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: Derailers

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.

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.

8 Things to Avoid on Resumes

pen Steve Wyrostek, MBA, CPRW at www.noclicheresumes.com  has been my go to person when you are ready to look for a new job or refresh your work documents, avoid the following when you are preparing your resume:

  • An objective statement. Use a summary, instead. Objectives are often seen on first resume out of school or a Word template resumes. No objectives at any time. A four to five line, succinct, modular summary is best.
  • Using dates past 20 years and if possible, keep job experiences in the 2000s. Never date degrees or certifications.
  • Listing volunteer activities unless they relate directly to the job applied for.
  • Too large or small font. Use 10 to 11 sans serif font (Arial, Calibri).
  • Placing acronyms like MBA after your name. This can garble the automatic tracking system readers that most companies run resumes through.
  • Block paragraphs. Use no more than three lines for a job description or bullet.
  • Clichés. Hiring managers glaze over phrases like good communicator, like to work with people, detail-oriented, etc. Instead show those traits with job achievements.
  • Forgetting to list achievements. Your job description is what you did and achievements are what you accomplished while doing it.

There are more but these are the most common things to avoid when preparing your resume.

How much is too much skin?

reject-stamp-showing-rejection-denied-or-refusalI understand the trend is sleeveless tops and dresses have become more acceptable for business and social occasions even in zero temperatures. Low cut tops are now on the forefront especially with actresses and some news anchors.

However, be careful not to get carried away. Recently at a 4-star, high visibility dining establishment, a patron was wearing a top that barely covered her breasts. It was unflattering because of way too much skin showing and because of the fact that her breasts kept sliding out of the top causing her to constantly try and adjust it! Cleavage can be attractive but only if there is a hint of it.

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!

Customer service in a poor company

haircut disasterGood people get worn away when working for a bad company as in the story below.

As a business owner, I know that having good credit is very important for many reasons. For example, using automatic payment ensures I am never late for a payment. A company I did business with changed credit card companies making it necessary to call all the vendors to replace the card. This firm experiences many problems with their systems. They are trying to mitigate that by hiring good customer service people. However, no matter how good or how new, a customer service staff can only stay positive when dealing with legitimate complaints. Not ones stemming from receiving a call from a company saying a payment was rejected because they did not have the credit card.

I spoke four times to different representatives about this very situation. They apologize because they have the new card in the system but are uncertain of the problem. You can hear their frustration (forget about mine!).  How can a company keep good people when the system works against them? How can the reps  keep a cheery voice and attitude when the problem keeps recurring? That’s what wears them out, I suspect.

Graceful conversations

Key to LeadershipIn the US, the presidential elections have thrown conversations and accusations down the rabbit hole where actual issues get more personal than policy driven. It seems that in our politics today, honesty is clouded. Name calling then becomes the narrative.

In the workplace, sometimes actual issues are skirted around to avoid offending others. The worst thing that can occur is when real issues never get resolved. The elephant in the room gets larger and looms over not what is said, but what is inferred. It is important to dialog honestly without resorting to gutter-speak.

This lesson can be applied to my role. When coaching clients who have not been told or have not truly heard the critical issues holding them back, it is important to get to the heart of the subject. My job is to ask questions that help the client realize what it takes to be successful. For that to occur, they must be honest with themselves. That allows for graceful conversations.

Breathing

stop-panic-attacksAs a firm believer in taking deep breaths to calm myself, I know it can sound trite when you’re told to breathe in difficult situations. A recent article in the New York Times business section by Phyllis Korkki showcased an interview on Belisa Vranich, a clinical psychologist who re-teaches people to breathe. The correct way is to breathe horizontally and from the middle of the body. Expanding your belly while inhaling through your nose and squeeze your belly inward while exhaling. This will help you move through difficult situations and also open more space for creativity.

Customer Service

coaching 2I am still amazed when customer service calls me back. Recently, I had two very different customer service experiences. One was a rep who directed me to the website to make changes to a service plan. Two days later, after no success with customer service and not being able to get into the website, I went to the retail store to speak to a representative. This person could not get into the site either but promised to call me back the next day.

No call.

I then called the store number where another customer service person helped change the plan. Four days of phone calls, no luck with website or even with the retail store.

My second example was a “wow”! I called first to get a customer service person. This person told me he would handle it and would call back with the correction needed. He called me back within ten minutes with the change and a confirmation number.

When running a business, customer service is critical to the survival of almost any business. It will set you apart from competitors but the key is to “wow” the customer!