Archives For etiquette

This article nails it. It’s true. Knowing etiquette means knowing what to do, and knowing what to do gives confidence.

http://www.parents.com/kids/responsibility/manners/

Good manners give a child the confidence to face anything and feel comfortable…

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It happens all the time.

The people that matter, the people you’re sending a letter, the people who will read it or see it, they will know if you get it wrong.

They will know you don’t know what you’re doing—unless you have a reliable point of reference to check your work and to answer your question.

It happened to me today. I’m addressing a letter to a personal friend of mine, I have known him for years. He happens to be the president of a university.

On the inside I write Dear, (first name) because, like I said, I know him, it would be pretentious for me to put a full title inside a personal hand-written letter to a friend.

But the envelope must be right. How do you address a letter to the president of a university?

Who cares?

  • I do/you do
  • His/her assistant
  • He/she will know (not because of pretentiousness, but because as I said above, the people you address, will know you got it wrong and, even if just for an instant, they will wonder why)

There’s a solution, an answer, a book and web site you absolutely must know about.

Sometimes it seems like a small detail, but forms of address carry the same weight as proper spelling of one’s name. You wouldn’t want to spell someone’s name wrong, you don’t want to get the form of address wrong either.

Robert Hickey’s book must be on your shelf, in your library, in your office, and anyone sending/addressing correspondence on your behalf must have access to it.

It is a small thing.book_cover_SM

But everything speaks.

Don’t say anything you didn’t intend to say because you got something small “wrong.”

Order Honor and Respect HERE

Use the online resource HERE

We arrived at the Ritz, and our impression was . . .

Wow, they really messed up.

Someone, somewhere, failed to deliver a spotlessly clean hotel room. We were disappointed.

What we saw failed to live up to the standard expected from one of the best hotel organizations in the world. We did not feel the Ritz Carlton experience at that moment. We discovered the condition of the room too late to do anything about it that evening. With both kids soundly sleeping in the adjoining rooms, this had to be put off until tomorrow.

It happens.

Quality customer satisfaction is terribly challenging. Most people outside the service industry cannot grasp the difficulty faced by management and workers each day. Setting a high standard for service comes with a price. When you deliver ‘perfect’ you run the risk of being ignored. That’s right. As Jimmy Collins points out, people seldom notice perfect. “The absence of error or defect” defines perfection; errors and defects jump out at us and grab our attention. The smooth and snag-free nature of perfection sometimes escapes our notice. If nothing jumps up at us as wrong, interrupts our train of thought, annoys us or causes us discomfort, we sometimes do not take notice.

Most businesses do everything possible in order to prevent failures, errors, and lapses in service and quality. Training and retraining with the goal of standardizing service and reproducing quality at high levels requires a great deal of resources and personnel. Whole departments exist for “quality control” and “customer experience.” At times, the emphasis on quality becomes misguided. Too often, customers and clients find themselves bombarded with questionnaires and surveys after the fact. Most of them amount to waisted effort because the truth can be found in the number of complaints rather than the number of artificially harvested “kudos” for greatness.

Fractures in service happen. They just—happen. Despite our best efforts to eliminate them, they happen. When they happen, do not despair—something exceptional comes from deficiencies. Ask yourself: when you, your company, or your organization fail to deliver, despite processes and policies designed to prevent error, how well do you recover? The quality of your people and your training make the difference between convincing customers to return or to stay away. What happens next in situations like ours separates the professionals from the amateurs. How would this Ritz Carlton respond? What happens now?

We contacted the front desk the next day, explaining the situation and how we needed to speak to a supervisor as soon as possible. Within five minutes of our call, Paco Saldaña arrived to discuss the issues. He walked around our suite and listened as we pointed out to him things we believed fell below the standard of Ritz Carlton quality. His attitude and demeanor were nothing short of perfect for the situation.

Paco Saldaña demonstrated the qualities and character of a seasoned professional. He lives up to the Ritz Carlton standard of “ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” Here’s what Paco did and what he did not do:

1) He was not defensive

2) He did not make excuses

3) He listened, but more than that, he appeared to actually hear what we were saying from our perspective

4) He eagerly and sincerely responded to our concerns

5) He told us his plan of action to remedy the situation, quickly

6) He promised to be personally responsible for the results

We knew Paco took us seriously, understood the problem, and determined a course of action to remedy the situation immediately. He apologized, but did not waste our time with an explanation of “how this happened.” Customers do not care about inter-organizational challenges, how short-handed you are, or what happened last week that used up your resources. Instead, customers care about getting quality goods and services for their money. A good reason for the poor quality probably existed, but he did not share it with us. The truth is, life throws adversity at us constantly. We all face adversity, and we all have to get our jobs done despite it. Blaming others for failures accomplishes nothing other than tearing down a customer’s already weakened confidence in an organization.

Rarely do you find someone actually being an example of the qualities listed above because those qualities run counter to many natural tendencies. We want to deny, defend, explain, and make excuses. Doing the opposite of our nature takes time, training and modeling by example. Training and selection distinguishes organizations like Ritz Carlton apart from others. Paco quickly built up our confidence in him and his organization at a time we were in doubt.

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He delivered on his promises, but he did not stop there. Over-the-Top service requires skillful follow-up. The follow-up really sets things right. By following-up with us the next day and letting us know that he personally participated in the work done in our room, we knew he not only met our expectations but exceeded them. You should have seen the room and presentation when the work was complete. We now had a 5-star suite.

Quality organizations consists of quality individuals with an understanding that errors bring opportunities to deliver, meet, and exceed previous expectations. Errors grant us a chance to go “over the top” and deliver memorable service. In fact, the lingering memory of a fabulous recovery remains with us longer than the “wow” of perfection. Does this mean we ought to “mess up” so we can demonstrate how well we recover? No, not at all, we need not make errors and oversights on purpose, they occur frequently on their own.

What happened to our room? We came back to the room after turn-down and it gave us that Ritz Carlton experience once again. Paco knew how to react when something went wrong.

Get excited about errors. Look in advance for opportunities to set up an over-the-top impression. Recover well and regain your customer’s confidence.

Want to bring your career to a halt or worse?

If your answer is “no” then you ought to consider what you should and should not talk about at work.

We must control both what we say and how much we share in our professional life. The word “professional” turns many people off because they associate it with corporate stuffiness.

Definition of PROFESSIONALISM

1: the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person(see 1professional)

2: the following of a profession (as athletics) for gain or livelihood

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/professionalism

Consider the “conduct, aims, or qualities” of professionalism in relation to your conversation at work.

Success in your career can hinge on the appropriateness of your casual conversations at work. Aim high! Here are two resources that will help.

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/business/worklife/seven-things-you-shouldnt-tell-your-colleagues/story-fni0d8zj-1226586820029

http://careerplanning.about.com/od/workplacesurvival/tp/work_talk.htm

Do you ever feel awkward making an introduction?

Do you know who to introduce to whom?

Does it matter?

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Or, maybe you have figured this out—care to share any tips, pointers, or thoughts on how to introduce people without fear?

Maybe you’re comfortable in personal social situations, but a bit uncertain in professional social situations.

Please share your experience!

We’ll talk more about introductions as the week progresses . . .

Have you had any awkward moments making introductions—something memorable that occurred?

Or, how do you feel when you are introduced in a way that is respectful and courteous?

I have a little quiz for you. It might be a revealing way to determine whether or not you need to upgrade your wardrobe for business. Ready? OK. Answer this question and if your answer is “yes” then you need a clothing intervention.

Did you spend more time picking out the skin for your iPhone, iPad or Android than you did picking out what you wore to your last business meeting?

Don’t get the wrong impression; I appreciate the appearance of a sharply dressed smart phone just as much as the next person. But unless you intend to hold your phone or tablet in front of you all day, it is not likely going to be the first thing people will see. It also has very little to do with the first impression you make on a client.

How you present yourself at work should be given as much thought as how you would present yourself if everyone you will encounter today were to be rounded up and sat in an auditorium to hear a presentation from – YOU!

Judge Not!

I know what some of you are thinking. You want to point out that we are not supposed to judge people by what they wear. You are absolutely correct.

Meanwhile the rest of humanity will continue to judge you; if you do not pass the standards they are looking for, you will be passed over for someone who does.

Do not judge others, but do not be shocked that others are judging you. It’s going to happen.

Do you suppose you will have any luck transforming the world from being judgmental by dressing in a manner that is too casual or “original” when you go to work?

Choose Wisely . . .

Only you can make the right decisions and improve your personal presentation, and the presentation of your iPad case.

Everything Speaks!

It does not matter what kind of work you do, where you graduated from, or what training and experience may have accumulated; finding and keeping a job is challenging in 2012. I want to share with you how to increase your chances by keeping one thing in mind: everything speaks.

Obviously we speak with our words and body language; we speak through our resume and cover letter. But we also speak through other things that we may or may not be fully aware. For instance, we speak through our attire – what we wear at work every day or when we actually get that job interview speaks volumes.

Dressing too casually does not project a professional image. It can send the unintentional message that we do not take the job seriously.

We speak through our attitudes and actions. The following list of etiquette mistakes were put together by the Protocol School of Washington .

Top 5 Business Etiquette mistakes and how to correct them

  1. Unprofessional office attire (dress two levels above your position)
  2. Improper handshake (use a firm, web-to-web handshake)
  3. Poor eye contact (make eye contact 40% – 60% of the time in between the eyebrows)
  4. Poor dining skills (when in doubt watch the host)
  5. Cell phone rudeness (keep phones on vibrate and use your library voice)

85% of job success is connected with social skills

Social skills are no longer an option. Developing personal awareness of what we say through our attitudes and actions is a life-skill we can all develop and continuously improve. It is the little things that ‘speak’ – the little things we are constantly ‘saying’ with our actions that will either speak for us or against us at work.

Everything speaks – be aware of what you say!

Are You A Courteous Person?

The one thing courteous people understand is that courtesy means being willing to adjust your behavior to the needs and feelings of other people.

Courteous people understand that their fellow human beings are not perfect. They would never embarrass or degrade anyone – but rather do what is necessary to put everyone at ease. This is not to say that courteous people are spineless but that they operate from principles and know how to react in advance, when someone’s behavior or speech becomes inappropriate.

The most courteous people understand more than just the basics of the rules of etiquette. Some may not even know it by that name, but they live by it anyway. Etiquette is grounded in timeless principles; it never goes out of style. In our ever-changing world of codes and behaviors and new customs, etiquette prepares those who face and engage our others to be prepared and interact and behave with courtesy and respect for all.

Civilization would not be civilized if it were not held together by this glue of civility. Just think about places in the world that lack the value of civility and courtesy – human life and property are things that can be used to intimidate or manipulate other people. But in civilized cultures, we do not allow the threat of destruction of human life and property to be used in such a manner. To violate that code of conduct is to break civil law.

If Emily Post was right, and civility is the glue that holds our society together, imagine the bonding power it can have in our place of business, in our schools, and in our families. Whereas some adhesives do not hold as well when used excessively, this is one glue that we want to be used as much as possible.

Know someone who has made an impression on you with their courtesy? Let them know it. Or let them know it and tweet about it.