Anna Soo Wildermuth

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Here I'll give you up to date tips on developing your personal and professional image to ensure your first impression will be your best impression. Also I will blog about current image and communication blunders. Feel free to join the discussion by leaving comments, and stay updated by subscribing to the RSS feed. Thanks for visiting my blog. – Anna

Change One Thing is a superb book that gives excellent advice to help jumpstart your engine." Stephen R. Covey, author, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

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Archive: Business Etiquette

Strategy for table conversation

voiceGood conversations while dining with a client are important in forging relationships. The main folks to focus on are the individuals to the right and left of you. If the noise level is low, include both parties in the discussion.

Refrain from conversing to someone directly across the table especially if the table sits ten. The rule is to never discuss religion, politics or intimate personal issues. If asked about any of these subjects, it is best to deflect and begin a new topic and always err on the inclusive side.

Appropriate conversations

24Recently, I was with a group of professional men and women. One of the women turned to me and asked how I knew so much about sports, the stock market, etc. Being fortunate enough to have clients in several sectors, including the automobile industry, I found that small talk is critical to forging relationships.

Talking about diets, weight gain, or the latest color unless it is for a uniform project, would not be of interest. Not now or ever, in fact, due to the volatile political climate, is politics considered small talk.

Personal Space

Thumbs upThe personal space standard, when standing with a person or groups in conversation, is one arm’s length. Business today continues to be gender neutral with sensitivity whether in formal or casual settings. The only touch would be a handshake depending the culture of the individuals involved. This guideline is even more important today to prevent any misunderstandings.

21st century phone etiquette

giftboxAt a recent social function, my phone was being passed around to show a picture recently taken of the group. A person in the photo had possession of the phone and decided to email the picture out.

The only one allowed to send pictures out is the person who owns the phone or the one s / he gives permission to perform that function. With the unpredictability of social media today and the lack of privacy, releasing a picture should have the permission of everyone in it prior to sending it out or posting the photo on Facebook.

Holiday career destroyers

voiceA potential landmine during the season of cheer is the company or client holiday party. This is a time meant to build relationships not destroy or put them on life support.

It is a time not to drink or talk too much. Always remember to smile and refrain from discussing politics or religion. Avoid pouring your heart out or telling secrets to your boss or a colleague. Just build relationships.

Greeting left to right

networking-pic-gifRecently, I was at an event with a group and a friend greeted me. He looked confused on how to start shaking hands or even to say hello. This was a social gathering and everyone was friends.

Always begin left to right when greeting a large group. The only time you don’t use the left to right process is in a business situation where you begin with the most important person in the group. It can be the client or the most senior person in the room. Hugs are only allowed with permission. This also holds true when making introductions.

Being an etiquette scold is not good etiquette.

24Let’s face it: when it comes to etiquette – which usually means simply exhibiting good manners in public – most of us are victims of a double standard. There is the standard to which you and I hold ourselves; and then there is the substantially lower standard which we and most of society find minimally acceptable. And we have learned over time that trying to help others move up to a higher standard is a losing proposition. The reason is a particular Catch-22 in the etiquette rulebook which dictates that calling someone out on a breach of etiquette is itself a breach of etiquette. Even if you attempt to delicately point out to your friend in private his opportunity for improvement, don’t count on any gratitude in return. Your best bet will be to make your point as best you can through the example you quietly project, recognizing that the only benefit, in all likelihood, will be the personal satisfaction you can take from at least attempting to raise the bar for civilized behavior.

Agree to disagree

coaching 2Today’s political environment is so charged that family members sometimes end up not talking to each other. Recently, I was riding in a car and the conversation turned challenging. I requested we not talk about politics unless we could agree to discuss by listening to each other’s point of view. We also agreed if we could not agree to disagree we should talk about other topics instead. If an agreement cannot be made to agree to disagree, then it is better not to discuss politics or any highly charged topic.

Breaking bread

networking-pic-gifSharing a meal with a new manager or employee is a great way to get to know each other on neutral ground. If time and geography allow, I always meet a potential new client before a proposal is written.

Recently, while coaching a group, it came up that they never had the opportunity to share a meal together. Food can be brought in during a lunch time. Since that time they had several opportunities to share a meal including once to celebrate and another time as they collaborated on a long project. Taking a client out for lunch or dinner as a thank you or just to get to know them can serve many purposes. I highly recommend it.

Being on time – a rare professional quality

alice-wonderland-rabbit-clockI often hear complaints about those who are never on time. They arrive late, run overtime in meetings causing extended sessions that nobody wants. Everyone is busy and it shows a lack of respect for those waiting. Here are some tips to stay on time:

• Plan to arrive 15 minutes early
• Plan a 60-minute meeting agenda for 50 minutes
• If you need more time as a presenter, ask for it in the beginning of the talk
• Always assume everyone’s schedules are busier than yours