Tag Archives: modern manners

Replying to Invitations Post-Pandemic

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What’s the one thing you have missed most during the pandemic? When asked, many will reply that it’s people. Even the extreme introverts give this answer. Human beings need connection and social interaction. Some need it more than others.

During the pandemic, technology has allowed us to communicate via Zoom, texting, and other online platforms. However, there is nothing that quite compares with being in the same time and space as our friends and family. We miss them all, even grumpy old Uncle Fred or bossy Aunt Mary.

Now that some of the rules of masking and social distancing are beginning to relax post-pandemic, how do you feel about venturing out into social situations? More people than you might think are somewhat reluctant to return to socializing as they once knew it. Many fear that they have lost their social skills and are afraid they won’t be comfortable mixing and mingling again.

Are you someone who is excited to see an invitation come your way; yet when it comes time to head out, you lose your nerve? Maybe you rejected the invitation to begin with. Perhaps you accepted and now need a graceful way to back out? Once again, let me assure you that you are not alone. It’s oddly part of that “new normal” we talk about.

Having established that these feelings are commonplace, how do you handle replying to invitations, specifically turning down invitations without offending someone and risk being forever blacklisted?

Try a bit of old-fashioned honesty. Most people will understand when you confess that you aren’t quite ready to go out. You can explain that despite being fully vaccinated, you are somewhat reluctant to be in groups or crowds. If you aren’t comfortable exposing your fears, you can simply say that, unfortunately, you have a conflict. There’s no need to explain further.

Keep it simple. You only need one reason to turn down an invitation. You never want to pile on a dozen excuses for staying away. Even if all twelve are legitimate, it sounds phony.

Be appreciative. No matter how you choose to respond, thank your would-be host and ask if you can have the proverbial rain check. Stress that you are grateful to have been thought of and that you value the invitation. Suggest that you get together sometime soon.

Go easy on yourself. Take your time with your re-entry. Try accepting a few invitations, perhaps those for small events. Above all, keep in mind that while you may feel alone, you are in good company. This is normal post-lockdown apprehension. When you are ready, the world will be waiting and will welcome you with open arms.

Workplace Etiquette – Getting Off on the Right Foot

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It’s a new year, but when it comes to workplace etiquette, there aren’t any new rules. Some people haven’t digested the old rules yet. Don’t be one of them. Here is a potpourri of tips on workplace etiquette for review in order to get off on the right foot in a new year.

When to start eating:

If you are seated at a table for eight or fewer, don’t begin until everyone has been served or until your host has begun. If you are seated at a long banquet table, you may begin eating when several people near you have been served.

What to put on the dining table:

Put on the table only those items related to food. That means no cell phones, car keys, handbags or sunglasses.

What if you don’t want to drink wine:

Simply touch the rim of the glass with your finger tips to signal the server not to pour. Do not turn your glass over. The same rule applies to the coffee cup when you don’t want coffee.

When and how to use speakerphones:

The only time to use speakerphones is when you want to include someone else in the room on the call or when you need both hands for taking notes. Let the person on the other end of the line know you are using speakerphone and why. There should be no surprises about who is listening in.

Holding doors for other people:

The first person to get to the door holds it for those following. Gender is not an issue here—just basic courtesy. When a man holds a door for woman, she need not be offended. The opposite is also true.

Using the office kitchen:

There are three basic rules—clean up after yourself, don’t put any stinky food in the microwave and remove your food from the refrigerator before it turns blue. The office fridge is not a science lab.

What to wear to work:

Know the company dress code. Even if casual dress is acceptable, don’t dress like you are going to the beach. Treat the workplace environment with respect.

When to talk or text on your smart phone:

The answer is simple—never in the presence of others. Think of texting in front of others like whispering behind their back. At a business meal or meeting, your phone should be on mute. And don’t look to see who called in or texted you until afterward.

Basic rules of email etiquette:

Use “reply all” judiciously. In most instances, only the person who sent out the email needs to see your reply. Don’t burden everyone on the list with unnecessary email.

Make completing the address line the last thing you do. Fill in the name and address of the recipient the last step you take. Hit “send” only after you have carefully proofed your message.

What to post on social media:

Only what you want the whole world to see. Not only can your friends view what you post, others can repost, copy, share or retweet anything you put out.

Behaviors in a cubicle workplace:

Be courteous and respectful of your coworkers. Keep noise, smells and other distractions to a minimum. When talking on the phone, keep your voice low.

Punctuality:

Being on time is a basic courtesy. People who are chronically late show disrespect for coworkers and colleagues and send a message that their time is more valuable than other people’s time.

Travel etiquette:

Don’t crowd the boarding area. Move up only when your section is called. Stow your bags quickly and sit down so others may pass. Don’t treat your seat as if it is your living room recliner. Once off the plane avoid crowding the baggage carousel. Step forward only when you see your bags.

When to send a handwritten note:

Any time someone has gone out of the way to offer you a kindness, given you a gift or treated you to a meal. Nothing is as impressive or rare today as the handwritten note.

If you keep these workplace etiquette tips top of mind, you will enjoy a successful year.

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 she can help you or your employees add the polish that builds profits.

Lydia’s mantra is “Etiquette and manners are not about following rules; they are about building relationships.”

 

 

 

 

 

Email Etiquette – When Will We Ever Learn?

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lip piercingOne of my favorite TV show is NCIS. My attraction is more to the characters than the plot. I am particularly fascinated with Leroy Jethro Gibbs and his 50 or so “rules.” In case you do not know, Rule #1 is “Never let suspects stay together.” That has nothing to do with email etiquette, but everything to do with Ramsey’s Rules, particularly Ramsey’s Rules of Etiquette.

Ramsey’s Rule #1 of Email Etiquette: “Never put in an email anything that you could not bear to hear or see on the national news the next day.”

It seems that this error is not one that is limited to the rank and file office worker. It is an issue for people in high places. If you’ve been paying attention to the national news lately, you know what I am talking about.

No matter your position or your pay grade, your email is not exempt from worldwide exposure.

So let me remind you once again to never put anything in an email that you are not willing to have viewed across the globe. You never know when your email might be hacked or when some co-worker might be looking for a bit of revenge.  Whatever the case, you will ultimately pay the price.

What is the solution? If you have something private, controversial or confidential to share, stay away from the Internet. Pick up the phone or arrange a private meeting.

Bonus rule: Never send an email when you are angry, upset or inebriated. Once it leaves your inbox, it will live until eternity.

More information on email etiquette is available in my best-selling book, Manners That Sell. For a quick read, I have published an article on “The Top Twelve Email Mistakes That Can Sabotage Your Career.”

Photo from Savannah magazine

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 Business Apology: How to Say You’re Sorry

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ApologyToday there was an article in my local paper, the Savannah Morning News, about a new restaurant in town. While this recently opened establishment, Cotton and The Rye, is getting rave reviews for its cuisine, this article was touting their outstanding customer service. It all had to do with the art of the business apology and how the owners handled a major snafu that enraged more than a few customers.

A business apology can be worth its weight in gold and is not something that is always done properly. There is an art to the apology. When handled correctly, an apology can build customer loyalty and enhance business growth; still it’s amazing how many people don’t know how, when, or even why to apologize.

Let me suggest nine steps to a good business apology.

  1. Say, “I’m sorry.” In spite of what your lawyer may have told you, those should be the first words out of your mouth.
  2. Be sincere. Your body language and tone of voice need to match your words.  People believe what they see more than what they hear. Look and sound as if you truly are sorry. And by the way, feel it.
  3. React quickly. An apology that is several days old loses its credibility and effectiveness.
  4. Drop the excuses. Take responsibility for whatever you said or did. You weaken your apology when you start piling on excuses such as “I was having a bad day” or “I just broke up with my girlfriend.” The last sentence actually came straight out of the mouth of a server in a restaurant.
  5. Forget the blame game. It does not matter whose fault it was. It happened.
  6. Make amends. Do whatever you can do set things right. I recently sent one of my products to a customer. The item did not arrive on the day I promised, and I had an unhappy individual on my hands. To set things right, I said  I was sorry and would send a replacement overnight. There was a significant cost to me, but I won over a customer who has since come back to me for additional products or services.
  7. Don’t get defensive. Once you get your dander up, you are headed for trouble and will only make the situation worse. One of my favorite sayings is “Never argue with an idiot. Those watching may not be able to tell the difference.”
  8. Listen without interrupting. When customers get upset, they need to vent.  Often they require something to chew on and that may be you. Let them. You may learn something important from what they say.
  9. Finally, don’t go overboard and over-apologize. Make your first apology your last. Say what you need to say and do what you need to do to make things right, then move on. You will only make things  worse by excessively apologizing. As the saying goes, “When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”

People can come up with any number of reasons not to apologize, but there are just as many for saying “I’m sorry.” Number one on that list is because it is the right thing to do. Not only that, it is good customer service which is good for business and business growth.

Photo from Savannah magazine

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