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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 , , , , ,

Email Essentials

April 21, 2017

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A Roadmap of Manners from Coast to Coast

March 19, 2017

Diverse People in a Circle with Culture Concept

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.

Culturally Connected

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!

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Delegating for the Holidays

December 3, 2016

christmas-funny-womanThe 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.

Happy holidays!

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Don’t Let Social Media Stop Your Career in its Tracks

September 14, 2016

social-media-network

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.

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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 , , , , , ,

The Art of Receiving a Compliment

May 7, 2016

I love compliments

 

Women, tell me if you’re familiar with this scenario: You tell a colleague that her work on a presentation was stellar — clear, concise, funny, thoughtful. You walked away with amazing insights and tell her you appreciate her hard work.

And then she brushes it off.

“Oh, it wasn’t that good,” she says.

Or, “I had a lot of help.”

Or maybe even: “I could have done better if I had done more to prepare.”

Sound familiar? You might be cringing right now because you’ve been that woman throwing away a compliment as if it were a hot potato. Can you imagine a man doing such a thing? Why is it that we have such a difficult time just saying, “Thank you! I worked hard.” Or, even better, taking that compliment to heart and really savouring it?

The urge to throw away compliments is real. According to a study by Robert Herbert, a sociolinguist, compliments given from one man to another were accepted 40 percent of the time. Yet women accept only a dismal 22 percent of compliments from other women. (Interestingly, woman accept compliments 68 percent of the time when given by men.)

What makes us throw up our compliment armor? There are several reasons why.

  • We don’t want to stand out. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true: Women who stand out from the crowd can be perceived as overly ambitious or social climbers. Rejecting a compliment keeps you on a level playing field.
  • We don’t want to seem stuck up. Accepting a compliment can make it seem like you’re acknowledging something good about yourself — and in a woman’s world, even the simple act of saying “thank you” can be perceived as self-aggrandizement.
  • We think we’re being tricked. Laura Brannon of Kansas State University says that if we think the complimenter wants something out of us, we’re less likely to believe the compliment.

So what would the world look like if women started accepting more compliments? Personally, I think more women would be empowered in their day-to-day lives and more courageous in business. When someone gives me a compliment, I take it. If you want to take the time to tell me something nice, I want to take the time to enjoy it. After all, I’ve earned it!

Here are my three tips for accepting any compliment:

  • Don’t deflect. Accept the compliment. Say thank you. Not “thank you, but …” Just “thank you.” There’s no need to deflect well-earned praise.
  • Don’t insult yourself. Not only does insulting yourself lower your self-esteem, it puts the complimenter in the uncomfortable situation of not only offering you a compliment but also acting as your psychotherapist. Take your praise!
  • Avoid a compliment battle. There’s no need to one-up your compliment with another compliment. Not only can the situation turn awkward fast, but you don’t want your compliment to come across as insincere. Save your compliments for when you can be thoughtful and authentic.

What are you going to do the next time someone gives you a compliment? Tell me in the comments below! If you’d like tips on how to give praise, check out this blog post on how to craft the perfect compliment.

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Using Smart Phone Smartly @ Work and Beyond

April 8, 2016

business-etiquette-for-mobile-devices-infographic

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The Art of Complimenting

March 20, 2016

Give a compliment

Think, for a moment, about the last compliment you received: Did it make you feel good? Uplift your day? I’m guessing the answer to both questions is “yes” — and there’s a reason for that. According to Japanese researchers, compliments activate the striatum, a region of the brain that also lights up when we’re given cash. That’s right: A compliment is currency, and just as rewarding!

When you offer a sincere compliment you really are giving a gift. A genuine, thoughtful compliment is a multi-faceted tool. It can be a conversation starter, a relationship builder, a confidence booster, or a way to express goodwill and spread gratitude. You can make someone’s day with a few well-chosen words.

Here’s my formula for crafting the perfect compliment.

Be thoughtful. It’s easy to toss off a compliment about a piece of clothing or jewelry, but a meaningful compliment requires observation. Maybe the person you’d like to compliment recently celebrated a personal milestone or completed a big project. Maybe you’ve noticed his knack for drafting excellent emails or the way she makes everyone feel appreciated during meetings. Expand your awareness and look for attributes that people value and work hard to maintain. A non-cliché compliment, or noticing something that person has never noticed about himself or herself, will set you apart.

Be genuine. Think about a compliment you’ve received that fell flat. When someone offers a run-of-the-mill compliment, or when you know the same tired compliment has been extended to other people, it can feel like an unsophisticated attempt at flattery. Such “compliments” affect the credibility of the person giving the compliment. Ensure your own compliments are genuine by being specific and maintaining eye contact. Your body language will support your sincerity.

Keep it succinct. Compliments are gifts — and like gifts, too many can be overwhelming. Showering compliments can feel insincere, so keep yours to just one or two. Lastly, if at any time you feel compelled to say, “I meant that as a compliment,” then refrain from giving the “compliment” altogether.

Ready to ramp up your complimenting? I challenge you to give three compliments a day. Let me know how it goes! Would you like to learn how you can be more socially savvy in your day-to-day encounters? Contact me today for a coaching session, with my compliments!

 

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How to be Socially Gracious on St. Patrick’s Day

March 13, 2016

Happy St. Patricks Day
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of St. Paddy’s Day? More often than not, it’s the color green. The two are synonymous! To avoid feeling a bit too green, either from over-indulgence in the customary libations or possibly from some other impropriety, here are some tips to keep your manners in check on this fun holiday.

On March 17th, wear some green to the office to show your St. Patrick’s Day support. If you don’t have a green shirt or blouse, try a tasteful accessory, such as a scarf or tie that includes some green. Whatever you wear, make sure it’s in accordance with your work’s dress code policy. Avoid wearing anything that could be considered silly or improper. These include “funny” hats or t-shirts that have inappropriate sayings on them (i.e. “Kiss me, I’m Irish”). Keep in mind that you are at work to conduct business, even on these holidays where a little fun can be sprinkled into the day.

What happens if someone doesn’t wear any green on St. Patrick’s Day? Well, it is a long-standing tradition to give that person a pinch. Even if you’re a stickler for tradition, the office is not the place to carry out this part of St. Paddy’s Day fun. To avoid an uncomfortable and potentially embarrassing situation, simply refrain from pinching anyone at the office and jovially say “Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Where’s your green?” instead. (Seriously, you wouldn’t pinch your boss if he isn’t decked out in green, would you?)

Speaking of green, you know that favorite cabbage dish of yours that you thought would be fun to bring to work (because it’s… green)? Avoid reheating your leftovers in the office microwave. That distinct smell could be found disagreeable to most everyone it wafts to—making them, understandably… GREEN. 🙂

Perhaps you plan to celebrate the holiday after 5 o’clock by partaking in ‘adult’ beverages. If so, try to keep your consumption at a minimum. St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Tuesday this year. Remember that you’ll need to wake up for work bright and early on Wednesday morning. Do yourself a favor and skip the hard stuff. Instead, stick to just one beer or glass of wine and remember to eat something. Of course, never drink and drive. The luck of the Irish does nothing to protect you from DUIs or hangovers.

Lastly, avoid approaching a visiting Irish native with a goofy, “Top o’the mornin’ to ya!” While it’s a nice way of saying “Best of the morning to you!” this phrase is very rarely used in Ireland. However, if you are on the receiving end of this “customary” greeting, the proper way to return it is to say, “And the rest of the day to yourself.”

Even if you aren’t Irish, celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Besides, all that green reminds us that spring is only a few short days away! So let loose a little, but play it safe and enjoy.

I’ll leave you with these Irish toasts for St. Patrick’s Day:

“May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light, may good luck pursue you each morning and night.”

“May you live as long as you want, and never want as long as you live.”

“May your thoughts be as glad as the shamrocks. May your heart be as light as a song. May each day bring you bright, happy hours. That stay with you all the year long.”

 

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