Category Archives: Office Etiquette

Workplace Ghosting—Another Bequest from Covid

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We have been living with the merciless Covid virus for over two years. Our personal lives have changed in ways we could never have imagined. Our professional lives have changed, and our interactions with others have changed. We do not communicate as we used to. In many cases, we do not communicate at all. This has led to a behavior known as “workplace ghosting.” If you are not sure what it means, it is just as it seems. Ghosts are invisible. Ghosts are silent. Ghosts are simply not there.

During the pandemic ghosts have emerged—so to speak. Perfectly normal healthy people have become ghosts. Businesses and corporations have become ghosts. You know them:

  • Ghosts do not return your calls.
  • Ghosts do not answer email.
  • Ghosts do not show up for meetings.
  • Ghosts do not answer the phone.
  • Ghost cannot take you call “due to higher-than-normal call volume.”
  • Ghosts hide behind technology.
  • Ghost use automation where the non-human on the other end of the phone says, “You can talk to me like a real person.”

Real people do not seem to exist anymore. And if they do exist, they have gone into hiding.

When the real people emerge from their hiding places and come back to the traditional workplace, their former office or the new one, they are going to have to dust off their people skills and start practicing effective communication and relationship building.

So, what can you do to facilitate courteous communication and build stronger professional relationships? For starters, put an end to workplace ghosting.

  • If you drop the ball, acknowledge your error. You accidently deleted the voice mail before you listened to it. The email got buried in your inbox. You forgot to check your calendar. Things happen, but the way you deal with them is what makes the difference.
  • You dread having to deliver unwelcome news. It’s your jo so do it and do it person. If it makes you uncomfortable, consider this: most people would rather hear the bad news than nothing at all.
  • Do not use technology to relay complicated or sensitive information. Email, texting and instant messaging are no substitute for in person communication. Pick up the phone or arrange to meet.
  • Use every opportunity you can to have personal interaction with your coworkers, colleagues and clients. It’s time to go back in the water. (Thank you, Jaws.)

The return to work is exciting for many reasons, not the least of which is the opportunity for people and organizations to sharpen their communication and relationship-building skills.

***The inspiration for this article came from reading one written by Patrick Galvin, professional speaker and author of The Way series of popular business parables. He is also the chief galvanizer of The Galvanizing Group, a learning and development company.

Vaccination

Is It Rude to Ask If Someone Has Been Vaccinated?

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At the time of writing this article, it appears that Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations are on the decline, but we are still not out of the woods. At least 50 percent of U.S. adults have been fully vaccinated. That leaves a high number of people who are either reluctant or who are adamantly opposed. For a variety of reasons, we are operating in a world where we don’t know who has had the vaccine and who has not. Depending on the situation, there may be a need to know. That, of course, raises questions about when it is appropriate to ask if someone has been vaccinated and how do you ask?

In the workplace

One place where there is less of a dilemma about asking is the workplace. A growing number of employers are requiring that their employees be vaccinated; thus, the need to ask. These places might be independent businesses or governmental ones. If employees do not wish to comply, that’s their choice. In other instances when employers are struggling to find workers, they choose not to ask. Generally, these employers strive to follow as closely as possible all the safety guidelines to protect their customers and staff.

In your own home

If you are having guests in your home, it’s perfectly acceptable to inquire. You might need to know for your own safety or for that of other guests. The decision is yours. You have no way of knowing about vaccination status unless you pose the question.

When to ask

Pose the question before someone arrives at your home. How rude would you be if you waited until people arrived? Then you are putting yourself in the position of un-inviting someone on the spot or asking them to put on a mask. Chances are neither option would have a pleasant outcome.

 How to ask

Lead with why you are asking. You may be immunocompromised or have someone in your family or guest list who is. If you are hosting a number of people indoors, you may feel it’s prudent to protect all who are in attendance. You may be fully vaccinated with both shots and the booster but not willing to test the waters of a breakthrough to see if it’s true that you are not likely to get a bad case of the virus or die from it.

When it’s not okay to ask

It’s not okay when you are:

  • Simply nosey
  • Want to start a debate about “vaxxed vs non-vaxxed”

These are difficult times. People are frightened and edgy. Everybody is somewhat Covid Cranky. We all need to do whatever we can to make people feel comfortable and safe. If there was a time to show kindness, courtesy and respect for others, this is it.

Working Remotely: It’s Not Business As Usual

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Are you working remotely? Do I even need to say Corona virus for you to know where I am going?  In the last two weeks, our lives have changed drastically. It’s not business as usual. Social distancing has become business distancing. Vast numbers of people are working from home during this crisis. Employers are not just asking their people to work from home, they are mandating it.

So how do you handle working from home? Maybe it’s what you thought you always wanted. Now that you can, what do you do? It may be a bit more challenging than you realized.

As someone who has worked from home for 25 years, I have some suggestions for how to maintain your productivity and professionalism from your newly-created home work place.

Designate a specific space for your office. For some that maybe easier said than done. You may have to operate from a shared space. Not everyone has a spare room waiting to be used.  You may need to share your office with a spouse or partner who is also working remotely. The arrangement may not be ideal. Your new office could be your kitchen table. Share that with the whole family.

Set ground rules for others in the house. Just because you are at home doesn’t make you fair game whenever a family member wants to interrupt you.

Create a routine for starting your day. Model it after your previous schedule when you got up, dressed, and left for work. I call this “Let’s pretend.” Let’s pretend you are going to your away-from-home office.

Get dressed for work. Yes, dress for work. Get out of those pj’s. That will help get you in the right mindset. Additionally, you’ll be ready to present a professional image when you receive an unexpected video call.

Schedule your breaks and honor that time. You would be taking breaks in a traditional setting and not thinking much about your water-cooler time. You need to step away from your desk from time to time to refresh.

Don’t be hard on yourself. Take advantage of the perks. It’s okay to put in a load of wash or tend to other at-home duties. Cut yourself some slack.

Stay off social media during your business hours. Turn off everything that might be a distraction. Ouch!

Declare your WFH (work from home) hours. People need to know when you are available. Consider publishing your work hours online and putting them your voice mail greeting. That way people won’t assume that you are goofing off when they can’t reach you.

Establish an end of day routine.  Review the day, create a work plan for the following day, shut down your computer and leave the office.

These are just a few suggestions for working effectively from home. Most are good old common sense. Your organization probably didn’t have a playbook in place for this situation so everyone is working it out either alone or together. The goal is to stay focused, productive and professional while not being hard on yourself and your family—and that includes the dog.

Barbeque Etiquette – It’s Time to Revisit the Rules

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It’s  time to brush up on your barbeque etiquette. Memorial Day is upon us, marking the official start of the summer barbeque season. This is the time of the year when the grill is hauled out, cleaned off, the required cooking utensils inventoried, lawn furniture hosed down, and barbeque sauces and rubs added to the grocery list.

If barbeque etiquette sounds like an oxymoron, it isn’t. There are rules for how to conduct yourself whether you are the host or the guest. Just because these events are held outdoors and are casual in nature does not mean that anything goes. Whether it’s a business occasion like the company picnic or a gathering of family and friends, there are required behaviors.

Etiquette Tips for the Host:

  1. Be prepared. Make sure you have enough of everything from charcoal or propane to food and beverages. Don’t forget an ample supply of plastic cups, paper plates, napkins and disposable cutlery. Grandma’s china and crystal are not the best substitutes if you run out of serving items.
  2. Have a rain plan. While rain should be forbidden during outdoor events, it happens. Arrange for tents if the crowd is large or know how you will manage when your guests gather indoors.
  3. Provide all the food and beverage. Unless you are hosting a family reunion or the traditional neighborhood party, don’t ask people to bring the food. If someone insists on bringing a dish; be gracious and accept, but don’t make it a requirement.
  4. Have plenty of bug spray and insect repellent. Your guests should eat, not be eaten. If you live in a “buggy” environment, it’s a good idea to have food domes on hand, not only to keep certain foods warm, but also to keep pests out of your culinary delights.

Etiquette Tips for the Guest:

  1. Keep your grilling advice to yourself. Your host is in charge of the grill. You may have what you consider to be a better way of doing of things, but unless you realize the host is about to set the house on fire, keep your mouth shut. Open it only for conversation and food.
  2. Leave your legendary potato salad at home. Unless you are asked to bring a dish, don’t. It would be an insult to your host who already has a carefully planned menu. It is certainly nice to offer to bring something, but ask first to be sure it is welcome.
  3. Volunteer to help. These events can get hectic so offer your assistance especially when it comes to cleaning up.
  4. Use your napkin to clean off your sticky fingers. Tempting as it may be to lick your fingers, it is simply not good manners even at a picnic. Neither is using your finger nail or toothpick to pluck the corn silk from between your teeth. Be sure to have dental floss on hand, but excuse yourself before you pull it out.

Etiquette Tips Specifically for the Company Barbecue

  1. Maintain your professionalism. While you are there to have fun, be mindful of your actions and your words.
  2. Dress like a professional. Business attire is not expected, but your casual dress should be conservative. Avoid anything that is sloppy, shabby, sexy or revealing.
  3. Hold back when serving yourself. Piling on as much food as your plate will hold makes you look like you only came to eat. You can go back for seconds once everyone has been served.
  4. Play it safe with the drinks. If alcohol is being served, limit your intake. Warm weather, alcoholic beverages and a company barbecue can be a dangerous combination.

Barbecue picnics are a relaxed way for family, friends and co-workers to come together to socialize and build relationships. Enjoy yourself, but be mindful of your manners. Demonstrate your best barbecue etiquette so you will be invited back and, in case of the company picnic, to insure that you will still have a job on the next working day.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com to find out how her presentations and workshops can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good Medical Manners Equal High Patient Satisfaction

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Medical manners

Declining reimbursements, increased overhead, patient overload and the rush to litigation are but a few of the reasons to “sweat the small stuff” in the medical arena. If you don’t think you need to pay attention to the details when it comes to making your patients happy as well as healthy, think again. If ever there was a time to mind your medical manners, it’s now.

Good medical manners and proper office etiquette can make a significant difference in how physicians and their staff are viewed by their patients. If patients feel valued by their physicians and have positive interactions with staff, they are more likely to become longtime loyal customers. Yes, patients are customers. If your patients don’t return, it may not be because they have recovered. It may be they went somewhere else where they are treated with consideration.

It stands to reason that a happy patient is a healthier patient. If everyone in a physician’s practice takes the time to make patients feel appreciated, those people on whom you rely to build your practice will come back time and again and will refer others. Kindness, courtesy and respect are the right treatment for all patients. No one is allergic.

Let me suggest ten basic rules of etiquette that can have a positive effect on patient satisfaction and outcomes:

  1. Stop, look and listen. This rule does not simply apply to railroad crossings. While doctors can rarely spare as much time with patients as they once did, the people they treat need not wonder if their doctor is wearing a stop watch or has set an alarm on his Apple watch.
  2. Make eye contact with patients. It is sometimes hard to give the patient your direct attention while managing the requirements of the practice technology. Look at your patients, not the computer. Pay attention to their body language as well as their vital signs. If your computer is positioned so that you have to turn away from the patient, reconfigure its’ placement.
  3. When you ask critical questions, pay attention to the answers. Practice good listening skills like nodding at the person, repeating what you heard and paraphrasing what was said. Don’t interrupt or try to finish someone’s sentence. You might miss valuable information
  4. Practice professional meeting and greeting. From your initial encounter with patients, show warmth and friendliness. Honor people by shaking their hand.
  5. Use the patient’s name immediately. Address people by their title and last name until you receive permission to call them by their first name. While some people prefer informality, others may be offended.
  6. Introduce yourself. That may sound silly, but people shouldn’t have to guess if you are the doctor or  another member of the staff.
  7. Let patients know what to expect after you leave the room. What is going to happen next? Who will give follow up instructions?
  8. Pay your attire is important. If you choose to ditch the white coat, your appearance should still be impeccable—neat, clean and pressed.
  9. Know what goes on in your office at all levels. You may not think it is your job to know what your patients experience from the time they walk into your office, but it is. This is no time to make assumptions. Ask for feedback from patients and staff.
  10. Invest time and money in training your employees in the importance of soft skills and customer service. While interpersonal skills may not seem as critical as clinical skills in a physician’s practice, without them there soon may be no patients to treat.

People have choices about where they go for their medical care; you want that to be your office.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com to find out how her presentations and workshops can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

 

How Much is Rudeness Costing Your Business?

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Business Etiquette - The Key to SuccessHave you ever thought about how much rudeness may be affecting your bottom line? What is the cost to your company when the people who represent you lack proper manners?

Do you know how many clients are turned off by employees who would rather carry on a conversation with each other than with the client? Can you count the number of people who hang up and call someone else because the person who answered your phone put them on hold without asking permission?

How does the client rate your professionalism when the employee who welcomes him to your office looks as if she is dressed for a day at the beach? Are your employees treating each other with courtesy and respect? Do they work as a team and help each other out or do they act like cast members on Survivor?

Try taking this quick true/false quiz to test your own business etiquette expertise. Then run it by your employees to assess their rudeness quotient.

    1. Business etiquette is based on rank and hierarchy.
    2. If the information on your business card is incorrect, draw a line through it and write the correct information on the card.
    3. Business casual means dressing down one notch from business professional.
    4. In today’s relaxed business environment, it is not necessary to ask your clients’ permission before using their first names.
    5. Callers do not mind holding for information as much as holding for a person.
    6. Handwritten notes are out of place in the business world.
    7. A man should wait for a woman to put out her hand in business before offering his.
    8. When composing an e-mail message, complete the “To” line last.
    9. Small talk around the office is a waste of time.
    10. If you receive a call on your cell phone when you are with a client, it’s fine to check to see who’s calling, but don’t answer.

Answers:

    1. In business, you defer to the senior or highest ranking person, regardless of age or gender.
    2. Handing out business cards with information that is outdated is unprofessional. Have new cards printed immediately.
    3. Business casual is not an excuse to wear your favorite old clothes to the office. It’s business. Look professional.
    4. Don’t assume you can call clients by their first name. Use titles and last names until asked to do otherwise.
    5. Clients will wait patiently while you search for information on their behalf.
    6. Handwritten notes have become as rare as the typewriter. Stand out from your competition by sending your clients handwritten notes.
    7. In business it is off-putting when a man hesitates to extend his hand to a woman.
    8. If you wait until you have carefully proofed your message before you hit “send”, you will never be embarrassed or have to apologize for your email errors.
    9. Small talk in the office is a great way to build relationships among co-workers.
    10. It is just as rude to check your phone to see who called as it is to take a call in front of a client. Turn your phone off and check your messages later.

If you had trouble with any of these questions, your employees will, too. If you want your employees to be at ease in business situations, to represent you well and help build your business, give them the information they need. If you haven’t engaged in business etiquette skills training lately, do it now. Don’t let rudeness cost you business.

No one is born with good manners. People have to be taught, and from time to time, they need to be reminded of what they already know.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com to find out how her presentations and workshops can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

 

Are You Among Email Users or Email Abusers?

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Did you know that 205 billion email messages are sent every day? That’s 2.4 million every second and some 74 trillion per year. I am sure that there are days when you feel that they all landed in your inbox. Studies show that  the average office worker receives 121 emails every day and sends 40.

When you consider that in a recent poll, white-collar adult workers confessed that 6.3 hours of their day is spent on email, the numbers are even more shocking. And don’t even think of a world without email. It is and will remain the cornerstone of our workplace.

While it is time-consuming and frequently annoying, there are steps that can be taken to cut down on the time spent on email, but what about the annoying part? Much of what causes email grief is the fault of the sender. The explosion of electronic messaging has created as many problems among co-workers as it has solved. Email abusers are ruffling feathers. You may recognize some of them and their irritating habits.

The most egregious email abusers are those who wait until the last minute. An hour before the meeting or  teleconference, they send a list of ten issues you need to be prepared to discuss. They would have you believe that they are so busy and important that they couldn’t get word to you sooner. Truth is that they procrastinated. Now their problem becomes your problem.

These same people also wait until the eleventh hour to let you know that they won’t be at the meeting. They wouldn’t dare pick up the phone and tell you personally so they hide behind e-mail. When you don’t get the message because you were on your way to the meeting, they act surprised and totally innocent, saying, “But I sent an e-mail.”

Another group of email abusers tends to send out emergency notices. Mid-morning you get the message that your proposal needs to be ready for presentation to the client at 2 PM. Not only that, the boss needs to approve it first. They don’t have the courage to call you or come to your office and risk experiencing your reaction to their lack of consideration in person. Worst of all, when the deadline is missed, they are quick to tell everyone, “I don’t understand. I sent that information to her earlier.”

Then there are the email abusers who never respond to email. You know who they are. You can e-mail them till the cows come home, and they won’t answer. When you confront them, they swear they didn’t get your message. They blame it on their server or the latest virus.

E-mail is only as good as the people who use it.

Be considerate of recipients. Chances are they are not sitting at their desk with nothing else to do but check email. Furthermore, they may not even be at their desk. If you have waited until the last minute, don’t put your message in an email. Pick up the phone or walk to your co-worker’s office to break the news.

When it comes to email, remember these five points:

    1. It is not the instantaneous communication it was once considered.
    2. In fact, email is the new snail mail.
    3. It is slow. People read it infrequently.
    4. If you want something done quickly, don’t send an email.

Use the Internet to build relationships, not destroy them. Email is a valuable tool only when it is used correctly.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Her quick wit, southern charm and extensive knowledge of business etiquette make her a sought-after speaker. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com to find out how her presentations and workshops can help you or your employees add the polish that builds profits.

 

 

Telephone Etiquette is Crucial to Customer Service

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Telephone etiquette is a critical ingredient to making a positive first impression.  Make sure that you and everyone else who has access to your clients by phone know and practice professional courtesy. A training session on telephone etiquette is one way to insure consistency and professionalism.

Make no assumptions—not everyone has appropriate manners. Whoever answers your phone represents the entire organization and its philosophy about customer service.

Here are some suggestions for what your employees need to know.

Answer the phone promptly. Every call should be answered between the first and third ring. In many instances the caller hears a preliminary ring that you may not. What you think is the first ring may in fact be the second. We live in a world of instant expectations. If you don’t answer the phone immediately, people assume that you are either closed for the day, out of business or simply provide poor service. Answer the phone as soon as it rings, and grab that customer before your competition does.

Identify yourself immediately. One of the top complaints about telephone etiquette is that people fail to give their name. Whether you are placing or receiving a call, identify yourself right away. No one wants to guess who you are or be put in the awkward position of having to ask.

Be prepared with pen and paper. People are not impressed when you have to search for pencil and paper. If you aren’t prepared to take information, perhaps you aren’t prepared to do business.

Take accurate messages. Because of voice mail we don’t take messages as often as we used to, and we fail to mention this vital step in our telephone etiquette training. If you need to do so, check that you have written the information correctly. Repeat the spelling of the caller’s name. Double check the phone number as well as the wording of the message.

Transfer calls smoothly. Most of us cringe when someone says, “Let me transfer your call.” We have visions of being passed around from person to person and telling our story over and over again before finding someone who can help. If you need to transfer a call, ask the caller to hold while you confirm that you are sending the call to the right person and that that person is indeed available.

Manage the hold key with courtesy. In most telephone surveys, people rank being put on hold as their biggest frustration. Ask your callers’ permission before placing them on hold and wait to hear their reply. Answering the phone with a “hold, please” and immediately hitting the hold key will gain you nothing but an annoyed caller.

Put a smile on your face when you answer the phone. Even if you aren’t feeling cheery, your callers don’t need to know. A smile changes the entire tone of your voice and is audible over the phone. You would smile if the customer was standing in front of you—or I hope you would—so smile on the phone. Fake it if you have to, but do it.

At the end of the day, ask yourself what kind of impression you gave your callers. Was it your best and your company’s best? Did you treat every caller as valuable? If not, remind yourself that there is no such thing as an unimportant phone call and that you are the voice of the business.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com to find out how her presentations and workshops can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

On the Job Tips for the New Hire

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Make a good first impression on the job

Tips for the new hire. Why? Because starting a new job can be exciting and scary. The good news is that you have one. The goal is to keep it. Getting off on the right foot is often the challenge.

Whether you are going to work for the first time, taking a different position in the same organization or joining a new company, the role of the new hire isn’t easy. To begin with, you may encounter some unexpected attitudes from your coworkers. Some may be delighted with the choice to hire you while others may have wanted your new position for themselves. Following these simple rules of behavior when you start to work will help things go smoothly.

Listen more than you talk.

Don’t try to impress everyone with who you are and what you know. Ask smart questions, and then let others do the speaking. You will learn more this way about what you need to know to get along with others and to do your job well.

Treat everyone with the same courtesy and respect.

Don’t assume that you know who the most important people are. Everyone is of value to you because you are all part of a team. Keep an open mind about the people in the office. It takes a while on the job to figure out the critical alliances so go slowly in establishing relationships.

Steer clear of the office gossip.

This is a good rule to follow no matter how long you are on the job. Don’t even listen to the negative stories, let alone spread them. While you are gathering information about the organization and the personnel, be careful that the questions you ask are not perceived as personal. Showing an interest in your colleagues is different from prying into their private lives.

Be careful what you reveal about yourself. 

Some of your new co-workers will be curious about you and want to get to know you better right off the bat. If people are asking questions that go beyond your qualifications for or interest in your job, be thoughtful with your responses. When you reveal personal information about yourself to your co-workers, you are treading on dangerous turf.

 Ask for help when you need it.

No one expects you to know everything. If you try to act like you do, you are most likely to turn people off rather than impress them. People like to be needed so asking for assistance in the beginning is a positive way of building relationships. Even the office grump may feel flattered.

It takes time to assess a new workplace and to make appropriate decisions. If you proceed with caution, your judgments will be solid, your relationships positive and your career long.

Photo from Savanah magazine

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com to find out how her presentations and workshops can help you or your employees add the polish that builds profits.

 

 

Holiday Gift-Giving in the Office

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Holiday gift-giving in the workplace is a thoughtful way of letting colleagues and clients know that you value the business relationship you share. But gift-giving comes with its risks. When a present is too expensive or is too personal, even the best intentions can backfire. Knowing the answers to the following questions will take the stress out of gift-giving in the office and enhance the joy of the season.  It is, after all, supposed to be a time of good cheer and not one of high anxiety.

  • Should you give a gift to everyone you work with?
  • Do you need to buy a present for your boss?
  • What are appropriate gifts?
  • How much should you be expected to spend?
  • When is the right time to present your gifts?
  • What if you can’t afford the gift exchange?

The first thing you need to do is find out if there is a company policy on holiday gift-giving. If the company doesn’t have one, this could be a good time to establish one or, at the very least, come up with guidelines within your own department.  If you work for a small business, decide with your co-workers how you want to handle this conundrum. And make sure that everyone is on board with the collective decision.

For religious, cultural or financial reasons, some people prefer not to engage in holiday gift-giving at work . Honor those people and make sure you have a process that allows individual to opt-in rather than opt-out. One way to do this is by passing around a sign-up sheet for those who want in. No pressure or judgment should be placed on those who don’t sign up.

Follow a process like “Secret  Santa”, and set a low dollar limit to make it easier for everyone to participate. After all, holiday time can be costly at best. Stay within the limits set. Just because you can afford more, going over the limit will not win you any friends.

Avoid giving inappropriate items such as clothing, fine jewelry or perfume to your co-workers. Save those for family and friends. Gag gifts are also on the banned list. Not everyone thinks the same things are funny so don’t give an item that could be offensive. You’ll have to work with the person you offended long after the holidays.

Appropriate gifts include foods like candy, cookies, jams and jellies, soaps, scented candles, books, and gift cards. One caution about gifts of food—don’t give candy or cookies to the person who is trying to diet.

Plan when you will engage in the holiday gift-giving in your office. You may choose to have an office party in-house or go off-site for a holiday luncheon or an after-hours party. If you want to give a special gift to a close colleague, do it outside the office, not in front of others. And certainly not at the office party.

When it comes to the boss, there is no obligation to give a gift. Sorry, boss. Gifting should flow downward, not upward. Consider this: the boss makes the most money and is the person who should be buying for employees. If everyone feels strongly about giving to the boss, set a dollar limit and collect a minimal amount from each employee. Don’t make an end run by giving the boss a present when everyone else in the office chose not to. That is one sure way to create conflict and ill will with your co-workers.

If a coworker or supervisor gives you an unexpected gift, don’t worry. Proper etiquette states that unexpected gifts do not need to be reciprocated. All that’s required is a friendly “Thank you!”

These rules for holiday gift-giving in the workplace are designed to make the process joyful and stress free. Don’t use them as an excuse to play Scrooge or the office Grinch.

Lydia Ramsey is a  business etiquette expert, professional speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com to find out how she can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.