Ask the Expert

“Etiquette and a Polished Image Levels the Playing Field”

Walethia Aquil-Etiquette and Image Coach

Have You Made Any Of These Etiquette or Image Mistakes?



Business Etiquette

Benefits of an Etiquette/Image Coach

Today’s business world is very competitive, and companies are looking for executives who can handle themselves in today’s global economy.   Business etiquette will (1) establishes your authority and credibility, (2) attract more business opportunity, (3) attract new and better quality clients, and (4) make your services and products stand out in the marketplace.

Knowing business etiquette will give you the confidence needed to feel at ease in any given situation.

Q.  Why hire an image or etiquette coach?

A.  Our constantly changing society forces us all into the position where we must be continually learning new things about what is socially acceptable.  An Image/Etiquette coach is your partner in success, they will guide you in presenting a uniquely personal and completely professional appearance, improve your business communications and equip you with the skills needed to act appropriately with confidence and ease in any given situation.

Q.  Is Image and Etiquette coaching only for women?

The world was my oyster, but I used the wrong fork.” Oscar Wilde

A.   Many people have had some awkward moments where they aren’t sure which fork to use or which side plate is theirs or they have had to make small talk with a VIP and been lost for words.   What can be even more damaging to a person’s career are those things they aren’t award of.

Q.  Define etiquette:

A.  Etiquette is defined as the guiding code that enables us to practice manners.  It can also be called the signposts by which we are guided to the goal of good tastes.  To successfully orchestrate through a social situation requires knowing the rules of etiquette.

Q.  What are the benefits for my company?

A.  Companies are continually seeking new ways to improve employee/customer relationships.  Finding positive ways to avoid conflict and build camaraderie is a priority and a mandate for ensuring a profitable business.

Q.  How do you define manners?

A.  Manners can be defined as a person’s outward behavior toward others, and based on that behavior, can create either a positive or negative response from those with whom they are interacting with.  The code of conduct by which we all must abide in order to get along in a civilized society is an attitude refinement process that can sometimes take years to perfect.

Q.  What is meant by “protocol”?

A.  Protocol means rules that are hard and fast and not to be broken.

Q.  With the changing gender roles in our society, who opens the door first?

A.  Call me old fashioned, I believe men should always open doors for women.  However, in a business situation, the protocol is whoever reaches the door first holds the door for others.

Q.  At a business lunch, when can you talk business?

A.  After you order your food and exchange pleasantries, provided that it was pre-determined “a working” lunch.

Q. It’s my boss’s birthday. Should I give her/ a gift?
A.  It is best not to give your supervisor a gift that is just from you. Other employees may see this as you trying to garner favor. The best solution is to get together with co-workers and give a gift jointly, or just give a card.

Q.  I’ve established a working relationship with an executive of another company.  It is impolite to request payment for services?

A.  It is not considered impolite to request payment for services rendered.  I would first contact the billing department before approaching the executive.

Q.  What are the proper forms of address when the lady is higher ranked than the man?

A.  When a lady is higher ranked than a gentleman…Dr. Susan Smith and Mr. Mark Smith (when married).  Dr. Susan Johnson and Mr. Mark Smith if not married.

Q.  What is the proper time to arrive for an appointment?

A. Always arrive on time for an appointment. —Never arrive late. —Arrive no more than five minutes early.

Q. What is the proper protocol for written communication with clients?

A. the correct etiquette is, clients should receive letters, and internal communication is done by memo.

Q.  Can I exchange business cards while dining?

A.  Business cards should never be exchanged while dining.  This is true at even the most informal dining situations.

Q.  When a man is introduced to a woman in a business setting, who should initiate the handshake.

A.  It doesn’t matter.  In the past, social etiquette dictated that a man wait for a woman to initiate a handshake.  Today, with women on the same executive levels as men, this rule no longer applies.

Q.  A potential employer has asked me to lunch I assume he will pay the check, but should I offer to pay it, or a least my portion?

A.  It is always polite to offer to pay for the meal as it shows good will on your part.  However, it is customary for the individual who extended the invitation to cover the check.

International Etiquette

Cultural diversity, the appreciation and respect for regional, country and cultural differences may be the most important element of successful business outcomes when conducting business in foreign countries.

Q.  I have an international business trip coming up soon, how should I prepare?

A.  When doing business abroad it is important to understand the local culture.  Culture includes areas such as a country norms, values, behaviors, food, architecture, fashion and art.  However, one area of culture that is important for international business people is etiquette.

You can always contact the embassy of the country you are traveling to.

Helpful Resources:

Centre For Intercultural Learning-Prepares executives for assignments abroad.

World Clock-Time for any time zone in the world.
Country Studies-A description and analysis of the historical setting and the social, economic, political, and national security systems and institutions of countries throughout the world.
Culture Grams-Concise, reliable, and up-to-date country reports on 190 cultures worldwide.

Executive Planet-Guide to business culture, customs, and etiquette worldwide.

International Business Etiquette Books-Find Questions to your cultural etiquette questions.

World InfoZone (WIZ)-Website containing cultural profiles.

Cross Cultural Solutions-International etiquette.

Telephone Etiquette

First Impressions are vital to the success of any business.  With much of the day to day business done over the telephone, telephone etiquette is more important than ever.  The telephone in most instances is the point of initial contact, some times it is the only contact.  We have phone interviews, phone conferences, sales calls, follow up call, and so on.  Proper phone technique can make or break a relationship or deal.

Q.  Who calls back when disconnected on the telephone?

A. When there is poor telephone connection or when you are disconnected, the individual who originated/initiated the call is responsible for calling back the other party.

Q.  What is the proper etiquette when using CALLER ID?

A. When using CALLER ID, avoid greeting a caller by using his name before he says “Hello” and identifies himself.

Q.  Are speakerphones rude?

A.  No, simply ask permission before putting a person on speakerphone.

Q.  What is the polite way to leave a voice mail message?

A.  Speak slowly and clearly, repeat your name and telephone number twice when leaving a voice mail message.

Q.  What should I do if there is a call that I must take?

A.  If the call is expected during a meeting, let the others know before hand that you are expecting an important call and will have to step out.

Q.  Is it necessary to apologize for not immediately returning a phone call that had been originally initiated by yourself?

A.  All telephone calls should be promptly returned, regardless of who initiated the original phone call.

Q.  What is the proper way to answer the phone?

A. When answering the phone at your desk say…”Hello, this is Mr. Smith” Do not say phrases such as “Mr. Smith here!” or simply “Hello”.

Q.  When receiving a telephone call at work, should you say the name of the company?

A. If you are answering the telephone at a business, it is polite to state the company’s name in your greeting.

Office Etiquette

Have you ever wondered what to give the boss for a Christmas gift, or should you confront the office gossiper? What to say if you’re late for a business meeting.  The following are some guidelines to help you handle those kinds of situation with grace and charm.

Q.  I work in an office, I have a cubicle, and my fellow employees don’t respect my privacy.

A. The best way to handle the situation without seeming rude, is to get up from your desk and walk around explaining to you co-worker, that you would love to chat, but you have deadline to meet.

Q.  I’m new in my department; how should I exchange gifts with my fellow coworkers during the holiday season?

A.  Number one, always observe the company’s specific gift giving policy.  Second, employees should be discreet when exchanging gifts with one another.  Gifts should be exchanged away from other co-workers, so not to offend employees not receiving gifts.

Q.  How much perfume or cologne is appropriate to wear at the workplace?

A.  Perfume, cologne or aftershave should be applied sparingly evoking a subtly scent.  Strong fragrances, as well as inexpensive fragrances are often offensive to business associates and therefore inappropriate in the professional venue.

Q.  What can you do about bad manners on the part of co-workers, superiors, or guest?

A.  Nothing.  I never correct anyone unless they pay me to do so.  When you correct someone you demean yourself.  Only if people are being truly disruptive should your take responsibility for their behavior.

Q.  Is it correct to say “excuse me” after sneezing at the office?

A.  Yes, it is polite and appropriate to excuse yourself after sneezing or coughing in both social and professional situations.  To avoid spreading germs, sneeze in your elbow and wash your hands immediately.

Networking

What is networking anyway? How many times have you gone to a networking event and walked away thinking “what a waste of time.”  There is a method and technique to successful networking, and done correctly will turn prospects into paying customers.  Its all about relationships, people do business with those they like and trust.

Q.  I am nervous about attending a networking event, any tips?

A.  The fear comes from the unknown, not knowing what you are walking into.

  • Do your research, why are you attending, is there someone you would like to connect with?
  • Always have an agenda.
  • Keep you right hand free for handshaking.
  • Eat before you go, that way your focus is not on the food.
  • Remember why you are there.
  • Make sure you have plenty of business cards.
  • Mingle, that is what networking is all about, don’t just socialize with those you know.
  • Practice small talk before hand, have some light conversation ideas, avoid religion, politics, and personal matters.

Q.  How can I effectively work a room?

A.

    • Do your homework.
    • Before the event find out what companies or organizations will be represented.
    • Make a plan, what is your objective for attending.
    • When you enter the room, pause briefly to familiarize yourself with your surrounding.
    • Always smile and make eye contact.
    • Be interested in people, circulate, and avoid sitting.

Request a copy of my Free Report “How to Network Effectively:  The Key to Power, Influence and Wealth”

Q.  My prospect employer wants to meet at a restaurant, any suggestions?

A.  More and more job interviews are being conducted during a meal.  Employers want to see how you handle yourself publicly.  After all, if you are hired, you represent that company.

Dining Tips That Will Make a Lasting Impression

    • Remember your manners.
    • Do your research.
    • Be able to talk knowledgeable about the company during the interview.  Don’t smoke, or order alcohol even if your host does.
    • When it comes to ordering, follow your host, they will give you an ideal of what to order.
    • You may ask the host, “what do your recommend?’
    • Make sure to turn off your cell phone.
    • Relax and smile, remember you seldom get a second chance.

Q.  I have been asked to host a business meeting, what are the guidelines.

A  Pick a restaurant that reflects the business level of the people you are meeting.  This is why restaurants in major hotels are usually a favorite spot for business situations.   Be sure to make reservations.  Reconfirm the time and place with the client.  If there is a change in plans, call the restaurant and cancel or adjust the reservation.  Plan to arrive at the restaurant at least ten minutes early.  Never keep your guest waiting for you.

Q.  What is the best way to remember the names of someone I have just met?

A.  Repeat the person’s name as you are introduced.  Also, try to use the name at least once during your conversation.

Q.  What are the rules of introduction?

A.

1.  Stand.

2.  Smile.

3.  Always shake hands.

4.  Make eye contact

5.  Repeat the other person’s name

Q.  At a business lunch when can you talk business?

A.  After you order your food and exchange pleasantries provided that it was pre-determined “a working” lunch.

Social Graces

Social Etiquette or Social Graces is simple.  Treat others the way you would want to be treated.  Social Graces is knowing what to do and when to do it; its being kind and respectful.  These are the traits of some of the worlds most influential and successful people.

Q.  I’ve recently lost my home, my friend has invited into their home until I can relocate.  Although, I am extremely grateful, I have limited resources, what can I do to show my gratitude?

A.  Transitions are never easy, having supportive friends and family makes it easier.  We never want to appear as if we are taking advantage of the situation.  I think open communication is very important.

Keep your friends informed about your progress.  Take a small gift; fresh flowers are always a nice gesture.  Learn the family’s routines as soon as possible, if you are not sure about something, ask questions.  Explain any special needs; let the host family know as soon as possible.

Don’t try to move all your belonging into the home, remember your stay is temporary.  Leave the room as you found it, nobody is expecting you to vacuum and dust, but you should make the room tidy.

Remember to say thank you, send a thank you note a few days after you have moved on, make the note personal just by mentioning something in reference to your stay.

Q.  My husband and I are going through a divorce, how should I introduce him?

A.  Legally, you are considered man and wife until the divorce is final.  After the divorce, you can introduce him by name only and not as your husband.

Q.  Is it necessary to include a salutation inside of a holiday card?

A.  No, a salutation is not necessary on the inside of any card; you may if you like include a salutation.

Q.  What should you do if an invited quest comes to dinner escorting someone other than the person for whom he had indicated as his guest, and reservation and place cards have been prepared?

A.  It is proper to state on an invitation, “this invitation is non-transferable”.  Also, when guests call to RSVP, advise them to inform you if they decide to make last-minute changes to their in reservations.

Q.  How should non-drinkers be accommodated at dinners, especially when there will be toasting?

A.  Raising one’s water glass is completely acceptable.  Raising the glass, not drinking, is all that’s required in a toast.  Non-alcoholic beverages should always be available.  It is inappropriate to push someone to have a drink.

Q.  How can you encourage people to RSVP?

A.  Many people don’t know what RSVP means, use instead, “Please respond by Saturday July 13.”  If you have not heard from them by the date you specify, call them the next day.  Always have extra place settings, food, and beverages on hand to accommodate such circumstances.

Q.  I have been single for some time now, and would like to start dating, what advice you have for someone who had been married for twenty-five years.

A. Entering the dating world can be frightening, I know how you feel, after I lost my husband the thought of dating sent chills down my spine.  The way men and women interact today is so much different than in the past. I think the most important key is to focus on kindness, consideration, and communication.  I am old fashioned, I believe when you act like a lady the man will behave as a gentleman.

Q.  What is the proper way to display a flag at a public or business event?

A.  When displaying the American flag it is placed on the speaker’s right.  State and organizations’ flags are placed on the speakers left or to the right of the audience.

Q.  What is considered good “dance” etiquette?

A.  Dancing is fun and a great way to meet new people as well as the health benefits.  I myself love to dance!  Social dancing is more popular ever thanks to shows such as Dancing with the Stars, and So You Think You Can Dance.  Dancers have their own rules and social norms.  Follow these suggestions and you will dance the night away.

  1. Never blame your partner for anything that may happen on the dance floor. Not if you want him/her to dance with you again.
  2. A request for a dance must be accepted under almost all circumstances. If you decline a dance, you yourself cannot dance until the end of that song.
  3. No unsolicited teaching on the dance floor! There is a good chance this will make your partner feel small and humiliated. Not exactly a great way of encouraging him/her, or others, to dance with you.
  4. Do not monopolize a partner on the dance floor. Dancers are polite and rarely say no to a dance, but this is not carte blanch to impose on their kindness. Dance with everyone, and let everyone dance.
  5. On the dance floor, be considerate of the other couples. Exercise good floor etiquette; do not cut other couples off; no aerials or choreographed steps on the dance floor.

Q.  When is it appropriate to call someone by their given name?

A.  Once the relationship is established so that the casual usage of first names is expected.

Q.  Can I hold a drink when in a receiving line?

A.  Any kind of drink is inappropriate in a receiving line.  The greeters and the guest being introduced should not have a drink in their hands.

Q.  Is it really necessary to send a thank you note after receiving a gift?

A.  Sending a hand written thank you note is always appropriate.  Electronic forms of communication have become the norm in our fast-paced lives.  You should strive to get the thank you note within the some week of receiving the gift.  Here are a few times tips that will make writing a thank you a breeze.

Mention the gift or favor

Note the intended use or special quality of the item.

Use a cheerful and upbeat tone.

Q.  My friend lost her mother; I would like to send a card, what are the guidelines?

A.   When someone close to us loses a loved one, we want to reach out to them.  It is not always easy to compose a letter/note of condolence.  Don’t make the letter lengthy, share a story or memory of the deceased, express your sympathy, and let your friend know you are there for her.

Q.  I am the guest of honor, is it appropriate to send flowers to the host’s home.

A.  Yes, If attending a party in a private home and you are the guest of honor, it is appropriate to send flowers to the host’s home earlier in the day.

Q.  In the case of a broken engagement, what happens to the ring?

A.  After an engagement, regardless of who called of the relationship, the ring is returned to the giver.

Q.  If I receive a phone call from someone whose number I did not originally have, but it was captured on Caller ID (no message was left) is it inappropriate to call the person back?

A.  It is appropriate to call someone back only when he or she requests a call back and leaves their return phone number.

Q.  With so much violence in sports today, what is the proper way to display good sportsmanship after a sporting event?

A.  After playing a sport or a game, congratulate the other players on their playing ability and let them know that you enjoyed playing with them.

Q.  Is it appropriate for someone to ask you to take off your shoes when entering their home?

A.  Yes, when a guest in someone else’s home, it is appropriate to abide by their rules and requests.  Taking off shoes in someone’s home is also a traditional custom in some countries such as Japan.   Also, some religions do not allow wearing shoes in the house, such as Muslims.

Q.  Who is seated first in a booth, the man or the women?

A.  I really is a matter of choice, the man may go in first so that the women does not have to slide and wrinkle her clothing.  If she is dressed casually it does not matter.  A left handed person may want to sit on the “outside” so that their elbows doesn’t smash into their right handed companion’s

Q. Is it poor etiquette to send a sympathy card a few months after the person passed away?

A.  Sometimes we don’t hear about the loss right away or we were so shocked and saddened that we didn’t know what to say or how to react at the time. The important thing is to make the gesture when you can.  Offer words of sympathy, you can relate some nice memories.  The family will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Q.  My daughter is graduating in a few months, should announcements be sent to all Aunts and Uncles, or only those we are in close contact with?

A.  As a rule of thumb, announcements can really be sent out to everyone whom you want to know about this important accomplishment.  However, keep in mind that sending an announcement has not intentions of receiving a gift.  It is really a personal way of spreading the good news.

Q.  How should I receive a compliment?

A.  Learn to receive compliments graciously.  When someone says something positive about you, don’t deny or refute it.  Instead, thank them for the compliment and enjoy their praise.

Q. I just learned that a friend’s husband passed away. Is it OK to send her an email expressing sympathy?

A. If this is a way you often communicate with your friend, and you’re certain that she frequently uses e-mail, you can precede a phone call or written condolence with an e-mail. This is an immediate and non-intrusive way to show that you are thinking of her in the initial days following her loved one’s death. But an e-mailed message should be followed by a handwritten note and, whenever possible, attendance at the funeral or visitation.

Q.  I have high technical competency and I am the best compared to my peers and many times my supervisors.  I am not given the chance to present myself and my achievement in any meeting.  I feel hurt and left out what can I do?

A.  I completely know and understand how you feel.  I at one time found myself in similar situations. What I suggest is a self assessment; ask someone you trust to give you feedback.   How are your soft skills, evaluate your personal grooming, and your wardrobe.

What non-verbal messages are you sending?  Sometimes its not them it is us, our attitude can send the wrong message.

Q.  I’m invited to several events on the same day or evening, is making a “appearance only” appropriate?

A.  Yes, but stay at least 15-20 minutes, and if wearing outerwear, remove your outerwear.

Q.  When being introduced to a person who is physically challenged, wheelchair, amputee, blindness, what should I do?

A.  You may offer assistance, but most time people are quite capable of handling themselves in public.  I would say just be sensitive, and be yourself.   After all we are all challenged in some way, its just some challenges are visible and some are not.

Dining Etiquette

Let us break bread together.  In America more business is conducted over a meal than in offices.  Interviews are conducted over a meal, deals are made and relationships are built over the breaking of bread.  But did you also know that the lack of dinning skills can undermine your credibility.  Here are some guidelines to help you avoid some common dinning mistakes.

Q.  Should you tip the owner of the restaurant?

A.  If the owner serves you himself, you should tip him.  He will divide the tip among those who work in the kitchen and dining room.

Q.  Is there ever a time when elbows are allowed on the table?

A.   Yes, your hands do not have to rest in your lap.  It’s perfectly appropriate to rest your wrists or forearms on the table.  At the completion of the meal when the table has been cleared, you may put your elbows on the table.

Q.  At a formal dinner party, how do I properly serve and remove the dishes and glasses?

A. When entertaining formally, dishes are presented or served at guest’s left and removed from the right side. Glasses are filled from the right.

Q.  Is it rude to take a sip while eating?

A.  It is best to wait until you have finished chewing and have swallowed your food before taking a sip of your beverage.

Q.  When dining at a fine restaurant should you eat different types of food on your plate individually or eat all the food groups together?

A. It is appropriate to eat all items together as the different foods complement one another.

Q.  What do you do when guest arrive late for a seated diner or speech?

A.  Seat them in as non-disruptive a manner as possible.  Keep things moving as planned.”

Q.  To which side should a gentleman seat a female?

A.  A gentleman at a social dinner party holds the chair and seats the female on his right.

Q.  What direction should food be passed at the table?

A. Food should be passed to the right, or counter-clockwise.

Q.  Should you dismiss yourself from the table if you need to sneeze or blow your nose?

A. Yes, excuse yourself from the table, and at no time should you use your napkin as a handkerchief.

Q.  When should the host/hostess of a dinner party be served?

A. The host hostess of a dinner party should be the last one served. If the meal is getting cold, the host/hostess may state something to the effect, “Please begin while the food is still warm”

Q.  What is the correct position for a coffee cup in a formal place setting?

A.  The coffee cup and saucer is placed to the right of the place setting, to the right of the furthest utensil.  The handle should face to the right, since most people are right handed.

Q.  When do I place my napkin on my lap?

A.  Your napkin should be placed on your lap as soon as you sit down.  If the meal is very formal you wait for the host/hostess or guest of honor place his or her napkin first.  Men never tuck your napkin into your shirt front.  The only time this is acceptable is at a picnic or eating something such as crab.

Q.  How should I fold a large napkin before placing it in my lap?

A.  Large dinner napkins should be folded in half after opening with the fold towards your lap.  Small luncheon napkins are opened completely and place on the lap.

Q.  What is the correct way to enjoy soup?

A.  When eating soup, never blow on the soup, wait until it has cooled, spoon your soup away from you.  You may tip your bowl away from you to eat the last few spoonfuls, do not leave your spoon in your soup cup or bowl, and place it on the service plate under the cup or bowl.  If you are served soup in a cup with one handle or two, it is appropriate to drink the soup.

Q.  It is proper etiquette to groom at the table?  Ex. apply lipstick?

A.  A person should excuse themselves and perform grooming in private.  Whether, it is applying lipstick, coming hair.

Image

Your image is your visual resume. A Harvard study has shown that 55% of someone’s impression of you is based on what people see.  38% on body language, eye contact and body posture, and only 7% on the spoken word.”

Q.  We are taught not to judge a book by its cover, so why then is image so important in my professional and social life?

A.  Statistically we earn our credibility based on how we look and act because studies have shown a high correlation between appearances and perceptions of professional abilities.

Q.  I like what I wear, why should I change?

A.  Refining your image is a continuous progress that will bring your more opportunities, open door, enlighten your life and make you more successful than you would have imagined before.

Q.  What is business casual?

A.  Business casual has been interpreted to mean many things.  First, what business casual is not?  Business casual is not anything you would wear to the beach, park or gym. Business casual is dressing down one notch than what is expected when you are dressed in business professional.

For example, if you wear a suit to work when dressed professionally, a sport coat and nice trousers could replace the suit on dress down day.  For women, if you normally wear a suit, then maybe you can replace the skirt with a pair of dress pants.

The best advice to follow is make sure what you wear is clean and pressed and in good taste.  If in doubt, what are the leaders in your organization wear.

Q.  When should business causal not be worn?

A.

1. When you have a scheduled meeting.

2. When you are negotiation with a client.

3. When it is time for your performance appraisal

4. When you are traveling to another’s office and not sure what of the dress code.

5. When interacting with international clients/potential clients

6. When you want to make a positive first impression.

Q.  What are some common faux pas made with business casual?

A.  Men should never wear an open collar shirt with a crew neck t-shirt showing; women not wearing hosiery.

Q.  How do I build a basic business wardrobe?

A.  It is better to buy quality than quantity.  Buy quality timeless pieces, they will serve you a lifetime.  Invest in your basic, navy blue, black, dark gray; these are your power colors. You may choose a shirt or blouse for women that compliments your skin tone, but stay away from flashy colors.  Don’t buy fashion if you have a limited budget.

Q.  What are the best colors to wear to a business meeting, job interview etc.

A.  Generally you can’t go wrong with a basic suite in navy blue, dark gray or black. Make sure everything is neat and clean and shoes are shined.  Avoid flash colors, they distract from the image you are trying to convey as a professional.

Q.  What is the number one mistake when interviewing?

A.  Dressing inappropriately!  Society has become so casual that many people have forgotten how to dress appropriately or never learned.  Jeans, sundress, flip flop, mini skirts or anything you may wear to a sporting event, beach or night on the town is not appropriate business wear.  In order to win the game you must know how the game is played.  Those who don’t know the basic rules of business are among the last hired and first fired when budgets get tight.

Q.  Who is your typical client?

A.  I have worked with males and females 18-80, in all career fields.

Q.  Why is it that some people, no matter what they wear, always look great, and have such charisma and style?

A.  You can learn style; it’s not a genetically brought skill.   Charisma comes with personal confidence and knowledge.

Q.  Can you help to improve my business image?

A.  Yes, we can do this.  Image is not only the personal appearance; you can improve the image of your business and of your employees.  The correct image in business is crucial as it’s directly related to your brand equality in the market and the most importantly to your bottom line.

Q.  Are tattoos appropriate in the workplace?

A.   That is the million dollar question.  Some say yes, some say no.  I like to tell people, young people especially to think about the long term effect.  What are your career aspirations, where do you want to go in life?  I suppose if your career goals are the arts, you may be able to get away with a tattoo, body piercing.  If your career goals are to work in the corporate world, then I would say no.  And it is not just your career choice body piercing, tattoos can cause health problems.

So think, before you have it done.  And maybe because tattoos and body piercing has become so popular today, not having any body art may cause you to stand out from the crowd.

Q.  I have an interview, is it really necessary to wear a suit?

A.  Think about all the competition you have, you want to do whatever you can to stand out.  Since a lot of people do not dress up, you will be noticed.  Wearing the proper attire shows respect not only for yourself, but also your potential employer.

Email Etiquette

Your image is all of you, not just your wardrobe or presentations styles.  Your image is also how you communicate electronically.   Email etiquette is changing, and it is absolutely necessary to know the rules.

Q.   I get and receive quite a few e-mails, I’m not always sure of the proper etiquette.

A.  Netiquette, electronics is not going away, as a matter of fact it is traveling at the speed of light, new updates, gadgets all the time.  E-mail is great it allows a person to contact the other party instantly.  There are some guidelines to make sure your e-mail is read.  Create a subject line, treat e-mail like a business letter.  Keep it short and simple.  Never send an e-mail when you’re angry, (once you hit “send”, it’s gone).  Don’t send anything confidential, again once it’s sent, it is sent!  Read it and check for spelling.

Q.  Is it polite to text message in a social environment?

A.  The same rule of thumb for cell phone etiquette applies to text messaging in a social environment.  It is impolite to text or check your messages while holding a conversation, dinning, or being served i.e. bank, cleaners, drug store etc.

Have etiquette or image related question?  Send us an e-mail to:

asktheexpert@graceandcharm.com

Selected questions may be answered in a future issue of “Achieving Success With Grace and Charm Newsletter.”  By submitting a question, you grant Grace and Charm, LLC permission to publish it, should we choose.  Due to the volume of mail we receive, we cannot guarantee a reply to every question.