etiquette and manners
By Angela Marshall, 5th Feb 2015
A variety of people have left messages for me to call back and increasingly I have noticed that I can hardly catch the person’s name as they speak quickly and not very clearly. It then takes me several re-runs to obtain the correct information. Plus they often leave an incorrect number, particularly if it is a mobile. Luckily I can recall the details on my landline as well as on my mobile. Although some numbers do not show.
Messages and Voicemail
Voicemail can be very efficient and save time, however it doesn’t mean we need to forget our manners. Telephone messages are personal and your voice gives a lot away about yourself, through the tone, pitch and accent of your voice.
Tips for leaving and receiving a voice message :
- Answer message – ensure you are smiling and speak with energy, so you sound enthusiastic and friendly.
- Return calls – always return calls as soon as possible.
- Speak slowly and clearly – allow time for the person to hear your message and repeat numbers when leaving details.
- Identify yourself – give your name and if necessary your company and department, when you’re on the receiving end of a phone call.
- Personalize the conversation – and always be polite, whether leaving a message or answering a message. A telephone manner is very much part of our personal image and being polite and courteous is crucial in building up good relationships whether in business or in our personal lives. It shows respect.
Allow for People Hard of Hearing
Slow down it is important for people who may be hard of hearing, they may not be deaf, but may not hear as well as you plus people need time to register what you are saying.
By Angela Marshall, 1st Dec 2014
It’s the time of year when most companies have an office party. You may be looking forward to it or actually dreading the event. Think positively and see the event as an opportunity to speak to people you don’t normally get a chance to see or speak to and get to know some new colleagues on a social basis.
However, remember you will face your bosses and colleagues tomorrow and in the future, so ensure you do not blow your reputation by misbehaving, getting drunk or making a nuisance of yourself. Give a positive image and show how you can socialise professionally.
Reminders of the Do’s and Don’ts
- Dress to impress, not shock – wear something festive and fun but appropriate, wear something that fits you well and expresses your wardrobe personality. Something different to your office image but reflects you.
- Be on time, don’t stay late at work.
- Mix and mingle with colleagues and chat to people you don’t know or see rarely, make conversation and get to know them better.
- Be polite and courteous to everyone, even the people you don’t like very much.
- Smile and look like you are enjoying yourself, relax and you will!
- Have good table manners.
- Look good the next day – make an effort even if you don’t feel your best!
- Over indulge in alcohol.
- Overeat and find you are ill.
- Gossip about your bosses or colleagues.
- Become too familiar with your bosses or colleagues.
- Spend time on your mobile or inappropriately use your camera.
- Don’t eat too quickly or talk with your mouth full.
- Be the last to leave.
If a colleague has organised the event ensure you thank them and make a positive comment; they will appreciate it and remember you in a positive way.
By Angela Marshall, 6th Nov 2014
Our lives are very busy and we are often rushing around. We can all be guilty of focusing on ourselves and it is something we need to do from time to time to achieve what needs to be done in our lives. However, it is also important to be thoughtful and considerate to others and to have a thought for other people’s desires and wishes. Being thoughtful is more than just being polite, it is helping to make the world a better place to live in. It is about doing things that you would like others to do for you.
It only takes a moment to be thoughtful to others. It doesn’t have to cost money e.g. opening a door for a lady with a pushchair or a man carrying a heavy parcel or saying “please” and “thank you” to a waiter when you order your meal or a coffee. It is not only polite, it also makes it a more pleasant experience for the waiter and it can make you feel better too.
Just doing little things for people you know can make big differences in their lives. Consider phoning a friend or member of the family who lives on their own and say a quick hello. If you know someone is going through a bad time ring them or send a note or card with a message you are thinking of them.
Being thoughtful is effortless and easy for everyone to do and if everyone does it, the world will be a much brighter place.
Things to remember:
- Be humble – think about others as well as yourself
- Do good deeds for others and don’t expect anything in return – go out of your way to make someone’s day a bit brighter. Do to others as you would wish done to you.
- Take time to think about the things you say or do – taking responsibility for our actions and considering how it might affect other people.
- Make a person feel special – give them some time, listen and show interest.
- Smile – go out of your way to smile at everyone.
- Pay Attention to what is going on around you – notice what a difference you can make and take action.
- Benefits – with practice we gain experience and learn the joys and benefits of helping others and it improves our own life as well.
To sum it up if we all learn to be thoughtful, we will all grow as individuals and our world will become a better place. There will be fewer problems as we take care of each other rather than being selfishly motivated.
By Angela Marshall, 3rd Nov 2014
“God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we listen more and talk less”.
I regularly notice how presenters on television interrupt the person they are interviewing, especially with politicians. They ask a question but do not wait for the person to complete the answer before they interrupt and even raise their voice to them. However, there are some who have a great way of interrupting to get an answer to the question without being rude. This is a great skill that takes some practise and experience, Eamonn Holmes on Sunrise Sky news and Vanessa Feltz on BBC London 94.9 are very good at this. On the other hand, politicians can be the worst, especially on “BBC Question Time”. They constantly interrupt one another.
There are two sides to communication, listening and conveying our opinions, and a good communicator always listens to other people’s opinions, needs and wants. Only by using our listening skills do we develop and learn and understand other people’s views and ideas.
We can all be guilty of interrupting someone when we are excited, totally disagree with another person’s point of view or don’t get the answer to our question. Our opinion will be taken on board much more when we listen first and then answer afterwards. When a person doesn’t allow us to voice an opinion then it is more difficult, but if we are polite and ask them to allow us to speak we will have more chance of our opinion been listened to and valued.
To be a better listener we must use both ears, watch and maintain eye contact, give undivided attention, and finally be understanding. We are then engaging in active listening!
- Stay Silent- When we are silent and listen to the person we are more likely to notice the tone of their voice, their body language and what the meaning behind the words they are saying is. It will help us to remember and recall what they said.
- Avoid Interruptions – It’s often difficult not to want to interrupt but when we allow the person to express their views and ideas there are fewer misunderstandings and we learn and appreciate their comments better.
- Give Good Eye Contact – People communicate at least as much with their body language as they do with their words. By giving good eye contact it helps to observe the meaning of their words as they express and show their feelings. It also shows you are listening.
- Show Active Signs of Listening – Give active signs of listening – nod or comment e.g. ah, oh or mm. Ask questions to ensure that you understand.
- Pauses – When pauses occur in the natural flow of the conversation, don’t feel that you must instantly fill the void. Silence is ok. Usually it is there because people are digesting what has been said before, or because the topic has been exhausted.
- Seek to understand before you seek to be understood – When we enter into conversation, our main aim is to be better understood. We need to remember to collect information before we circulate it.
- Effective Listening is a Matter of Attitude – Effective listening is more than just skill; it’s also a matter of attitude.
Being quiet and listening more is proven to be beneficial and the results will all be worthwhile. When we speak less, we do more, as our focus switches from talking to doing.
It is something we can all practise to do better!
By Angela Marshall, 23rd Oct 2014
Receiving a Gift
When a person has gone to the trouble of giving you a gift it is only polite to say thank you. We should appreciate the act of giving and the time it took to think of the gift, buy it and possibly wrap it. If a person has arranged for it to be sent it is even more important to thank, so they know you have received it.
If it is a personal friend a written note is still the best but at least a text, email or phone call is better than nothing. So often people forget or never get around to it. It isn’t necessary to go overboard in expressing our gratitude; it doesn’t have to be long and complicated, but it is most important it is done.
If we do not express gratitude, our relationship might change because we are giving the impression that we don’t care about the other person.
Gifts can be accepted in different ways
In the western world gifts are generally opened at once unless it is for a specific day in the future. However, if you take a bottle of wine to your host they may well not open it as they have already gone to the trouble to arrange the meal with appropriate wines.
Different Cultures for Giving and Receiving a Gift
There are cultural differences, so it is important if you are in another country or visiting a country you are aware of these differences.
In the Western world people are fairly relaxed but others can be more formal, it is important to know and understand the culture.
- Present gift with both hands.
- Do not open gifts in front of the giver.
- Acknowledge immediately and in writing.
- Don’t give a clock. It is a reminder that time is passing.
- In business, a gift is given to the organization not to the individual.
- Refuse a gift 3 times, and then accept reluctantly.
- Avoid white paper.
- Yellow flowers signify death.
- Don’t give knives: it means the severing of friendship.
- Flowers – avoid white lilies as they can signify death.
By Angela Marshall, 18th Sep 2014
More companies are finding their staff need advice on how to be better mannered. This is a key part to having a good personal image. It doesn’t matter who we are or where we have come from we can always be well mannered and considerate to others. It may not be something a client, colleague or boss comments on but it does get noticed.
Whether in business for yourself, employed in a company or looking for a job we all need to be seen, how we come across is very important. Remember this can be either face to face or through social media, both are very important. Head-hunters looking for a prospective candidate will look at your profile. Make sure your photo is a good representation of you and do update it. It is no good going for an interview looking years older. It’s always a shock when you see a journalist on TV, expecting a similarity with the photo you see each day in the newspaper and realising it was obviously taken several years ago.
Points to think of:
- Respect other people’s space, time, privacy and priorities.
- Always return telephone calls, if necessary leave a message on voicemail. Speak slowly and clearly. How good is your voicemail message?
- Where possible avoid loud rings/conversation on mobiles in public places, especially if they are business. Think about the kind of confidential conversations you may be having in public and how identifiable the information is, because you can’t be sure that the competition isn’t listening!
- Remember to be courteous to people at all times, including colleagues and visitors e.g. offer a drink, take a coat.
- Keep your promises or at least go back and update people.
- Introductions, general rule of thumb – juniors to seniors.
- Table manners can ruin your image, make sure you look and act the part.
Good Manners includes Communicating with People
Often people think good manners and etiquette are about using the correct utensils when eating and knowing what and where your plates and glasses are. Good manners are about being considerate and thoughtful to others. When we are polite it influences all working relationships whether it is with our bosses, colleagues or our clients. Being polite and having good manners makes a positive image and gives a wonderful first impression.
By Angela Marshall, 8th Jul 2014
Networking is a way of establishing new relationships and is not about selling. It is an opportunity to advertise yourself, plus increase your knowledge and share ideas.
The world has become smaller and life has become fast-paced, therefore strong relationships are more important than ever. We are all in the business of selling and how well we connect with other people will form the basis of our success. “People buy people” and they will interact with people they like and trust. Customers must have confidence in your ability to meet their needs.
Decisions in a company are made by people not computers therefore your success and the success of your company will rely on how well you communicate and interact with other people. Conversation is a skill and like most things it improves with experience and practice. Listening is important and a good listener is the one that will inspire others. Don’t stay with the same person, move on, but do it in a polite way.
Organising Your Networking
Organise how you are going to keep people’s business cards and contact details. Set aside time and prepare what you want from an event. Consider preparing a one-minute speech or presentation, on yourself and think about information you want to ask or get from the other attendees.
Dress to Suit Your Business and Personality
Dress in a style that represents your personality, your company’s brand and your personal brand.
Attending an Event
Many people feel uncomfortable walking into a room full of strangers and some will avoid it. However, it is something we all must do to broaden our business relationships. Whenever you are invited to an event approach it as a good time to network and get to know new people.
Some general Tips:
- Walk in with confidence – Good posture, smile, eye contact, firm handshake and don’t stand so close to a person that you invade their personal space.
- Speak to people you know – Talk to them for a few moments to get a feel of the environment; ask for introductions.
- Introduce yourself to people – give a firm handshake, a smile and a greeting or remark reassures the other person.
- Importance of Giving and Receiving – the easiest way to get what you want is to help others get what they want. In return you will receive advice, knowledge, contacts or information. “Pursue the relationship not the sale”
- Think positively – Know what you want to achieve from the event. Commit the time and make things happen!
- Working the Room – Occasionally you can get a prior list of attendees, identify any people you particularly want to meet, but keep in mind you never know whom other people may know.
- Always be polite and conscious of others in the room and their awareness.
Finally – smile, look happy, socialise and enjoy.
By Angela Marshall, 27th Jun 2014
Wimbledon Lawn Tennis 2014
I have loved watching players and going to Wimbledon since I was a little girl. It is a great place to feel British as people are dressed smart without having to be overdressed. Plus most corporate entertainment is about watching the tennis players and not about boozing!!
There are strict rules about players wearing white and this year they have even needed to include rules on underwear, so as to avoid the tangerine experiences of last year.
Tennis Players and Good Manners
My biggest complaint is that when a match is finished the loser often leaves court before the other player. However, yesterday, Germany’s Angelique Kerber played the British player Heather Watson and was courteous to wait to leave the court with Heather. Plus she then spent sometime signing autographs, including to Chelsea Pensioners, ensuring she returned the pen to the appropriate person. This is a great example of politeness, being courteous and considerate to your opponent. Bring back players waiting for each other to leave the court!
From a positive note, the BBC commentary team are universally positive, humorous and polite!
Picture credit: BBC Sport
By Angela Marshall, 17th Jun 2014
The summer social season has arrived with Royal Ascot starting this week and it is always pleasurable to attend many of the events, whether for personal or business reasons. However, it’s important to know the dress code rules for each event and to wear something you feel comfortable and confident in. Ensure you give sufficient thought and allow sufficient time when choosing what to wear for the day.
Mixing with people can be intimidating, if you are not used to it, but having good manners can go a long way. Good manners stand out and get noticed particularly at social events, people may not comment but you will be remembered in a decisive way for being polite and caring.
Good Style tips to consider:
- Rules – ensure you know the dress code for the event – the website will advise you
- Outfits – avoid too tight, too short or all items too bright
- Hats – for a plain outfit choose an elaborate hat, for a patterned outfit choose a plain hat, choose one to suit your size and face shape and ensure your hat is securely fastened on your head.
- Wear suitable shoes – choose comfort as well as style to suit the outfit; avoid high stiletto heels on grass
- Dress rehearsal – try on the whole of your outfit with accessories before the day
- Jewellery – less is more, look elegant and avoid too much bling!
- Weather – the British weather is unpredictable, review the forecast and be prepared
Manners tips to remember:
- Ps and Qs – please and thank you
- Listen when people are talking, avoid interrupting
- Consider other people’s feelings; treat others as you wish to be treated
- Don’t speak loudly in public or use poor language to anyone
- Say “excuse me, please” when you need to pass someone
- Table manners can ruin your image; make sure you look and act the part.
- Be well dressed, well groomed and appropriate for the occasion
What to avoid:
One of the biggest faux pas, in a social event, is drinking too much and leaving late, a common but deadly occurrence. We can all make mistakes but if you are rude it is a key thing to apologise and remember to avoid doing it again.
Finally Smile – look happy, socialise and enjoy, a smile is welcoming and friendly and helps socially as well as professionally.
By Angela Marshall, 17th Apr 2014
Last week I talked about the importance to teach children, from a young age, to have good social skills so that they will have more confidence socialising now and in later life.
Here are some ideas and suggestions that may help you to prepare your children:
1. Ps AND Qs
Children should be taught to say please and thank you in all situations. It shows respect and appreciation.
Teaching children how to introduce them self can be a very useful social skill and will help them when meeting new friends. It is good to introduce your children to friends when they meet them, and teach them what to say in response. On certain occasions let them shake hands and do include girls as well as boys.
3. Letter Writing
Thank-you letters seem a thing of the past and yet the person that receives a handwritten note always remembers it in a very positive way. Encourage your children to send postcards and thank you notes to grandparents, relatives or friends instead of telephoning or sending emails and texts.
4. Telephone Etiquette for Children
Encourage your children, from an early age, to answer the phone politely. Playing with a toy phone or an unplugged phone will help, playing both roles of answering and phoning the person. It can be a fun game for children to play. Also show them how to leave a message on an answer phone.
5. Dining Manners
Sitting down together as a family for a meal is important for both children and adults and no mobile phones is a great rule. Families who share their meals together tend to be more attentive and interested in each other. It is also the perfect time to teach the children table manners. Encourage them to help you lay the table as this will teach them what goes where.
Children (and adults) often eat too quickly which is bad for their digestion as well as bad mannered. Teach your children to eat slowly and not rush their food. Advise them that elbows on the table, making rude noises when eating or wearing hats at meals are not good table manners.
6. Eating out in Restaurants
It is good to eat out with your children so that they become accustomed to being waited upon. However they need to appreciate that meals can take longer to arrive and that they will be served at the table by someone strange. Remind them to say “Please” and “Thank You” to the waiting staff as well as smiling can go a long way!
7. Social Skills
Not all children find it easy to make new friends yet encouraging them when they are with you or another adult, whilst they are young, will help them in later life. These skills will give them confidence to mix with new people. You never know – it may refresh and improve your own skills at the same time!
8. Art of Conversation
It is important for all the family to make conversation and also an important rule for children to learn to listen to what others have to say and to wait their turn to talk. They will find it will help to broaden their interests and it can be fun to talk to them about subjects you would like them to know more about. Meal time is the ideal time to talk about what happened during the day or subjects on the news.
9. Respect Different Styles and Cultures
When people do things differently from your family whether it is due to having a different style, religion or culture then encourage your children to embrace it and appreciate the difference and to respect it and show them how interesting it can be.
10. The Golden Rule
It might seem like common sense, but it’s worth repeating to your child: treat others as you would like them to treat you. If you don’t want someone to be mean to you, don’t be mean to them. If you want people to say nice things about you, say nice things about them.