"Changing the world . . . one common courtesy at a time."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Developing The "It" Factor

The University of Salamanca teaches Protocol and Corporate Image as part of their curriculum.  The rationale is simple - give the students the academics but arm them with the social graces, the interviewing skills, the confidence that they need for the real world, the corporate world. By doing so, the EtiquetteQueen says you build great leaders.  

The University is regarded by some as one of the four greatest universities in the world, alongside Oxford, Paris, and Bologna. It was founded by royalty, King Alfonso IX and is the oldest university in Spain.  Do they know something that we don’t?
Often, I’ve said that stuffing our students’ brains with wonderful information is simply not enough.  Etiquette and Life Skills belong in mainstream education.  Their lessons enhance academics.  The combination is powerful!
Visualize this - a boy has a high GPA in math and science.  We know that he’s headed for an impressive engineering school, but he has no social or presentation skills.  He can’t give a speech or command attention to save his life! He sits in the corner at parties because the thought of walking up to someone and saying hello is paralyzing to him.  A young lady is valedictorian but is known for having a potty mouth, gossips all the time, and has never learned a proper handshake.  She can’t put two sentences together without using the word “like” as a filler over and over.
These students, in the real world, have less of a chance of being taken seriously and being viewed as strong leaders.  They will often be overlooked for project manager positions, promotions and will find that the road to the Boardroom is tough.
The way we enter a room, the way we speak, our eye contact, our handshake all become part of our signature.  An individual needs a signature.  No, we don’t want robots who all look alike or speak the same way - that’s where individual personalities take over and make each of us so unique - but rather we’re discussing an individual who projects a favorable, confident image.  He’s the one that everyone wants to be around. He’s the one that others turn to in crisis because there’s a trust there.  She’s the gal who has an invisible magnet on her forehead that instantly causes others to hover around her and solicit her advice.  The undertones of that type of personality are huge!  It’s called the “it” factor.  No one knows how or why someone has “it” but they know that “it’s” there.
Casting directors, be it for a television commercial or movie role, tell me that they knew “it” the minute “it” walked into the room, sometimes well before the audition began.  And yes, the “it” factor can be developed.  It comes to some naturally but with proper coaching and small adjustments here and there, it can absolutely be developed.
There’s the argument that manners and introductions and handshakes and how to host a party and email etiquette should all be addressed at home.  Well, they aren’t!  Plain and simple, they aren’t - much in the way that geometry isn’t taught in the home. The alternative?  Make Etiquette and Life Skills a part of the education system beginning at an early age continuing through college.

Image and Presentation are powerful and can lead to great things in life.

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dress Code For The Corporate World PART I

When in doubt, dress conservatively.

In corporate America, you simply cannot go wrong by dressing conservatively. You can, however, put yourself at great risk by daring to dress provocatively, sloppily, or in a manner that signifies that little thought has gone into your grooming.

While there are casual office environments, for the most part, one should dress differently when going to work than they would for a backyard BBQ. Look around. How are the leaders in the company dressed? Follow their lead.

Sure, there are exceptions. If you own your own business, you can do as you please, but if you're concerned about your future and climbing that corporate ladder, the ladder you don't own, you need to be cognizant of how you're perceived.

Good grooming tells a lot about an employee. It does not mean wearing designer clothes or buying the latest, most expensive bottle of perfume. Visit outlet stores, go to sale racks and accumulate a few basic items that can be shaped for many occasions, creating numerous different looks. An accessory here, a scarf there can change the entire look of your corporate outfit.

You can set the corporate attire standard if one hasn't already been set. I watched one office completely change their dress code approach as a new hire set the bar a bit higher than what existed. Good grooming signals personal pride and for managers, that train of thought translates into possible pride in your work, attention to detail, and good organization skills.

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Garbage Etiquette

How often do we throw out garbage without a thought to possible serious repercussions of unsecured refuse? Garbage often contains jagged, sharp lids from canned goods; plastic bags (that in the hands of a child can lead to suffocation); and broken glass - a cornucopia of health and safety hazards. Simply put, it's unsanitary and unsightly.

As part of being a good neighbor, secure your garbage first and than place it into a closed container. When moving or doing spring cleaning, anchor the empty boxes as best you can with a heavier item to prevent them from blowing away. Leaving garbage exposed and open to the elements invites trouble.

Open, exposed trash draws rodents, pests, animals and scatters about the neighborhood creating further health hazards and an unsightly presentation of your living area. A few extra moments of practicing good garbage etiquette is all it takes to preserve the neighborhood and do your part to avoid injuries or accidents that may result from carelessness.

And don't forget - place your garbage outside as close to pick-up time as possible.

Take pride in you neighborhood. Practice good garbage etiquette. You live there too!

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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Teens and Peer Pressure – Making Tough Choices

The ability to stay on top of our teens is a difficult task, to say the least. If parents aren’t addressing respect and discipline at home, and if schools aren’t reinforcing what the parents have done, what’s left?

Teens tend to mimic what’s around them. It isn’t easy being a teen – so many choices, so many rules, sooo many temptations. At the risk of rising up and taking a stand, comes the risk of losing position in the hierarchy of status among peers. What teens don’t realize is that the one who takes a stand against the pressure is often viewed as a leader.

Etiquette and Life Skills should be reviewed regularly at home. When your teen agrees to share a portion of his or her day with you, they are flattering you as the parent. Sharing should not make them regret doing so.

A great way to drive home life lessons is by discussing the news. Reference something that a teen did recently (such as holding onto the back of moving car while riding a bike or having a baby very early in life) and point out the repercussions from that behavior. The news gives us an opportunity to present real life situations without too much argument. Because it was on the news, it really happened, right?

Talk to your teens about split second decisions to do drugs and how quickly the police can suddenly appear. Have them take care of a pretend baby (a doll) over the week-end set the timer for intervals of two hours all throughout the day and night for diaper changes and feedings. Explain that one moment of stupidity can affect the rest of their life. Show them pictures of car crashes from a drunk driver and detail what happened. It must be done gingerly – almost in a nonchalant, matter- of- fact manner in order to garner more interest. No screaming, preaching, or criticizing. Presentation is important.

Role play with your teens. Just like you would rehearse for stranger danger situations, practice with your teen as to what words to use when faced with tough choices regarding parties or situations that may have drugs and alcohol present, or better yet, practice how to politely decline those invitations. The more practice, the more comfortable a teen becomes with releasing those words and with feeling empowered with the decision.

Like it or not, we the parents, are the ones who must constantly monitor our teens by knowing their friends, their friends’ parents and being aware of activities on and off school property. By allowing your teen to open up to you, much of this information can be gleaned.

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