Ethics, Clients, and You

If you are an image consultant, you are expected to be responsible. That not only means responding to client calls, incoming emails, and being timely to appointments. It means you hold professional ethics in high regard. And while our current political state might make it seem that ethics can be put to the side, we heartily disagree.

 

As image consultants, we must always maintain our sense of integrity so that we protect the relationship between professionals, who are, after all, individuals.

 

Occasionally, we have observed image consultants using a questionable sense of integrity. This happens when someone uses a credential under false representation; it happens when someone lets a valid certification expire but does not acknowledge a change in her/his professional status.

 

In some cases, these consultants’ ethics have been compromised unknowingly, whereas in others there’s been a blatant disregard for what is right and wrong.

 

Using a credential under false representation is essentially unethical; you can’t say you’re a doctor if you’re not a doctor, and you can’t say you’re an AICI certified image consultant unless you’ve actually been certified. Being certified is a fact, and a fact is something that can be checked. It can be proven, and if you mislead about your credentials, your statement of false-fact may eventually be unproven and your integrity will be compromised.

 

Knowing that your certification has expired yet presenting that you are a professional with the credential anyway is an example of known disregard because you are lying about your professional status.

 

In AICI, we have 3 certification levels.  There is the CIC, or Certified Image Consultant.  There is the CIP, or Certified Image Professional. And then there is the CIM, or Certified Image Master (which is also the most advanced). If you haven’t been credentialed and would like to explore your options, talk to someone at AICI International Board or reach out to your mentor, but do not make use of certifications you don’t actually carry.

 

In case it’s helpful, the link for AICI’s Code of Conduct can be accessed here:

https://c.ymcdn.com/sites/aici.site-ym.com/resource/resmgr/documents/AICI_Code_of_Accreditation_D.pdf

 

We look forward to your thoughts and comments on this matter!

5 Types of the Difficult Clients

“The difficult people who we encounter can be our greatest teacher.” – Eileen Anglin

 We hear horror stories all the time about obnoxious, overly difficult clients who often make things harder than they should be. While it’s not always repeated in self-help programs, we state here that the health and quality of your business life matters! Dealing with crazy-makers proactively will help you in creating the business you want.

If you’re starting to notice that your clients are making you crazy, consider watching for these signs as you engage with people. If they act a little too shady a little too often, it might be time to fire the client!

Here are a few crazy-inducers you may recognize:

 

  1. The late or never-paying client. They promise to pay, they may even have a contract, but the check just doesn’t arrive. They pretend they didn’t get your invoice, or your emails, or your phone calls, and might finally pay after you chase them for what feels like the eternity.
  2. The interpreter: They “remember” everything you say, and later, will tell you that you stated (and meant) something completely different than your actual words. They take all your words and interpret them in their own way, especially when it’s not possible for you to remember everything you’ve ever said.
  3. The Grumbler: They tell you about their terrible life over and over. Also akin to an “Energy Vampire”, every time you encounter them, you walk away feeling drained, exhausted and debilitated.
  4. The Balance-shaker: This crazy client starts off praising you. They say things like “You really get me,” or “I like your work”. In the next sentence, they rip you apart, accusing you of double-dealing, sub-standard work, or unethical behavior on your part, completely unexpected. This “give then take” approach makes you unbalanced, which is the whole point.
  5. The Racer: Always in a hurry, the racer is known to never care if you’re busy with other projects or clients. They say things like, “I need it yesterday,” or “I know you’re booked, but I need you to sneak me in first thing in the morning!”

 

There are many other crazy clients out there – and some switch personalities from time to time! Unless your business is psychology or psychiatry, you are likely not trained to fully diagnose the crazy. But if you notice yourself thinking about problem clients over and over, it’s probably time to first set boundaries. If that doesn’t work, you can distance yourself – and then, if things still don’t improve, you may have to find better clients.

 

How do you handle difficult clients?  Share https://www.facebook.com/SpImageConsulting/

Getting What You Want in 2018

We’re already well into the month of January – the beginning of the new year! 2017 was dynamic, to say the least. What will 2018 have in store? Your best guesses are just as likely as ours, but one thing we do know is how important it is to figure out what YOU really want out of life, and then asking for it!

Here are a few tips we’ve been inspired by in the past that we’re aiming to keep top-of-mind for 2018.

 

Figure out what you want!

Knowing the what is sometimes the hardest part, because you have to think critically about what’s driving you and what motivates you this year. Once you’ve figured it out, write it down. If you’re confident with it, say it out loud and then share it with friends, colleagues, or your spouse. You’ll never get what you want in life unless you SAY IT!

 

Ask the right person (first!)

Go directly to the person who can give you what you seek, and ask for it. If you want the job at XYZ company, try to reach out to the CEO on LinkedIn first. Or send an email if you can find it online, explaining why you think you’d be great for what they’re doing. Starting at the top is the best way to get buy-in quickly.

 

Utilize the “what’s in it for me?” question in all of your asks

People will often give you what you ask for because it also benefits them somehow. Starting an ask with a clear statement of what’s in it for you along with what’s in it for them, will lead to many more wins for you!

 

Ask for MORE!

Negotiators always try this, and it often works. Asking for MORE sets the bar higher so that, after the negotiation is over, you’ll likely get what you want.

 

Explain why you need it!

Sometimes explaining something with a “because” added on is an excellent way to share what you need. By doing this, you allow the person you’re asking to visualize why it’s so important to you, and your potential happiness provides them with added joy when they (hopefully) say yes!

 

In the end, always aim to get to a place where you dismiss anything you’re worried about, and just roll. You can rock it!

 

What do you think of these tips? What tips would you share with your friends?

Let us know at ……

Invitation Etiquette Essentials

About a month ago, I received an invitation (via email) to an intimate wine and cheese party, hosted by a good friend I’ve known for a year or so. I responded quickly (for 2), and on the eve of the event brought my husband along to enjoy a lovely pre-dinner party with the host and a few of her friends. After such a delightful evening, I was dismayed the next morning when said host informed me privately that several invitees had never responded to her invite – and to top it off, that out of nine individuals who registered “yes”, two of them did not show up to the event!

Clients and friends often ask us about what’s proper in these scenarios, so we wanted to share a few basic reminders to help you keep courtesy top of mind, at all times – and for anything special you’ve been invited to.

 

Invitations: Always acknowledge that you’ve received an invitation within 24 hours. If you need a few days to consider or arrange your schedule, that’s ok – but letting your host know that you’re in receipt of the message is the right thing to do.

 

Respond in kind: If you receive an invitation via postal mail, respond via postal mail. If you receive an invitation via phone call, respond via phone call or voicemail. If you receive an invitation via email, respond via email (in the same thread). If you receive an invite via social media it is ok to RSVP publicly but you should always send a private “thank you” to the host, showing your gratitude for including you.

 

Stuck? Need to Cancel?: It occasionally happens to us all – our kid gets sick, we get stuck at work. As soon as you know you’ll be late or have to cancel, reach out to the host yourself (don’t make your assistant do it). And remember, unless a local official has declared a state of emergency, “it’s raining/snowing outside” is never an appropriate reason to skip attending an invited event. Suck it up and head over, just as you’d want your friends to show up for you.

 

Saying Thank-You: Within 24 hours, send a brief thank-you note to your host via postal mail. If getting to the post isn’t possible within a day or so, an email is also acceptable (but not as delightful as receiving a physical, personal thank-you).

 

Relationships take work, and maintaining them requires effort on both parts. Even when you’re in a busy period of life, remembering to take a few minutes out to show gratitude to those who’ve included you will pay off later in life.

Armrest Wars: Who has the right to rest an arm?!

Traveling internationally can generate feelings that are equal parts disappointment and excitement, annoyance and joy. Few things frustrate our friends and clients more than getting into an armrest war with a fellow passenger on a plane or train!

 

Here are a few best practices we follow to avoid such situations, whether we’re traveling for work or not:

 

  • When your flight is full, the person in the middle seat gets both armrests. They are likely feeling the most squished and should be allowed the extra comfort – and this makes things fair for the two passengers on the sides.
  • If you are boarding and see that things may get tight, observe the rest of the plane. If it’s not a full flight, ask your fellow passenger if she/he minds spreading to the sides and leaving the middle seat open. Or, ask a flight attendant to help you move to another row.
  • On a train, where it’s typically 2-seats by 2-seats, the person on the window gets the middle armrest because the passenger on the aisle already has an armrest. If someone isn’t cooperating, try to move to a different row. If seats are assigned, ask the conductor to help you transfer to another car with an officially empty seat.

 

The most important thing to remember is your sense of patience – and if someone is exceptionally difficult, ask an attendant to help you! They are trained in conflict resolution among passengers and can often provide help quickly so that you don’t have to get worked up. And remember to take a deep breath.. no flight or train ride lasts forever; it will be over sooner than you think!

 

In case you are feeling alone in your armrest frustrations – fear not, and for a knowing laugh about what NOT to do on a plane, check out the Instagram account of @passengershaming (not for tender eyes!)

 

How do you share the armrest when you travel?

Mobile Phone Etiquette: How do you stack up?

Nowadays, it seems we are always on our phones. I often see a group of people sitting and eating together – each of them consumed by their smart phone – and I wonder why they wanted to get together in the first place since they aren’t even speaking! As a result of increasingly less direct human contact, I worry that people of all ages are losing sight of critical social norms and interpersonal skills.

 

 

As clients and friends often ask us about mobile phone etiquette, here are a few good tips to remember:

 

Be Courteous. A good smartphone user should be courteous, thoughtful, and always respect of others around him or her. You can do this by controlling the volume of your voice, so no one is forced to listen to your conversation. When you’re in a public place, set your phone to silent or vibrate mode to minimize disturbing others – and do not watch movies or listen to music with the sound up loud!

 

Be Safe. Don’t text and drive! No message is more important than your life. If you receive a call while you’re in a loud place, ask the caller if you can call them back. Because of the noise, your distraction level may make you move about without thinking (and walk into fountains or oncoming traffic!).

 

Be Mindful and Present. When you’re meeting with someone at a coffee or dinner situation, do not text or check social/email updates. Try to be as present as possible, and if you must check, do it briefly and acknowledge it vocally for a moment before you type away. And always remember, it is never proper to make others wait for you to finish a personal call: wait staff, friends or colleagues.

 

Constant multitasking can make our brains feel overworked (because they are), and constant phone use creates a cycle of dependence on notifications, rings and buzzes that provide little more than information.

 

How do you maintain good etiquette while using your mobile phone.. at work? With your kids or parents? Share with us….

Your Flexibility with International Business Norms

When traveling for business internationally, it is not unusual to run into snags and surprises. Some of the most frustrating challenges can come in a business context – yet often, these can become moments where we can learn something new, and shine.

 

Some countries require an unusual amount of paperwork to even consider traveling to the country. Multi-page forms, visa applications, reference letters only accepted via global snail-mail are but a few examples of challenges that business travelers run into when planning visits to countries on nearly every continent.

Other countries have very specific norms with deliveries. Sending a package containing gifts to another business in Brazil is a taxable event for the receiver of the gift! Receiving a package in Germany may be delayed by several days until each item in the package is sorted in customs and a value-amount is declared for each. Some countries’ delivery times are very limited on certain days of the week, which can create unexpected delays around holidays and long weekends.

 

Adhering to business dress codes can also cause a good bit of anxiety for travelers, especially for someone who hasn’t been to said country before. Are white pants on men ok outside of Latin America? Are women expected to wear skirts to business meetings in Japan and the Middle East? For those in the creative industries, when is business-casual “too casual”?  Answers to these questions may vary depending on your industry, meeting purpose, and time of year!

 

The most important way to de-stressify is to do your homework with plenty of time before your trip.  Before you take off, try to schedule some time to research potential snags in the country you’re traveling to. Having a quick call with a friend or expat who has spent significant time there is a very good idea, time providing. Whatever you do, make sure to always breath deeply and keep an open mind; this will help you to observe the humor, beauty, and processes that make other cultures flow!

 

How do you maintain a sense of humor and de-stress with travel surprises?