Teach Others How to Dine Like a Lady?

At some point, we’ve all been there. Sitting at a business luncheon, someone places their arms on the table, rattles all the plates and silverware and makes a loud spectacle of eating their meal. Viewing such a scene in the film “Pretty Woman” would be hysterical.. but in real life, sitting at such a table – where you’re trying to focus on business and relationship building – is less than ideal.

 

We all learn how to do things differently.  Our parents, mentors, and teachers show us how to eat, talk, drive a car, and be present in the world. In this age of hyper-competitive business, norms have been developed to allow participants to socialize while working at the same time. Workers, younger and older, crave proper training for different situations so that they stand out for the right reasons, and not the wrong ones!

If you’ve mastered the art of formal dining, consider taking your skills to the next level. Being confident in the art of formal business dining is an increasingly important skill, and well-equipped teachers are needed in tech-friendly cities all over the world.  We offer such a course, as part of our “Become a Corporate Trainer: A Training for Trainers Who Care About Soft Skills”, taking place in Taipei, Taiwan, September 12 – 16, 2018.  The course covers not only formal business dining, but it also covers international business etiquette and ways to build a brand that has impact. This new course is part of the International Soft Skills Testing Accreditation, or ISSTA, which provides a universal standard of professional soft skills in all industries.

 

You can learn more about the course here: www.nyciet.com

 

Next time you’re at a formal business function, take a look around.  Who could use a little help from someone like you?

 

And let us know: what’s been the most horrifying business lunch you’ve attended?

Share with us on Facebook!

 

 

Your Digital Presentation

As image consultants, we are in the business of making people look their very best. In keeping with that expectation, it is important to take care of your own appearance and presentation. Nowhere has this been more relevant than in the social and digital sphere.

 

Just as you would utilize a client’s natural gifts to enhance his or her style, you should attempt to be consistent in your looks on a daily basis. Here are 3 important areas to consider for the social and digital sphere:

 

#1. PROOFREAD!

When posting on FB, Twitter, Instagram or another social channel, be as polished as you can with spelling, grammar, and syntax. While everyone understands an occasional autocorrect error, messages with the wrong word in them make you look careless – and autocorrect often replaces the word you wanted to say with a completely different word! So, taking an extra 3-4 seconds to read ALOUD your posts beforehand will help you catch mistakes.

 

#2. APPROACHABLE PROFILE PHOTOS

When selecting your primary profile photo (and any others that are frequently viewed), it’s important they be as polished as possible and have been taken within the last 5 years. Avoid goofy photos, or photos with more than one person in them. Make sure your face is well lit, and that you appear approachable. A smile is not an absolute requirement, but looking smug won’t help you personally or professionally (and in this business, personal networks matter a lot!).  If you’re unsure, send your primary photos to 3 friends and ask for their candid opinions before changing your profile photo.

 

#3. TOPICS TO AVOID

It’s not uncommon to feel compelled to comment on hot-button news topics. The past few years have shown much of the world to be divided on topics, and when you add in elements of religion, politics, or sex, you risk alienating potential references and even friendships.  If you must get political, I suggest picking a single issue that’s important to you and focus 1 or fewer posts per week on the topic, written in an educated tone. You may also choose to keep one account (say Facebook) for personal posts, and another (LinkedIn) for business or public posts.

 

Does your company have a social media posting policy? We look forward to your thoughts or suggestions on this matter!

Goal Setting

 

With 2018 just around the corner, it’s never too early to take an evening away from the holiday parties and gift-wrapping to consider where you want to be – and what you want to achieve – next year. A commonly referenced way to identify and then stick to your goals is to make sure they are SMART goals!

 

To refresh your memory, identifying and following SMART goals means that your goals are:

 

S: Specific – you clearly define what the goal is

M: Measurable – you can clearly measure where you stand in completing it

A: Attainable – you can do this without shaking up your whole life. Making it to the moon isn’t realistic for most of us, but losing 10 pounds might be!

R: Realistic – Your goal will only be met if it is meaningful AND realistic to achieve.

T: Timely – You start your work for this by January 2nd and can clarify when you will measure and ideally complete it

 

For you to get started on your goals, it is essential to write them down. Then, plan the steps out to achieve the goal. Doing this in writing, by hand, helps you determine if the goal is realistic and achievable. Then, you just have to follow through. A tip that’s helped some of our clients follow through in the past is making a copy of your goals and taping it to your bedroom mirror, bathroom mirror, and desk at work, so you can remember to check the steps as you are achieving them each day.

 

What are your goals for 2018? Let us know if we can help you achieve your SMART goals in the New Year!

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 Gestures: Lost in Translation?

When traveling for business internationally, there can be many challenges. Perfecting your presentation to clients/colleagues, making sure you make your flight on time, remembering the country code when dialing, ensuring you have enough local currency – these being but a few common headaches to figure out.

Photo by Nghia Le on Unsplash

 

While there will be many challenges you’ll have to deal with ad-hoc, there is one area where advanced research is critical before you travel: Gestures. Did you know that in Brazil and Greece, the “Ok” sign is considered vulgar or obscene? Or did you know that in Japan and southern France, the same symbol means “worthless” or “zero”? And, in Australia and the Middle East, the “thumbs up” gesture means “Up yours!”, which isn’t something you’d ever want to say in a business scenario.

 

Style of communication is also important to consider. In Germany, for example, native-Germans speak in a very matter-of-fact style. Unless you are 100% fluent in German, do not use allegories, analogies or coded language as it will not get you anywhere (even when trying to make a joke!). Ask for exactly what you want, and say what exactly you mean. It will be better for everyone

 

Before your trip – conducting Internet searches, picking up a guidebook for the plane, or having a brief conversation with your host/guide can be tremendously beneficial. Doing your research ahead of time means you’ll avoid embarrassing moments with colleagues, potential clients, or those who you meet along your stay – allowing you to focus on your big wins and enjoyment of your experiences.

 

Happy Travel