Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming. ~John Wooden
College was fun. Now it’s time to get to work, right? It’s time to take what you know about technology, communication, globalization, music, social networking, the environment, politics, and art and THRIVE at work. In spite of all you know, it’s what you don’t know that might be undermining you in the workplace.
Etiquette, yeesh! That’s not fun!
Remember the movie “Titanic?” Remember how stifled Rose felt by all the etiquette and expectations that came from being a woman of “proper” birth. Rose rebelled against those ideas then by having fun with Jack, and we resist those stuffy expectations even now (after all, an entire century has passed since then). If you can suspend any resistance, even for a moment, you may find that combining what you already know with what you don’t know yet can bring you successes beyond what you might expect.
You might not notice the subtle language of the boardroom, but it’s there: Where to sit, when to sit, when to speak, when to wait – – communication begins the moment you enter the room, and when you already know the language, you are confident enough to focus on the meeting and outcomes. Want to learn to speak this “language of the boardroom?” Your competitor does. They may have already mastered the art of boardroom-speak. I teach my clients how to combine the positive effects of your smile with the skills to back it up, and you will excel in the language of boardroom, withOUT being boring!
TIP– Don’t text or email under the table thinking no one will notice. Focus on the meet and your colleagues in the room.
Talk, talk, talk? Not yet! Smile first and then know this: You are already speaking volumes before you open your mouth. Your clothing, hairstyle, accessories, and presentation are all speaking for you. Oh, yes, mannerisms often speak loudest of all. What is it you want to say? Say it right, say it well, and have fun doing it!
TIP– When you cross your arms, you are telling the other person that you are not open to them or to what they are saying. More importantly, if she/he covers her/his mouth when talking, they don’t believe what THEY are saying. Wouldn’t you want to know these things when negotiating your next deal?
Food and work, work and food. Sometimes they just have to mix. If you meet at Chili’s, fine, no worries. But if you end up in the Business Club on the 30th floor, you might want to know a salad fork from an appetizer tong. You can shrug and say, oh well, I’m young, while your colleagues move right past you and into the boss’s good graces. When you know what to do, you have time to listen and the assurance to smile and enjoy a productive meal. My clients learn what cues to watch for, from the moment you pause while your boss is being seated at the beginning of the meal, to the moment you stand just after she rises from her chair when your meal and business conversation is complete.
TIP– Place napkin on your chair seat if you need to excuse yourself from the table. Leave napkin slightly folded on left side of plate as you get up to leave the restaurant.
Got your attention, huh? What we meant to say was: Business wear. Where you wear what you wear matters. Read this last statement again. Think about it. College had no dress code. As you have probably discovered by now, the job market is very competitive. Look around. The dress code may not be clearly defined, or may differ among departmental levels. Where are you in the mix? Too stuffy and you can’t relax enough to be yourself;too lax and no one will take you seriously. You need to discover what is right for you in a variety of settings and how you might add your own signature look without damaging your image.
TIP: If colleagues notice your necklace and shoes before they notice your neckline and hemline, you’ve probably made a good choice.
Stay young, smart, and aware of how to respect and harness the power of proper etiquette.
Have fun! Seek professional guidance just thinking about it makes your palms sweat.