Latest "Etiquette Tips" Posts

What’s Your Name?

December 4, 2017

rememberThere’s something uniquely miserable about forgetting someone’s name. Not only can it make you appear thoughtless or inconsiderate, but it can make the mystery person feel small. And this faux pas can be disastrous when you’re trying to make business connections.

You’re more likely to encounter this delicate situation during the busy holiday season. But don’t panic! A few simple strategies can help you save face.

 Don’t try to guess. The only thing worse than blanking on a name is using the incorrect name. If you’re not certain, keep your mouth closed! Better not to refer to Janet as Eva.

Follow the clues. See if you can extract information with a few carefully worded questions. For example: “When did we last see each other?” or “It’s so good to see you! How long has it been?” Hopefully, you’ll gather enough nuggets of information to trigger a memory and recall a name.

 Ask for help. If you’re in a group setting — at a networking event, for example — discreetly ask a friend or colleague for the person’s name. If you don’t have the opportunity for a private moment, ask the mystery person to introduce himself to your friend: “Please say hello to my colleague Celeste!”

Play the introduction game. At the first opportunity you get, ask the mystery person to introduce herself to someone else you know: “Have you met Jason?” That gives you the opportunity to be courteous while also prompting the mystery person to divulge the information you need.

Fess up. If all else fails, be honest. It’s best to keep it simple by saying, “I’m so sorry. I remember meeting you but I just can’t seem to recall your name. Could you please remind me?” It’s not ideal, but it’s a better option than flailing — or, worse — using the wrong name.

How do you cover your tracks when you can’t remember a name? Or, even better, what do you do to remember names? Tell me in the comments.



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Posted by Margaret Page in Business Etiquette, Communication, Etiquette Tips, Everyday Etiquette and tagged , ,

Hi There! The Etiquette of Salutations in Business Communications

August 12, 2017

Envelope & Pen
A friend of mine recently commented that a large number of emails she has received over the past few months seem to begin with “Hi!” or “Hi Jane!” While that’s an appropriate salutation if you are sending a note to a friend, it is not appropriate if you’re reaching out to a business contact—or someone you don’t know personally. An email is a letter, and should be treated as such—from beginning to end.

With our ability to fire off quick emails and send texts that include short-forms of words (LOL) and fun emoticons, when writing a business letter, here are salutation tips to remember…that never go out of style.

Most of the time, in the business arena you will start your e-mail or letter with “Dear Mr. or Mrs. or Ms. or Dr. Hyde or even Dear Margaret –whichever is the appropriate way to address the recipient depending on your relationship with them. Also consider the industry norm and even the culture you are communicating with.

However you begin, the salutation ends with a colon. You know the punctuation mark that’s used in happy faces :0). (Although most people incorrectly use the semi-colon; in salutations.)

It is important to note that traditionally, “Mrs.” Was used for married women and “Miss” was used to address unmarried women. Because this distinction was made only for women—with men always being referred to as “Mr.” regardless of marital status –we now use “Ms.” in salutations to address women unless you know they are married. Most of the time, you will start your letter with “Dear Mr. or Mrs. or Ms. or Dr. ______–whichever is the appropriate way to address the recipient—followed by a colon.

Unless you know that the person you’re sending the e-mail or letter prefers “Miss” or “Mrs.,” always use “Ms.” when addressing her in a formal manner.

If your business letter or email is not being addressed to one particular person at a company, the best practice is to address the company, the department or the specific role. The more specific you are, the more likely your letter will make it to the hands of the appropriate person. If, for example,you’re sending a cover letter with your resume—and you don’t have the name of the human resources director (although it might be better to do some digging as that will probably get your letter to the top of the pile), address the letter with “Dear Human Resources Director.”

As busy as we are today, it’s highly likely that your business correspondence is being sent via Internet rather than through the post office. It’s important to note that even though it’s so easy to send a quick note to a client or business contact by email, the salutation sets the tone for the remainder of the email message.

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Posted by Margaret in Communication, Etiquette Tips, Everyday Etiquette and tagged

Don’t be that Person: How to be Smart About Your Smartphone

July 5, 2016

Phone manners

Smartphones are ubiquitous — in fact, I’d wager that many of us aren’t even aware how often we rely on these powerful little computers. Stop and think for a second: How often do you pull yours out to check the time? To pass a few minutes when you’re standing in line? To dash off a quick email between meetings?

Smartphones are convenient, to be sure, and they keep us connected no matter where we are. But in a world built on relationships, is that really a good thing? What could you gain by putting away the phone?

We’ve become so inured to smartphones that many of us have forgotten the importance of human presence. Your full attention (and your discretion in giving it) is one of the most powerful tools in your professional toolbox, and it’s one worth developing. Here are a few tips on how you can break the smartphone habit.

Set Your Own Standard. I have a colleague who once worked for a home goods company. Several times a year, vendors would fly across the country to make presentations to the CEO, president, and other key stakeholders, including my colleague. “I was always appalled when I would look around the table and realize my co-workers were using this time as an opportunity to check their messages — even the president and CEO,” she says. “And what’s worse is that the president and CEO reinforced this behavior by making it seem OK in the first place.”

It can seem acceptable to behave poorly when even your superiors are doing so. But think about the vendors giving the presentations: These moments were important to them and their businesses. They deserved better.

Ban Phones From the Table. Phone use seems particularly egregious in an intimate setting, like a meal. What better opportunity to connect with a business associate than over lunch or a quiet dinner? A few years ago, the “phone stack” was popular: After a table ordered, everyone would stack their phones in the middle of the table. The first person to reach for their phone would pick up the bill. That’s a great idea among friends, but if you’re dining out with a colleague who has a habit of pulling out the phone, make your intentions clear. Try saying, “We so rarely get a chance to talk face to face. Isn’t a luxury these days? Why don’t we agree to keep our phones stashed while we eat?”

Safeguard Your Time. What if you’re the one having a hard time disengaging from the phone? Think about what constantly checking and responding to emails says about you: You have no boundaries. If you answer emails during meetings, non-working hours, or weekends, you’re setting an expectation that the times you have set aside as important should not be important to others. And in today’s 24/7 world, people will take advantage of your non-stop vigilance.

What are your smartphone pet peeves? Tell me in the comments below! If you’re interested in learning more about developing your business etiquette skills, please contact me for more information about upcoming workshops and events.



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Posted by Margaret Page in Etiquette Tips, Everyday Etiquette and tagged , , , ,

Basic Etiquette Rules for Air Travel

August 29, 2014

travel etiquetteEarlier this month I boarded a plane for a 30-hour journey to Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Bali and Tokyo. Exciting stuff! I love to explore new places and experience different cultures, but I also know that flying can be stressful.

After you’ve made your way through the body check and long security lines, you have to squeeze yourself into an ever-shrinking plane seat. That isn’t the best way to start your exciting journey!

If you’re getting ready for a long plane ride, here are some etiquette tips to consider that will help ensure you and your fellow passengers have a pleasant flight.

  1. Skip the perfume. Many people have strong reactions to perfumes and colognes.
  2. Board with your zone.
  3. Carry your bag in front of you when making your way to your seat.
  4. Place your carryon bag in such a way that it allows room for others.
  5. Use the space in front of your seat to store your purse or small bag.
  6. Check behind you before you recline.
  7. Use armrest to balance yourself when you get up from your seat. Avoid grabbing seat in front of you!
  8. Keep your shoes and socks on, please.
  9. Listening to music or watching a movie on your computer to pass the time? Make sure you have good earphones!
  10. Wait your turn when exiting the plane. Allow the people in front of you to make their way out first.
  11. If you are sick, don’t fly. If you can’t change your plans, and you’re coughing or sneezing while in flight, do so into the crook of your elbow. And keep fragrance-free hand sanitizer at arm’s length.

The bottom line, when traveling or otherwise, is to do your best to make others feel comfortable. If you’re popping up and down in your seat or assaulting your seatmate’s senses with the smell of yesterday’s leftovers, you’re infringing on their comfort level. Manners go a long way when you’re going a LONG way – and in the end, the journey will be pleasant for everyone if you consider these few etiquette tips.

Safe travels!


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Posted by Margaret Page in Etiquette Tips and tagged

Cultural Communication 101 – Apps To Help You Communicate Effectively

May 8, 2014

smart phone apps for cultural communication easeWith the multitude of apps available nowadays, the information you need is literally at your fingertips—just a click away. Whatever you need to find, you can be certain “there’s an app for that.” And that can be very handy in so many areas of business and etiquette.

To test out the sheer volume of apps for various needs, I opened the app store on my iPhone and typed in “How to tie a tie.” Up popped the app called “How to Tie a Tie Free.” The app features instructions on how to tie 30 popular neckties knots, plus bow ties, ascots, pocket square folds and men’s scarves! What’s really cool is there is a “virtual mirror,” so you can walk follow the instructions and see your actions right on your phone! (Gentlemen, looking good is easier than ever!)

Traveling abroad for business? Taking a little time to learn the cultural etiquette for the country you’re visiting will help you put your best foot forward when doing business globally. With your smartphone you have access to all kinds of apps to help you navigate business anywhere – with confidence!

Here are a few that will help you in your journey!

  • Compare Cultures
    This app provides intercultural tips and pointers and is great for those who are involved in intercultural business communication and global working.  It illustrates where potential gaps exists between cultures, in a graphical format. Plug in two different countries (your home country vs. visiting country) to see the comparisons for “dimensions” such as Power Distance and Individualism. Click on the “dimension” for tips on how to overcome cross-cultural challenges. Example: In a cultures where there is a high Power Distance the relationship between boss and subordinate is rarely close or personal.
  • Tipping Abroad
    The comment I found on this app says it all “Heading to Europe next month. Insulted someone last time by over-tipping because I can’t keep track of all the customs!” This tipping app calculates the tip in the local currency of frequently visited countries. Handy to have when dining out abroad!
  • QuickTip
    This app is one of the most popular free tipping apps on the iTunes. The interface is very user-friendly, with an intuitive slider that allows you to easily adjust the tip percentage. You can see the total tip amount adjust in real-time. No math skills needed!
  • Fast Talk
    When it comes to business, it’s so important to avoid the “foot in mouth” syndrome! And that can be difficult when you’re in a country where language is a barrier. Download the app before you leave home to get access to hundreds of common phrases from five languages. You can save the phrases for easy access and listen to pronunciations of phrases by native speakers. It’s a great on-the-go way to brush up on a new language.

What apps have you found that helped you communicate and do business with different cultures. We’d love to have you share them here!

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Posted by Margaret in Etiquette Edge, Etiquette Tips and tagged , ,

Restroom Etiquette for Air Travelers

October 11, 2011

Have you ever flown Air Pacific? Aren’t they wonderful? I could not believe the legroom and the service. The flight attendees were incredible. Not only did they perform their tasks well, but they were so genuine and warmly authentic. I felt like I could not have been in better hands.

The challenge—and of course there has to be challenge—was one or two other fellow passengers. Although I hesitate to hold them responsible because, lets face it, who teaches people how to behave on an airplane? There’s no real manual, and some of us don’t go out of our own “zone” long enough to look around.

Airplane bathroom etiquette

As we rush along the aisle, hoping the queue will not be too long, I wonder how many of us give thought to the bathroom etiquette that we should observe as we relieve ourselves at thirty thousand feet.

Here are some recommendations I put together. It’s a bit of a “how to” for restroom etiquette on an airplane.


When using the restroom on a plane:

  • Use the seat cover that is provided. It’s there to protect your health and the health of your fellow air travel mates. Pull gently on it so that just one cover comes out, rather than half a dozen. If more come out of the package, discard them in the wastebasket. Please don’t leave on the floor! It’s not pleasant to be walking around with a toilet cover stuck to your shoe!

  • Close the lid of the toilet before flushing. (We can tell if you have done this, as the lid should be closed when the next person arrives in the washroom.) During turbulence, liquid can easily splash up onto the seat—and sitting down on that does not make for a pleasant experience for anyone! This also keeps the water from being splashed onto the seat when you brush your teeth or wash your hands in the sink.

  • Always, always, always drain your water from the sink. After you have dried your hands (taking 1 or 2 towelletes) give the sink a quick wipe. Flight attendants simply cannot clean up after each person. And thank goodness for that otherwise it might take us even longer to get to use the washroom.

  • If you spray on the mirror while brushing your teeth wipe it up with a towellete with clean water. Trust me it will work like a charm.

  • If you pull out too many towellettes, place the extras on the counter. If they end up on the floor, please toss them in the garbage. They are definitely not suitable to use.

During a long trip a nasty bathroom does nothing to perk the spirit up. Basic bathroom etiquette demands at the very minimum you clean up after yourself. If something splashes, wipe it up. If something drops, toss it out. Leave the tiny space the way you found it – or better!

Photo credit: eyeliam

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The 10 Commandments of E-Mail Etiquette

May 22, 2011

Email MargaretIn today’s hurried culture, e-mail can seem like a quick way to communicate your message, but if you don’t take the time to follow the basics, you might end up shooting yourself in the foot (in a business sense, of course). One misconstrued message, sent via iPhone while running from one meeting to another could affect a business relationship.

Here a few reminders to help you keep your digital communication etiquette in check:

  1. Thou shall use e-mail to convey only ideas and factual or logistical information, not emotions. To express emotions and sentiment, take time for a one-on-one meeting or telephone conversation rather than sending an e-mail. The sound, tone, timber, and quality of your voice will help to better communicate your message and avoid misunderstandings.

  3. Thou shall write the topic of your message on the reference or subject line. Always write a succinct, accurate description of what recipients can expect in the body of your e- mail in the subject line. It helps them prioritize their messages and quickly sort them for future reference. It also allows them to easily follow the trail of responses back and forth. If you correspond with the same people on multiple subjects, separate the e- mails by the appropriate topic clearly stated in the reference line.

  5. Thou shall address the e-mail using the name of the intended person. Have you ever received a personal e-mail note destined for someone else? I did—and it was a love note that made me blush! I read half of it and realized it wasn’t meant for me. Since then, I’m never sure I’m the intended recipient unless I see my name at the top.

    Don’t muddy your messages; always address the recipient by name.

  6. Thou shall use “blind copy” for e-mails sent to groups. Avoid sharing names of the whole group via e-mail unless it’s a small, closed group such as a Board of Directors or a Club and you know members have previously been given the list of names and e-mail addresses. E-mail addresses should be kept private.

  8. Thou shall never ever forward a chain letter that states if you do or don’t do something within a certain time, your life will forever be changed. It’s nice to create change for someone but not by using threats. If you really must send the letter to others, remove the threatening language. If you don’t, you will be excommunicated from the hall of good manners.

  10. Thou shall use “delivery receipt notification” only when it’s imperative that you know if the intended recipient received it. Don’t create a need to send any unnecessary e-mail by using this tool. It can annoy people.

  12. Thou shall use capitalization, upper and lower case, and proper punctuation in e-mails as in all other written communications. Studies have proven that if people read text written in all capital or all lower case letters, it takes much longer to read and understand a message. Use a standard way of writing.

  14. Thou shall close your e-mail message with heartfelt words that show that the sender is fully present. Don’t just rely on your automated signature line to close your e-mail. Let your recipients know that, indeed, a real person is sending them a message.

  16. Thou shall proofread your e-mail messages before sending them. Although e-mail can be an informal way to communicate with people, it’s always a good habit to use spell-check and read through your note before hitting “send” so that the message is clear. Sometimes just one missing word can make a difference. “I love your work,” and “I loathe your work,” clearly mean two very different things.

  18. Thou shall respond to e-mails within 24 hours. Even if you cannot yet provide an answer, replying to someone’s e-mail within a day lets the sender knows you received it. Sending immediate responses also keeps you organized and up to date on your e- mail correspondence.

Do you have an e-mail etiquette tips you’d like to share?

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Posted by Margaret in Business Etiquette, Etiquette Tips and tagged , ,

Tipping Etiquette: A Guide for Travelers

March 9, 2011

I love to travel to new places, but even I can get tripped up on what to tip once I arrive at my destination. The tipping etiquette from one country to the next can vary as much as the culture and the customs.

Did you know, for example, that Japan is — for the most part — a non-tipping country? Or that in France, a standard  10% tip over and above the service charges is considered good tipping etiquette for locals, but visitors are not expected to tip unless the service is excellent.

Knowing what to tip, who to tip, and in what currency to tip can be confusing!

In this infographic, by, the basics on tipping etiquette–country by country, as well as a detailed guide on how much you’re expected to tip for various services here in the United States — are outlined.

Click on the graphic below to enlarge.

Click on the image - and then click again to enlarge

Let me know if this was helpful to you for an upcoming trip!

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10 Tips for Chat Room Etiquette

March 3, 2011

Chat roomChat rooms are great places to “meet” people from all around the world. But it’s important to remember involvement in virtual communication still requires proper etiquette to ensure a pleasant experience for everyone in the room.

For those of you who are new to chat rooms, I’ve put together these etiquette tips before you enter a chat to ensure you have a flame-free experience!

  1. Review the “rules of engagement” when you join the community.
  2. If it’s your first time in the room, try “lurking” for a while to get a feel for how the chat room operates before jumping in.
  3. When you’re ready to participate, introduce yourself first. Just like you would when meeting people in a “real” setting.
  4. Avoid using profanity or offensive language. Keep it clean!
  5. Typing an entry in all caps can be considered rude, and is the equivalent to YELLING. Constant “shouting” will turn off other chatters. Keep the “noise” to a minimum.
  6. When addressing someone in the chat, use their screen name. Chats move quickly and it can be difficult to catch the conversation if you’re not clear.
  7. Don’t get too personal. Don’t use your real name or reveal any personal information in a chat room.
  8. Avoid direct confrontations with abusive users. If a chat host is available, alert them of the abusive chatter, but don’t engage them.
  9. Don’t do ALL the talking. Respond to questions and comments. Be part of the conversation, but don’t fill the chat board with “all about me” entries! Listening is part of communication.
  10. Welcome all newcomers that enter the chat room. Remember when you were a “newbie”?

There are so many opportunities for people to connect online. It still amazes me at how easy it is today to connect with someone half a world away!

No matter where you meet people online, following just a few common courtesies will ensure that

the experience is enjoyable for you – and for your new friends!

photo: ChristylnsDesign

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Fly Much? 12 Etiquette Tips for Smooth Travels

February 16, 2011
airline etiquette tips for your next flight

Let me start off by saying this: I LOVE to travel. I love to go to new places and learn about new cultures. I enjoy meeting new people (even at airports!) and sharing stories about our journeys–the good, the bad, AND the downright ugly!

It will come as no surprise to anyone reading this that air travel can be stressful. No matter what the destination, you’re likely to meet some kind of resistance to your well-planned departure.

John Steinbeck said it best with “A journey is like a marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you can control it.”

Ways to make your journey more enjoyable for yourself (and for others!)

Be organized
Best laid plans being what they are, it’s still good practice to plan your itinerary well ahead of time.

Be courteous
Open doors for others and smile at people. It’s hard not to smile if someone smiles at you. It’s contagious.

Be ready
Have your boarding pass and ID in hand to minimize delays during check-in and boarding.

Be patient

We’re all in the same boat (or plane…) here. An impatient person offered me $100 to jump ahead of me in a long airport line. Can you believe it?

Be flexible
Be willing to switch seats to allow a friend or family member to sit together. What goes around comes around, and one day you may want that favour extended. And, it’s just good manners!

Pay attention
Know the rules of the airline and don’t try to bend them by shoving your over-sized duffel bag underneath the seat in front of you.

Don’t stink up the joint
If you bring food on board, make sure it’s not something that has a strong smell. As much as I love Chinese food, the smell of garlic chicken isn’t something I want hanging in air for a 6-hour flight.

Turn it down a notch
Be aware of how loud you’re talking in the concourse, and on the plane. And if you’re plugged into an iPod, and the person next to you is singing along to the music, you’re probably disturbing SOMEONE with your tunes.

Be aware

Don’t fling your seat back without taking note of the person seated behind you. Make sure you’re not intruding on their (limited) leg space.

Keep the kids happy
Flying with your children can be tough—for you, for the kids, and if things get out of control: for the people seated around you. Bring lots of “sit-down” activities for the kids to do. Whatever you do, don’t expect the flight attendants to manage your kids.

Don’t hang out in the “loo.”
Be mindful of how much time you spend in the bathroom. This is not the time to refresh your makeup or throw some curlers in your hair.

Stay dry before you fly
It’s best not to consume too much alcohol before AND during a flight. You could be blocked from boarding if you’re tipsy, and the effects of alcohol are much greater at high altitudes so it’s best to keep the celebrations to a minimum while in the air.

And remember this: The joy of the journey is in the ride. So, be patient, even if your flight is delayed—you never know who you’ll meet while camped out on in an airport terminal.

Life’s just like that, isn’t it? All you can do is “go with the flow.”

photo: caribb

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