Recently I read that Americans are considered some of the rudest of people from a global perspective. What has happened to simple politeness and respect for one another? Gosh if someone opened the door for me I would be grateful and let them know it. However, apparently I am in the minority. Some people feel that being polite is an act. Sorry, but I think you are confused with being polite and brown nosing (otherwise known as sucking up to the boss). Being polite is sincere and it is the very foundation of respect for yourself and others. I didn’t realize that I would have to get to basics and remind people that politeness is part of the delivery process, delivery of your image.
In my experience, I have found that people have to be right ALL OF THE TIME, or have the last word. Sometimes you can be DEAD RIGHT and having the last word is not necessarily in anyone’s interest since it probably goes through one ear and out the other. Rather than flipping someone off or making crude remarks, try as the cliché says, “kill with kindness.” That will throw off more people than you can imagine and it’s easier said than done.
When someone cuts you off on the freeway, wave and smile. Some people just want to get a reaction out of you, but by not reacting and being pleasant you have destroyed their strategy. You probably know some of these people where you work. My suggestion is to continue to be polite and eventually when they know they can’t upset you they will quit. Read the “Dance of Anger,” for some background on that.
Being polite will never be out of fashion. When someone opens the door for you, say thank you. If someone holds the elevator, say thank you. When you ask for something, say please. And if someone tells you that you look nice today, say thank you rather than telling them “no this ole’ thing,” or “I got it atMarshallsfor $10.99.” Here are some more reminders:
- Bring a gift when invited to a party. Call the next day or write an email about how great it was and thank them for the invitation.
- Make sure to RSVP when you’re invited to an event. This gives them the head count for food served.
- If you can’t make an appointment whether in an office or a restaurant, call the person yourself to reschedule.
- If your company has a function and alcohol is served, limit yourself. If meeting with a client over lunch or dinner, avoid alcohol.
- When you get a sale, thank your new client with a note. It’s a great start to a new relationship.
- At work, if a man chooses to open the door for you, a woman, take the opportunity and thank him. Remember you can open the door for men as well.
- When you meet someone for the first time and you are sitting down, stand up and extend your arm and say “It’s a pleasure to meet you . . .”, and finally,
- Never, ever forget that when someone does a kind gesture for you to be grateful and thank them.
It’s the new form of antisocial behavior, people walking around texting like mad men! So what would you do if you are at a meeting and you get notified of a text or email. Are you going to stop everything to check it out? WRONG! What is most important is right here, right now.
Actually, as noted in Bloomberg’s Businessweek, some folks are walking away from their Smart Phones and concentrating on tasks at hand with the people involved. They are building relationships and companies the old fashion way, with people in real time, face-to-face. The onslaught of social media, texting, tweeting, in addition to regular email and cell phone use has spurred the incidence of miscommunication, incivility and lack of just plain manners in dealing with people and situations in our daily lives. We may communicate tremendously on facebook or twitter, but do we see the reaction our words are saying to those that read our comments? Therein lies one of the problems.
Here are some tips to make the best of these new forms of communications and building relationships with your clients and peers.
- If the issue is privacy in communication realize that e-mail, faxes and telephone lines are not secure. Many companies monitor conversations as a matter of evaluating customer service and routinely tap into employees e-mail, and who knows who sees the messages faxed at the machine down the hall!
- Anything you say on a social media site, or post online is a permanent record that can haunt you the rest of your life. Be careful what you put on blogs, facebook, twitter, and in your emails. Prospective employers, clients, and others will see it. Now with GPS, you can also be located so be mindful of what you do with these sites. You don’t want anyone to know if you’re playing hookie!
- Be sensitive to the technological sophistication of the individual that you’re dealing with. Evaluate the means most employed by the other person and use that means as a way to communication. Just ask them, “What is the best way to contact you?” Don’t assume everyone texts. Different strokes for different generations!
- When confirming a meeting, try to do it by phone and either talk to that individual or to their assistant. Otherwise leave a voice message, e-mail, text or fax confirmation – usually the person will not get it in time. If they text you can text them.
- Avoid trying to conduct new business with clients over voice mail, text, fax, or e-mail. Face-to-face contact is essential.
- Contact friends at their home e-mail address for matters not related to business.
- Avoid bringing cell phones and pagers to any kind of meeting i.e. new client, or job interview. If you are in an interview and your cell phone goes off, you’ve lost!
- Limit cell phone use. In most states, it is against the law to drive and be on your cell in the car unless you have a hands-free device. No texting in the car, period.
- If you are with someone, do not email, or text someone ELSE.
- Avoid making or taking calls during meetings unless it deals with the business at hand.
- Inform customers of forthcoming faxes or e-mail messages and follow up with a hard copy in the mail.
- When developing communication with foreign companies, evaluate their level of technological sophistication prior to sending messages via hi-tech vehicles.
- When using a laptop or iPad in a presentation remember the focus needs to be on the human factor. The presentation on the laptop is meant to enhance retention of the material since its employing more of the prospect’s senses in comprehension of your message.
- What about a letter of invitation over the internet? When it comes to using the internet, there is a generational factor involved. Some generations prefer a call or a hard copy letter. Others are satisfied with correspondence over the internet. Ask first so not as to lose the connection. Also if it’s important material, send a hard copy just for assurance measures.
- Minimize of the use of palm pilots, Smart Phone, iPads, iPods, pagers, computers until after a client meeting.
- What about a thank you note over the internet. Again it’s a generational thing but people are still amazed when they receive a written thank you note. It says that you took the extra time to write and send it. But more and more people are satisfied with conducting all correspondence over the internet. Check first.
- A couple of things to remember. Faxes and computers in the office are for business only. Anything private should be handled at home. With faxes coming in, everyone sees them and now there is software to tap into where you are surfing on company time. Fair – I can’t answer that, but employers today feel if you are using their equipment for private use on their time, It’s wrong and grounds for a reprimand or termination.
- When having a business lunch or dinner, turn the cell phone off. It is a distraction and communicates that the person that you are with are not that important which doesn’t say anything good about you. Getting lots of calls doesn’t mean you’re important, it means that you’re rude.
- How about the phones that can take pictures and send email? Be ethical in its use and don’t intrude on someone’s privacy. If you are going to take someone’s picture, ask them first
- Face-to-face meetings are the best way to close a deal.
I’m ready for spring and so I’ve been keen on what are the latest fashion trends coming down the runway. You’ve probably already seen some of them since many retailers are already displaying spring merchandise. When it comes to these trends remember to put your own spin to it and update your wardrobe to carry you through the season. One or two key pieces either as a top or an accessory will surely put a spring in your step in the months ahead. Below is a list of some of the most prevalent trends being featured in Vogue and Glamour.
- Tangerine: Or on the softer side coral. These are difficult colors to wear but can be introduced in small quantities through accessories such as belts, jewelry and handbags. If you have warm undertones in your skin then tangerine is your color. For winters and summers with cooler undertones this color will wash us out. If you want to wear the color in a top wear a scarf around your neck in the colors that complement your skin tone such as navy, blue, or green.
- Metallics: Metallics are wonderful in accessories such as belts, shoes and bags. But consider adding more metallics in your jewelry collection this season. Further when wearing metallic jewelry take a risk and mix the metals such as pewter, gold and bronze. If you really want to try metallics consider jeans or tops to take this fashion trend to the max.
- Color blocking: After a somber fall and winter we are ready for color. Great color combinations are showing up in block designs in swimsuits, dresses and separates.
- Neutral magic: The neutrals make all the brightness of spring possible. Neutrals such as black, gray, off white, camel, beige and taupe will always be mainstays.
- The trench: The trench coat is still a valid member of our wardrobes for spring in neutrals, as well as bright and bold tones and hues.
- Bold prints: Be careful if you aren’t into color, this spring’s fashion trends employ primary colors that invigorate the soul. If you love color, this is your season!
- Pastels: Just as much as we love color, spring wouldn’t be spring if fashion did not showcase pastels in their designer shows. Wear them in small quantities such as a jacket, short or top.
- Futuristic designs: With today’s technologically savvy fabrics you too can participate in designs that will prepare you for the next century.
Here are just some of the trends popping up at runway shows for more information check out the latest Vogue or Glamour magazines. Happy spring!