Category Archives: Office Etiquette

The Office Romance: Danger or Opportunity

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Heart shaped box of chocolate truffles with red roses

Spring may not have sprung yet, but this is definitely the month when love and romance are in the headlines. Everything is coming up roses and chocolate–covered strawberries. Perhaps your thoughts are turning to an office romance. Maybe the co-worker in the next cubicle is beginning to look awfully attractive. Could be you’d like to strike up more than a casual friendship. If so, what should you do and how should you go about it?

There are definitely dangers and opportunities when you consider an office romance.

It is not unusual today for people to find their spouse or partner in the workplace. After all, most people spend more of their time at work than anywhere else. According to the American Management Association, almost one-half—49% to be exact—of office romances result in marriage or a significant long-term relationship. If you choose to make a romantic move, be smart and follow the rules.

Know the company policy. Some companies have strict policies against dating coworkers. Most organizations don’t want to intrude on their employees’ private lives, but the shadow of sexual harassment looms larger than ever given the “Me, Too” and “Time’s Up” movements. If ever there was any doubt, recent events have underscored the long-standing advice never to date someone who is your supervisor or someone who reports to you. If you are even thinking about it, you need to start looking for another job.

Set the ground rules early. Discuss how you plan to handle you relationship around the office, and what you will do if things don’t work out. That may sound harsh and unrealistic. It definitely requires a level of maturity and discipline that is often hard to come by. Don’t put your career on the line for the sake of an office fling that may not lead anywhere but the unemployment line.

Consider the effect on your job performance. Being in love can be distracting. If your focus at work is on the object of your affection and not on your job, you are putting your career at risk. On the other hand, job performance might just improve when you are trying to impress that other person.

Be discreet and professional. It is never a good idea to discuss your romantic relationships with coworkers so keep the details to yourself. People will talk. There is no subject more popular than office gossip. Rumors of your romance will spread faster than a forest fire.

Proceed slowly. Gradually develop your friendship. Keep your interaction casual in the beginning. If ever there was a time to be cautious, this is it. The stakes are high if an office romance is on the horizon.

Be especially careful if you are new on the job, whether you are the one who is pursuing or the one being pursued. As a new hire, you are under extra scrutiny. Your boss and co-workers will be watching you closely and observing how you conduct yourself on the job.

Be wary of email. Don’t use the office email to correspond with each other unless it is purely professional and business related. Remember that email is like the newspaper. Anyone can read it. Before you hit “send,” make doubly sure that what you are sending is all business, just in case it lands in the wrong inbox.

Steer clear of Facebook and other social media sites to post the details of your new-found love. That’s where people go first when they want to pry and spy. Posting selfies while you are out at the neighbor bar or announcing where the two of you are having dinner is a really bad idea. You won’t need to pay for a Facebook ad to boost your post.

Never ever ever get involved with someone who is married. When word gets out—and it will—that is the surest way to find yourself on the street without a job.

An office romance can be successful and lead to life-long happiness if handled correctly. The wise couple is careful that any interaction in the workplace is purely professional. It’s a matter of having your career and dating it, too.

Here’s to finding love in all the right places!

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, professional speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her at LydiaRamsey.com to leave a comment, ask a question or learn more about her programs and products. More business etiquette information is available in her best-selling book Manners That Sell – Adding The Polish That Builds Profits.

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Gift-Giving in the Office – Do’s and Don’ts

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There is enough stress during the holiday season without worrying  about how to handle gift-giving in the office.  More than a few people struggle with this issue every year. Do any of the following questions ring a seasonal bell with you?

  • 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 cannot afford to a gift exchange?

The list goes on. So what can you or your office do to eliminate the stress and confusion around this time-honored workplace tradition?

The first thing to do is to establish a company policy on gift-giving. If the company does not have one, then decide with your co-workers how you want to handle this challenge. Make sure that everyone is on board with the collective decision. Many people would prefer not to give gifts at work during the holidays. If you choose to exchange gifts in the office, here are some points to consider.

  1. Honor those people who don’t want to participate in a holiday gift exchange. Reasons for not engaging could range from religious or cultural to financial. Choose a process which allows people 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.
  2. Set a low dollar limit which will make it easier for everyone to participate. After all, holiday time can be costly at best.
  3. Stay within the limits set. Just because you can afford something better, going over will not win you any friends. Now if you found something you like on sale, that’s okay. However, avoid going into detail about the original price as opposed what you paid for it. That is completely unnecessary.
  4. Avoid giving inappropriate items to your co-workers. Those include personal gifts such as clothing, jewelry or perfume. Save those items for family and friends. Gag gifts are also on the banned list. Not everyone thinks the same things are funny so don’t give a gift that could be offensive. You’ll have to work with the person you offended long after the holidays.
  5. If you want to give a special gift to a close colleague, do it outside the office, not in front of others.
  6. There is no obligation to give the boss 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 the employees. When everyone pitches in to buy something for the boss, guess who ends up with the most expensive gift in the office? If everyone feels strongly about giving to the boss, set a dollar limit there as well and collect a minimal amount from each employee.

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

About Lydia Ramsey

Lydia Ramsey is on a mission to stamp out rudeness and enhance professional conduct in the workplace. She is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, sought-after speaker, trainer, author and newspaper columnist. She is the author of Manners That Sell – Adding the Polish That Builds Profits and Lydia Ramsey’s Little Book of Table Manners.

Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her at LydiaRamsey.com to leave a comment, ask a question or learn more about her programs and products for businesses, corporations, associations, colleges and universities.

 

 

 

 

 

Flying Etiquette – It’s Time for a Few Tips

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With the holidays upon us, more than a few people will be taking to those formerly friendly skies to visit family and friends or perhaps to take a special vacation. Wherever they are headed, one thing is for sure—their air travel will have its share of challenges.

British Airways has unveiled an unofficial rulebook on flying etiquette in an effort to help their passengers handle some sticky in-flight issues. The airline surveyed 1,500 travelers in the US, UK, France, Germany and Italy to get their thoughts on etiquette in the air.

Given the diversity of countries and cultures, there were naturally conflicting opinions on the do’s and don’ts of mile high manners. The results are food for thought for those taking flight.

The airline tackled what it considered to be the four biggest areas of contention: Should you take off your shoes and socks in flight? Who owns the armrest? Should you engage in pillow talk with your seatmate? And what are the rules about waking a sleeping neighbor?

Shoes and socks on or off? Not surprisingly, travelers overwhelmingly agreed that removing your socks is unacceptable, but taking off your shoes is all right. The one group taking the opposite approach was the Italians. Apparently, taking off either is tantamount to undressing in flight. My perspective on this is that it’s fine to take off your shoes as long as your socks are clean. And no bare feet, no matter when you last washed them.

Who owns the rights to the armrest? There was general agreement that every flier should have at least one. The point of contention was the middle seat. Is that passenger entitled to one, two or none? American and British fliers seemed to want to claim both armrests; whereas the French, Germans and Italians said that he who asks first shall prevail. Now that hardly seems fair to me. The poor soul who is wedged in a middle seat ought to be given more consideration. Besides, I can never recall hearing anyone asking permission for an armrest. More often than not there is a silent battle between seatmates.

Pillow talk: is it okay to chit chat? There was general agreement that passengers should acknowledge each other with a smile and a quick greeting. After that US and UK fliers are not eager to engage in conversation and have their subtle ways of sending that message—like taking out a book or putting on their headset. Italians, being the friendly warm people that they are, enjoy a good in-flight conversation. Ignoring your seatmate entirely may cause you to miss out on a good connection and an interesting experience. I once sold copies of one of my books to a seatmate.

Should you wake a sleeping seatmate? You need to make a trip to the lavatory and the person between you and the aisle is asleep. What to do? This could well be my favorite. 80% of travelers say that it’s okay to wake your neighbor, but 40% say that you should only do it once per flight. I wonder if there was any consideration given to the time in flight. It seems to me one needs to be more flexible on this issue. However,if you find yourself making frequent trips to the restroom, book an aisle seat. And don’t overlook the etiquette of climbing over. Global etiquette dictates that you make a face-to-face exit. Try it; it’s not easy.

The fourth question begs a fifth: What to do about the seatmate who is snoring? Here is where the majority of people tended to be polite and said they would ignore those intermittent outbursts—all except the British who would not hesitate to give a chap a nudge.

There are indeed rules of flying etiquette to be observed when you take off for the holidays, it’s clear that not everyone can agree on what they should be. Perhaps that’s why there is so much turmoil in the air these days.

You can’t control how someone else behaves, but you can manage your own manners. Showing as much consideration for your fellow passengers as you would like for them to show you could just possibly bring about a return of the friendly skies. Oh for the good ole days.

 

Lydia Ramsey is on a mission to stamp out rudeness and enhance professional conduct in the workplace. She is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, sought-after speaker, trainer, author and newspaper columnist. She is the author of Manners That Sell – Adding the Polish That Builds Profits and Lydia Ramsey’s Little Book of Table Manners.

Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her at LydiaRamsey.com to:

  • leave a comment
  • ask a question
  • learn more about her programs and products for businesses, corporations, associations, colleges and universities.

 

 

 

Customer Service Means Taking The Heat

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Customer Service

Are you good at taking the heat when your customers lose their cool?

Have you ever noticed that no matter how hard you try to please and provide good customer service; there are people who seem determined to be difficult?  These people get downright cranky or out and out angry.  Trying to soothe an irate customer is challenging, especially when so many people feel entitled to act as rude as they possibly can.

Let me suggest a process that I learned from a fellow speaker, Judy Hoffman, the author of Keeping Cool on the Hot Seat: Dealing Effectively with the Media in Times of Crisis.  She also produced an audio program, Dealing with Angry People, where she outlines a method for “taking the heat.”  She uses the acronym “HEAT” for handling troublesome encounters and diffusing tense situations.

“H” stands for “HEAR”. That one thing we seldom do.  We don’t hear because we fail to listen. Some people are hard of hearing; others are hard of listening. We don’t pay attention to what the customer is saying because we are either too busy thinking of what we are going to say next or because we assume that we know what the problem is before hearing the person out.

Listen. Don’t interrupt.  Let the person finish the tirade before you jump in. You’ll be amazed at what you can hear when you keep your mouth shut.

E” is for “EMPATHIZE”.  The dictionary definition of “empathy” is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Let your customers know that you understand how they feel and why. Recently I was with friends at a local restaurant. We had reservations, but the table we had requested was not available and would not be for some time. Even though we all behaved like polite adults, the hostess took the initiative to say that she wouldn’t blame us if we had gotten upset. She acknowledged that she herself would have been unhappy. Good call on her part.

A” is for “APOLOGIZE”.  Offer an apology even if the problem is not your fault. It is easier for some people to say they are sorry than it is for others.  Don’t pull a third-grader and try to blame someone else. Often all the angry person wants is to hear the words, “I’m sorry.”  Taking the high road and apologizing, even when you didn’t do it, can calm even the most irate customer.

T” is for “TAKING ACTION”.  Once you’ve heard the person out, empathized with the situation, offered an apology, let your customer know what you will do about the situation and do it.  Even if your action is to take the issue to a higher level for resolution or compensation, act without delay and let the customer know how you are handling the problem.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to remain angry or have an argument with someone who won’t fight back.  If you resist the urge to become defensive and confrontational, your unhappy customer will soon lose steam and begin to calm down.  Your cool headedness can diffuse a hot situation when you remember to “take the heat.”

Office Etiquette: The Devil is in the Details

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Our office etiquette leaves a lasting impression and sets the tone that can affect the way a colleague, client, boss, or vendor views us. Good manners and proper office etiquette build authentic relationships and lead to harmony, productivity and profitability.

On the flip side, poor behavior can damage your reputation, your credibility and your ability to work successfully with others.  Treating coworkers and colleagues without courtesy and respect can limit career growth and opportunity.

It’s just plain smart to observe certain rules of office etiquette. Here are eight.

  1. Respect your coworkers’ privacy. Hovering over your coworker’s cubicle to grab attention is a no-no. “Knock” on the other person’s imaginary door and wait for a signal to enter before you forge ahead. Don’t lean on your colleague’s desk, place your papers on it or scan what is on the computer screen or desktop. If your name isn’t on it, don’t read it, touch it, or share it.
  2. Don’t borrow without permission. We’ve all borrowed a coworker’s pen in a pinch—only never to return it. Nothing is more annoying than borrowing—and losing—someone else’s property without their permission. Just because your peer is not present does not allow you to rifle through that person’s desk looking for a gem clip or a stapler without asking first. Pick on someone whom you can ask.
  3. Standing up shows respect. Whenever someone enters your office (assuming you have one), stand up in greeting. Even if you don’t have a private work space, stand up. When you remain seated, you are sending a message of discourtesy and disrespect. You might as well say, “You are not important enough for me to get up.” By all means, come around from behind your desk to greet and shake hands.
  4. Don’t email time-sensitive information. If you need a colleague to send you a copy of a report immediately, walk a few feet over to that person’s cubicle. Don’t send an email. If the person’s desk is not within walking distance, pick up the phone. It may seem more practical to send a text or an email, but you risk being viewed as lazy or lacking social skills. What’s worse is that you may not get the material you need when you need it.
  5. Watch your language. Cursing has been slowly creeping into the workplace. We are constantly exposed to four-letter words today, but that doesn’t make them acceptable in “polite company”. Your coworkers should be considered “polite company”. People who feel the need to curse are not only being disrespectful to others; they send a message that they have a limited vocabulary. When you draw that name for the office party, you might consider giving the “curser” a dictionary.
  6. Write thank you notes. That may sound like an antiquated idea, but it will enhance your relationships. When a coworker does a favor for you—perhaps helps you out with a project, write a note. It is a low-cost, high-impact way to demonstrate your professionalism.
  7. Keep your voice down. Talking loudly on the phone in your cubicle can be distracting and annoying to your colleagues. If you don’t have confidence in your phone’s microphone, take your call elsewhere. Find another area of the office or move to a conference room. Speakerphones have no place in an open office. It doesn’t matter what you are talking about or to whom. No one else wants to hear your conversation.
  8. Keep it clean. Office wars have been known to start in the kitchen. You know—those people who never clean up after themselves, drink the last cup of coffee and don’t refill the pot, always leave their food in the refrigerator until a hazmat team needs to be called in, and worse yet, eat someone else’s lunch. Be responsible, respectful and considerate. People are watching!

It’s the details that count. The smallest things can either build or destroy relationships. Good manners are relationship builders.

Etiquette Rules: Don’t be the Menace in the Office Kitchen

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An office kitchen can be one of the biggest workplace problems when people don’t observe basic etiquette guidelines. If you are among the lucky ones who happen to work for a company that offers an office kitchen for your convenience, you know what the challenges are.  

You go to put your sandwich in the refrigerator and someone else has already taken up the last bit of space with their five-course lunch. Perhaps you were desperate for your morning coffee, but when you tried to pour a cup, the pot was empty.  You may have a pretty good idea who the thoughtless person was so now that co-worker is on your eternal blacklist.

If you want to maintain good professional relationships with your coworkers, you need to be respectful of everyone who uses the office kitchen. Failure to show respect for all who share this space can easily create conflict among employees.

The best way to maintain harmony in the office kitchen is to establish rules and to make sure everyone is aware of what they are.

  1. Clean up after yourself. That’s a fairly simple concept. If you spill something, wipe it up. Don’t leave your crumbs, soiled napkin or styrofoam cup on the table. Throw your trash away. And never leave your dirty dishes in the sink.
  2. Brew more coffee. If you drank the last cup, make a new pot. If it’s five o’clock and everyone is headed out, rinse the pot and take the time to prepare the coffee maker so it is ready to go when the first person arrives in the morning.
  3. Respect the refrigerator real estate. Don’t take up more space than necessary. Only refrigerate what needs to kept cool. The rest of your lunch can be kept at your desk.
  4. Be conscious of strong odors. No one wants her lunch to taste like your last night’s fish. Steer clear of bringing food with smells that can leach and linger.
  5. Label your food. Write your name on your container so there is no doubt about whose lunch it is. That way, no one can say that he mistook your gourmet sandwich for his peanut butter and jelly.
  6. Package your food appropriately. Use airtight plastic containers. They stand the test of time better than plastic or paper.
  7. Remove your leftovers before they spoil. Just because you changed your mind and went out to lunch, doesn’t mean that you can deny ownership of that smelly blue food three weeks later.
  8. Leave appliances as you found them…or perhaps better. When you use the toaster or microwave, check it afterward and make sure you didn’t leave crumbs or splatters. Your coworkers won’t be happy if they have to clean up your mess before fixing their lunch.
  9. Let someone know when the kitchen supplies run low. If you see that the napkin dispenser is almost empty, either fill it or contact the appropriate person to replenish it. The same goes for straws, paper plates, plastic flatware, sugar, coffee creamer, and anything else that is consumable.
  10. If it’s not yours, don’t eat it. This shouldn’t have to be said, but there are folks who help themselves to other people’s food. If you didn’t bring it to the office, leave it.

The primary guideline for office kitchen etiquette is to be respectful of the space and your co-worker’s food and drink. Remember: your mother is not there to clean up after you, so do it yourself – and do everybody in the office a favor.

 

Photo from Savanah magazine

Lydia Ramsey is on a mission to stamp out rudeness and poor manners in the workplace or wherever they exist. She is a an expert on business etiquette and professional conduct. Her southern charm and sense of humor make her a sought after speaker and trainer.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, she travels across the US and as far away as India and Dubai to work with universities, corporations, small businesses, associations and non-profit organizations.

Her topics range from flip-flops to forks.

Visit her website www.lydiaramsey.com for more information about her services and resources. If you prefer to talk, call her at 912-604-0080.

Ten Dressing Faux Pas That Can Tarnish Your Professional Image

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It’s the morning rush hour. I’m not talking about the traffic you might encounter after you head out the door. I am referring to the chaos that occurs before you even cross the threshold. Whatever your morning routine, somehow there are things that manage to go awry.

You plan as much as you can the night before. However, if you have children that you need to get off to school, there is breakfast to prepare or at least supervise. Possibly lunches to pack. Then you need to make sure that everyone is dressed in the appropriate school garb. If you have pets, they have to be tended to as well before you leave for the day.

Whew! If that’s not enough, you have to get yourself ready for work. Waiting until the last minute to decide what to wear to work is not the best idea. If you’re savvy, you decide upon your workplace attire the night before. Chances are you won’t have time to ponder it in the morning.

The goal in choosing what you wear to work is to look your best—your professional best. No matter where you work and what is appropriate for that environment, there are certain details that if overlooked can ruin a good impression.

Here are a few things to check before you make your exit.

  1. If you have pets that shed, check your outfit for cat or dog hair. Fur is not considered office appropriate. Keep a roller brush handy.
  2. Do you see wrinkles? Maybe your colleagues or clients will assume they occurred on the way to work, but don’t count on it. Blow the dust off the iron, plug it in and use it.
  3. Take a look in the mirror—always a good thing—and survey the length of your pants. Are they bunched up with the hem dragging the floor? When you buy pants for work, remember that the hem of your pants should hit at the top of your foot, not below. If they don’t meet the test, visit a tailor.
  4. On the subject of pants, glance at the hem again. If the hem is frayed, put that pair in the donations pile and find ones that are in pristine condition.
  5. Count your accessories. A few pieces of jewelry will dress up your outfit, but don’t overdo it. Wearing a dozen bracelets can be distracting to the person you are trying to impress. And while you have ten fingers, they do not all need to be adorned with rings. One per hand is sufficient.
  6. Hair ties are not bracelets. If you have long hair and want to pull it back occasionally, keep a few ties in your desk drawer or in your purse, not on your wrist.
  7. Check the condition of your shoes. Nothing tells people how little attention you pay to detail as shoes that are scuffed or worn. There are people who check out your shoes before noting anything else.
  8. Do your clothes fit? Are you still trying to squeeze yourself into an outfit you “outgrew” months ago? Looking professional means wearing clothes that fit your body, not that of someone you used to be or hope to be again.
  9. Take time to dry your hair. Showing up for work with wet hair says, “I am running late” or “Who cares how my hair looks.”
  10. Hide your bra straps. (I can’t believe I just said that.) More women are showing up at work wearing blouses or dresses with little or no sleeves. While I am not a fan of sleeveless in the workplace; if you go that route, make sure that you aren’t advertising your choice of undergarments to the office.

When dressing for work, the smallest details count if you want to keep your professional image and your reputation intact as well as be respected by both colleagues and clients.

Clean, neat, pressed and fresh trump grungy every time.

Photo from Savanah magazine

Lydia Ramsey is business etiquette and modern manners expert, keynote speaker, seminar leader and author of Manners That Sell-Adding the Polish That Builds Profits. Based in Savannah, Georgia, she travels across the US and as far away as India and Dubai to work with clients that include universities, corporations, small businesses, associations and non-profit organizations. Her topics range from flip-flops to forks. Visit her website www.lydiaramsey.com for more information about her services and resources. If you prefer to talk, call her at 912-604-0080.

 

Summer Office Attire: What to Wear When the Temperature Rises

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Business man pulling tie in front of ventilator at office.

It’s summertime, and while the living is supposed to be easy, deciding on your summer office attire, what to wear to work, is not. Our more casual world makes it difficult to know, on any given day, how to dress for the office; but summer poses even more challenges. Just because the temperature is soaring, you can’t throw the dress codes, if you have any, out the window and wear whatever feels comfy.

Whether it is summer or winter, the number one rule to follow when choosing what to wear to work in client-facing environments is to dress like a professional. People are going to make judgments about you based on your appearance. Your choice of summer office attire speaks to your professionalism and your credibility.

One size does not fit all in business. What you wear depends on four factors:

  1. The industry in which you work
  2. The job you have within the industry
  3. The geographical region in which you live
  4. Finally and most importantly, it’s what your clients expect to see.

Here are some tips about summer office attire for men and women during the hot summer months.

For men:

  1. If your usual attire is a business suit or a sports coat and tie, dressing down means simply leaving off your jacket. A long sleeve shirt and tie will still give you the look of a professional.
  2. A solid white or blue dress shirt offers the most polished look.  Small checks or stripes are fine, but resist the urge to break out your favorite Hawaiian shirt.
  3. Short sleeves rarely look business-like but are acceptable within certain industries and jobs.
  4. Choose a quality trouser for work even if you are not dressed in coat and tie. Jeans do not belong in the workplace unless the workplace is the great outdoors.
  5. Wear socks! Going without socks just because it is hot is oh-so not cool.
  6. Your choice of shoes matters. A casual shoe, such as a loafer, is more appropriate with your dress-down attire. Unless you are a lifeguard, sandals and flip-flops have no place in the workplace.

For Women:

  1. If you usually wear a skirted or pants suit, you may opt to leave off the jacket.
  2. Your choice of a blouse or top needs to be one with sleeves. Short sleeves are acceptable, but never sleeveless. Blouses and sweaters provide color and variety,but they should be appealing rather than revealing.
  3. Dresses are back in fashion again. Although the stores are filled with sleeveless dresses, let me repeat that sleeveless is not for the professional office. There are plenty of dresses out there with short or elbow length sleeves.
  4. Sun dresses are inappropriate in an office environment.
  5. If a dress is sleeveless or simply has shoulder straps, a light jacket or sweater should be worn over it. That can be a jacket with short or three-quarter length sleeves.
  6. Although they are popular, sandals of any kind and flip-flops are not workplace appropriate unless you are a Yoga instructor. In that case, you may even go bare-footed. It is not easy today to find flat or low-heeled shoes that look professional. Select a shoe with a closed toe and a strap around the heel or one with a closed heel and a hint of an open toe–a peep toe.
  7. Skirts, if they are short, should come to your knee. Hot weather is no excuse for those that only reach mid-thigh. A skirt more than two inches above the knee raises eyebrows and questions.

For those who think it’s not what you wear but how you do your job that creates success, give that some more thought. Business skills and experience count, but so does personal appearance. Impress your clients and customers all year round with the choices you make in what to wear to work.

If you arrive home at the end of the day and don’t have to change your clothes, you may have worn the wrong thing to work.

Photo from Savannah magazine

Lydia Ramsey is a business etiquette and modern manners expert who helps individuals and organizations with professional conduct.  Since 1996, her keynote presentations, seminars and breakout sessions have educated and entertained thousands of attendees. She provides individual coaching  for those who want to improve their interpersonal skills..

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.

Lydia has suitcase; will travel. Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter or visit her website, lydiaramsey.com

 

 

 

 

Flip-Flops: Are They Appropriate in the Office???

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It’s summer time, and they’re back!  Flip-flops. Maybe they never went away. They simply went into hibernation for the winter.  I suspect you know what I am talking about–those shoes that have nothing to hold them to your foot except a little piece of material across or between your toes. Flip-flops, slides or whatever you choose to call them, are the hottest trend in summer fashion footwear.

If you are wondering when the first shoe of this type appeared, I did a little research and discovered that sandals—which is frankly what we are referring to—came into existence around 2000 B.C. So for those of you who think this shoe is a 21st century creation, think again.  The sandal began as a basic item made to protect the soles of the feet when shoes were not available.  The simple strap between the toes made it easy to wear.  When this shoe resurfaced in modern times, it was still pretty much utilitarian footwear known as a beach shoe or shower shoe.  That’s right, a shower shoe.

So how did the shower shoe become the most popular footwear of the season?  It’s hard to say. One of the morning television news shows recently did a feature story on flip-flops. Several of the reporters were actually touting this as the shoe of choice to wear to work. One of the news anchors, a well-dressed man in a suit and tie, expressed his dismay at the thought of what he called “thongs” showing up at the office. I’m with him.

If you’re looking for shoes to wear to the office this summer and you feel that flip-flops are inappropriate, you may be in for a lengthy search like a business woman friend of mine discovered. She began her hunt for professional footwear online. To her dismay, what popped up on every site when she looked for shoes under “career” or “flats” were flip-flops.

Flip-flops or slides come in every fabric and heel height imaginable.  Once an inexpensive plastic shoe with a flat sole, they are now available in a variety of manmade and natural materials, in low to high heels, in every color and design you can conceive of and with prices ranging from $5 to $500.  (No, that’s not a typo.)

Flip-flops have become versatile, but once again, people are confusing the latest fashion with business attire.  Flip-flops, and their sandal or slide cousins, are not business professional footwear. They are casual to the extreme. It is not simply a matter of appearance—whether these shoes look professional or not—it is also a matter of safety. You can easily trip when you catch your foot on something unexpected. Flip-flops are also a noise nuisance. The sound of shoes slapping around the office can be annoying.

Before you slip into your cool new slides for which you may have paid a small fortune, think about where you work.  Are these shoes suitable for your work environment and type of business?  Do they follow the dress code if there is one?

The owner of a local travel agency came up with a simple rule to help her staff decide if their sandals, slides or flip-flops were appropriate for the office. Her guideline is “If it is designed for or can be worn on the beach, it is not appropriate for the office.”  I think she nailed it.

Photo from Savanah magazine

Lydia Ramsey is on a mission to stamp out rudeness. She is a Savannah-based business expert on business etiquette and professional conduct, a sought-after speaker and established author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her at LydiaRamsey.com to leave a comment, ask a question or learn more about her programs and products. More information on professional conduct is available in her best-selling books Manners That Sell – Adding the Polish That Builds Profits and Lydia Ramsey’s Little Book of Table Manners. Invite Lydia to speak at your next conference or meeting.

 

 

Finishing Well by Guest Blogger Melissa Gratias

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When I clicked on the link to her recent blog post by my friend and colleague Melissa Gratias, I was so impressed by what she wrote that I knew I had to share it. Melissa is a productivity psychologist, a title she says she invented. Her article is right on target as we reach the end of the year. While everyone else is talking and writing about how to approach the new year and set goals for 2017, Melissa reminds us to finish what we started before launching the new.

Enjoy and benefit from her sage advice.

Finishing Well

A few months ago, I was inspired by a sermon given by Rev. Billy Hester of Asbury Memorial United Methodist Church here in Savannah.

My family joined Asbury this year not only for its inclusive, open congregation, but because Rev. Hester brings Broadway to church.  Yes, I said Broadway TO church.  Billy and his wife are former NYC theater professionals.  This is not your typical Methodist church, folks.

Among the inspiring stories Billy told and insightful points he made, here are my notes on his sermon:

  • Finishing well means giving your best until the very end
  • Life is a marathon, not a sprint
  • Gratification is found in the journey, not the destination
  • To be able to go the distance, people need to have physical, mental, and spiritual health
  • People who finish well are those who are always learning

Okay, so I could have just totally stolen his sermon and elaborated on each of the points above.  But, Rev. Hester said it so much better than I can write it.

So here’s my take on the topic.  I’ll try to include some original thoughts.

So much clutter – mental and physical – is caused by not finishing well.  We jump to another project, idea, or distraction and leave the prior task undone.

My clients are accustomed to hearing me say these three little words…

Finish the job.

If you have just gotten off the phone with someone, add any to-do items to your list.  If you don’t, you haven’t finished the job.

When someone interrupts you, ask them to give you ten seconds.  Make a note of what you were doing.  If you don’t, it will be harder to finish the job later.

If you have spread out a bunch of paper on your desk, the job is not over until the paper is put away.

In our zeal to be productive, we start many projects and tasks.  What have we produced if we don’t finish the job?

Appreciate all that you have accomplished

At the end of each day, wouldn’t it be nice to reflect on what you DID instead of dwelling on what you DIDN’T do?  Mark off what you completed on your to-do list.  There’s an adrenaline rush just waiting to be had.

At the end of the month, examine the progress you have made toward your goals.  No, you probably did not perfectly execute your goal-related actions.  Strive for progress, not perfection.

At the end of a project, celebrate the changes that were brought about.  Get the project team together for a social gathering that doesn’t involve Basecamp or Asana.  Say “Yay us!”

Adults aren’t often awarded trophies or medals.  We have to find our own approbations.

Challenge Yourself

In my seminar entitled The Superhero Power of Setting Goals, I show this picture.

The thumb represents where you are now and the pointer finger represents where you want to be.

You are the rubber band.

The further apart you perceive your present and future states, the more you are stretched.  This is uncomfortable.

This discomfort is also known as…motivation.  No stretch?  No motivation.

Set challenging goals that stretch without snapping you.  Achieving those types of goals can be cathartic.

THE Finish

From time to time, Rev. Hester reminds his congregation that someday, we all will transition. That’s his nice way of saying, “You’re going to die!!!”

Now’s the point where I poach my sermon notes for a good ending to this article…

Success is the journey.  Success is not the destination.  The destination is this “transition” thing we keep hearing about on Sundays.

I help my clients live their lives with intention.  Too often, people are swept away by events and the priorities of other people and realize too late that they are on a road they would never have chosen.

As you transition (ha!) from one year into another, make a resolution to be more intentional.

And, finish the job well.

SPECIAL NOTE: Reverend Hester is the author of Wow! Moments: Stories of Grace, Wonder, and Synchronicity. This book considers the not-so-everyday miracles that make us say, “wow!” and the moments of synchronicity when two or more circumstances come together in a coincidental and meaningful way. This book is semi-autobiographical in nature and incorporates spirituality and life lessons with very honest accounts of the author’s own very human experiences and challenges. To purchase the book, click here.