Tag Archives: workplace etiquette

Acknowledging Loss in the Workplace

Posted on by

Acknowledging loss in the workplace is difficult. When a colleague, co-worker or business associate loses a family member, do you find yourself wondering what to do? Are you afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing? Often the result of uncertainty is that you end up doing and saying nothing and later regretting it. A business owner who attended one of my presentations confessed that when faced with the loss of an employee or an employees’ family member, he found himself hiding behind “busyness”, ignoring the death because he didn’t know what to do. Don’t let that be you.

Let these tips on the etiquette of sympathy be your guide to acknowledging loss:

When someone you work with suffers a loss, the kindest thing you can do is to acknowledge the passing. It is just as important to show your sorrow in a business relationship as it is in a personal one. Don’t withhold your support because you are uncomfortable.  It’s not about you.

Attend the funeral or visitation even when you did not know the person who died.  You are there for your colleague or friend—the survivor who is suffering. If you can’t make the funeral or memorial service, go by the funeral home and sign the register book. Another option is to leave an acknowledgement in the online guest book.

Acknowledge family members who are present. Introduce yourself and speak to as many as you can, not just the ones you already know.  Explain your relationship to the deceased. No one should have to guess who you are and what your connection may be.

When you see the family, talk about the person who has passed. Share your favorite memories with the family.  This is a time when people need to hear stories about the person they have lost.  Laughter and happy stories, as well as ones of praise, are healing.

Write a note of condolence in addition to attending the service.  People will keep those handwritten expressions of sympathy and treasure them for years.

Whatever you do, don’t send your sympathy via e-mail unless you are in Outer Mongolia and that is your only option.  Electronic mail lacks the personal touch that this painful time deserves. In today’s online world, there is usually a guest book on the funeral home website where you can also express your thoughts in the proper context.

Offer to help where you can in order to leave the family free to grieve.  The most mundane chores or errands can be a tremendous help. Whatever you do, try not to say, “If there is anything you need….” That’s not helpful at all since those grieving have no idea what to ask for. Suggest things that you are willing and able to do.

Once the funeral is over, stay in touch.  Reaching out as time goes by can be more meaningful than your initial response at the time of the death.

Forget what people say about a year of grief—grief lasts longer than a year. Mark the date of the death on your calendar. Call, visit or send a note on the anniversary of the loss.

Part of building relationships can be sharing the saddest of times.  If you know what is expected when acknowledging loss, you will be more confident and more likely to do what serves others best.

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. Learn how her presentations, workshops and resources can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

Workplace Etiquette – Getting Off on the Right Foot

Posted on by


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.


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.”