It’s holiday time again, and as always, there are the usual confusing situations that present themselves. We spend a significant amount of this hectic time worrying about the details. I have gathered a number of the most frequently asked questions that I receive during the holidays from friends, family, clients and media. Prepare to find your issue (s) in the following holiday business etiquette Q & A.
Q: I spend enough time with my colleagues and boss at work. Do I really have to go to the office holiday party?
A: That is an unequivocal “yes.”. Attendance is mandatory. Don’t even consider not going unless you have a justifiable conflict. Show up, even if the thought of spending your precious off hours with co-workers and colleagues is less than appealing. The office party is part of your job. Its purpose is to bring together co-workers for a bit of camaraderie. If this is not your idea of a great time, then just consider it work, put on your best attitude and go.
Q: Is this a good time to ask the boss for a raise?
A: That is an unequivocal “no.” Speak to your boss when you arrive and when you leave making sure that your manners and your presence are noted. This, however, is not the time to talk about business.
Q: Business-related gift-giving is so confusing. I never know what to give and to whom.
A: It is not always easy to come up with the perfect present while following holiday business etiquette. Here are some tips:
—Follow corporate guidelines. Some companies have strict policies about what kinds of gifts, if any, their employees may receive. If you have any doubt, ask your clients or check with their personnel department.
—Consider your client’s interests. Perhaps your client has a favorite food or beverage. If you can’t determine this on your own, contact an assistant or associate.
—Be appropriate. Sometimes a gift can be taken the wrong way. Avoid anything that is even slightly intimate when giving to members of the opposite sex. A bottle of wine or liquor won’t be appreciated by a teetotaler or a country ham by a vegetarian. Also, keep in mind that what seems funny to one person could be insulting to another.
Q: What if I want to give special gifts to just a few close colleagues in my office and not others?
A: Give your gift at a time and place away from the office and your other co-workers.
Q: Do I have to give the boss a gift?
A: My answer to that is another unequivocal no. The boss, whose salary no doubt exceeds yours, should give gifts to his or her staff, but not the other way around. Often members of a department will contribute to a pool for the boss’s gift. As a result, the boss ends up with the most elaborate or expensive gift of all.
Q: Should I send holiday greeting cards to business contacts?
A: Yes, and for four obvious reasons:
1. To enhance your current business relationships
2. To attract new customers
3. To remind previous clients that you exist
4. To show appreciation to those who are faithful supporters of you and your business
Q: Is it OK to send business contacts an electronic card?
A: It is not inappropriate to send e-cards, but they are not as effective as those sent by old-fashioned snail mail. The recipient will click on the URL, download the e-card, read it, smile and in all probability delete it. Consider, too, that your electronic card may never make it through the client’s spam filter
For more in-depth information about holiday business etiquette, order a copy of my e-book Business Etiquette for the Holidays – Building Relationships Amid the Perils of the Season.
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.