Category Archives: Business Etiquette Newsletter

The Etiquette Rules for Corporate Gifts

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Chapter 4Choosing a gift for your colleagues and clients during the holiday season can be a challenging task. It is not easy to come up with the perfect present while following business protocol for corporate gifts.  Whether you head for the mall, haul out those holiday catalogs or go online, the following tips should guide you to a gift that will be appropriate, appreciated and remembered for all the right reasons.

Follow the corporate guidelines.  Some companies have strict policies about what kinds of gifts their employees may receive.  If you have any doubt, ask your clients or check with their Human Resources department.

Consider your client’s interests.  Find out what sports, hobbies or pastimes your clients enjoy.  If you can’t determine this on your own, contact an assistant or associate. Make your gift stand out just as you want your company to stand out.

Consider the cost.  An inexpensive gift can make you look cheap. .A lavish one could be embarrassing or alienating. Giving or receiving expensive items may be against company policy. Do your homework. What could be more embarrassing than to have your corporate gift returned or refused?

Rethink putting the company logo on your gift.  Make sure the item meets a certain quality standard and that your logo is understated enough so as not to look like a blatant advertisement.

Be appropriate.  Sometimes a gift given in innocence can be taken the wrong way, Avoid anything that is even slightly intimate when giving to members of the opposite sex.

Think twice about a humorous gift.  What seems funny to one person could be insulting to another.  Know your client’s sense of humor first.

Consider a charitable donation. Find out what charities your client supports and choose one of those.  Everyone wins. A charity is served, and no one has another unwanted gift to deal with.

Presentation is important.  Have your gift wrapped and presented in a festive way.  The packaging is part of the present.

Be generous with group gifts. If you decide to send food to your client’s office, make sure there is enough for everybody.  The holiday season is not the time to cause a food fight.

Keep the goal in mind.  The purpose of gift giving is to show appreciation and have people think of you when it’s time to do business.  It’s also a means of expressing gratitude to those who support you.

May all your clients be impressed with your gift,

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.

The Etiquette for Holiday Flying

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FlyingHoliday season is here, and many of us will be traveling. Whichever mode of transportation you choose, take plenty of patience and tolerance with you, especially if you will be flying. The behavior of the flying public seems to have fallen to a new low. Having flown across the US last week on four different flights, I can testify first hand to the rude, inconsiderate actions of others.

Living in Savannah as I do, I can rarely, if ever, get a direct flight anywhere. There is always the plane change in Atlanta. It was on my last flight from Atlanta to Savannah, having started out in Phoenix, that I witnessed the astonishing behavior of a fellow passenger. I got lucky on that flight and was upgraded to first class. Must have been the late hour since the flights from Atlanta to Savannah and Hilton Head are always filled to capacity.

When I reached my seat and stopped to toss my handbag across to my window seat before heaving my carry-on into the overhead bin, I glanced back to see the woman behind me glaring at me. That was the first sign of a bumpy ride. I was moving as fast as I could and wanted to tell her that, but managed to keep those feelings to myself and give her an undeserved smile. After all, I am an etiquette expert and don’t want to put my reputation on the line.

The next problem occurred as I tried to squeeze into my seat. Remember, I am in first class where there is supposedly more room between rows. However the man in the row ahead of me on the aisle had pushed his seat all the way back so I couldn’t get in gracefully or fast enough to please the woman behind me. When I asked him to pull his seat upright so I could maneuver my way across, he gave me a harsh glare. He must have been related to the cranky woman behind me.

The man in front of me was extremely large. I don’t know, of course, if he paid full fare or not, but clearly he thought that he was somehow entitled to all the space around him. Before we took off, in fact as soon as we started to pull away from the gate, he pushed his seat all the way back again, much to the chagrin of the nice gentleman seated next to me. The inconsiderate man kept his seat back during take-off, flight and landing. Not only did this cause comfort issues for those of us behind him, but it also posed safety issues. For some reason, the flight attendant did not notice or didn’t care.

Happily, the flight was otherwise uneventful. Perhaps I should have called the actions of this passenger to the attention of the flight attendant, but for whatever reason. I chose not to.

You can’t do anything about the way other people behave, but you do have control over your actions. When you are flying this holiday season, be patient, be tolerant, be helpful, and be polite. And be observant of the rules regarding your safety and that of your fellow passengers. Try to observe the etiquette for holiday flying.

May your holiday travels be safe and pleasant (I hope I am not asking too much),

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.

Etiquette for Effective Meetings

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business meetingOh no, not another meeting! How many times have you heard that cry? Every business, regardless of its size, has meetings.  They are a necessary part of getting things done.  If managed in the right way, they can be very effective.  Handled poorly, they can be major time wasters and harmful to productivity.

Good meetings allow people in an organization or on a team to learn what everyone else is doing, what each person’s responsibilities are and what progress is being made.  They can be empowering to individuals, helpful in developing leadership skills and morale boosters for the company.

Bad meetings, those without a focus, a clear agenda or proper planning, can undermine morale and create dissatisfaction.

When meetings get off track, here are seven simple steps for effective meetings to bring them back.

Be prepared.  Meetings are work so work on them.  The more preparation that goes into a meeting, the more effective it will be.

Have an agenda.  The agenda does not need to be lengthy or complicated.  A listing of the items to be addressed and by whom is sufficient.  The key is to get the agenda out ahead of time so everyone comes prepared. If you can’t decide on an agenda, could be you don’t need a meeting.

Pay attention to the time.  Start and end when you say you will.  Assigning time to each agenda item and having someone responsible for watching the clock is a helpful way to stay on schedule.

Have fewer meetings.  Consider if you can get the work done without a meeting.  You may be able to handle the issue with a phone call or e-mail.  When quantity decreases, quality will increase.

Carefully choose the participants.  It is important to have all points of view and a variety of participants, but be sure that everyone at the meeting has a good reason to be there.

Stay focused.  If the discussion starts to wander from the agenda, bring it back to the business at hand as quickly as possible.

Get feedback.  You may want to provide an evaluation form at the end of the meeting or if the group is small, you may find it easier to poll the participants. Ask what went well, what went wrong and what can be done to improve the next meeting.

Whether you are the leader or a participant, everyone involved in the meeting has a responsibility for seeing that it goes well.  It is not complicated; it simply requires commitment from all.

Here’s to effective meetings,

The holiday season is fast approaching so now, not later, is the time to get your copy of my newest eBook, Business Etiquette for the Holidays – Building Relationships Amid the Perils of the Season. It is available on my website, Manners That Sell, or on Amazon in the Kindle Store.

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.

Good Business Etiquette is Keeping Your Cool When the Customer Gets Hot

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ArgumentA day in the life of a businessperson can be rewarding and satisfying or it can be frustrating and stressful.  When things go wrong, some people lose control.  Holding emotions in check and reacting professionally under fire are not always easy.  It is particularly difficult to be nice when people are not being nice to you.

So what do you do to keep your cool when the customer is chewing you out?  Most of the time, it is not even your fault.  It could be that the problem was with a product or a service that was handled by someone else in your organization.  You’re getting the blame because the unhappy person found you first.  Good business etiquette suggests following these four steps to diffuse the situation and lead to a happy ending.

Step one is to apologize.  “But,” you say, “it’s not my fault.”  It doesn’t matter who’s to blame; apologize anyway.  As the person representing your company, you have a responsibility to see that things go well.  Your willingness to be accountable will have a positive effect.  After all, it takes two to have an argument. If one of you refuses to be disagreeable, you can’t have a disagreement. You are not accepting blame—you are simply saying, “I’m sorry about the problem.”  You are wasting your breath unless you apologize with complete sincerity so be sure that your tone of voice matches your words.

Step two is to sympathize with the irate customer.  Let the person know that you can identify with his feelings.  Don’t say, “I know exactly how you feel” if you don’t. Say that you understand the frustration of receiving a faulty product or poor service.  The angry person begins to feel better as soon as his reaction is validated and he senses that you are on his side.

Step three is to accept responsibility for the situation.  Be accountable to the customer.  Let him know that you intend to do whatever it takes to make things right.  You can’t help what has already happened, but you will come up with a solution to the problem or you will find someone who can.

The last step is to prepare to take action.  Decide what you can do and tell the customer.  You will replace the defective or incorrect product as quickly as possible.  If the issue was poor service, deliver better service.  Whenever you can offer a bonus of some sort or waive fees, the tiger in front of you will be transformed into a pussycat.

Use the acronym “ASAP” to remember these four steps for calming upset customers.  Each letter represents part of the process.

A – apologize.

S – sympathize.

A  – accept responsibility

P  – prepare to take action.

Becoming argumentative and reactionary will solve nothing.  Instead, diffuse the client’s anger by being apologetic and sympathetic and focus on positive steps that will resolve the situation.  Before you know it, your adversaries will become your allies.

Oh yes, remember to smile.  It will make everyone feel better and behave better. And it is simply good business etiquette.

Here’s to happy customers!

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.

 

 

The Top Twelve Business Etiquette Tips for Social Media

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Woman sitting at an office deskThere is no doubt about it—social networking, or social media, is all the buzz. A report by Forrester’s Research indicates that 51% of online Americans have joined a social network.  Another 73% are consuming some form of social content on a regular basis.  People are connecting with, listening to, following and collaborating with each other online at an amazing rate.

Some people use it for personal reasons.  They share their recipes, their photos and their ideas to stay up to date with friends and family. Business people use social networking to build their careers, promote their business and grow their reputations.

The most popular social networking sites are Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Each one of those is uniquely positioned and serves a particular population or purpose.  There are other online networking sites, numbering in the thousands.

The purpose of this article is not to suggest which sites you should choose, but to offer you tips on the etiquette of social networking.  As with e-mail, cell phones, smart phones and other technological devices or technologically driven communication, we got the technology first, and we have backed into the rules for using it with courtesy and consideration.  In many cases we simply learned the rules the hard way, by making mistakes, embarrassing ourselves and offending others.

Currently I have my top twelve business etiquette tips for social media for the polished professional.  This list will, no doubt, grow with time.

#1. Fill out your online profiles completely with information about you and your business.  Use your real name and your own photo.  Your cat may be adorable, but unless you are a veterinarian specializing in the care of felines, don’t get cute.

#2. Use a different profile or account for your personal connections. Business and pleasure do not mix in this medium.

#3. Create a section on your main profile detailing who you are seeking to befriend. Everyone need not apply.

#4. Offer information of value. Don’t talk just about yourself and your company.

#5. Don’t approach strangers and ask them to be friends just so you can try to sell them on your products or services. You will quickly lose credibility and friends.

#6. Pick a screen name that represents you and your company well.  Don’t call yourself “Loser1” unless you want to be known by that.

#7. Don’t send out invitations to play games or other timewasters for those using the site.

#8. Don’t put anything on the Internet that you don’t want your future boss, current or potential clients to read.

#9. Check out the people who want to follow you or be your friend.  Your mother was right when she said that people will judge you by the company you keep.

#10. If someone does not want to be your friend, accept their decision gracefully.

#11. Never post when you’re overly-tired, jet lagged, intoxicated, angry or upset.

#12. Compose your posts, updates or tweets in a word processing document so you can check grammar and spelling before you send.

The world of online networking is new to most of us, but there is little difference in connecting with people online and offline.  The same basic tenets hold true. Trust and authenticity remain high on the list.

Happy Networking!

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.

The Do’s and Don’ts of LinkedIn Etiquette

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Of all the current social media choices available to us, it seems that LinkedIn is the one most preferred and used by business professionals. Once again when there is a new arrival on the Internet scene as there was with LinkedIn, officially launched in 2003, it came to us with few instructions.

There was no manual on how to use it and when to use it. You had to search the Internet, talk to your techy friends and dig around on your own. And once again as with our cell phones, smart phones and other technological devices, there was no set of rules for LinkedIn etiquette. They have simply evolved over time.

With its numbers growing by two every second, its professional users need to be aware of the rules of professional conduct for managing their LinkedIn accounts. LinkedIn members use this form of social media to actively look for jobs, read work-related content, perform “professionally-oriented searches,”  join professional groups and promote themselves and their products or services. When used correctly, you can attract other business people to you. When LinkedIn etiquette is ignored, you can turn people off.

So what are the do’s and don’ts of etiquette for LinkedIn? To come across as a polished professional on the Internet, here are my suggestions.

Five Do’s for LinkedIn Etiquette

1.   Personalize your requests for connections. Avoid sending the default message. Use the person’s name and tell them who you are and why you want to connect.

2.   Use a profile picture. No one wants to connect to a faceless silhouette.

3.  Keep it professional. If you want to post personal information, use Facebook or another form of social media.

4.  Nurture your relationships. Regularly send useful content or individual messages to people in your network. There is no point in having 500+ connections if you don’t engage with them.

5.  Respond promptly to messages. Treat your LinkedIn messages the same as email by sending a timely response—the same day if possible.

Five Don’ts for LinkedIn Etiquette

1. Don’t spam your connections. Whatever you send should benefit your connections. This is not a self-serving platform.

2.  Don’t post more than once a day. If you “over-post, you will turn people off.

3.  Never ask people you don’t know for recommendations. On the other hand, don’t post recommendations for people whom you don’t know.

4.  Never send a message to someone saying  “I see you viewed my profile.” That’s like calling someone back when they didn’t leave you a voice message.

5.  Don’t use it as you would Twitter or Facebook. It is critical to know the etiquette for each network. Your LinkedIn connections are not interested in what you ate for lunch.

The polished professional knows the rules of LinkedIn Etiquette in order to create and maintain an effective network of connections.

Happy Networking!

Lydia

Business Etiquette For The HolidaysYour copy of my new holiday eBook is waiting for you in The Manners Store or on Amazon in Kindle. It is not too soon to start your holiday planning and brush up on your business etiquette. Right now you should be selelcting your holiday cards and updating your mailing list. This book will guide you through the process and offer tips for addressing the envelopes.Don’t wait to get “Business Etiquette for the Holidays; Building Relationships Amid the Perils of the Season.”

If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you. Please contact me.

Is Your Business Etiquette Ready for the Holidays?

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Everywhere you turn this week and last13-0811-Lydia-Ramsey-eBook-Cover-230x300[1], somebody somewhere is reminding you that summer is over. Fall is here, no matter what the temperature is where you are, and it is time to focus on work. There is no more serious vacation time until the holiday season arrives. And, folks, it will be here before you know it. Therefore my advice for you is to prepare now.

That may sound a bit far-fetched, but trust me, there are certain things you need to be doing. I haven’t seen any holiday decorations up yet, but I am willing to bet one of you has–and I don’t mean those icicle lights that some people put up five years ago and haven’t bothered to take down.

Is your business etiquette ready for the holidays? What do you need to do now to prepare for the season?

Step 1: Order that special holiday greeting card for your business this month. You will want to have the name of your company and your name printed on it. You will want to make sure that the quality of your card speaks to the quality of your business and the value of your customer. And keep in mind that the polished professional always signs each card personally—even those with the name printed on them.

Step 2: Review and update your address list. Make corrections for people who have moved on or changed their name or address. Add the names of your new clients.

Step 3: If you can get the envelopes before the cards come in (not possible if you have your return address printed on them), start to address them. Better yet, assign that task to someone else, preferably someone with an attractive handwriting. You are not going to use those computer-generated labels that are so impersonal.

Step 4: Decide on an appropriate gift that you want to give your special clients and order now. If you have any doubt about your company’s policy on gifts or your clients’ policy, this is the time to check that out.

Step 5: If you will be planning a holiday party for your employees or perhaps your clients, you might want to select the venue now before some other business professional beats you to your ideal location.

If you take care of these five steps now, you will be amazed how much less stress you will feel when the holidays hit.

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.

How Do You Show Customer Appreciation?

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We Like youJust the other day I had two extremely different experiences with customer appreciation. One was good; the other not so. As a business etiquette expert, I may be unusually mindful of how business people treat their customers and clients. I love good examples of customer service. I much prefer to experience, to write or to speak about the positive than I do the negative.

Not to give away too many details or to name names, I will only reveal that the one business I was dealing with has a long history with the community and with me as a customer. The other is fairly new to the area as am I as their customer.

The former (long history) refused to budge on a minimal charge that I questioned, possibly the only one in 45 years. The other refused to take my money for a simple purchase and a quick repair—the kind where you wait only minutes—on a small appliance. Their response when I tried to pay was, “Oh no, you’re a good customer. We are happy to help you.” Good customer? I have purchased one or two items with a few accessories from them in the three years. Will I return to the latter? You bet. Will I go back to the former? Not if I can help it.

So how do you show customer appreciation? Do you waive small charges or do you haggle over them? Do you tell your customers how much you appreciate their business or do you take them for granted? Do you exceed your customers’ expectations to let them know they are valuable?

People want to feel they are appreciated. With rare exceptions, they cannot read the business owners’ minds. They can only tell whether they are valued by your words and actions.

A lesson in how to show customer appreciation came during one of my earliest jobs with the legendary Rich’s of Atlanta. Richard Rich’s mantra was “The customer is always right.” We never argued with a customer no matter what the issue, how absurd, how implausible or how unbelievable. It was always handled with a “Yes, Ma’am (Southern manners) or a “Yes, Sir.”

Today’s lessons learned:

  1. Tell your customers how much you appreciate their business.
  2. Show your customers by your actions that your words are sincere.
  3. Keep in mind that the customer keeps you in business.
  4. Consider what the customer’s business is worth to you.
  5. Make sure all your employees are on board with you.

Business etiquette is the cornerstone of profit and success. It is grounded in courtesy, kindness and respect for others.

I would love to know how you show customer appreciation.

Here’s to your success and profitability!

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.

Technology Has Us on Auto-Pilot

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send emailThis morning the phone rang. That in itself was a surprise since I am now more accustomed to hearing the little beep that signals an email message or a text has arrived as opposed to the sound of my phone ringing. I used to welcome phone calls because they meant I was about to be connected to a person. As an extrovert, I love connecting with other people. Yahoo, someone from the outside world wants to talk to me.

All that has changed, and I realized just how much this morning. As I glanced at my caller ID, I saw that the call was coming from my dentist’s office. I have an appointment in a few days so I immediately thought, “This is a reminder call.” Something in my brain added, “Oh yes, it is one of those automated messages.” So I picked up the phone and waited to hear a recording that would tell me the date and time of my appointment. Nothing happened. Silence. Then a woman’s voice tentatively said, “Hello?” Oh my gosh, it was a real live person calling me.

Needless to say, I was more than a little embarrassed. Fortunately for me, the woman calling with a reminder had a delightful sense of humor. When I explained why I had answered without so much as a “hello,” we both started to laugh. She assured me that this dental office does not use automated calls. How refreshing.

At the same time, how sad. How sad that we have come to expect recordings, text messages and emails and that when we hear the voice of a real live person, we are surprised or even shocked. We are rapidly removing all that is personal from our communication with other people. We take for granted, as I did today, that we are not going to have that “live” experience with another human being.

Technology has us on auto-pilot. While it may save time and money to use automation, what has it done to our ability to build relationships? Ultimately what is the price we will pay for distancing ourselves from other people? Are we now programmed to be programmed?

By the way, I could have avoided the embarrassment of that moment when I simply picked up the phone and listened if I had followed my own business etiquette advice.

First: When you answer the phone, always, always, always give a greeting followed by your name.

Second: Never make assumptions based on caller ID. The person on the other end of the line may be someone else all together from the name you see on your phone or screen.

To sum this up, use professional courtesy when answering the phone. Your reputation and success depend on it. Don’t let technology put you on auto-pilot.

Here’s to your professional courtesy,

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.

The Number One Business Etiquette Faux Pas–Failure to Reply

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We are living in a world where rudeness is rampant.  Business people constantly violate the rules of etiquette with their e-mail practices, their phone behaviors, especially with regard to the use and abuse of cell phones and smart phones, their casual attitude toward professional dress, their inattention to proper table manners and their lack of courtesy in dealing with customers and coworkers.

I am frequently asked to identify the worst business etiquette faux pas that people commit. It is a challenge to narrow the list. In considering one area where the majority of business people come up short, I have to say that it is in their failure to respond appropriately to invitations.  It is epidemic.

“RSVP” seems to be Greek to most although it is in fact French. It is the French acronym for “Repondez, s’il vouz plait.” Translated it means “Please respond.”  The practice of asking for a response to an invitation has been around at least since the time of the court of the French king, Louis XIV.  It must have been about that time that people needed to be reminded of good manners and to answer invitations.

Here are my recommendations for handling “RSVP.”

The minute you receive an invitation, whether it is for a business luncheon or dinner, an after-hours reception, the wedding of a client or colleague, a casual office get-together or any business/social event, check your calendar.  

Respond immediately. You either accept or regret. It is that simple.  Don’t put off replying unless you need additional information or have a potential conflict. The person issuing the invitation needs to know as soon as possible how any people will be attending in order to plan properly. Be considerate.

“RSVP” clearly means to reply one way or the other. It does not mean reply if you feel like it or only if you are coming.  “Please respond” means just that—send a response that is a “yes” or “no.”

The words “Regrets Only” are very clear.  You only need to reply if you will not attend.

Respond in the manner that the host suggests.  If a phone number is given, you call.  If a postal address is on the invitation, your reply is expected in writing.  If an e-mail address is listed, head for your computer. In today’s world of multiple communication options, the host may give you choices.

Once you have replied, do what you said you would do.  If you said you would be there, go.  If you responded that you couldn’t attend, don’t decide at the last minute to go. If something comes up to prevent you from attending, let your host know as soon as possible.  If you can’t do so before the event, contact the host first thing the next day to explain your absence and to apologize.

If the invitation is for a seated dinner, you cannot delay. Let the host know immediately that you cannot attend. A phone call the next day will suffice in this situation.

Take note of who is invited.  If the invitation reads “and guest,” you make take a friend.  If you see the words, “and family,” take the kids.  If it is addressed to you alone, go by yourself.

The whole purpose for “RSVP” is so the host can plan the food and venue for the right number of guests.  When people fail to reply to invitations, those planning the event are at a distinct disadvantage.  There is always the risk that there will be too much or not enough food.  A firm that I work with recently had a party for their clients and colleagues.  Thirteen people replied that they would attend, but forty showed up.  Of course, there wasn’t enough for everyone to eat or drink.  How inconsiderate and awkward is that?

In summary, the rule for responding to any invitation is to reply immediately, say what you will do and do what you say.  Next time you may be the one planning an event and you won’t want to be left in the dark, waiting to see who shows up.

If you had to choose the number one business etiquette faux pas, what would it be?

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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.

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