May 15, 2009

Good manners are the lubricating oil of organizations

Peter Drucker, political economist and management consultant (1909-2005), said that.

One coworker told me she hovers at cubicles, waiting for people to get off the phone. Solution: I try to find a chair close by to sit down and wait until I can hear that person is free.

I find it frustrating to try to get the attention of someone who has on headphones and is ensconced by high walls. More on cubicles, Those cubicles, May 22, 2007

What to do?
One commenter this week asked “When someone sneezes hard in a meeting, should you say "God Bless You" or does that just draw more attention to the sneezing co-worker??? If someone sitting next to you falls asleep, during a long meeting, should you nudge them or just leave them alone??”

Solutions: “And while most people know that it’s polite to say “excuse me” after sneezing or “gesundheit” when someone else does……..”
Source: Puffs tissues, made by Procter & Gamble, with suggestions from The Emily Post Institute. (I couldn’t find anything else on the sneezing question.)

Someone falls asleep next to you in a meeting . I can find no information on this. May I answer…… depends? It depends on how well you know the person; if really well, I’d nudge him or her. If the person is drooling or making noises, I’d nudge him or her.

Food in the workplace is a hot topic. Personally, I cringe when I hear the scraping of flatware on china in the cubicles….as if I’m in a restaurant. Food in common areas—eat and drink only what you’ve put in the refrigerator or been told is community food. Clean up after yourself and once in a while, clean up the common areas. Don’t we all have to do that at home? If someone repeatedly does not clean up after him- or herself, I’d ask that person to please wash the tabletop, do the dishes. If it’s a community room, the community should use it, clean up and police it.

The etiquette we appreciate
Two comments on Monday’s post help end National Etiquette Week.
“I really appreciate the person who greets me at the front desk or on the phone who is cheerful, professional and ready to assist me.”

“I like the Disney philosophy. All employees are "cast members" and are part of the "show." What a difference it would make if we all thought of our jobs in that way - or all of our lives. How can we improve someone else's experience?”

Remember, etiquette is a code of conduct. It has a practical purpose. It puts you and those you interact with at ease in social and business settings. It’s being polite and considerate of others. It is often common sense.

May 14, 2009

How’s your netiquette?

Netiquette is etiquette over networks including mailing lists, blogs, forums, email and all the places we post on the Internet. Netiquette focuses on professionalism, good communication and maintaining a tenable work environment.

We are learning that most anything posted on the Internet can become public even though we may not think about that as we’re typing a message.

Social media
This post is now the most visited on this blog: Failing the civility test in social media, July 31, 2008,

I’ve written a great deal about email; these are listed by most visited at the top of the list.

Email anatomy, Oct. 24, 2007

Email emotions—duplicity and anger including sarcasm, loaded phrases and rhetorical questions, July 9, 2007

Subject: Your professionalism shows in email, April 25, 2007

The strengths and weaknesses of email, Aug. 8, 2007

Think before you send. Send email you would like to receive. June 26, 2007

Work email and personal email are quite different in two ways, Aug. 13, 2007

The six types of email, Aug. 22, 2007

The human touch, alternatives to email, June 28, 2007

9 Email Resolutions for 2009, Jan. 6, 2009

Will your email or text message make the news?, March 21, 2008

May 13, 2009

Do you have a dress code for the workplace?

Written dress codes may be a largely a thing of the past but there are workplaces with that touch of civility left. In Panama City, I stayed in an apartment with a balcony overlooking a government building. For three mornings, I watched people come to work and it was an odd exception to see someone not in a suit. Women wore pants or skirts, but always with matching suit jackets. They were navy which made me believe there was a code. The blouses and shoes varied. The cuts of the suits varied.

Last week I received a volunteer newsletter from the city hospital, Mary Greeley Medical Center. I was surprised, actually, to read this paragraph:
Dress code reminder
As we approach warmer weather, we need to be mindful of the MGMC dress code. As you know this includes no shorts or Capri pants. Sandals are allowed however, flip-flops are not. Any open toed sandals must be worn with socks, pantyhose or tights. And legs must be covered completely with pantyhose or tights when wearing a skirt.
(I volunteer for meals on wheels and they haven’t thus far enforced this dress code for that activity.)

Business casual
Giovinella Gonthier in ‘Rude Awakenings: Overcoming the Civility Crisis in the Workplace’ says we’ve never been taught what ‘business casual’ means. She provides a rule: The more you deal with a client’s money, future or family, the more conservative a role you should present. She says dress according to your activities and responsibilities for that particular day, keeping in mind your industry, company’s dress code and your position within the organization. She defines standard business casual as a top, bottom and third piece such as a casual jacket, sweater, tie, scarf or vest. For more casual, she drops the third piece.

What really sets people apart is the care of the clothing such as polished shoes and pressed shirts plus grooming and posture.

Your appearance helps define your attitude for the day. If you feel good about yourself…….you’re set for a good day.

May 12, 2009

4 rules for cell phone etiquette in the office

There are personal cell phones. Increasingly people have office cell phones, sometimes the land lines are gone.

Courtesy is still king, even in this high-tech, fast-paced, instant communication era. Cell phones need to be handled like other technologies that have been assimilated into appropriate usage.

1. Cell phone ring
If you have a cell phone at work, the ring should be professional and tolerable rather than annoying. Many people will hear it. Putting cell phones on vibrate mode or silent are options; vibrating phones left unattended on desktops are annoying.

2. Cell phone volume – ring and conversation
How loud is your office phone? How loud do you talk into your landline phone? Those are good gauges for cell phone ring volume and voice volume. There's no need to speak any louder into a wireless phone than a landline phone.

3. Cell phone interruptions
Taking a call no matter where you are or what you are doing with no regard to what or who you are interrupting is rude. Technology is not a substitute for common sense.

4. Personal cell phone calls
(How acceptable are personal calls in your office? Are there rules or guidelines? What is the culture?)
Keep personal conversations brief or go to a private area, perhaps outside. If you use a private room, don’t slam the door when you go in. Maintain at least a 10-foot zone from anyone while talking. Don’t have inappropriate conversations in public.

Send a message with your cell phone use
Be respectful of those around you and use discretion when it comes to placing and taking cell phone calls in public---including in the workplace. Your coworkers will thank you for your civility.

Related post
Was a cell phone invited to your meeting or dinner? Feb. 26, 2008

May 11, 2009

It’s National Etiquette Week--May 11-15

This week is a time to raise awareness of courtesy, civility, kindness and manners, a time to rally more people to act with good manners in their everyday lives.

Etiquette is a code of conduct. It has a practical purpose. It puts you and those you interact with at ease in social and business settings. It’s being polite and considerate of others. It is often common sense.

Etiquette evolves over time and varies from community to community, particularly by different cultures so it’s important to observe the etiquette in a particular setting. Some etiquette is written; some is unwritten.

This week, I’m going to focus on office etiquette in the United States. Office etiquette can cover interaction within an office or interactions with external contacts such as customers and suppliers. Workplace etiquette is being professional and recognizing you are in a public place. It is being less intrusive and more considerate of those you work with.

So what should I cover under this broad topic?
Cell phones, desk phones, cubicles, meetings, conversations, Internet use including email, food and drink in the office, dress code, what and how to communicate. I’m sure there are more.

You tell me. I’m scheduled to give a talk on office etiquette in October.

What good manners and bad manners do you observe in the workplace today? What do others do that is considerate and you come away thinking---that was really nice? And conversely, what interrupts your work day and seems intrusive?

July 08, 2008

Manners and knowledge of etiquette on display at conferences

Many believe civility means etiquette and manners. I consider them a small component. Stories from the eXtension conference last month--

Attentive and formal service
Setting: The Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky is elegant. Doormen and women open the hotel doors each time you enter or leave. The housekeepers’ attire is women in dresses with aprons and men in vests.

Formal meals
At each table women are always served before men. Plates are served on your left side, removed on your right. Even if you don’t know all the etiquette, you can pick up quite a bit by observation. The number of utensils and placement give you clues if there will be dessert and number of courses. They also should signal if you use your one fork and knife during the first course that you should keep it for the entrée.

As I watched several at my table being asked to retain their forks from the first course plate, I thought how the servers understood etiquette better than those they were serving. How do you keep the servers from having to ask if you’ve finished?

The etiquette
Place your knife and fork with handles at the 4 o'clock position and the tines of the fork down to signal to the server that you are done.

Informal meals
One evening I went to The Bluegrass Brewing Company with six men ages probably 25 to 60. Current residences: three from North Carolina and one each from Arkansas, Virginia and California. The waitresses served everyone except me. Time passed and still my main-course salad was not in sight.

The etiquette
Do not start eating until every person is served or those who have not been served request that you begin without waiting.

I asked them to please begin eating. One of the youngest from North Carolina set the tone, “Our mothers didn’t teach us that way. We don’t eat until everyone is served.” A salute to mothers and all others who teach etiquette. And to those who learn on their own.

You are more comfortable in any setting when manners are second-nature.

Questions and answers about table manners from Manners International

The Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky

Etiquette, one aspect of decorum, is a code that governs the expectations of social behavior, according to the contemporary conventional norm within a society, social class or group.

Manners are standards of conduct which show the person to be cultured, polite and refined.