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

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!

Anatomy of an apology

voiceAn apology for a transgression in a business situation can be a complicated thing, and it is so organically linked to the context that generalized protocols can be treacherous. Let’s start with this one: you aren’t ready to make an apology until you really mean it. The person to whom you are apologizing will have an acute ability to sense whether you are just going through the motions or are sincere. That person will also know if your transgression is a one-off, or whether it fits a pattern. If the latter, you will have much more work to do. And people can always tell whether you are apologizing for your deed, or only for having been caught. Many missteps are possible when making an apology. On the other hand, if you do it thoughtfully and meaningfully, you may do more than repair the damage – you may strengthen an important collegial bond.


coaching 2A common courtesy is accepting or not accepting an invitation. However, this little nicety appears to have gone by the wayside. Is not responding a response? It is not. When is the appropriate time frame to respond? As soon you know if you are able to attend or not, respond so you don’t forget it.
If there is a respond-by date, use that as a guideline to answer the invitation. Responding to an invitation is being respectful to the party throwers. If you don’t know whether you can attend, at least let them know you received the invitation.

Avoid political minefields in the workplace

haircut disasterThe 2016 presidential election campaign is like none we have seen before, and the challenges associated with avoiding conversations which can alienate colleagues, bosses, and customers are greater than ever. Innocent ice-breakers under the most informal of circumstances can turn passionate. Given the state of polarized feelings on political topics, it might be best to plan in advance just how far you are willing to go in stating your preferences, and how, exactly, you should express them. Restraint might be your best default. Conveying an attitude of open-mindedness can temper the decibel level.

A polite gesture?

coaching 2Often, after a program, an audience member will come up to ask for my card because they would like to know more about how I can help them or their organization.  I follow up with an e-mail or a call but often do not get a response even after a few tries. Maybe they are traveling or been hit by a car? The reality is that sometimes people are not really serious or life gets in their way.

My rule of thumb is to follow up immediately for a month then I do it monthly for a few months. I eventually call or email, letting them know they can contact me if they would like to meet or talk about personal or organizational needs. Then, I put their information into a file for future business. Even if those comments are just a polite gesture and not a serious request, you always want to follow-up because it is a good business practice.