

Even with your average tech-savvy person, always ask permission before posting pictures of other people online. There are many reasons they might decline, and their privacy must be respected.

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Posted by Margaret in Everyday Etiquette and tagged , , ,

Did you know…? About forks?

June 30, 2017

fork
While the knife and spoon have long been accepted as common eating utensils, the fork had a much harder time earning its place at the table. The fork’s similarity to the pitchfork, a sign of the devil, was the source of most resistance.

Imagine the astonishment then, in 1004, when Maria Argyropoulina, Greek niece of Byzantine Emperor Basil II, arrived in Venice for her marriage with a case of golden forks to use at the wedding feast. She was roundly condemned by the local clergy.

When she died of the plague two years later, Saint Peter Damian suggested that it was God’s punishment for her “forked” ways. The devil took her!

By the 1400s dining forks were appearing in Italian cookbooks, and shortly thereafter, another noble marriage influenced the public’s perception of the fork. Catherine de Medici arrived from Italy to marry the future French King Henry II, and with her she brought several dozen intricate silver forks. Wealthy French families eagerly adopted the new Italian influence. (Who knew the fork was once pop culture?)

Well into the early 1800s, forks were still considered a novelty by some, and the source of great confusion to others.

By the first World’s Fair in 1851, the fork had finally gained widespread Western acceptance as a popular eating utensil. It even had its own set of rules to help the confused or socially self conscious. Perhaps that was the point when the fork’s reputation as the ultimate symbol of etiquette issues was first forged.

So, the next time you sit down to a formal meal and feel a hint of panic at the sight of three forks, don’t sweat it! Your ancestors didn’t get it either, but in time, there’s hope for us all.

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Posted by Margaret in History of Etiquette and tagged

The Business Lunch Demystified

June 10, 2017

Lunch

Lunchtime is a great opportunity to be productive and network. Here is a healthy serving of guidance to help you thrive in a business lunch.

No matter where you go for your business lunch, be on time. If you live in a big city, you know that traffic can be terrible. Even in the worst traffic scenarios, you can be on time if you plan ahead. Arriving early gives you time to use the restroom to check your appearance, fix your tie, reapply lipstick, make sure your shirt is tucked in, etc.

At your lunch meeting, enjoy your meal, be yourself, and remember to exchange any important information before you leave the table.

In Japan, meishi koukan is the formal exchange of business cards. The practice is very important in Japanese culture, and their long list of proper steps in the business card exchange is taken seriously. While we are not so formal in North America we have adopted the Japanese custom of handing a business card to someone with both hands with the print readable to the receiver. Your business card needs to be pristine and accurate. Look the person in the eye as you hand them your business card.

No matter the type of business lunch, whether it is an interview, a sales pitch, or just a get-to-know-you meal, remember your table manners. Keep the phone on silent and put away, and keep your handbag on a hook — never on the table or floor. Know and practice napkin knowhow, silent service code, and be silverware savvy.

Before you meet for your next business lunch, have an outcome for that lunch in mind. If you invited someone to lunch let them know why you are wanted to meet with them. It is good form to pay for your guest if you extended the invitation. If it is a mutually agreed upon luncheon, be prepared to pick up the tab, at least for yourself, when the bill arrives. Most importantly, be polite, stay focused on the outcome, and enjoy the conversation.

 

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Posted by Margaret Page in Business Etiquette, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , ,

10 Ways Women Sabotage Their Own Presentations (And How to Fix Them)

May 11, 2017

Speaker at conference and presentation. Audience at the conference hall

Presenting before a group is a golden opportunity to make your voice and your opinions heard, to change minds and hearts, and to woo people to your business.

So why is it that we women are so prone to sabotaging these valuable moments?

I’ve watched thousands of speakers and have presented innumerable times myself, and over the years I’ve noticed a pattern: Women are prone to several habits and tics that undermine their message.

I’m not saying that men don’t make similar mistakes — they do — but let’s face facts. Woman make less money on the dollar. We face the tug-of-war between home and the office in a different way than men do. We risk being called too shrill, too bossy, too opinionated.

Combine that with the following speaking faux pas and you risk undermining your own hard work. You can gain the upper hand, though, with a bit of practice. Here are the most common mistakes we women make — and how to fix them.

No point of view. Women are wonderful at one-on-one discussions and small groups because we’re naturals at collaborating and building consensus. Unfortunately, that also means that many women avoid the stage. We have fewer female speaking role models that we can emulate, and we can tend toward general sharing of information rather than specific viewpoints. A presentation without a point of view can come off as a lecture, or the presenter can appear wishy-washy. The fix: Create and cultivate your own unique perspective. Think about TED Talks: They’re informative, yet they always have a point of view that makes you think. By drilling down, reflecting and asking good questions about your information you can develop an opinion that stands out.

Pacing the stage. This is a bad habit that’s common among both men and women presenting on small to medium stages. Pacing the stage makes you seem unsure and it also robs your audience of a steady viewing point. Think about what audiences have become accustomed to: Broadcasters stay in one spot. At large events, you don’t see speakers dashing all over the stage — it would be magnified on the Jumbotron! Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t move during your presentation. But pacing doesn’t indicate confidence or wisdom; it telegraphs nervousness to the crowd. The fix: Try the Fripp method of stage movement: move when you want to demonstrate action such as walking or running, when you demonstrate the passing of time, and when you transition from point to point. Remember that your goal is to connect with your message and to connect with your audience. Before speaking, release nervous energy with jumping jacks and move on to deep, diaphragmatic breathing to center yourself and clear your mind. You can even hold your hand over your heart to remind you of how you want to present yourself to your audience: With a passion that clearly comes from within.

High voice and upspeak. Everyone’s voice tends to rise when nervous — it’s human nature — but on the stage it’s a clear sign that you have a bit of stage fright. Upspeak, on the other hand, is when your voice rises at the end of a sentence so that it sounds like a question. Women are more prone to upspeak thanks to our collaborative nature; we want to invite opinions. It’s common for speakers to draw the audience in with rhetorical and literal questions, but those questions need to be planned and deliberate. The fix: Practice modulating your voice. Slow down. Be present. Focus more on connecting with your audience rather than being overwhelmed by the prospect of having one. Remember, all speaking is public speaking and you’ve been speaking to others your entire life.

Too much smiling. Women are taught from an early age to smile, but smiling too much can seem as if you’re insincere. I’ve watched women smile through presentations even when they’re delivering pain points and bad or sad news, which throws the audience off. You want your facial movements to reflect your inner feelings and emotions; otherwise, it’s just a mask! An audience can always sense a speaker’s lack of authenticity. The fix: Practice with your presentation so that you’re not just reading words, you’re delivering a message. You would be thrown off if a person told you about a death in the family while smiling; the same rules apply to your presentation. Both you and your audience will have a better time if you take the journey together. A word of caution: If you’re still acutely grieving over a loss or difficult event you’re not yet ready to share what you’ve learned from the platform.

Clothing that doesn’t match the occasion. There’s a time and place for your favorite short skirt or deep-V shirt, but it’s not on a stage or in a boardroom where it can detract from your credibility. The fix: Stick to skirts or dresses that are knee-length or just above the knee and avoid cleavage.

The wrong set of heels. As with short skirts and low-cut tops, there’s a place for those sky-high stilettos. (Hint: It’s not at work or on the stage.) Keep in mind, too, that certain high heels — no matter the heel size — can make a distracting clack-clack-clack as you walk across a stage. The fix: Stash the stilettos and test your heels on a hard surface before making your presentation. If they make noise when you walk, ditch them in favor of a less noisy pair. If the problem persists, buy some felt-bottomed ballroom dance shoes. This will allow your words to be heard rather than your heels.

Clothing patterns. Men, in their suits and ties, normally have an advantage here: We haven’t seen too many heavily patterned clothes for men since the 1970s. We women, on the other hand, have a wide variety of styles and patterns to choose from when dressing. Unfortunately, too-busy patterns can put the focus on our clothes rather than on what we’re saying. The fix: Reserve patterns for off-work hours and stick to solids.

Imploding body language. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy has a term for women who cross their legs, pull their shoulders in, or cross their arms: “imploding.” All three of these body stances make you physically smaller, which is the opposite of what you want when you’re before an audience. To connect, you must be open. For your message to land, you need to deliver it confidently. Creating the smallest version of yourself doesn’t indicate confidence, it indicates defensiveness. The fix: Stand with your shoulders back and your spine straight. If you’re sitting, keep your legs together and uncrossed or crossed at the ankle.

Using eyeglasses as props. Eyeglasses are essential for so many of us, but they belong in one place during presentations: Balanced on the bridge of your nose. If your glasses slide down your nose and you peer over them, it gives the actual effect of looking down your nose at someone. Not the best if you’re trying to create a real connection. Another faux pas is removing the glasses and then holding them while speaking. Drama teachers will tell you that props are powerful because they command attention. Do you want to command attention to your reading glasses? The fix: Adjust your glasses immediately if they slide down your nose. At the next opportunity, have them adjusted at an eyeglass store. If you need to remove your glasses during a presentation, make sure you have a place to stash them out of sight.

Preening. This is another unconscious action that’s particular to women: We touch our faces and push around our hair while speaking, which is just as distracting as using eyeglasses as props. The fix: If necessary, pull your hair back so you’re not tempted to touch it. Ask your hairstylist to teach you two or three stage-ready styles that you can easily create yourself. Touching your face can be a difficult habit to break, but I’ve found great success by remembering that touching your face can spread germs and make myself more vulnerable to illnesses like the flu.

With a little preparation, practice, and awareness, you can dial back distractions and turn your next speaking engagement into a chance to make a difference for your audience.

 

 

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Posted by Margaret Page in A Page of Insight, Communication and tagged ,

A Valentine’s Survival Guide for Couples

February 13, 2017

Heart frame from red rose petals over white background

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

~ Anonymous

 Wishing you all a very happy (and romantic) Valentines Day!

photo credit: pixieclipx 

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Posted by Margaret in Everyday Etiquette

Flying Solo: Valentine’s Day Tips for Singles

February 7, 2017

Heart Crayon
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!

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Posted by Margaret in Everyday Etiquette and tagged ,

Valentine’s Day Etiquette Tips for Couples

February 6, 2017

Valentines Day Etiquette tips

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!

 

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Posted by Margaret in Everyday Etiquette and tagged , , ,

Gifts That Say “I Love You” All Year Long

February 5, 2017

Love You GiftsLooking for some unique gift ideas to express your love and affection for that special someone this Valentines?

We thought we’d have some fun by sharing a few unique ideas we found.

FOR HIM

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.

FOR HER

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!

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Posted by Margaret in Just for Fun and tagged , ,

Nine Nuggets for Networking

November 21, 2016

gold-nuggets

 

Supersize these nuggets, then share them with others. Have fun networking!

  1. When you meet people at a networking event, shake hands, smile and look them in the eye. Greeting people warmly is always welcome.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.”
  4. Take opportunities to praise people for the contributions they make. Letting them take a bow makes you both feel good!
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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!

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Posted by Margaret Page in A Page of Insight, Business Etiquette, Etiquette Edge, Newsletters and tagged , ,

Social Media Fiascoes: How to Avoid a Scandal!

July 29, 2016

 

social media

 

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!

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Posted by Margaret Page in Etiquette Edge, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , ,