Tag Archives: protocol

Graduation Ceremony – Excitement or Solemnity?

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Imagine my delight yesterday when I was contacted by a reporter from FoxNews.com wanting to interview me about proper behavior at graduation ceremonies?  The genesis of the article came from two separate incidents where parents, families and friends were accused of cheering too loudly when their family members were awarded their diplomas.

One mother was arrested for her behavior. In the other incident the graduate was denied his diploma. The full article “Pomp and consequence: Officials crack down on outbursts at graduations” describes in detail the events and the reactions.

Graduation is a time for celebration and excitement. The question raised here is just how much of a display of emotion is appropriate and at what point during the event. The ceremony itself is one of dignity, formality and solemnity.  While clapping as each graduate receives that hard-earned diploma is traditional, excessive cheering  yelling and whistling are not.  These displays of emotion should be reserved for the conclusion of the service and are generally initiated by members of the graduating class.

Managing the balance between enthusiasm and dignity is difficult. The problem in both cases was that the cheering interfered with the orderly flow of the ceremony, kept the next recipient’s name from being heard and prevented that student from receiving the recognition he deserved.

When it comes to etiquette and protocol, it is a never a matter of being stuffy or aloof.  As I stress repeatedly in my book, Manners That Sell, it is always about kindness, courtesy and showing respect for others. I think that is what was missing on these occasions.

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

Business Etiquette – A Checklist for Success

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Business etiquette essentials smallIs it really important to learn the rules of etiquette and protocol in today’s high-speed, high-tech world of business? Do you really need to spend time thinking about how to make a proper introduction, when to present your business card and which fork to use? The answer is an unqualified “yes.” If you care about increasing your confidence, projecting a professional image, developing lasting relationships with your colleagues and clients and becoming a polished professional, etiquette skills are the powerful tools to help you avoid embarrassments and distractions and focus on your personal and professional goals, not to mention the bottom line.

To be successful and effective in your career, it is not enough to be an expert in your field or offer superior products and services. If you want to outclass and outlast your competition—and there is plenty of it—you need to have interpersonal skills. You need to know how to:

  1. Greet others with grace.
  2. Make business introductions with poise.
  3. Dine with dignity, as either the host or guest.
  4. Mix and mingle with ease at networking events.
  5. Start and stop a conversation with confidence.
  6. Write email that positions you as a professional.
  7. Practice effective meeting behavior both in person and by phone.
  8. Dress for success, always with the client in mind.
  9. Contribute personally to a more productive and harmonious work environment.
  10. Understand the nuances as well as the universal truths about international etiquette.

The rules of etiquette are a common language that all successful professionals must learn to speak. These skills will give you an edge that can make the difference between you and another person who is just as smart and equally as well-trained and educated. The difference is that knowing the rules of business etiquette will put you at ease and make your colleagues and clients more comfortable with you so that you can focus your agenda and not on yourself.

People choose to do business with people they like, but you already know that. Successful relationships begin when you exhibit courtesy, kindness and respect others. Knowing and practicing good manners in the workplace adds the polish that builds profits. Taking the time to learn the rules of business etiquette and protocol is a worthwhile investment.

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

The Secret to Attracting More Customers

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As I travel around the country and the world, I am constantly struck by the lack of manners today. Few business people seem to place any value on common courtesy, which translates into customer service, which then translates into profits. The lack of business etiquette skills runs the gamut from polite dining, professional dressing to such simple acts as saying “Thank you” to a customer or an employee.  Very few people bother with expressing any sort of appreciation.  Every customer needs to hear those words whether they come from the top executive of the car dealership that sold you a new BMW or the cashier at the check out counter who rang up your toothpaste.

Customers should to be thanked for coming in, waiting to be helped, holding for you on the phone, making a purchase or simply showing interest in a product or service.  It is not rocket science and requires no advanced degrees. It is easy to implement when it comes from the top down.  When the CEO thanks his employees, those people are more inclined to thank the customers.  It is “viral” as we say. When the organization offers formal training in business etiquette, it makes an even greater impact.

The hospitality industry is the best at expressing appreciation to their clients. They actually spend the time and the money to train their employees in good manners. I recently presented a program at an association convention that was held at the Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island. The effort that the Ritz puts into training its employees is obvious.  It struck me that the courteousness of the staff carried over to the guests who interacted with total strangers in the same gracious way.

Something else that I have noticed in the hospitality industry is the emphasis that is placed on greeting guests properly and promptly. When you are on the road as much as I am, it makes a huge difference to be called by name each time you enter a lobby, pass by the reception desk or eat in the hotel restaurant.

Then they go a step further. They teach employees the correct answer to a “Thank you.”  In 99% of the hotels where I have stayed while taking my “Manners That Sell” presentations on the road, when I thank an employee, their answer is either “You are welcome” or “It is my pleasure.”  The rest of the world seems to think that the response to a “Thank you” is “No problem.”  Who suggested that there was a problem?

You can be like every other company and disregard the simple “thank you” or you and your employees can make it a requirement.  You’ll be surprised at how those few words “thank you” and “you are welcome” will set you apart from your competitors and how adding a bit of polish will build profits. Be different from everyone else–be polite.

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

Every Week Should Be National Business Etiquette Week

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According to Chase’s Calendar of Events this week, June 5-11, is National Business Etiquette Week. This is the official time to recognize and promote etiquette in the workplace.  It’s probably a good idea to dedicate at least this one week of the year to the observance of good manners and proper protocol, but it seems to me that we should be doing this every day, every week and every month of the year.  I had the same feeling about May as National Smile Month.  Shouldn’t we smile all the time, not just in May?

As someone who has devoted her professional life to promoting business etiquette, I am more than a little biased on this subject.  I firmly believe that any individual or organization that wants to be successful and profitable needs to place a high value on manners and understand what it means to treat others with courtesy, kindness and respect.  To help in observance of National Business Etiquette Week, here are a few quick tips:

1.  Always ask permission before placing someone on hold, and wait until you hear the response before doing so.

2. Give callers your full attention. It is obvious if you are multi-tasking during a conversation.

3. When sending email, keep it brief.  Email is intended to be fast and efficient.  A wordy message will go go straight to the deleted items.

4. Choose your words carefully when writing email.  Remember that email has no tone and words can easily be misunderstood.

5. In the realm of socail media, use different accounts for your personal and professional connections or websites. It is never good to mix business and pleasure.

6. Never put anything on the Internet that you don’t want the entire world to see. The Internet is not a secure place, and as many people have already learned, you can pay a high price for inappropriate content or photos.

Business etiquette is not something to be demonstrated on an occasional or “as-needed” basis.  Adding the polish that builds profits should be a daily commitment, not a monthly or annual one.

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

Smiling is Good Manners and Good for Business

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Did you know that May is National Smile Month? Depending on where you live in the world, you may not. It actually began in the United Kingdom and is now one of the biggest not-for-profit events in Europe. It is managed by the British Dental Health Foundation in an effort to promote good oral health. I applaud the cause, but I see National Smile Month as having implications for the business world beyond dentistry.

Think about what a smile can mean for your business. What if every customer who walked through your door was greeted with a smile?  What if every customer who called your business could hear you smiling over the phone?  When the transaction was over, how would your customers feel if you smiled and thanked them for their business?

Do you think it would impact your bottom line?  The answer is obvious. A smile is one of the easiest ways to build your business. Not only do your customers feel good, you and your employees get the same positive benefit.

Some days you may not feel like smiling.  Perhaps it is late in the afternoon and you haven’t had a chance to eat your lunch. Just as you head to an out-of-the-way spot to grab your sandwich, someone walks in the door. You really have to work to smile.  Perhaps the last person you spoke to on the phone just chewed you out. When the phone rings again, if you haven’t recovered from that unpleasant experience, a grin is hard to come by.  Every customer deserves a pleasant greeting no matter how you feel.

In addition to exceptional services and products, people want three things from those with whom they do business. None of the three will cost you a cent.  People want and need:

  • Eye contact
  • A smile
  • To hear their name

If you and your employees didn’t practice smiling during the month of May, it is not too late.  Do it every day from now on, make it a priority and reap the benefits.

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

Are Good Manners Taboo in Today’s Business World?

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Have you noticed a theme about manners and etiquette lately?  There seems to be a question about the importance of polite behavior.  More and more people are asking:

  1. Are good manners a thing of the past?
  2. Is it important to be nice?
  3. How do you spell “respect”?
  4. What difference does it make if you know which fork to use?
  5. What is all the fuss about a firm handshake?
  6. If I am good at my job, what does it matter how I dress for work?

The list goes on, and I am sure that you could suggest a few questions of your own.  If you have any that you’d like to add or ask, please email me so I can publish and answer them in my upcoming blog posts.

As one of my loyal subscribers, you already know where I stand on this issue. Good manners and an in-depth knowledge of business etiquette are key to personal and professional success. Some people seem to forge ahead without any polish, but the most successful ones understand how important it is to treat clients, colleagues and total strangers with courtesy and respect. Those people are the ones who ultimately prevail.

Not only does adding polish build profits, it’s good for your health. When you engage in acts of kindness, you actually feel better because your brain releases those wonderful endorphins that increase your well-being.

It doesn’t take more time out of your day to be polite. Knowing the rules of etiquette can guide you through awkward situations, impress others, make people feel comfotable and increase your bottom line.

The rules of etiquette are always changing and evolving, but the basics still hold true. Be kind, courteous and respectful, and you will reap the benefits.

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

 

Top Ten Tips on Business Card Etiquette

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Business CardBusiness cards are the staple of business success.  Nevertheless, I am constantly amazed by how few professionals pay attention to the etiquette of exchanging cards.  These are the very same people who seek information about the rules of networking, making positive first impressions and dressing for success.  You can work the crowd with ease, offer an impressive handshake and dress with finesse, but if you don’t know the fine points of giving and receiving business cards, all the rest can be a waste of time and effort.

Here are ten basic rules to follow for the profitable and productive exchange of business cards.

  1. Never leave your home or office without your cards and plenty of them.  There is nothing more unprofessional than the business person who has to say, “Oh, I’m sorry. I just gave out my last card.” or ” I’m sorry. I didn’t bring any with me.”
  2. Keep your cards in a business card case or in something that protects them from wear and tear.  A crumpled business card makes a poor first impression.
  3. Know where your business cards are at all times.  The person who has to go through every jacket and pants pocket or every nook and cranny of a briefcase to find those business cards loses credibility immediately.
  4. Hand them out with discretion. Those people who believe in doling them out in multiples of 12 send a message that their cards aren’t worth much.
  5. Give and receive cards with your right hand–the hand of discretion.  This can make a big difference when doing business internationally.
  6. Give the card so the person who is receiving it can read it without having to turn it around.
  7. Always make a comment about a card when you receive it. Note the logo, the business name or some other piece of information.  This places value on the card.
  8. Keep your business cards up to date.  When any of your contact information changes; run, don’t walk, to your nearest printer for new cards. It is substandard business etiquette to hand out cards on which you have crossed off an old phone number and written in the new one.
  9. Don’t write notes to yourself on someone else’s business card during the exchange unless they appear relevant.  For example, if someone asks me to send a copy of my book, Manners That Sell, it makes perfect sense to write “Send book” on the back of that card. However, that would not be the time to write “good lead to ABC organization” on the card. I do that later and out of sight.
  10. Avoid appearing aggressive with business cards.  Wait to be asked for yours. If that isn’t happening, ask the other person for a card.  Reciprocity generally follows.

Knowing the rules of business card etiquette is just one more way to add the polish that builds profits.

Here’s to better business card etiquette!

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Do you need personal etiquette coaching or would you like to 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 Nine Rules of Greeting Card Etiquette in the Business World

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You haven’t given out the first piece of Halloween candy yet, and you can’t even think about Thanksgiving dinner.  Nevertheless, it is not too soon to consider those holiday greeting cards–the ones you plan to send to your business clients and associates. Starting the process now will save you time and stress later. Here are my nine rules to guide you through the etiquette of holiday greeting cards in business.

1. Buy quality cards. Start with a high quality greeting card to show that you value your clients and colleagues.

2. Update your list. Make sure your list has current names and addresses.

3. Sign cards personally. Even if you have preprinted information on your card including your name, you need to add your personal signature and a brief handwritten message.

4. Hand write the address.  Don’t use computer-generated labels. They are impersonal and make your holiday wishes look like a mass mailing.

5. Consider whether to mail to the home or the business address. If you have a close relationship with the client or colleague, send the card to the home. If your relationship is more formal, mail it to the business address.

6. Use titles. Whether you are addressing the envelope to an individual or a couple, titles should always be used. It’s “Mr. John Doe,” not “John Doe,” or “Mr. and Mrs. John Doe,” rather that “John and Mary Doe.”

7. Be sensitive to religions. Find out which holiday the recipient observes. Don’t send a Christmas card to the person who observes Hanukkah.

8. Avoid the mail rush. Mail your business greeting cards in time to arrive for the designated holiday. If you find yourself addressing the envelopes on Super Bowl Sunday, keep the cards until next year and send out a note thanking people for their business during the previous year instead.

9. Don’t even think about sending an e-card in business.  You might save time and money, but you’ll lose the personal touch.

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

Professional Dress: What to Wear to Work

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Dorothy was right in the Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home.”

As a loyal reader of my blog, you know that I left in January for three weeks in India. My first trip-and there will be more-was incredible. It is an amazing country filled with kind, courteous and warm people in addition to a wealth of history and tradition. I am eagerly looking forward to my return to Bangalore in just a few weeks. Meanwhile I am enjoying the familiarity of home and close contact with family and friends.

As soon as I returned home, I was off to do a keynote presentation for an organization on the other side of my home state, Georgia. The organization that engaged me for their annual in-service training day had approximately 130 staff members in attendance. Under the umbrella of “Excellence in Etiquette,” I addressed the key issues of business manners: powerful first impressions, greetings and introductions, telephone courtesy, e-mail etiquette, getting along with co-workers, handling difficult people and professional dress. The latter hit some hot buttons.

Appropriate attire for the workplace has become a challenging topic for all concerned-employers and employees. Since the introduction of business casual, very few people seem to be clear on what to wear to work.

This brief newsletter will not allow me to cover all the issues about professional dress. If you want more information fast, I refer you to chapter four of Manners That Sell – Adding the Polish That Builds Profit. You can download the electronic version of the entire book in minutes. If you can stand to wait, I am writing a book on “Dressing for Work” and will let you know as soon as it is available.

In the meantime, here are a few points to consider no matter which side of the aisle you are on when it comes to choosing your business wardrobe.

  • Business attire is not about the latest fashion.
  • Business attire has nothing to do with personal comfort.
  • The primary considerations for business attire are:
  • The industry in which you work.
  • The job you have.
  • The climate in which you live.
  • What your client expects to see.

You may need to reconsider your choice of workplace wardrobe if:

  • You have to defend or apologize for what you are wearing.
  • You have to ask yourself as you stare into your closet, “Should I wear this to work?”
  • You don’t have to change your clothes when you get home from work.
  • This is a thorny subject for many people. Ultimately it is a personal choice of sorts. The choice is whether you want to be seen as professional or questionable.

More Business Meal Tips

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  1. When you are entertaining one client, sit next to each other at a right angle rather than across the table.
  2. When you entertain two clients put one across from you and the other to your side.  You don’t want to look like a ping pong ball.
  3. At a breakfast meeting time is short so get down to business quickly. At lunch, wait until you have ordered so you won’t be interrupted.
  4. Dinner, even for a business meal is the more social occasion, is a time for rapport building.
  5. If the food or service is poorly executed at a business meal excuse yourself to discuss any problems with the staff in private.
  6. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink at the business meal.  The three Martini lunch is mostly a thing of the past.