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Posts Tagged manners

Modern Etiquette: Tips on How to Reform a Rude World

Mary Mitchell, May 16 2011

Rudeness is epidemic all over today. And I’m not even talking about cyber-rudeness.

People steal each other’s cabs. Telephone receptionists are nasty. Sales clerks act like they’re doing you a favor when you buy something. Waiters exhibit an attitude. Vicious gossip sells newspapers. Decency is considered boring.

Look outside and you’ll see litter everywhere except in trash cans. Sit down in a restaurant and you’ll find gum is underneath every table. Go into an office and you’ll see bosses who don’t treat their teams like human beings – foregoing simple little things like acknowledging their presence with introductions to visitors and clients.

The list could go on forever. I know because I pay a lot of attention to these things. I also know because any number of people call or write to tell me their latest manners travesties.

And all of it begs a question.

Hasn’t anyone noticed that if we want to change anybody else, we first must change ourselves?

Books can be written. Speeches can be made. But I ask you: Who ever learned to ride a bicycle by reading a book?

The point is that any significant, lasting change must come from within, not from without. I can rattle off information about etiquette skills, but they ring hollow if we don’t honor some very basic principles for success. 1. Every living thing deserves respect. 2. A person’s wealth really is determined by the quality and integrity of his relationships.

Or relationships are the most important and significant components of our lives. If, in fact, our relationships with our Higher Power, our self, our spouse, our family and friends, and finally, our career – in that order – are healthy, then the material trappings believed by most of us to be “wealth” will more likely become ours. Think about it. What are the qualities and actions that really help in attaining success and sustaining it throughout a business career? 3. Our relationships are smoother and more satisfying when we understand and use the basic etiquette skills that make sense for our individual lifestyles. 4. Manners and etiquette are not the same thing.

Manners have to do with our basic attitude and approach to life and the people in it. Kindness is the essence of good manners. Etiquette, on the other hand, is a set of rules that govern our relationships in various situations.

Etiquette is different from country to country, city to city, company to company. For example, in the United States the handshake is an essential part of greeting. In Japan, however, a bow takes the place of a handshake. Is one better than the other? Certainly not. 5. Honesty and a sense of humor about oneself are essential to a successful, prosperous life.

To illustrate: One of the most genuinely well-mannered people I’ve ever met is a fellow named David in Barbados.

He is a diver and a fisherman, and certainly makes no effort to present himself as a suave sophisticate.

Inevitably, David is likely to appear at the door of tourists, uninvited and unannounced, bearing a just-caught fish so fresh that it fairly quivers. He will then proceed to take over the kitchen and prepare a memorable meal.

I’ve enjoyed several such feasts. Never have I been presented with a fish knife, fish fork, a trio of glasses, or any of the implements that I instruct my clients how to use when dining for business and pleasure. Yet I’ve never missed them, not once.


Because David — although he often breaks all the etiquette rules — exudes so much enthusiasm for life and the people in it. He knows with every fiber of his being that life is all about sharing our experience, our very selves, in the kindest, most joyful, most pleasant way we can. What David knows (and needs no etiquette guide to tell him) is that people are much more important than the rules.

I have no interest in putting myself out of business with this writing. On the contrary. All of those unspoken prejudices about behavior and etiquette are as pronounced in today’s business arena as they ever were. But people who do business successfully realize that the essence of productive business relationships is the people in them.

Try this out for yourself with this simple test the next time you have the pleasure of that harassed, apparently surly waiter or waitress:

Instead of sounding irritated, try saying in a polite and sympathetic tone: “You really have your hands full, but the next time you come by, may I please have some more coffee?”

You will get your coffee with a smile — I promise.


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Protocol and Etiquette: a Very Royal Perspective

Royal Articles, November 21 2008

In the face of a national decline in deference and decorum, the Royal Household is one of the last bastions of good form, etiquette, and protocol. No other institution prides itself quite so much on its ability to ensure that at all times people are addressed correctly, letters meet with Debrett’s approval (in fact the Royal Household usually sets the standard), orders and decorations are worn correctly, and umbrellas are carried as in times gone by on Whitehall. The Old Guard still reigns at Buckingham Palace.

Her Majesty’s Commands

Having attended various royal events over the past few years, I was surprised to see how traditional life surrounding the British Court still was. No other institution could in this modern age still consider recommending that “women should wear hats” and advising that men wear “morning dress, uniform or lounge suits.” White gloves are still the form, and they will stay immaculately clean as they glide along banisters, shake proffered royal hands, and wave goodbye in the ever-familiar royal manner. From the word “go,” one is delighted to learn that “The Lord Chamberlain has been commanded by Her Majesty to invite” you to some super-grand royal gathering. These commands range from invitations to the ever popular and massive afternoon parties in the gardens of Buckingham Palace or Holyroodhouse to a state banquet in honour of a visiting Head of State at Buckingham Palace. For us mere mortals these invitations are more likely to be to a “minor” function, a garden party, the Garter service, or, for the newly honoured, an investiture. The invitations are sent in cream envelopes addressed only to a wife (Mrs John Smith, never Mrs Jane Smith [except for divorcées, who have recently been allowed to enter the royal fold]) in the case of couples, and they contain all the information you require: dress codes, arrivals and departures, parking, etc. The rôle of loyal and dutiful subject then falls to you. Good form dictates that one always accept The Queen’s invitations apart from the most exceptional cases. The replies are sent to the member of the Household through whom the command was conveyed, and one “has the honour to obey Her Majesty’s command” after the traditional act of “presenting one’s compliments.” A sample reply may read as follows:

“Mr and Mrs Charles Beaufort present their compliments to the Lord Steward and have the honour to obey Her Majesty’s command to attend the State Banquet at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday 12th March 2008 in honour of Their Majesties the King and Queen of The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.”

From here you begin your path to one of the most memorable experiences of your life.

The most memorable royal gathering at which I have enjoyed being present was the Garter Service in 2007. I departed London for Windsor by train early on Monday morning, dressed in my morning suit with my top hat, and was glad I had brought my umbrella. The first half of the day was wet and dreary, and the Royal Household was considering cancelling the Procession of the Garter Knights and bringing them to St. George’s Chapel by car. However, by about 1.30 p.m. the skies cleared and it was decided that the procession would go ahead as planned, which I am sure was a relief to the crowds gathered in the Castle Precincts.

The congregation in the Chapel was seated by 2.30 p.m., and we eagerly awaited the progress of the procession through the nave into the Quire. The heralds, clergy, and choir passed through the nave followed by the Knights of the Garter. The Royal Knights – Princess Alexandra the Hon. Lady Ogilvy, The Duke of Kent, The Duke of Gloucester, The Duke of York, The Princess Royal, and The Prince of Wales – then processed to their seats. A fanfare was sounded, and The Sovereign, accompanied by Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh, made her progress to her stall. The service began with a rousing rendition of two verses of “God Save Our Gracious Queen.” Prayers were offered for the Sovereign and the Knights living and departed of the Most Honourable and Noble Order of the Garter. The hymns included “Now thank we all our God” and “All creatures of our God and King.” The service concluded with the Blessing and a long procession, this time including The Right Hon The Baroness Thatcher LG OM and the spouses of the Garter Knights.

There was then a jolly carriage procession for the royal family, and we were lucky to see them return up the hill to the Castle after we left the Chapel by a side door. The afternoon ended with a lovely tea in the Vicars’ Hall and a tour of the Chapel to see the Sovereign’s Stall and the resting place of His Late Majesty King George VI, Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, and The Late Princess Margaret Countess of Snowdon.

It was quite a sight to see the congregation, of which I was privileged to be a member, leave the castle, with the men dressed in morning suits and the ladies wearing hats and white gloves; it really was a scene from a bygone age which thankfully is preserved on these state occasions organised so wonderfully by Her Majesty’s Household.


Lady Susan [Hussey] is popular, hers is the deepest, briskest and most correct curtsey, the taffeta of her low evening dress fairly crackles in its swift drop to the carpet.” [1]

Making obeisance is not an idea ingrained in people’s minds; one has therefore to consider the reasons behind this ancient form of showing deep respect to someone of authority. Today when you attend a royal function you may be shocked to see a line of bobbing ladies and bowing gentlemen. However, this form does endure and provides a continuity at events attended by The Queen and her family. While it is no longer considered absolutely necessary, many people still make their bows and curtseys to Her Majesty and Their Royal Highnesses.

Gone are the days when young women paraded before their Sovereign like vestal virgins adorned in white with feathers, trains, and fans to make their deep, reverential, and well-practised curtseys. Today ladies may practise in front of their mirrors the night before they go to the Palace, but few take classes at the famous London finishing schools such as Lucie Clayton or dance classes at establishments such as Vacani’s School of Dance, where The Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret learned to dance as children. The curtsey is a difficult manoeuvre to execute; if it goes right it looks excellent as you descend towards the ground while shaking hands with The Queen, but if it goes wrong you may end up falling over and making a fool of yourself in Her Majesty’s gracious presence. According to Debrett’s New Guide to Etiquette and Modern Manners, “Low sweeping curtseys, although usually well meant, are best reserved for the amateur dramatic stage and can be the subject of some amusement within Royal circles. Opt instead for a brief bob with the weight on the front foot.” [2] I must disagree; I have seen low sweeping curtseys performed with grace and deference and Her Majesty appeared delighted. The curtseys executed by Lady Thatcher are one such example. However, if you are likely to come to grief while attempting this feat, it is safest to stick with the experts’ advice.

Men are blessed with having only to bow, the most simple act. A correct bow involves a deep nod, not a bow from the waist. Bowing from the waist should be reserved for when you are in Japan.

When to make your obeisance is also a vexing question; it depends on the situation. At a church service, bow or curtsey as the royal personage passes on the way to or from his or her seat; at a garden party or other social gathering, wait until presented or when the royal personage is passing. If in doubt, consult the Household, who will be very helpful.

Her Majesty’s Household

When you are attending royal events and are unsure about something, the Royal Household is of great help and will answer any questions; the members of the Household are always very well informed. It is important, however, to make sure that you contact the correct branch of the Household for help with your particular situation. Each member of the royal family has his or her own Household, so you should not telephone the Information Office at Buckingham Palace to enquire if you should wear a lounge suit or dinner jacket to a reception at Kensington Palace hosted by the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. The households of the individual members of the royal family vary in size; minor royals often have only three or four on staff. The Queen’s Household does not deal with enquiries regarding royal family members when the query is the remit of another household, so enquiries should be directed to the appropriate Private Secretary. You should be thoughtful and considerate when approaching one of the royal households: try and get the right address or telephone number, and always have your questions prepared in advance. Thus, questions about The Queen’s invitations, etc., should be addressed to the appropriate department (in this case the department that issued the invitation). Likewise, if you have questions regarding The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, you should contact Clarence House.

The dress code for an event is always given on the invitation. Morning dress for men consists of a grey or black morning coat with a grey or yellow waistcoat and striped grey trousers. A top hat should be worn, and grey or yellow gloves (matching your waistcoat of course!) should be carried. Ladies are in this case expected to wear smart day dress: a suit or dress with hat and gloves, high heels, and a handbag to complete the outfit. Lounge suits are just plain business suits and are now the form for the majority of occasions; again, smart day dress is the correct outfit for ladies. Black tie calls for dinner jackets to be worn with a smart bow tie. Ladies should wear an evening or cocktail dress (it is best not to wear black, which is really only appropriate only when the Court is in mourning). Finally, white tie involves an evening tail coat with white bow tie and waistcoat for men and long evening dresses with long gloves and best jewellery including tiaras for the ladies. Orders and decorations are worn by everyone entitled to do so, though it is important not to wear the collar of an order (these never appear after sunset). The colour of Her Majesty’s clothes is never made known in advance, so don’t be tempted to telephone the Household before an event to make sure that you aren’t wearing the same colour or that your choice of outfit with clash with The Queen’s.

Presentation and Conversation

Once you have been presented, you are faced with the question of what to say. The Queen is always addressed as “Your Majesty” on the first count and thereafter as “Ma’am”; according to Buckingham Palace, this should rhyme with jam, not palm. Other members of the royal family are treated with similar respect: “Your Royal Highness” then “Sir” or “Ma’am.” You should let the royal personage lead the conversation, not try to change the subject, and ask only the politest of questions. “Is Your Majesty enjoying the performance?” is acceptable, but “How’s Philip and Charles?” is most definitely, absolutely out of the question.

When referring to The Queen, “The Queen” is fine, though if you want to be certain of being polite I would recommend at least once saying “Her Majesty.” It is also quite rude to refer to Prince Charles, Prince Philip, or Princess Anne; instead, you should opt for The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Edinburgh, and The Princess Royal. “His Royal Highness” or “Her Royal Highness” may also be used, though be sure to qualify whom exactly you are referring to. When you are in conversation with a member of the royal family, be yourself but remember that His Royal Highness is not going to appreciate your company if it is too loud, tongue-tied, rude, or bumptious.

When making a formal speech in Her Majesty’s gracious presence, it is correct to begin with, “May it please Your Majesty,” and at the end it is only courteous to say, “Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you to rise and join me in a toast: The Queen!”

The National Anthem

It is really most vexing to see people who do not know what to do when the National Anthem is played at a formal event. It is most correct to stand (not to do so is quite beyond the pale) and place one’s hands by one’s side. It is expected that everyone present will sing; do remember that it is “God save The Queen” at the end of each verse, not “God save our Queen,” which is the wont of many. On major state occasions the second verse is sometimes played; learn it in advance so you do not have to look it up in your programme or order of service. The first two verses are as follows:

God save our gracious Queen,
Long live our noble Queen,
God save The Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us,
God save The Queen!

Thy choicest gifts in store
On her be pleased to pour
Long may she reign!
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause,
To sing with heart and voice,
God save The Queen!


One of the most complicated aspects of court life is precedence. The Sovereign’s precedence is absolute, and The Sovereign can determine where on the scale everyone else falls. Officially The Sovereign is at the top of the scale followed by The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Including male adults of the royal family only, His Royal Highness is followed by The Prince of Wales, The Sovereign’s two younger sons (The Duke of York and The Earl of Wessex), The Sovereign’s grandsons of male descent (Prince William and Prince Henry), The Sovereign’s cousins (The Duke of Gloucester, The Duke of Kent, and Prince Michael of Kent), eldest sons of Dukes of The Blood Royal (Earl of Ulster and Earl of St Andrews), and younger sons of Dukes of The Blood Royal (Lord Nicholas Windsor and Lord Frederick Windsor).

Among the female members of the royal family, precedence is an important part of life. The Queen is followed by The Duchess of Cornwall and The Countess of Wessex in official precedence. However, it has been claimed that for court functions Her Majesty has decreed that The Princess Royal and Princess Alexandra should be of higher precedence by right of their being Princesses of The Blood Royal. I have included here the official order of precedence for female adult members of the royal family: The Queen, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Countess of Wessex, The Princess Royal, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, The Duchess of Gloucester, The Duchess of Kent, Princess Michael of Kent, Princess Alexandra The Hon. Lady Ogilvy, Miss Zara Phillips (by courtesy), Countess of Ulster, The Lady Davina Lewis, The Lady Rose Gilman, Countess of St Andrews, The Lady Nicholas Windsor, The Lady Helen Taylor, The Lady Gabriella Windsor, Mrs James Ogilvy, Miss Marina Ogilvy.

These tables of precedence are often changed to suit the occasion; however, on a formal state occasion they are strictly adhered to and are designed to ensure that everyone knows his or her place in the royal pecking order.

Foreign Royals

A vital point to remember is that the United Kingdom does not enjoy a monopoly on royalty or indeed on the points of etiquette surrounding these ancient thrones.

In general, foreign royals are treated in a similar manner to those of Queen Elizabeth’s family and line. Kings and Queens are afforded “Your Majesty” and a deep and respectful curtsey or bow. The Emperor and Empress of Japan are “Your Imperial Majesties,” while their family are Imperial Highnesses. Serene Highnesses, Grand Ducal ones, and the occasional plain “Highness” do exist, and careful note should be made to ensure that no one is offended. As a general rule, the children of Kings and Queens enjoy the status of Royal Highness; this is also true of the Luxembourg Grand Ducal Family. A Serene Highness is from a reigning Princely House such as Liechtenstein or Monaco, while an Imperial Highness is from Japan or the former Austrian Empire.

Letters to Royalty

When one finds the need to communicate by mail with a member of the royal family, there are many points of protocol to remember. Letters should of course be concise and polite. They should (by tradition) be addressed to a member of the Household (e.g., Private Secretary, Lady-in-Waiting, or Equerry); the royal recipient should be referred to as Her Majesty, His Royal Highness, Her Royal Highness, etc. However, it is in very exceptional circumstances, such as a royal engagement, marriage, death or other very personal occasion, permissible to write directly to the royal personage. In this case an exact and formal protocol exists.

Letters to The Queen should begin either “Madam” or “May it please Your Majesty” and end with the sign-off “I have the honour to remain, Madam, Your Majesty’s most humble and obedient servant.” “You” should be substituted with “Your Majesty” and “your” with “Your Majesty’s.” Address the envelope to Her Majesty The Queen, Buckingham Palace, London SW1A 1AA, and wait for your reply, which more than likely will come from a Lady-in-Waiting). Letters to other members of the royal family should start with “Your Royal Highness” and end with “I have the honour to remain, Sir/Madam, Your Royal Highness’s most humble and obedient servant.”


Meeting a member of the royal family can be a wonderful experience; however, if it is to be an enjoyable experience for all concerned, it is best to stick to the guidance given by the Lady-in-Waiting or the Lord Lieutenant. Do what you are told and you are more likely to be invited back; behave in an inappropriate manner and you will be cast into social Siberia. The guidelines which I have given in this article will hopefully help (of course I do realise that there will be readers who feel that these protocols and forms of etiquette should have gone out with the Ark). I believe that the best approach can be summed up by “When at a royal gathering, do as The Queen would expect; after all, you are Her Majesty’s guest.” However, will these traditions endure after the current reign? The Prince of Wales is a stickler for tradition, so perhaps his court will not be a major departure from the current form. However, will Prince William end these many traditions? Only time will tell, so as one who thoroughly enjoys Royal Protocol I can say only, “God Save The Queen!” and “Long may she reign!”

[1] Morrow, A. 1983. The Queen. Richard Clay (The Chaucer Press), Bungay, Suffolk.
[2] Morgan, J. 1996. Debrett’s New Guide to Etiquette and Modern Manners: the Indispensable Handbook. Headline, London.

Photo Credits
Photo of royal invitation used with permission from the Lord Chamberlain’s Office and the Office of Public Sector Information.
Photos of the 2008 Garter Procession, including heralds and pursuivants, Royal Knights, Prince Harry and Kate Middleton in formal day dress, and Windsor Castle, taken by Flickr member Niquinho and used with permission.
Debutante making obeisance to Queen Victoria: public domain.
Photo of the 2007 Trooping the Colour ceremony taken by Flickr member Jon’s pics and used with permission.
Collage of foreign monarchs wearing Garter vestments, created by Royal Forums member TheTruth and used with permission.


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Should you hug people at the office? Canadians don’t

The Toronto Star
Allison Cross, Feb 15th 2011

Business Etiquette

Jim Dunning is a hugger.

Arms extended wide, he’s always looking to wrap his arms around somebody — even his clients.

“I have been in many situations where I feel it is appropriate to hug,” said Dunning, a national sales manager for Exclusive Educational Products, a company based in Barrie.

His clients are all kinds of people: teachers, principals, consultants, bureaucrats and premiers.

If he’s known them long enough, and is certain they like to be hugged, Dunning greets his clients with a two-armed squeeze. Sometimes they even hug him first.

“But that’s not the norm I recommend,” Dunning said. “Theoretically, I disagree with the practice of hugging the people you work with.”

Results from a new survey show the majority of marketing and advertising executives across Canada discourage full-body contact displays of affection.

The survey results were released by employee placement firm The Creative Group.

The firm found 58 per cent of Canadian executives surveyed believe hugging co-workers in a business setting is inappropriate; 72 per cent per cent said they hardly ever hug their clients or business contacts.

The survey results draw from interview responses from 200 marketing executives from companies with more than 100 employees, and 50 advertising executives from agencies with more than 20 employees.

Hugs, even brief ones, could be misconstrued as harassment, said Lara Dodo, The Creative Group’s regional vice-president in Toronto.

Body parts can bump by accident. The recipient may not feel comfortable rejecting the hug. It can very easily get awkward.

“No one wants a problem when they don’t intend one,” she said. “Personality styles differ, too. For some people, it’s out of their comfort zone.”

Dunning gives his office manager a loose, one-arm hug about once a year, to show his gratitude for all that she does for the company, but even that makes him somewhat uneasy.

“Hugging really is a communication style. Err on the side of caution, particularly for first-time encounters.” Dodo said. “Don’t hug right away. Extend the hand.”

Corporate image consultant Diane Craig doesn’t see a place for hugging in any business environment.

“In business etiquette … we discourage people from hugging,” said Craig, the president of Corporate Class Inc. in Toronto. “Demonstrating familiarity like that can put some ill at ease.”

If executives are already uneasy about personal space within Canada’s borders, they may need to modify their behaviour when conducting business in a foreign country, Dodo said.

“If you know your audience, prepare,” she said. “If you happen to be going on a business meeting in Italy, know the customs of Italy.”

Cheek kisses are customary in offices in Italy, as they are in Russia. In Japan and Korea, it’s more common to bow when attending a business meeting.

Handshakes are commonplace in Canada, the U.S. and Britain.

Welcoming international business contacts to Canada comes with homework, too.

“If someone reaches forward to give you a kiss on the cheek, (and) you know the custom, (you) won’t be taken aback and end up insulting your business colleagues,” Dodo said.

If there’s still any doubt, a firm handshake and eye contact can assuage the awkwardness of a badly-timed bear hug. “A nice warm smile and eye contact is still going to make people feel very welcome,” Dodo said.


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How to respect the culture while traveling in Japan

Lonely Plant
Chris Rowthorn, August 9th 2010

If you’re visiting Japan soon – and the end of August is a great time, with autumn leaves starting to change colour – there are some things you should know first. In this extract from Lonely Planet Magazine (Aug 2010), we give you some starting tips for impressing the locals with your cultural know-how.

Chopsticks in rice.
Do not stick your hashi (chopsticks) upright in a bowl of rice. This is how rice is offered to the dead in Buddhist rituals. Similarly, do not pass food from your chopsticks to someone else’s. This is another funereal ritual.
Polite expressions. When eating with other people, especially when you’re a guest, it is polite to say ‘itadakimasu’ (literally, ‘I will receive’) before digging in. This is as close as the Japanese come to saying grace. Similarly, at the end of the meal, you should thank your host by saying ‘gochiso-sama deshita’, which means ‘It was a real feast’.
Kampai. It is bad form to fill your own glass. You should fill the glass of the person next to you and wait for them to reciprocate. Raise your glass a little off the table while it is being filled. Once everyone’s glass has been filled, the usual starting signal is a chorus of ‘kampai’, which means ‘cheers!’
Slurp. When you eat noodles in Japan, it’s perfectly OK, even expected, to slurp them. In fact, one of the best ways to find ramen (egg noodle) restaurants in Japan is to listen for the loud slurping sound that comes out of them.

Take your shoes off when entering a private home or anywhere with a tatami floor. Sometimes slippers are provided, with a separate set for the toilet.

Making a payment:
In a shop, instead of handing cash to the assistant, place your money on the small tray they keep next to the till.

Visiting a shrine:
Entering a shrine can be a bewildering experience. Just past the gate you’ll find a chozuya (trough of water) with a hishaku (long-handed ladle) to purify yourself. Take a ladle, fill it with water, pour some over one hand, then transfer the spoon and pour water over the other hand. Finally, pour water into your cupped hand and rinse your mouth, spitting the water onto the ground.

Public baths:
Bathing at an onsen (hot spring) or sento (public bath) is a quintessentially Japanese experience. Baths are separated by gender, and the changing room will have baskets or lockers for storing clothes and a bath towel. Bring a washcloth and toiletries with you into the bathing area (soap and shampoo are often provided). There will be a row of taps along one wall. Find an empty spot and scrub yourself down.

Once you’re clean, rinse completely before going anywhere near the baths. The communal baths are meant for soaking and shouldn’t be adulterated by soap, or – shock horror – dirt.

Onsen or sento may have a variety of baths with varying temperatures, cold pools, saunas or even an electric bath. If there’s a rotenburo (outdoor bath), you should give it a try. There’s nothing more satisfying than soaking in the open air with steam curling around your ears as you contemplate the night sky.


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Top 10 Office Etiquette Blunders

American Express Idea Hub
Steve Strauss, January 11th 2011

Recently, a colleague was lamenting the lack of etiquette he deals with on a daily basis.

“You would not believe how some of these people speak and act,” he said of salespeople at businesses he frequents. “They don’t know how to answer the phone, they text while talking to you, and when you walk in, they don’t greet you appropriately. They don’t even seem to know how to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’”

Do I need to mention that he is in his 50s and he was mostly referring to younger workers? No, I don’t think I do. But it is valid nonetheless. And I must say, I share some of his concern.

And so, after speaking with some etiquette experts, I came up with the Top 10 Business Etiquette Blunders to avoid:

1. No multitasking while talking.
If you are in a face-to-face conversation with someone at work, you should not text, email or answer unimportant calls.

2. Take off the headphones.Unless you can do your work by yourself, ditch the headphones – especially in halls and other public places.

3. Avoid being too casual.
Yes, we are living in a far more casual work environment than a decade ago, but casual is not the same as sloppy. Your team needs to know what is and is not appropriate dress. What does ‘business casual’ mean at your workplace?

Additionally, casual dress can lead to a casual attitude. That can be good, but make sure your employees remember that they are at work, not home. The rules are different.

Their food is their food. And while you are at it, clean up after yourself, don’t leave spoiled food in the fridge, and repay people when you borrow a buck to buy a soda.

4. Don’t cause cubicle claustrophobia.
People need their space, especially when they work in an ill-defined cubicle situation. Grant them their privacy. Knock before entering their cubicle. Don’t eavesdrop on their calls. Avoid peeking into their area. Don’t snoop.

5. Answer the phones respectfully.
Your receptionist is vital to your brand. As they say, you don’t get a second chance to make a great first impression, and that often comes from your receptionist. Help them help you.

6. Remember, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ are the magic words.
Do you remember that childhood song? We used to sing it to our kids. Today we need to sing it to our employees. When customers call, they should not be thanking you, you should be thanking them.

Consider having a best practices meeting where everyone is reminded of the importance of using the magic words – with each other, and especially the public.

7. Institute email rules.
Email is now the dominant form of business communication and should be treated as such. Some uniform policies help everyone stay on track.

8. Treat guests like guests.
Someone who walks into your shop should be treated like the guest they are. They are not a pain, bother or annoyance.

9. Respect punctuality.
Ten people should not have to wait to start a meeting just because one person hasn’t learned how to be on time. I once worked at a place where the meeting room door was locked one minute after the meeting began. Harsh? Sure. But people were rarely late to those meetings.

10. Don’t eat other’s food.
Their food is their food. And while you are at it, clean up after yourself, don’t leave spoiled food in the fridge, and repay people when you borrow a buck to buy a soda.


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Career, How To: The Best Etiquette for Your Business Meetings

Madame Noir
By Khadija Allen, January 21st, 2011

Do you have business meeting etiquette? Good manners, proper attire and exuding poise and intellect are all expected if you attend corporate meetings or events. Even though some people are skillfully trained professionals, not everyone is consciously aware of how to behave in professional meetings. Here are some techniques.

1. Be on time and prepared for every seminar

As a host, protocol and timeliness should be on your priority list. Schedule a time, place and list directions on the agenda, as your guests will depend on you to be responsible and accountable for setting up the engagement. Those who are unable to come, should RSVP.  Some of the mistakes professionals make include missing essential items which could have been used at the event, so keep track of all programmed materials and lectures in a briefcase or carry-on bag.

2. Wear business or business casual attire

Conservative wear should fit the business theme. Preferably, dark or basic colors – blouse with a skirt or slacks for women, a suit and tie for men, or business casual attire. The proper dress should be pressed and tastefully done. People who appear to be unkempt, tired or sluggish are considered unprepared. Sometimes locations have a strict dress code upon arrival, so find out before attending the event.

3. Introduce business partners/peers

Introductions in a business setting are very important. Always greet guests and business partners upon arrival, and do so in a courteous and civil manner. A standard handshake, greeting at the door, polite wave or simple “hello” will suffice.

4. Have an “elevator pitch”

If you had the opportunity to grow your business from the ground up, why not try an elevator pitch? With this, you can can market your product, brand or item in a matter of seconds – 30 to 60 seconds in fact. Professionals have been able to draw in profitable demand that is contingent on their audience at business meetings or events. So, the more interests you pique, the more chances for your business to thrive.

5. Maintain an open posture

Mastering the art of body language enhances how your audience perceives you. It’s up to you to shake off those last minute nerves before a major or minor presentation.  Make sure to stand upright, maintain eye contact, speak clearly and directly to the audience. Feel free to practice before presentation.

6. Bring business cards

Business cards are a must-have item for career professionals, and even more important for social events and meetings. It serves to be a major marketing and networking tool. Always keep them in your possession so you can hand them out at business meetings with your name and/or logo on it. The power of a business card is an added incentive for your company.

7. Reserve a small snack table for the group

Setting up a meeting also involves buying small snacks according to group size. In case guests become hungry before or after the meeting, stock up on small snacks (chips, soda, ice, cookies or deli sandwiches on a platter or finger foods) which are distributed to guests. And please, no sticky candies!

8. Seated guests should have the presenter’s undivided attention

Business partners or guests who attend a meeting should always be on time, prepared to listen, take notes and ask and answer questions of the presenter. If the environment turns out to be poorly monitored, impersonal or boring, you should never openly doze off or doodle on a notepad in the middle of a meeting. The proper guideline in life and in business is to treat others with the respect they deserve, and you will be rewarded.

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Brush up on business dining etiquette

Ottawa Sun, January 10, 2011
Pamela Eyring

When most of us think about how we’re perceived professionally, we conjure up images of ourselves giving boardroom presentations or skilfully negotiating contracts with clients.

Yet one of the strongest indicators of how truly professional you are is not how you handle a room or host a meeting, but how you handle yourself at the dining table.

Your grasp of basic manners and etiquette is a projection of your experience, your status and, of course, your professionalism. More importantly, how you conduct yourself at the dining table gives potential clients and partners a sense of how you will handle their business and your relationship.

Appropriate dining behavior is a way to prove to your boss and those in the corner office that you are an individual capable of representing their company in a manner that advances the company’s reputation and goals.


While there are many fine points to dining, today I will cover the most basic and essential points here. Just adhering to these few simple pointers will establish you as a professional at the dining table and beyond.


Never place keys, purses, hats, gloves, eyeglasses, folders, or anything that is not part of the meal on the table. If items must be in reach, tuck them in a pocket or neatly beneath or behind your chair.


The napkin should be picked up, unfolded and placed on the of silverware, it should never touch the table again. If you are not using the utensil, put it down on the plate. Use a knife and fork to cut only one piece of food at a time. When you finish a course, place the knife and fork in the “finished“ position. Picturing your plate as the face of a clock, the tip of the knife and fork are at 10:00 and the handles are at 4:00.

The blade of the knife faces the fork, not the edge of the plate.


It’s not unusual for a confused diner to be unsure which bread plate and water glass are theirs and mistakenly “borrow“ their neighbors. To avoid making this embarrassing faux pas, remember B.M.W.: Bread, Meal, Water. Your bread plate is always on your left, your meal is in the middle of the place setting, and your water is always on your right.


How you butter your bread is one of the biggest indicators of good vs. bad table manners. Always put butter on your bread plate rather than directly on your roll. Break, don’t cut the bread, and then butter one bite-sized piece at a time. Never butter a whole slice of bread at once, or slice a roll in half and butter it.


Business meals present the unique challenge of simultaneously trying to stay engaged in the conversation and enjoying a meal. The best strategy for this involves taking small bites, finishing chewing, smiling, and then carrying on the conversation. Never speak with food in your mouth.

Whether a business meal is casual or formal, simply adhering to these basic points will go a long way to making a favorable and lasting impression on all dining companions.

Bon appétit!

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