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.

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?

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

 

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 …..

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!

Traveling Together: Common Courtesies in an Age of Rudeness

Kindness

Getty Image

Over the past few weeks, we’ve witnessed a large number of changes in our country’s leadership. From appointments to firings to structural changes and lawsuits, it’s been a fiery few weeks for the New Administration as the DC political set moves past the inauguration.

 

Whatever side you’re on, one thing is for certain: when you travel with a companion, you should always wait for her/him when getting out of a car. There are no exceptions to this rule; whether your companion is your wife, your child, your husband, your business associate or your friend. If you are traveling together to a formal engagement, you should ensure each member of your party has exited the car before moving your next expected location, together. “Together” being the key word here.

 

Treating your spouse/partner/friend kind and respectful way is essential in this age of rudeness. After all, it was Mark Twain who said: “A person should be allowed to have a few redeeming vices, but never bad manners.”

 

When you travel in groups of 2 or more, how do you ensure that your party sticks together as a unit?

#etiquette, #image-consulting, #kindness, #manners, #shanna-pecoraro