Becoming Culturally-Fluent Before Your Business Trip

For many of us, there comes the point where you need to travel internationally to conduct business. Whether your travels will be for research, sales meetings, conferences, or to check in on partners and suppliers – you should jump to take advantage of the opportunity. International travel can teach us a lot about ourselves, and the planning ahead for the travel is often a fantastic exercise in learning and creative thinking.

Here are a few tips to consider when planning for (and during) your visit.

 

  1. Be flexible and respectful. Consider your hosts’ needs and expectations, and be as open minded as possible. Be careful not to make a constant comparison with your home country. For example, if you are in Italy and order a coffee, be flexible with the cup size that is returned to you (if it’s not enough after drinking it, you may ask for a second cup).
  2. Do not take things personally. Some things people do may be frustrating to you, but try to put yourself in their shoes. An example of this is when you speak with someone, and she does not look back at you, remember that in some cultures this is not a sign of disrespect – it’s their cultural norm.
  3. Be patient. Some country’s foods and customs may be new to you, but “new” doesn’t mean it’s being done “wrong.” Try to eat a portion of the meal that you’ve never tried before, just for the experience. Try not to talk about business while you’re at the dining table; save it for another conversation.
  4. Strive to learn language basics as a sign of respect. If English is not predominantly spoken where you’re headed, try to learn a handful of basics as a sign of respect. “Good morning” and “Good evening,” “Hello,” “How are you,” “Thank you,” “Yes,” “No” and “Please” are most important.
  5. Be a good listener. Your host or colleague will hopefully explain the way things are done early in your visit. Listen closely and openly, and be sure to ask lots of thoughtful questions!
  6. Know that your perceptions are relative, not absolute. You should try to avoid stereotyping and remember that the way you view an experience is always colored by your own upbringing and culture. Try to eat new foods when they are offered to you. Try to go to the restroom when there is one (in case it won’t be convenient again for some time). Finally, be sure to keep your smartphone use to a minimum as much as possible, enjoying the moments and being present in the fascinating space that you’re in!

Timeliness Etiquette

Are you the kind of friend who shows up 5-10 minutes late to everything?

 

The incredible array of features and apps available on our smartphones have made it easy to schedule every minute in our days. And yet, we hear frequently from our clients how frustrating it is when guests, dates or colleagues seem to be late to just about everything.

 

The most important consideration in keeping a realistic schedule is avoiding overcommitting in the first place, and allowing extra time between appointments. Knowing that modern life doesn’t always accommodate this, consider these guidelines to manage expectations when you do need to be late:

 

  • Cocktail party or reception: 15-30 minutes late is acceptable, because these are designed for guests to come and go
  • Dinner party: Try to be extremely prompt. If you are more than 15 minutes late, that is rude, unless you know your host always runs late. But it can be awkward to arrive early, too
  • Business meeting or luncheon: arrive 5 minutes early, always. Time is money, and we shouldn’t waste each other’s money
  • Dinner date: In a restaurant, it’s disrespectful to arrive more than 5 minutes late. A bar or lounge may allow for a few added minutes, but keep in mind your date may not be seated until you arrive
  • Screenings, movies or live performances: Try to arrive at least 10-20 minutes before the show starts, especially if you do not have tickets in advance or assigned seating. If it’s a large venue or arena you’ve not been to, allow an extra 10 minutes to find your way around
  • Job interviews: You should always be on time, and ideally 5-10 minutes early for an interview. Try to allow extra time at the end of your scheduled interview in case there is time for a brief tour, conversations with other team members, etc.
  • Conference call: With virtual meetings, try to ‘arrive’ within 2-3 minutes of the start time. When everyone arrives on time and there is a clear purpose for the call, business can be taken care of and the call can often wrap quickly

 

The great thing about our constant connectivity is how easy it is to reach out to someone when you’re running late. If you’ll be more than 5 minutes late, send a quick text. If you anticipate being more than 10 minutes late to something, call the person with a brief explanation and offer the chance to reschedule, if appropriate. This act of respecting others’ time will reduce annoyance and maintain good relations.

 

What do you think? How do you manage your schedule? Let us know …..

Traveling in Groups

Recently, we posted etiquette and travel tips to consider before visiting museums. Today, we’re revisiting the topic with an added twist: how can you best travel in groups? While written for an intended reader who is in a couple, most of these tips could apply to any individual or small group of travelers.

 

Traveling in groups with people you enjoy can, often times, be a delightful experience. Any extended period spent with other couples, families or friends can also pose challenges. Here are a few tips to consider while traveling in groups:

 

 

  1. Identify the top 3 must-do things on your trip, together. If it’s an extended trip with multiple days/destinations, you may want to identify this each day. This will help you figure out the most efficient routes for all parties, so everyone gets to see and do what they desire.
  2. Walk on the right or left – not both! When your group walks together, try to walk in single or double file, and pick a side of the sidewalk or path (but don’t take up the whole street – and don’t hold hands). Remember, also, that your pace on vacation may be slower than locals who are moving quickly; letting people get around you is key.
  3. Learn basics of the local language. If you’re traveling to a country where your native language isn’t spoken, try to learn basics in the language you’re planning to inhabit. Essentials include ‘hello,’ ‘good day,’ ‘where is the restroom?’ ‘do you speak English?,’ and ‘thank you’. Basics show respect to native-speakers, and will take you far when you need directions or other help in a rush! You may also consider hiring a guide to help you get around easily.
  4. Discuss meal basics beforehand. Decide how you want to split bills; things can get complicated in larger groups, especially if some travelers order drinks and desserts and others don’t. Learn tipping customs in advance, too, and at buffets, take a small plate at a time. You can always go back for seconds, but restaurants can’t put back uneaten food.
  5. Take a day to yourself if you need. Sometimes, this is the best thing on a trip with too much noise and hustle. Lie by the pool, go for a hike by yourself, or just spend an afternoon in bed with a book. This can do wonders for helping you to appreciate your fellow travelers the next morning.

 

Have you traveled with other couples, or with an entire family? What tips can you share for traveling together?

 

Post your comments below! Or at www.nycimageconsultantacademy.com

Proper Etiquette in Museums

Recent travels have kept us thinking about client stories and challenges regarding dress, courtesies and more while visiting other places. This month, we’re looking at a few key considerations when traveling.

 

If your next vacation plans have you taking a historical journey, you’ll likely spend time in at least a few museums. Here are 5 tips we encourage our client-travelers to consider, if of course they’re of the museum-visiting variety.

 

  1. Keep your voice down. Acoustics in older buildings can make sounds carry further than normal, and even if you think you’re in a room alone – chances are, there are other visitors in earshot. If you must chat: whisper, or step outside or over to a stairwell.
  2. Be mindful of your image. Comfort is key, but shorts/flip-flops/miniskirts should be avoided while visiting working churches and cathedrals.
  3. Plan ahead. Many museums contain multiple floors and exhibits; trying to see it all in one session (while adding the stresses of traveling) can be too much. Pick your top 2 or 3 exhibits; visit those first, then break before attempting to see more.
  4. Consider your children’s ages. If your child/grandchild is under 5 years old, museums can be a difficult place. Let’s face it: kids can be loud (crying and wining is distressing to many), plus kids under 5 don’t often appreciate what they’re seeing. Call ahead to see if your museum of interest has a playroom, childcare, or a kids’ exhibit.
  5. Always bring layers and a personal folding fan; you’ll need both. Museums in Europe are often lacking in central air conditioning, and museums in North and Central America usually have too much air conditioning. You don’t want your visit ruined because you’re unbearably cold or hot.

 

Being respectful while visiting important institutions is always the golden rule in any cultural establishment. Keeping the aforementioned tips in mind will help you be mindful and comfortable in just about any museum or culturally relevant place of learning.

 

What’s your favorite memory from visiting a museum? What do you wear when you visit a museum?

 

Post your comments below!

Finding Your Focus During Anxious Times

Some of our friends, colleagues and clients have mentioned feeling anxious, fearful, and frankly overwhelmed at the state of changes in this country. If you’re feeling this way, trust us – you’re not alone.

 

Some of experts have come up with suggestions on ways to get involved while reducing your anxiety; we’ve summarized a few basic steps here that have helped us, in hopes they will help you find and keep your focus day-to-day over the next few months.

anxious

 

4 Tips to Remember:

 

  1. Deep Breathing. Take deep breaths throughout the day. With each breath, remind yourself who you are and where you want to be. This grounding brings you back to what you are able to control in life on a regular basis (which for most of us, isn’t much!)
  2. Decide how much time to spend with media. Limit your intake of politically focused Facebook posts and other social platforms to once per day; this will allow you to absorb and digest the words and images you’re seeing, and reflect on them. The same goes for TV, radio, and other forms of news media – try to limit your intake of politically focused news to 1x per day, or even every other day, to limit the impact it has on your well-being.
  3. Consider your family and friends. Ask yourself how much you feel comfortable sharing your views with friends, family and colleagues, before situations arise – and determine the right way to deal with those who think similarly to you, and those are on another spectrum. Ask yourself, “will I share my thoughts, avoid the conversation altogether, or try to embrace others’ views?”
  4. Volunteer. Consider giving your time and energy to a cause that you believe in. Greenpeace is working to protect the environment, the CAIR Coalition is working to help detained immigrants, and the ACLU is advocating on behalf of everything from religious liberty to voting rights. These organizations are just 3 examples of non-profits that provide resources to all Americans, and often times need help in the form of volunteers. Reach out to your local chapter, or a church or other group in your community, to see if there are ways to get involved and funnel your anxiety into something that helps the greater good.

 

How do you reduce your anxiety in situations that seem uncontrollable? We’d love to know your thoughts in this space, or on Twitter, too!

Kindness & Courtesy in 2017

kindness & CourtesyWith January comes change, each and every year. But this year, change is even more exaggeratedly in the air. Tomorrow, Donald Trump becomes 45th President of the United States. Through the past year+, we’ve witnessed an incredible volatile campaign that finally concludes this week, and tomorrow, a new chapter begins. Some in our community are nervous; many are excited. Most of the rest of us waiver somewhere in the middle.

 

Politics aside, one practice we can all keep the top of mind this week (and beyond) is – being kind, and being courteous. The two go hand in hand.

 

Kindness begins at home, by greeting your family, friends, roommates, and neighbors with a friendly smile and greeting each day – even when you’re feeling stressed or anxious. When it comes to colleagues, giving good eye contact to acknowledge their ideas, presence, and contributions means so much – even when you have pressing matters to tend to on the smartphone in your hand.

 

Each of us, as family members, workers and as citizens, has a social responsibility to our environment and our communities. Being kind to everyone, even to those who are unkind to you, will pay back in spades someday.

 

Simple acts, like holding the door for people behind you, or returning the shopping cart to the store, make a big difference. Thinking twice before sharing a juicy piece of gossip that might hurt more than help, shows kindness. Writing a handwritten thank you card, or adding a little extra tip for service workers, shows gratitude as well as courtesy.

 

What helps you remember to be kind and courteous during your difficult days?

 

For more image & etiquette info at www.nycimageconsultamtacademy.com

#etiquette, #image-consulting, #image-tips, #manners

Best Practices on Tipping and Gifts During the Holidays

tips-giving

The holiday season is in high gear, and as can be expected, tipping and gift giving during the season for service persons can often become a tricky thing.  A few best practices have served our clients and team well over the years, and we hope that by sharing them, they may help you, too!

 

First, you should always consider your budget first. If you don’t have the budget to give cash, you can always provide a homemade gift accompanied with a handwritten Thank You card. This speaks volumes to those you work with.

 

If you are giving cash, you should consider your relationship with the service provider and the quality of the service you have received on *most* occasions. Consider your location and area, how luxurious the service you’ve been getting is, and remember – if the service professional has been charging you a grandfathered rate this year, you may want to increase his/her tip a bit.

 

For home care, you might consider giving a babysitter up to one evening’s pay, and for nannies or housekeepers, up to a week’s extra pay. Barbers and hairdressers could get extra based on the cost of a haircut, and dog walkers typically get up to one week’s pay. The big question in New York City is always around doorman and supers: how much should a family give?  The average rate is $15-100 for doorman, and $20-100 for supers, depending on how luxurious your building is and the years of service held by the doorman and super.

 

One final helpful hint: Mailmen working for the USPS may not accept items such as cash, checks, gift cards, or any other form of currency. But small gifts that have less than $20 in value (or snacks and beverages which are not part of a meal) can be accepted during the holidays. 

 

Let us know – what other best practices do you follow when it comes to holiday tipping and gifts?

 

#etiquette, #gift-giving, #holiday, #image-tips, #manners, #tipping