I recently experienced a situation that left me speechless and scratching my head thinking “what is wrong with people today?”
I was having a stressful few weeks and decided to treat myself to a facial at a leading and well known spa chain. I had a wedding coming up and unfortunately due to stress, my skin was reacting badly. My appointment was for a specific facial but when I met the esthetician, she informed me that the facial I requested wouldn’t be ideal because of the breakouts I was currently experiencing and asked me to suggest another one. I told her that I didn’t have the spa menu committed to memory so she can kindly recommend one based on her assessment of my skin. She began rattling off the entire facial menu and highlighting all of the add-ons but never mentioned pricing. I kept asking her for the descriptions, pricing, etc. At this point, I’m extremely annoyed that my appointment time is being eaten up by her regurgitation of the menu instead of her selecting one that she recommends and keeping to the original price of my initial facial choice. Once we decided on the appropriate facial, she began spewing out other services she could perform that evening; waxing, eye brow shaping, etc. All services I didn’t want or need at the moment.
Living in NYC can sometimes get to you so when you have the ability to take 70 minutes to yourself and relish in a serene environment, you take it. This was not going to happen during this spa service. At the point where my facial began, I was already frustrated that this employee was acting more like a salesperson than a skilled estictian but I was willing to mentally move on and enjoy the rest of the appointment. That is until she started asking me irrelevant and personal questions such as “What do you do?” “Are you married?” “Do you have children?” When I responded that I did not have children, she had the audacity to ask me “Do you want children? “ I was taken aback by this question because it (like the other questions prior to this one) is a very personal question and one I don’t find it appropriate to talk about with anyone, especially a complete stranger.
When I left my appointment and checked out at the front desk, there was a basket of recommended products my esthetician thought I should purchase which totaled approximately $500! Really? Did I need to spend even more than my very expensive facial to begin with? There wasn’t even a form that explained my skin type and why these products would work well for me. Maybe I would have chosen to purchase one of two of the products if I at least was given some information about them.
I walked out feeling even more stressed and frustrated than when I walked in. Her questions didn’t sit right with me all the way home and I began feeling mad at myself that I didn’t say anything to her while I was there. As I thought more about it, I decided to contact the spa manager and explained the situation to her and informed her that I will not be a repeat customer. The spa manager apologized, provided a discount on the next facial and offered a few free products but for me, it wasn’t about that. For me, it’s the fact this spa seems to be more about selling customers products, updgrades, etc. instead of providing a superior experience that will ultimately get people to spend more. This is a service business and should train employees on how to interact with customers. It’s all about selling the experience; not the product.
Have you experienced anything like this? If so, would love to hear your stories.
In our tech driven society, video job interviewing is becoming the preferred method of determining who gets past the first stage of the interview process. Why? Because it enables organizations to conduct multiple pre-screening interviews in a very cost effective manner. So whether the organization uses Skype, HireVue or any other video platform, consider this a formal interview and the same rules apply for an in person meeting.
Here’s how you get to the next stage in the interview process:
1. Do a sound and tech check – confirm that you are using the most updated video platform version PRIOR to the interview. Additionally, make sure the sound is working properly too.
2. Anticipate & Eliminate Distractions – be sure to shut off your phone (home phone and cell phone) so it doesn’t ring during the interview. In addition, be sure to conduct the I interview in a quiet and secure place or room to avoid outside distractions (trucks, buses, etc.). And if you are taking the interview at your home or apartment, don’t forget to put a note on your door to NOT ring the doorbell!
3. Dress up (from head to toe) – while the hiring manager might only see you from shoulders up, don’t take a chance and only wear a nice jacket/shirt/tie/blouse; be sure to dress in a completed suit. Also, incorporate color into your outfit on that day so that it helps to illuminate your face and give it some light. Avoid small to medium sized prints or stripes because they project a fuzzy like image. For women, keep jewelry to a minimum since they could potentially project a glare and become a distraction.
4. Communicate with clarity – avoid umm’s, ahh’s and any sort of mumbling that might overcome you on that day. Be sure to speak up and speak clearly.
5. Showcase your portfolio – just because the interview is a virtual one, be sure to think of ways to illustrate materials that will showcase your talents and support the reasons why you are the best candidate for the job.
Have you experienced any best practices that you would like to share? Let me know!
Zagat recently spearheaded their own restaurant etiquette survey which is titled “10 New Rules of Dining Etiquette” and as Tom Zagat is making the media rounds talking about this “groundbreaking” survey I have my own humble opinions regarding the results.
1. Equality – according to Zagat, diners feel men are still treated better than women at most restaurants. Apparently this is due to the fact that the waiter believes the man is paying. I cannot say that I’ve experienced this but if you are a woman and feel this is the case, maybe it’s because the waiter is following your lead. If he / she believes the man is in control of the evening, he will cater to that person. If you want to clearly communicate your equality, perhaps you can provide your waiter with your credit card prior to the dinner. I’ve done this on a number of occasions to avoid any confusion as to who is handling the check at the end of the evening.
2. Whoever initiates the dinner date pays for it – this is really true in most invites but there is often confusion in how one phrases the question. If you ask someone out to dinner and state “would you like to go out to dinner?” it could be confusing to the intended person but if you rephrase the question to “I’d like to take you out to dinner” it avoids the confusion as to who will be picking up the check. Communication is essential in this scenario.
3. Zagat says to forget gender – people should order when ready. While I agree with this, I do feel there should be a disclaimer here that states you should gesture to the eldest person at the table (preferably the woman) to order first. I was always taught to respect my elders so if I’m out to dinner with my mother or mother in law, an aunt, god mother, etc. I always defer to them to order first. I don’t think it’s such a bad thing for a waiter to do the same.
4. According to Zagat’s survey 63% say using handheld devices during dinner is rude – I absolutely agree but it’s interesting how many diners weighed in on this to say it’s rude because I still see many diners attached to their devices while eating dinner! My suggestion here is that if you are expecting an important call, let your party know that ahead of time. It’s all about managing expectations and extending common courtesies to those around you.
5. Survey respondents say it’s fine to bring children to dinner in most restaurants – I have no issue with parents taking their children to a restaurant. My issue here is that many parents don’t understand how to ensure that their children behave once they are in the restaurant. I don’t find it cute when children are walking / running the restaurant floor because they no longer want to stay seated. I find it’s dangerous to them and the waiter if a waiter is coming out with a tray of hot food and doesn’t see the child at his / her feet.
6. According to Zagat survey it’s OK to dress casually and by they mean “don’t be a slob.” – the issue I have with this statement is that it leaves too much room for misinterpretation. The term “casual” means very different things to many different people. What I consider casual is very different from what some friends or colleagues might think. To me, there is something very civilized about getting dressed up to go to dinner. Last night I went to dinner with my husband and brother to a neighborhood restaurant that defines their dining style as “casual elegant.” The definition of elegant according to dictionary.com is tastefully fine or luxurious in dress, style, design, etc. so when you add the term “casual” (appropriate for wear or use on informal occasions; not dressy: casual clothes; casual wear) in front of it you can derive easily enough that the restaurant is suggesting your attire be “appropriate” casual yet refined. So I found it interesting how one woman who walked into this neighborhood (around 9 pm) interpreted the restaurant’s dress code as OK to wear a sun visor with what looked like a Lycra “skort” paired with a spaghetti strap top? Aside from the super casual attire that I wasn’t “appropriate” why did she opt to wear a sun visor at 9 pm? I was taught to NOT wear a hat at the dinner table!
7. Zagat survey says ” Honor your restaurant reservations or cancel them on time“ – Yes Yes and Yes! I completely agree with this. The survey says that if you make reservations and fail to cancel in advance, you’ll deservedly become persona non grata at the restaurant and while this is absolutely true, I look at it from a little different perspective. I feel that it’s equally important to factor in your fellow diners who might have tried to get a reservation but because the restaurant was booked they couldn’t. By cancelling a reservation, it now provides an opportunity for someone else to enjoy the restaurant.
8. Don’t overstay your welcome at a busy restaurant - I 100% agree with this. If you finished your dessert and coffee course an hour ago it’s time to move on!
9. Men go through doors first, and then hold them open for women – I agree! For liberal women everywhere I understand and respect your point of view but admittedly, I don’t every want chivalry to die out. I find something romantic about about it. My father was a very chivalrous man and taught my four brothers to be the same (my husband is this way too) so maybe it’s what I am used to since a child but I do find something very attractive and “hopeful” about men who still practice good manners.
10. The last Zagat survey rule states “the customer is always right” – while I am a business owner and completely agree with this statement, I do feel there needs to be a mutual level of respect as well as a mutual exchange of civility. Yes, the waiter needs to be hospitable but patrons need to be too. Thank you’s and a smile of appreciation go a long way!
Thank you to Zagat for bringing about this conversation! The survey highlights some great topics of etiquette.
In a July 2010 global survey conducted on by Thomson Reuters/Ipsos on Workplace Attire, 2/3 (66%) of respondents said that senior managers or individuals that run an organization or department should always be more dressed up than their employees. If this is the case, do you know how your summer wardrobe is being perceived? Is it considered too casual? Will your current summer picks get you to that senior level you striving for?
If you are not sure about the answers to the above questions, here are some tips to help guide you in understanding what is considered too casual for the office.
1. Decipher Company Dress Code Policy
First and foremost, be sure that you are familiar with your company’s dress code policies. Many companies have clear policies outlined in the employee guidebook as to what is considered appropriate vs. inappropriate for the office. Some offices are more conservative than others so it’s important to understand the varying degrees of acceptance. Don’t “assume” you understand simply by checking out what your peers are wearing.
2. Find Your Fabulous Fabrics
Select natural fibers for summer wardrobe pieces that can allow for breathability and staying cool. Good fabric choices: Cotton, Seersucker light weight jerseys and tropical weight wools. Avoid (as much as possible) clothing that is made of synthetic fibers such as polyester, spandex, acrylic, rayon, nylon, etc. If you opt to wear linen be sure that it’s not on a day when you have an important meeting. Linen is a wonderful summer fabric but is known to wrinkle very easily.
3. Don’t Over Expose Yourself
55% of employers consider tank tops and exposed undergarments as the biggest work-wear mishap in an office (flip flops is the second).¹ Summer apparel is lighter in color and lighter in the weight of fabrics so clothing can sometimes be see through so it’s important to factor this in for the workplace. Invest in undergarments such as slips or camisoles to help provide more coverage. For light colored pants (white, beige, etc.) be sure you choose brands that have a lining. Avoid: Plunging Necklines, bare shoulders and back, and if you are in a conservative office environment, don’t go sleeveless. However, there are great summer dresses that are sleeveless so be sure to bring a cardigan to cover up during the day and take off for the evening.
4. Pay Attention to Your Communication Style
Workplaces tend to become more “casual” in the summertime but that doesn’t mean your communication skills should become less formal. Office environments are a place of business and how one communicates should always reflect polish and professionalism when dealing with colleagues, managers, clients, prospects, and vendors.
5. Put Your Best Foot Forward
Sandals are a wonderful option in the summer but should be kept to after work hours or weekends. Instead opt for closed toe pumps or if your office is less conservative, choose a nice peep toe that isn’t exposing much of your foot. Avoid: Flip flops – yes even during the commuting. You never know who you might run into before you get to your desk. Also avoid wedges, strappy sandals, espadrilles and for all those that know me, I need to include the “croc!”
6. Handle Your Hygiene
Yes it’s true, we sometimes need a little bit more help in this department especially in the summer months. If you tend to get “over heated” in the summer be sure to carry around a travel size stick of deodorant so you are not put in an uncomfortable position during a meeting. For women, I suggest investing and carrying face blotters so you aren’t caught off guard with an ultra shiny face in the office.
What other types of summer wardrobe missteps have you seen in your office? Would love to hear!
¹Business Casual Causes Confusion by Stephanie Armour, USA Today
It wasn’t until I entered into the world of image consulting that the term “civility” became one of my favorite and treasured words. It’s a word that I try to live by every day despite the fact we encounter acts of incivility on a daily basis. As a child, my parents would teach me to “rise above it.” This provided the training ground I needed to help navigate through the corporate world as I became an adult.
Today, as a certified image consultant and personal branding expert, I work with many clients on teaching them the importance of embracing civility into their every day work life to help build and sustain long term business relationships. You might be asking yourself what exactly “civility” means. According to various dictionary resources, civility can be defined as the act of showing regard for others; manners; politeness; or a polite act or expression. For me, I define civility as providing a safe, comfortable and professional setting in order to build trust between those I am with.
Being civil in the workplace is critical to one’s success. It helps to project a positive and professional personal brand that can be leveraged for future career opportunities. Employers want to have confidence in their employees that in any given any workplace situation (positive or negative), that employee will handle with civility.
Here is a short list to help you start incorporating acts of civility into the workplace in hopes that it becomes contagious! What other acts would you add?
- Acknowledge colleagues with a hello, good morning, good night, etc.
- Say thank you, please, excuse me when necessary and applicable.
- Refrain from stating negative comments about a colleague, manager or the company and this includes posting to social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
- Refrain from talking negative about a situation and instead offer a solution.
- If you see a colleague struggling with a project, offer to help.
- Own your mistakes. We all make them and more often than not, we learn a tremendous amount by making them.
- Be respectful of cultural differences in the workplace.
- Communicate respectfully and don’t follow that old saying “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.”
- Respect different points of view.
- Respect and practice company policy and protocol (i.e., no web surfing during company time, spending company funds on personal items, etc.)
- Dress appropriate for the office and in a manner that illustrates professionalism.
- Pay it forward whenever possible – always remember what or when someone did something nice for you and pass it on to the next person.
- Provide “constructive” criticism and not “destructive” criticism.
- Respect project timelines.
- Be gracious for company perks; however big or small you deem them to be.
- Acknowledge a job well done.
- Respect meeting times.
- Be in the moment – refrain from blackberry browsing when someone is speaking to you.
- Be respectful of personal space.
- Say what you mean, mean what you say.
As a former marketing professional for the technology sector, I often worked on developing branding and advertising campaigns for products and services so my transition into the image industry was an easy one. Instead of working on campaigns for products, I now apply similar marketing techniques to developing personal branding campaigns for my clients.
A very important part of a successful branding campaign is the ability to communicate the value the product or service offers and as an individual, you are also a brand and need to effectively communicate your value to others. It’s essential to clearly differentiate yourself amongst your peers in order to be considered and selected for promotions or new career opportunities.
Effective communication is a must have in today’s competitive job marketplace. Technology has enabled us to communicate globally in a more swift and frequent manner. I recently read in a Forbes article, Put Down Your PDA and Stay a While, that in the U.S. we send nearly 5 billion text messages per day and we send 2.8 million emails per second in the world!
Lastly, the article stated that we attend (on average) 61 meetings per month. As evidenced by this study, the ability to communicate effectively is a key to career success. So how can you begin to hone your communication skills to a point where it will differentiate you from others? Start by communicating using the 3R’s.
Always be on message and ensure your conversation is relevant to the opportunity at hand either in person or any follow up communications sent. This is especially true in your email communications; be sure that you get to the point quick and highlight key takeaways upfront.
Be sure to follow office protocol and always be mindful of manners. If you are in client meetings, keep the conversation professional and be aware of any cultural differences. If you are in an internal meeting, be sure to communicate your point of view in a professional manner vs. an aggressive one and be respectful of those that may differ in your opinion. If at a networking event, be inclusive of others not exclusive. If emailing a group, avoid negativity in general but also remember to never highlight a colleague’s mistake in a public forum.
Having grown up on Long Island or more commonly called “Lawng Iland” I continue to work on my accent not because I’m ashamed of where I grew (its a lovely place to live) but there is a negative perception that goes a long with it that somehow I’m less educated than others who might have a more “refined” way of speaking. It’s important in your career to pay attention to your diction; the accent, the inflection, intonation and speech-sound quality. Doing so enables others to pay attention to WHAT you are saying vs. HOW you are saying it.
What are some of your effective communication tips for the workplace?
Photo courtesy of CBS Sacramento
The other night I heard the tail end of the news which reported that a woman was arrested for talking too loudly on her cell phone while traveling on Amtrak. Intrigued by this story, I went online to get the full scoop and as I usually do, I scanned the reader comments and was quite surprised to see that a number of readers felt that the charge for disorderly conduct was somehow due to the fact that she was African American.
The issue of following public policy and whether the offender is of a certain race should never be the consideration. This story is about a woman who blatantly ignored a public policy and multiple announcements which clearly stated “no cell phone use” and became belligerent when others pointed out the cell phone policy on the train. Just like unruly airplane passengers are escorted off the plane in order to maintain safety in the skies, this woman presented the same security challenges to train passengers and as a result was escorted off the train. The woman’s failure to follow policy and the potential harm to others got her arrested, not her race.
What do you think? Would love to hear your comments!
May 9-13 is officially National Etiquette Week so in honor of this week long event, I thought I would provide a few suggestions on we can all participate in such an important week for society. I would love to hear your suggestions too so post or comment here!
Before we start, let’s define the meaning of etiquette. According to Wikipedia, Etiquette is a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group. So, in other words, it’s how we behave towards each other that is considered appropriate and well mannered.
The list below represents those suggestions at the top of my mind and what I observe regularly as a New Yorker.
1. Subway Etiquette - when the subway enters the station and you want to board the train, please move aside and allow commuters to get off the subway first. I’ve been living in Manhattan for over 11 years and I’m amazed at how often people block the doors. How is this going to get you on the train any sooner?
2. More Subway Etiquette – your handbag, book bag or shopping bags do not get their own seat. Please keep these bags on your lap of on the floor so an actual human being can sit down. Oh and yes, as the photo to the right suggests, “No Man-Sitting!”
3. Sidewalk Etiquette - the rule is that a sidewalk is a two way street and shouldn’t be used for a group of people taking up the entire sidewalk and expecting others to move aside.
4. More Sidewalk Etiquette – if someone isn’t walking fast enough for you, no need to sign or breathe heavy just walk around them.
5. Please, Thank You – say these words twice as much this week as you normally would and see how powerful they are and well people respond to them.
6. Pay Attention, Please – put down your phone and actually be present when speaking to a friend, significant other, colleague, etc. I’m often in situations where I’m speaking with someone and they are looking down at their Blackberry or iPhones and not at me! Extend the courtesy of looking at someone when they are speaking to you; the email can wait.
7. Interrupting - if my family or friends are reading this, they probably want to know why I didn’t opt to put this as my #1 suggestion. This is probably my biggest pet peeve; when people interrupt when speaking. I’m all for heated and engaged discussions but it’s very important to allow people to complete their sentence or thought without having someone interrupt, as if what they are saying is insignificant.
8. Elevator Etiquette - if you live in an apartment building and are fortunate enough to live on the top floor that’s wonderful but send down the elevator for the next person so he / she doesn’t have to wait an eternity for it to come down.
9. Email Etiquette - leave your emotions at the door and refrain from engaging in aggressive and pointless conversations with those you believe are behaving badly. Instead of the email chains we have become accustomed to, pick up the phone and air it out that way.
10. Blog Comments Etiquette - it’s great to have a point of view but be sure to express it in a professional and value added manner versus a confrontational one.
Photo courtesy of healthyreader.com
11. Gift Etiquette – if someone sends you a gift whether for your birthday, your kids birthday, a baby gift, shower or wedding gift, etc. yes, it’s good etiquette so acknowledge their generosity with a thank you. I’ve mailed or sent gifts on 4 different occasions recently and haven’ t received one thank you. Was there some article written by an expert recently that changed the rules on sending thank you’s for gifts that I missed?
Being one of six children, I can tell you that it’s incredibly important to have a “voice” and to be heard and when you have to factor in a “petite stature” that can add a whole lot of challenges in getting your point across!
This childhood “training” definitely helped me when I entered into the corporate world. So much of achieving our goals has to do with image; the right clothes, effective communication skills, relationship building, understanding and practicing business protocol and so forth. For women in general, we still struggle with achieving the same level of success and acknowledgment men do and like growing up in a large family, one’s petite stature is, often, a hindrance.
Being a petite business woman, I can tell you that there are a lot of negative associations with this particular stature; meek, fragile, delicate, timid, etc. During my first business trip to Cologne, Germany I met the head of our organization who referred to me as “kleiner” which translates to “little one or of less size or importance”. Now I must say that this gentlemen was a tough businessman and looked quite intimidating BUT he assured me that the use of this term was endearing and by no means meant in a derogatory manner. My company role in the company was a pretty hefty one that assumed a lot of responsibility so perhaps he was surprised to encounter a 5ft. tall woman taking on this “hefty” role!
Tune in to Bella Petite Radio Show
Being an image expert provides me the opportunity to empower women (particularly petite ones) to position and brand themselves in a way that showcases their strengths despite their size. I now have a larger platform to accomplish this thanks to Ann Lauren, Editor-in-CHIEF of Bella Petite. Ann has asked me to join their stellar team of experts as a Corporate Image & Style Expert contributor and I’m so honored to work with her and the team!
Bella Petite is a Fashion, Entertainment and Lifestyle Magazine for women 5’5″ tall & under. This multimedia platform consists of a web community, radio show and digital magazine. Their objective is to create a high-quality fashion forward web community and publication with innovative content, while promoting the petite woman’s image to the mainstream media.
Listen to my radio interview with Ann on Image, Style and Techniques for Job Seekers!
Join other women and be a part of Bella Petite to follow my corporate image advice by clicking here: www.BellaPetite.com/join
The Rules of Life by Richard Templar (Credit: Story of Bing website)
Admittedly I watch reality TV much to the dismay and bewilderment of a few family members and friends. They can’t seem to understand why I would waste my time watching this “type” of programming. In my defense I feel that at the end of a long day, it’s nice to sit back and partake in mindless entertainment. However, I have recently questioned my participation in watching what I’m now realizing is a slow and dangerous digression in human behavior.
After watching shows like Real Housewives of New York, NJ, Beverly Hills, Bridezillas, Jersey Shore, Jerseylicious, etc. I wonder about the example these “celebrities” are setting for the younger generation. While I am able to decipher between what is right and wrong in the treatment of others, perhaps those that are younger might not be able to and assume what they are watching is considered acceptable behavior.
Jersey Shore - The Situation throwing a woman out of his bedroom
As I watched a few episodes of the Jersey Shore, I was horrified at how one of the cast members who calls himself, “The Situation” spoke to and treated the women he met. His complete lack of respect for these women infuriated me. This guy apparently has a sister too! I wonder if he would appreciate some other subhuman treating his little sis like that! However, I must say that the “women” cast members out do the “gents” with their vulgar language and frequent bar brawls and one night stands. With the majority of viewers between the ages of 15 – 28, this seriously scares me. I know a few 13 & 14 yr. olds that watch and LOVE this show and this age group is young and impressionable.
Bridezilla Karen and her bridesmaid berating a hard working seamstress
For women between the ages of 20-35 there are the two very popular shows: The Style Network’s Jerseylicious and WeTV’s Bridezillas. In Jerseylicious we get to watch two hairstylists scream and claw at each other for what seems to be extremely trivial issues. There is such a lack of civility and respect between these two employees, I wonder if there really is a manager/owner at the Gatsby Salon where much of the show is filmed. In Bridezillas, we watch brides berate not only their friends and family but all of the vendors helping them achieve the dream wedding day they have held on to since the age of 5 years old.
All I can say about Bravo’s Real Housewives brand is that these women are old enough to know better. Flipping tables, hair pulling and cat fighting amongst women who are supposed to be successful, educated women is out of control! Many of these women have children so how do they feel that this is the legacy they will leave behind or be remembered by? I find it so interesting that while they talk badly about one another to each other, they find success in writing books on “etiquette.” Really?
With each new reality show, the stakes seem to get higher for over the top bad behavior so that ratings sore and these individuals are definitely delivering. My question is at what cost? We are creating a global platform for the acceptance of mistreatment to each other!
So what do you think? Do you think these reality TV shows are negatively impacting society’s behavior towards each other?