Posts tagged "etiquette tips"

Delegating for the Holidays

December 5, 2017

christmas-funny-womanThe holidays are always such a magical time. When I first smell that sharp, festive scent of scotch 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 newspapers in the process. It was always fun to see what headline you got. 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. Some years, I hire a teenager to lend me a hand and do the gift wrapping. 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 tendency 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 perfect, 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, yet it’s not something everyone takes advantage of.

This method can be very beneficial in the professional settingl. 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 can be shared or delegated, everything gets done, and you can still enjoy the pleasures of the holiday season.

Happy holidays!

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Posted by Margaret Page in Newsletters, Uncategorized and tagged ,

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 , ,

The Fundamentals of Photo Etiquette

July 3, 2017

camera in a cameraFacebook 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

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


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 , , , , ,

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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Posted by Margaret Page in Uncategorized and tagged , , ,

Nine Nuggets for Networking

November 21, 2016



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 , , , , , ,

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 , , , ,

What is Etiquette?

May 31, 2016

what is etiquette When you hear the word “etiquette,” what do you think of?  Do you relate it to fancy table manners and other highfalutin behaviors associated with the social protocol of dignitaries, royalty and “upper class?”

Etiquette is being aware of how your actions affect those around you. It’s about making others feel comfortable in your presence by the way you present yourself. It is not a standard we hold others to, but instead, a way we measure ourselves.

Having good manners and following etiquette guidelines, rather than being stuffy, serve to make everyday interactions more pleasant for everyone.

Emily Post said it best with this quote: “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.”

So, why does it matter? In business it’s a sign of professionalism and respect for others. Knowing what to do or say in business situations saves you from an embarrassing moment, but also puts the other person at ease—building trust.

With the launch of the digital age, etiquette has definitely seen some changes. Social media and new technology has altered the way we live and the way we communicate. It’s so easy to forget the basics of good manners when we can share information so easily on Facebook!

It’s more important than ever to take a step back and remember to keep to those standards we set for ourselves. Whether we’re using technology or face-to-face communication, the rules of etiquette are constant. Here are two questions to ask yourself:  Is what I am about to do respectful? Is it kind?

Turning off our cell phones when in the company of others. Thinking before we send a tweet or post a status update to Facebook that shares personal information that could be harmful to others. It matters.

Yes, the digital age has added new etiquette questions, but in the end, the answer is still the same. Etiquette is about making other people feel comfortable. It’s about doing the right thing at the right time. It’s about respecting others and yourself.

Good manners will never go out of style.

“Class is not about societal position, wealth, and status or up bringing. Class is about making other people feel comfortable in your presence.” ~ Ann Landers


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