Archive | November 2012

Save Yourself at this Year’s Holiday Party

Because office parties abound during this time of year, enough cannot be said for appropriate conduct at the annual office Christmas party or company picnic.  And don’t forget December 31st and the NewYear’s celebrations.  Here are some tips for surviving and enjoying those holiday parties in style.

Office parties:

  • Remember it’s the office party and your image is just as important.  This party is not the time to let your hair hang down.
  • Clothes.  If the party is an afternoon open house, casual is appropriate but avoid the tattered jeans and sweats.  If the party is in the evening, dresses and pantsuits are great for women and suits are great for men.
  • Food. If a food is served that you are allergic to or don’t like don’t say anything to the host.  Just don’t eat it.  The host is not obligated to address the tastes of their guests.
  • Behavior.  Don’t get drunk – it’s not appropriate at the office party or a get together with your friends.  Remember not to speak with your mouth full of food.  Avoid using toothpicks in public.
  • At Midnight.  When the clock strikes 12 toast to the New Year and then make your exit soon after.  Be sure to thank the host on your way out.
  • Don’t be the last to leave.  If it’s an open house leave when the time frame is over.
  • If it’s a dinner party be sure to be on time.
  • If the party is at someone’s home.  Bring a gift for the host(s) such as chocolate, flowers, or a bottle of wine.  If you don’t see ashtrays, don’t light up especially in the bathroom.
  • Conversation.  If an office party talk about topics other than “shop talk.”  Consider the upcoming Olympics, traveling, books or movies.  Avoid off-colored jokes.  Try reading the headlines of the newspaper or listening to the news on TV or the radio or topics to talk about if you’re normally a wallflower.  Keep foul language out the conversation – for either gender it is not cool.
  • At a sit down dinner talk to both partners seated next to you.  Rather than pointing out the fly in your salad focus on positive topics.
  • Remember to introduce your significant other to the people you meet.  Be sure to include them in the conversation.

Being the Dream Guest: Part 2

Polite guests reward the time and effort of throwing a party, and they are remembered for this.  Indeed, an essential part of projecting a positive image is conducting yourself properly when invited to a restaurant, a reception, or the company picnic.  As your client’s or boss’s guest, you are being evaluated in these environments.  Being a good guest contributes to your continued success since job skills become less important and human skills grow in importance as you move up the corporate ladder.

Here are some more tips that will ensure your reputation as a dream guest:

  • Even if it’s your best buddy giving an informal potluck supper, it’s only polite that you let your friend know whether you will be there and what you can bring.  Always R.S.V.P.
  • Guest should arrive to a dinner at the time specified on the invitation.  If you are more than 15 minutes late, you should approach your host and apologize.  The host will probably serve you the course that they are on.
  • For a cocktail party scheduled from 5 to 7 pm you should arrive no later than 5:30 and leave no earlier than 6:30.
  • A polite guest doesn’t overstay his or her welcome.  If you arrived late, it doesn’t mean that you can stay late.  Don’t be the last to leave.  And please don’t wait for the host to say, “Let’s call it a night.”
  • If you’re at a dinner party and the host offers you something you can’t eat or drink, simply say, “No, thank you.” Don’t give your host the whole tale abo8ut being allergic to the food or following a special diet.
  • When you leave a party, say goodbye to the people you were talking to and to the host.  When saying goodbye to the host(s), remember to thank them for the evening.  If the party has a guest of honor, it is important to say goodbye to this person as well.
  • When a single person has a party in his or her home and does not have hired help, invited guests should offer to help in the kitchen both before and after the meal.  When the main course is finished, it would also be a polite gesture to help remove the dishes for the host.  I believe the important part is to offer the help.  If the host says no, fine; however, he may find it difficult to ask for needed help, so do make the offer.
  • When you are invited to someone’s home for a cocktail party, reception, or dinner party, it’s always a welcome gesture to bring the host flowers, a bottle of wine, a box of candy, or some other gift just to show your appreciation for invitation.  Refrain from elaborate gifts; these can only make your host uneasy and cause the other guests to question your relationship with the host(s).
  • Do not indulge in loud arguments or discussion.  In other words, don’t get hostile with the other guests.  If you start to become angry with someone or something at the party, either leave or get a breath of fresh air.  You can just say, “Excuse me, please, I need to freshen up,” or just “Excuse me, please, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you, but I must tend to an important matter; thanks again for the conversation.”
  • Again, after any party, luncheon date or event, write a thank you not.  You will be remembered and truly appreciated.


Be the Dream Guest at this years Holiday Party: Part I

It’s that time of year when the invitations start to arrive for the annual holiday party or for the numerous get-togethers that the season deserves.  Whether a business or personal celebration, being the dream guest will keep you on the invitation list for years to come.

Polite guests reward the time and effort of throwing a party, and they are remembered for this.  Indeed, an essential part of projecting the executive image is conducting yourself properly when invited to a restaurant, a reception, or the company picnic.  As your client’s or boss’s guest, you are being evaluated in these environments.  Being a good guest contributes to your success.

There is no question that guest manners in our society are deteriorating.  Thank-you notes are virtually unheard of.  Guests arrive late and provide little help in the kitchen.  Granted, societal trends may account for more casual atmospheres when it comes to entertaining; yet this cannot excuse plain bad manners.  Guests have responsibilities too, for the success of any party depends on them.

Here are some tips on how to be the dream guest:

  • When you are invited to lunch or dinner, remember that it is not your responsibility to pick up the check.  It is common for a woman to invite a professional colleague to lunch.  If it truly is an invitation, let her pick up the check.
  • When a client, associate, or your boss invites you to dinner, give your response within 24 hours.  If something comes up and you have to cancel, place the call yourself.  Don’t let the secretary or leave a voice mail.
  • Confirm an appointment, whether it’s for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Call the day ahead if it’s for a breakfast meeting.
  • It is important, whether you’ve been invited to a restaurant, home or ballroom, that you arrive on time.  Ten minutes late is considered rude.  If you know you’re going to be late, call to change the time if possible, or call the restaurant to have your host notified.
  • If you happen to beat your host to the restaurant, wait in the lobby of entry hall until he or she arrives.  If you notice that the restaurant if filling up quickly, you can ask the restaurant host to seat you and to have the rest of the party directed there as they arrive.
  • If your host is at least 15 minutes overdue, call his or her office.  Wait for your host for about 40 minutes; if she still hasn’t shown up, either tip the waiter five to ten dollars or have something to eat.
  • When there are more than two people in the party, don’t sit down immediately when you’ve been led to your table; wait for the host to direct you.
  • When in a large party, observe what other people are ordering.  If they haven’t ordered an appetizer or side salad, don’t be the only one.  And don’t order the most expensive item on the menu simply because it’s the most expensive.
  • When there are just two of you at a restaurant, it’s polite to wait until both have been served before eating.  If there is a long delay, then the one who has not been served should urge the other to start eating.
  • At a dinner where spouses or partners are present, remember to talk about other subjects than business.
  • If someone tells a good joke or you’re having a great time, it’s okay to laugh; just keep the noise level down so it doesn’t interfere with others.
  • Don’t “table hop.”
  • If you must make or receive a phone call, excuse yourself and go to a phone away from the table.  Keep your conversation short.
  • Don’t get drunk!  If you have had too much to drink, however, allow someone who is sober to drive you home.  Furthermore, if you get outright drunk, don’t become loud, obnoxious, or embarrassing at the party.  It’s time for you to “call it a night” or regret you every came.
  • After the event, party or get together, write a thank you note.  This gesture is extremely important whether the party was a social or business one.  This will truly ensure that you are considered the dream guest and foster great relationships in the future.

No Doubt About it: Looking Good at Work is Still Important

We are a very visual society!  With YouTube and the variety of entertainment shows, gossip magazines as well as the hundreds of reality shows, we give a lot of clout to what we see.   As someone in the advertising and marketing industry, exposure on TV is where it’s at.  Trends and fads get their forward motion via the media either by TV or the internet, both being visual in nature.

All across the world there are distinct definitions of what is beautiful.  What is beautiful in one country may be perceived as ugly in the next.  Why is beauty so important?  It seems that most people associate with what is beautiful with what is good.  There has been a lot of research on this topic with the same findings.   For example, a study done in measuring student success found that students that were perceived as “beautiful” were also perceived to be smarter and more inclined to succeed in school.  Outward beauty is defined by a culture and drives a multitude of product and service offerings.

As I mentioned earlier, human beings subconsciously or perhaps unconsciously, size up other people, places and things on first encounters on very little information.  Attribution theory states that for human beings to function in a society where we face a barrage of stimuli constantly, we need to be able to categorize it quickly and do so on limited information.  It’s kind of like organizing your computer files, putting all the files in various folders as well as the recycle bin.  Or think about all the emails you receive, some you read some you delete and some you save for later.  It’s how we, as human beings, can simplify our lives and move on.

So understanding this mental process what are the nonverbal messages or cues that human beings use to categorize people that they encounter on a daily basis.  Some of these factors include clothes worn, body image, mannerisms, and overall appearance.  Everything about a person communicates messages about them.  For example, if you see someone and they have acne you might infer that they’re young, like teenagers.  If we see someone with glasses perhaps we might infer that they’re smart (or want to be) or do a lot of reading.  If we see a woman covering her head we may infer that she is a member of a particular religion or from another culture.  Bottom line we make inferences about people on very little information that subsequently influence how we interact with them.

That’s why so much consideration is given to appearance.  The sum of the factors, such as clothing, body language and type, that constitutes an individual’s appearance and is perhaps considered beautiful and favorable in the eye of the beholder, subsequently promotes interaction between these individuals.  In fact appearance is about 55 percent of the evaluation in first impression situations.  Frankly, in the first 3-4 seconds people size up the people they meet on all the cues that are available such as hair, body type, clothes and mannerism.  All of this is done before we ever say hello!  And once that happens does what they say fulfill those expectations or break them?  As they say first impressions count and are so critical in the workplace, in interviews and on first dates!

Further, in 30 seconds people make at least 11 assumptions about you including your occupation, social status, marital status, trustworthiness, credibility, ancestry, and most important, your likelihood to succeed!  Everyone wants to be around a winner!  In interviews, about 75 percent of the decision to hire you is based on your appearance.  The actual interview itself is whether you fulfill the expectations set when you both saw each other.   Additionally, there is an 8-20 percent difference in the entry salary you receive based on your appearance.  Maybe you look like a person that the company wants to invest in and maybe you don’t – it’s up to you.

Moreover, research has shown that people are attracted to others that dress like them.  Often, someone’s appearance infers their political beliefs, values and attitudes.  Let’s say you are interviewing for a position at Saks Fifth Avenue.  Do you look like a Saks Fifth Avenue employee or someone from Walmart?  You decide – do you want to look the part?

A theory that operates successfully in the workplace is Role theory.  Basically, what the theory states is that when we see someone in a uniform, perhaps in a military uniform, we will conduct ourselves in a manner respectful of it.  As well, the person wearing the uniform will usually take on the role associated with it, such as a military officer.  Often, companies will have its employees wear a uniform in part because of this theory.  As well, this helps the company maintain their brand image and saves you on YOUR clothing budget!  Many companies have addressed the issue of appearance by mandating uniforms such as hospitals, airlines, and restaurants.

This theory also translates into how we dress for work outside the realm of a uniform.  Many companies that introduced a casual dress code found that they had to revoke the privilege because employees took it too far.  Not only did it sabotage the company’s brand image but affected employee performance.  Generally, when there is a lack of consideration regarding our dress for work, there is also a lack of professionalism in performance in our work as well as our interactions with our peers, customers, and coworkers.

Although you may dislike the employee dress policy think about this.  Inasmuch as you are trying to reinforce YOUR brand image through your appearance and mannerism so is a business.  A brand’s image is critical to a company’s success.  We buy BRANDS of products and services based on the image or meaning of the brand to us, therefore, businesses try to control all aspects of their brand including contact points that involve employees.  If the brand name is important to you, then you can understand why companies try to manage theirs all the way down to its employees.  If bank employees wore their favorite jeans would you really think that they know what they were doing when trying to execute that loan for your house?  There is a reason they want us to dress for work.

Today most people are very forgiving when it comes to appearance and most are very open about what others wear, however; we don’t want to not totally ignore its significance.  Most people recognize the value of individuality and therefore the definition of what is appropriate for work is rather open.  We are all individuals and it’s important to communicate that; however, when working and dealing with people that come from different backgrounds and experiences, we are going beyond our peer group to and need to keep this in mind when getting dressed.

Many of us are established in our profession and perhaps have a reputation.  It’s important to maintain that positive reputation in all associations either with clients, prospects, employers, coworkers, and employees.  Looking your best shows respect for others and makes you feel good.  Think about it, if you show up in your sweats to a business meeting, what would that communicate to prospective clients, customers, employees or coworkers?  You may be an expert in your field; however, it is still important to build a bridge and communicate your expertise instantly.  And today, that doesn’t necessarily mean a suit; there are many options that are just as appropriate.  The bottom line – no matter the “uniform” at work – looking good at work is still important.