Tag Archives: punctuality

Punctuality: Just On Time Is Not Good Enough

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Lately I have begun to wonder if punctuality is my habit. Last week, I found myself racing to get to an appointment. It was then that I realized  this was not uncommon behavior for me.  Instead it’s a regular occurrence. While I am never late–well, almost never,  I tend to get where I am going just in time rather than on time.

Punctuality

Living in Savannah, I am aware of “Savannah time.” No one is expected to show up early for a meeting or an event.  If a meeting starts at ten o’clock, they arrive at ten o’clock, not a minute before. Others wander in at their leisure, sometimes with an apology and an excuse, but usually with little or no remorse. I feel myself on the verge of becoming one of those late-comers.

Indeed I do have an issue with punctuality. Maybe it’s really a matter of time management. Whatever, I don’t always practice what I preach.

I seem to think I can get one more thing done before I leave. In today’s fast-paced world, we always try to do more in less time. For example, if the phone rings just as I am walking out the door, I feel obligated to answer it. When I finally get in the car and check the clock; I realize that only with a bit of luck and all green lights, I may be on time.

Vince Lombardi on punctuality

Years ago I read a quote that is typically attributed to coaching icon Vince Lombardi. Regardless of who said it, the words have the same effect. “If you are five minutes early, you are on time. If you are on time, you are late. If you are late, don’t bother to show up.”

The problem with being late

There are unintended consequences to being late. People who are chronically late send a message that their time is more valuable than other people’s. Those who don’t make an effort to be on time are seen as arrogant and inconsiderate. That sort of behavior won’t help your career or your business.

Suggestions to help you be on time and what to do when you aren’t.

Don’t stop to take the last phone call. You can check your voice mail later. If the call was important, the caller will have left a message.

Have everything you need for the meeting or event out and ready to go. Plan ahead so you aren’t scrambling around at the last minute trying to find one more thing—like your car keys or your cell phone.

Decide how long it will take you to get to the event and add some extra time. Allow for the unexpected like traffic jams, road construction and other unforeseen occurrences.

If you are not 100% sure where you are going, do a test run ahead of time if possible. No one will be impressed when you say you got lost. If you can’t check out the location in advance, again add in some extra travel time.

If the worst should happen and you enter the meeting late, quietly take a seat. This is no time to interrupt to make your apologies and to explain to everyone why you were late. No one really cares.

Check the agenda to see what items have already been covered. The late-comer who interrupts the meeting to ask about an issue that has already been discussed is never appreciated. Wait until the meeting is over to ask what you missed.

There is no excuse for being late. Barring true emergencies, being on time is completely within your control. Taking ownership of your time, knowing the importance of punctuality, and choosing never to be late again, is one easy thing you can do to change your life and career for the better.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. She is happy to work from home but has traveled as far as India and Dubai to help stamp out rudeness. Just think what a wonderful world it would be if people were simply nice. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com. Find out how her presentations and workshops can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

Punctuality: A Must for the Polished Professional

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Punctuality came to mind last week as I was racing down the road to get to an appointment, I had a sudden revelation. This is not uncommon for me. It has become a regular occurrence. I am never late–well, almost never, but I often arrive at meetings or appointments with only moments to spare.

Living in beautiful Savannah, Georgia, I am aware of what we call “Savannah time.” Few people arrive anywhere early. Most show up exactly at the appointed hour. Others wander in at their leisure, with an apology or an excuse, but late all the same. I feel myself on the verge of becoming one of the band of late-comers.

I tend to think I can get one more thing done before I leave for the meeting or event. For example, if the phone should ring just as I am headed for the door, I can’t resist answering it.  Good old-fashioned curiosity. By the time I get in my car and check the dashboard clock, I realize that if I am lucky and all the traffic lights work in my favor, I’ll be on time.

In a recent blog I wrote about developing good habits for 2018. The habit I need to work on is joining the punctual people. That doesn’t mean arriving just in the nick of time. It means following the advice of the late Vince Lombardi who said, “If you are fifteen minutes early, you are on time. If you are on time, you are late. If you are late, don’t bother to show up.” In Wisconsin they call that “Lombardi Time.”

From now on my goal is to arrive fifteen minutes early. Certainly no more than that because I don’t want to intrude on those setting up the meeting or managing the event.

Punctuality is critical to good business relationships. People who are late send a message that they don’t value other people’s time or that they have more important things to do.

Think how you are viewed when you don’t make the effort to be on time. Do you want to be seen as inconsiderate or self-important? That certainly won’t help you grow your business or represent your organization in a professional manner.

Here a few tips to help you with your punctuality and to keep you on “Lombardi time”.

  • Don’t stop to take the last phone call. If the call is important, the caller will leave you a message.
  • Have everything you need for the meeting or the event conveniently placed so you aren’t scrambling around trying to find things—like your keys—at the last minute.
  • Decide how long it will take you to get to the venue and add some extra time. Allow for traffic jams, road construction and other unexpected occurrences.
  • If you are not 100% sure where you are going, do a practice run whenever possible. No one will be impressed with your tale of how you got lost. You probably know by now that you can’t totally trust your GPS.
  • If the worst should happen and you arrive at the meeting late, quietly take a seat. This is no time to interrupt to make your apologies and launch into a lengthy explanation about why you were tardy.
  • Check the agenda to see what items have already been covered. The late-comer who interrupts to ask about an issue that was previously discussed is not appreciated.

Join me in vowing to be on “Lombardi Time” from now on. Old habits are hard to break, but what better time to start than early in a new year?

This article first appeared in the Savannah Morning News.

 

 

 

Business Etiquette – The Key to Success

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Business etiquette may seem out-dated to the new generation of small business owners and their employees as well as large corporations who don’t see a need for it in this digital age. Those who overlook  the value of business etiquette are losing business everyday.

Perhaps it occurs when the customer walks in and no one bothers to offer a greeting.or an acknowledgement of any sort. It may be that the customer’s name is never used. Perhaps the employees look as if they are dressed for a day at the beach rather than at the office.  Any number of details can either cost you business or win customers over.  In any case there is a direct connection between business etiquette and the bottom line.

Business Etiquette – The Key to Success

We all know that people do business with people they like.Here are some aspects of business etiquette that can improve your credibility and like-ability.

Make a good first impression.  You only get one chance. Smile, make eye contact and ask how you can help. Every customer has the right to expect recognition and courtesy within the first few seconds.

Professional appearance counts.  Clients and colleagues will judge your level of professionalism before you even open your mouth so dress appropriately at all times.  In the business world it is always better to be dressed more conservatively than not. If your organization does not have a dress code, create one. Don’t leave how your people should dress to their imagination.

Work at remembering names. When you are introduced to people, focus on their name, not on what you are going to say next.  If you repeat the name in the form of a question as soon as you meet the person, you will stand a better chance of remembering it the next time. For example when you are introduced to John Doe, reply by asking. “John Doe?” That way you can clarify that you heard the name correctly as well as reinforce it in your memory bank of names.

Be on time. Even being a few minutes late for a meeting is not acceptable. It indicates a lack of respect or importance of the people with whom you are meeting. If you cannot avoid being late, call to let someone know. Don’t send an email message since you can’t  be sure the person you are trying to reach checks email every two minutes.

Pay attention to your social media manners. Don’t mix your personal and professional accounts. Use your own photo  and professional name. By now most people should realize that someone who is considering hiring you or doing business with you will look you up on line. They won’t be impressed with you if you use a cute or racy name and if you post photos of yourself dancing on the table at the New Year’s Eve party.

Anything on the Internet is in the public domain so tread carefully online and in email.  Never say anything that you don’t want the whole world to see. Never write when you are tired, emotional or angry. Consider that email has no tone of voice so for sensitive or complicated matters pick up the phone or walk down the hall. Personal interaction is much more effective in building and maintaining business relationships.

Do not pull out your smart phone or other communication device during a meeting. Keep it off and out of sight. The message you are sending to others in the meeting or presentation is one of disrespect and lack of interest. “Reading under the table,” is more obvious than you think.

There are certain words or topics to avoid in your business communications. Cursing has become almost common place, but it is a sure way to lose business and possibly your job. If you curse, you dilute your message by showing a lack of courtesy and professionalism as well as a limited vocabulary.

Publicizing your political beliefs has no place in business unless you are trying to lose customers. If you have any doubt about that, think of the recent episode with Chick-fil-A.  Ultimately taking a public stance on an issue back-fired.

No matter what business you are in, business etiquette is vital to your success. It starts from the top down so the owner or CEO needs to demonstrate courtesy and respect. There is a definite trickle down effect.  Given a choice, customers and employees will go where they are treated well. Ultimately business etiquette will show up in the bottom line.  Polish builds profits.

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

Interview Etiquette for the New Graduate

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It’s May—typically graduation month. Are you one of those who will be donning a cap and gown and walking across the stage to receive your hard-earned diploma or do you know someone who is?  Given that the next step after graduating is finding a job, I have some business interview etiquette tips for the new grad facing those challenging job interviews.

Current job seekers have lots of competition. There are literally hundreds of people vying for the same position. While most people think that their education, their skills and expertise will land them the job, studies show that is not necessarily so.  Those factors are important, but another that is often overlooked is proper interview etiquette.

The idea might seem outdated, but adhering to certain standards still plays a significant role in business.  Over and over we hear that what sets most interviewees apart from their competition are their personal skills.  A knowledge of interview etiquette and good manners are the keys to standing out from the crowd.

People do business with people they like and interviewers hire candidates they like, If you or that new graduate you know want to be the candidate of choice, I have some suggestions.

Start by arriving on time. That means showing up 5 to 10 minutes prior to your appointment. If you arrive earlier than that, wait out of sight. Arriving too early can be an intrusion.  To make sure you are on time, find the location ahead of time. Make sure you know where you are going, how to get there and how long it will take.  The interviewer does not want to hear you apologize because you got stuck in traffic or worse yet, got lost.

Leave your cell phone in the car. I realize that for some people the thought of being separated from their cell phone for even a minute is terrifying.  Trust me, you can do it. It is the only way to insure that your phone will not ring during the interview.  I know. You think you will simply turn it off, but how many times has a phone rung when it was supposed to be turned off or on silent ringer?  We all know the horror stories and the interview is no time to be the main character in yet another cell phone tale.

Practice your business handshake.  That would be the good firm one that impresses the interviewer.  If you aren’t sure that yours is impressive, try it out on family and friends. Keep in mind that when you shake hands, you want to make contact web-to-web with the other person’s hand, step in, smile, make eye contact, call the person by name, give two quick pumps, let go and step back.

Dress professionally and appropriately.  A simple rule to follow is to dress up a notch or two from what you normally wear, assuming that your usual attire is not blue jeans and a tee shirt.  Take the time to research the dress code for the organization where you have the interview and again, dress up one notch.  Pay attention to your grooming, and always, always, always make sure your shoes are in mint condition.

Say “thank you” three times.  Thank the interviewer in person at the conclusion of your meeting; follow up by email; and then send a handwritten note. Interviewers get hundreds of email on a daily basis, but they rarely receive a personal note.  You will definitely stand out from the crowd when you take the time to write your thank you.

Following the basic rules of business etiquette can make the difference in whether you get the job or not. Keep in mind that good manners are noticed more by their absence.

My book, Manners That Sell – Adding the Polish That Builds Profits, covers all you need to know about business etiquette.  It’s the perfect gift for anyone setting out on the job search trail. Perhaps you would like to give one to yourself.

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

Business Etiquette Resolutions

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January Business Etiquette ResolutionsIt is obvious that the holiday season is finally over. The lines at the mall and the super market are shorter. You can even find a parking space at the mall. The decorations are all down, and most everyone has come off that holiday sugar high. As for those New Year’s resolutions you made on January 1st, have they vanished as well?

Some people take the opportunity of a new year to make changes  in their lives.  Others think it is a waste of time because they rarely manage to keep them. Yet another group of people makes resolutions, but by mid-April can’t remember what they were. Nonetheless, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to come up with the list of the top habits that people vow to make or break.  Here are just five:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Exercise more
  3. Stop smoking
  4. Drink less
  5. Spend more time with family and friends

While it is not always easy to keep our pledges to ourselves, it is never a bad idea to work on issues that could improve our health, our happiness and our productivity.  In addition to recommending those resolutions that will affect your personal life, I would like to suggest some that will improve your professional life as well.

Do you want to grow your business this year, attract more customers, keep your current ones and increase your bottom line?

If you answered “yes” to any of those, here are my top ten business etiquette recommendations for you:

  1. Be on time for meetings, presentations, workshops and networking events. People who habitually arrive late  send a clear message that their time is more important than everyone else’s.  They develop a poor reputation, and they miss out on information and opportunity. Keep in mind that if you are not five minutes early, you’re late.
  2. Pay more attention to your professional attire. Resolve to dress like the polished business person you are.  People do judge you by your appearance. Your 9-5 wardrobe should be different from your after five clothing.
  3. Send more handwritten notes.  Take a few extra minutes when someone does something nice for you and write a thank you note.  You can send an email message of appreciation, but follow it with the written one. You’ll stand out from the crowd of your competitors.
  4. Be more tolerant of people from other cultures.  Our business world is shrinking, and we find ourselves connecting with people from all over the globe.  Take time to read up on international etiquette so you can understand and appreciate cultural differences.
  5. Call people by name. Using names in conversation makes others feel valued and acknowledged. However, make sure you are addressing them correctly. Don’t assume that “William” wants to be called “Bill” or that your new business client wants to be addressed by first name. Wait until Ms. Brown asks you to call her Mary. Until she does, use her title and last name.
  6. Resolve to use the phone more often. We live in a world of email. Some people think that it is the only way to communicate. Email is intended to transmit information quickly and efficiently. It does not build relationships.  Make sure you take the time to talk to your customers, particularly about complicated or sensitive issues.
  7. Be dependable.  Say what you will do and do what you said.  Your credibility will go right down the tube if you promise but don’t deliver. The same goes for deadlines. If you promise to have the project done by Monday, do it. If you find there are obstacles to meeting that deadline, alert the other person.
  8. Use your cell phone with courtesy and respect for others. By now everyone should know to turn that phone off in meetings or at least put it on silent ringer and never take a call during a meeting. Even those people who consider themselves to be polite because they leave the meeting to take the call are clearly sending a message that they have other more important business than the meeting.  Continually coming and going is insulting to the meeting leader, workshop presenter and other attendees.
  9. Pay attention to your cubicle etiquette.  Not everyone has an office with a door these days so keep your voice down, turn off the ringer on your phone while you are away and don’t eat noisy or smelly foods at your desk.
  10. Take time to be nice.  Everyone is stressed and overworked, but we shouldn’t be so busy that we can’t take time to be kinder to others.  I have heard too many people say lately, “I don’t have time to be nice.” If you don’t have time to practice good manners and follow the rules of business etiquette in the workplace, you soon may find yourself without customers, clients and colleagues. In today’s economy it pays to be nice more than ever.

So finish that yogurt, pick up your copy of Manners that Sell, get on the treadmill, read, walk  and envision the profits that will come from adding polish.

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.