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: Civility

How to disagree – gracefully

award cup.magesDisagreements are normal when working on a project, vision or strategy. I have always felt a successful end game needs to have different points of view to achieve a positive outcome. Now, that does not mean to always handle disagreements with kid gloves or bare fists. The main goal is to focus on the result. Four key items to remember are:

• Respect the person or persons
• Stay with the facts
• Honor the opposing side
• Leave the door open to revisit

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.

Handshake Etiquette

conflict_resolution250WA handshake is a personal touch to establish a relationship. The dictionary states that a handshake is “a gripping and shaking of right hands by two individuals, as to symbolize greeting, congratulation, agreement, or farewell.”

I am continually surprised at the greeting handshakes that are either only finger tips touching or the grip is so strong it hurts. If you cannot shake hands for health reasons, just say I would love to shake your hand but I have a terrible cold or ___. It is better to speak up than to ignore shaking hands.
The five-star handshake is palm to palm, nice and firm with one or two pumps made while you look each other directly in the eye. This handshake says I want to get to know you.

Asking questions

26447en_USI_QuestionMarkOften, questions are asked in an intrusive manner during troublesome situations. The tone of voice is as culpable as words in creating a polarized environment as are gotcha questions. We see this in television interviews.

Clients with impressive technical skills sometimes act like bulls wandering in a china shop when asking questions. The message to others when this occurs is: I don’t want to work with you.

Start with what they do well and then ask how we can make the situation better to secure a successful result. When they offer what does not work begin to ask the “Why” question which, when answered truthfully, usually brings out a viable solution.

The Bad Boss

noRecently, I read a Chicago Tribune Business Section article about what makes a boss bad. Here are some of key findings:

• They do not recognize your achievements.
• They verbally abuse you in public.
• They pit you against your peers.
• They offer no support or tools to help you achieve results.
• They have no interest in you as a person only as a tool to achieve their goals.

How do you survive with a bad boss (And, I had more than one before starting out on my own!) The best way is to treat their unfortunate appearance as a learning experience. Also, keep in mind that these bad bosses treat everyone the same way so it is not personal.

Working through bad boss experiences helped me work with clients to make them better leaders.

Who pays for the meal?

conflict_resolution250WThe question comes up about who pays when dining together. A client never really pays. For friends and colleagues, the key is in the invite. The expectation is that the person who extends the invitation pays. However, if some says let’s meet for lunch, it is a shared expense.

Swimming with the sharks

sharksRecently, a well-known prime time news anchor tried to validate a point with a spokesperson by asking a question about a lie from the spokesperson’s team that appeared on the news. This anchor is known for integrity and has a knack for handling sensitive subjects with the guests on the show.

The spokesperson was a shark, a fast talker employing a high spin level skill at making observations and details sound like facts. The anchor, unfortunately, did not respond well even though he the truth was behind the question.

What I would recommend, is to ask the questions at least three times. Then, instead of doing the cha-cha with the guest, end the conversation on a high note by letting the other person to wallow in their own comments. Don’t swim with the sharks unless you possess some shark skills of your own!

 

Political correctness

A key laying on a piece of paper with the word "leadership" on it.

Lately, we have been hit by the media that political correctness doesn’t matter…that saying what you think is the best approach. I agree with ignoring rudeness from rude folks because taking the high road not to engage seems to be the right thing to do at times. I often wonder, though, if with that approach, we send the message that we are tacitly agreeable. Perhaps, a facial expression showing distaste may send the most appropriate message that we disagree with rudeness, arrogance and untruths.

Political chatter etiquette

ElephangAt a recent family event, several members sported political badges of the two opposing party nominees. It caused spirited conversations but many uncomfortable moments. This event was supposed to celebrate a milestone event bringing two families together!

A recent NYT article talks about folks going to therapists because of the presidential campaign. Folks are worried and anxious about this election. While I understand we all have the right to express our viewpoints, it would be nice to attend a joyous occasion and leave the politics at home. Remember the long standing etiquette rule: Never discuss politics or religion at an event!