Business Etiquette Series, Part 4

Hello, all! I hope you’re still as excited about the Business Etiquette Series as I am!

Today’s topic is over what to wear in a business world. In general, the business world is still fairly classic and conservative as opposed to other sectors. Part of this draws from what we learned in Part 3 of this series – consistency. Not changing how you dress in a drastic way from day-to-day (or coming in with radical hair changes) lends to a sense of consistency.

Does this mean that you can’t show off your personal style? Absolutely  not. However, always ask yourself: Do you want people to notice your clothes or do you want people to notice you? As an employee of a company, you are the living, breathing brand for said company. It’s reasonable that employers have expectations for you to look professional. But what does looking professional mean? Let’s go over a few tips today!

  • Be neatly groomed. What does this mean? You should be clean, and your clothes should fit. This does not mean that you’re expected to wear make up or jewelry daily. It does mean that your dress pants shouldn’t be so tight that they “pull.” It also means not coming into work with wet hair. Trust me when I say you won’t be taken seriously.
  • Choose timeless styles over fads. In addition to saving money in the end, you also won’t have to constantly prove to others that you know what you’re talking about. Whether it’s right or wrong, if you appear timeless in your style, there is an inherent sense of reliability that comes with that. Again, in the business world, the average person tends to be a little more conservative. It’s fine to enjoy risks in your attire outside of work. If you’re an investment banker, though, you don’t want to give the impression to your customers that you are risky with their money.
  • Avoid capris when possible. I live in Texas. I know hot. I also know, though, that capris, even dress capris, aren’t work appropriate. I always encourage my students in cotillion to dress for the job two or three levels about their current one.
  • Men, facial hair should be neatly trimmed. While even 10 years ago facial hair was fairly taboo, it’s becoming more acceptable. What’s not acceptable, though, is wild, crazy facial hair.
  • Ladies, if you wear make up, also keep it neat.
  • Choose a style that suits your taste and body. I enjoy dresses. They’re loose, cool in the summer and flow away from my hips. In fact, I wear dresses on a daily basis during the work week. This in no way suggests dresses are for everyone. You know your body and taste best. By choosing something that works for you, you don’t have to sacrifice comfort for style.

That’s it! I hope you enjoyed today’s post. Please feel free to add anything in the comments!

Happy (Early) Mother’s Day

I decided to go ahead and publish this post on Friday instead of Sunday just in case you’ve forgotten what Sunday is – Mother’s Day!

I haven’t experienced anything more life changing than becoming a mother. Every emotion I was capable of, I think I experienced. And it’s wonderful. Truly, it is. If I’m being 100% honest, though, I also mourned the “old” me. The “me” who didn’t have the weight of a thousand worlds suddenly thrust upon her. I remember the first time the realization hit me that I was completely and fully responsible for a small, innocent human. I went out to my granny’s house and sat with her for the longest time. I remember her looking at me for a while before speaking. She only said, “Being a mom has aged you.”

Now, she wasn’t referring to the dark circles that has appeared the same time my baby girl did. There’s an innocence that is lost when we become parents. That moment shifted our relationship into an even deeper place. It was also the moment that made me realize that we don’t achieve those deep relationships without the valleys. The all-nighters, incessant crying and constant neediness has formed a bond between my daughter and myself that you simply cannot manufacture. You have to hit those lows to come out on the other, wonderful side.

I’m grateful to all of the moms in my life.

To my mother-in-law, who raised me husband, I’m so thankful you look at me like a daughter and truly love my kids.

To my grandma who would stay up late with me eating peanut butter toast watching Disney movies while everyone else slept. Thank you for cultivating my connection with past generations of our family.

To my granny who taught me more during her life by simply being the loving person she was. Plus, she had the kindest laugh.

And to my mom, the one who would make me a glass of water in the middle of the night because it “tasted better” than when I made it and who has always shown true, unconditional love.

 

Business Etiquette Series, Part 3

Welcome back, readers! I hope you’re enjoying this series as much as I am. I’ve had a lot of feedback from business owners, so today I really want to focus on Business Owner Etiquette. This is just as much for employees of businesses, though, so even if you don’t own a business, keep reading!

The most important part of business etiquette is consistency. The reason Starbuck’s and other chains do so well is that people know they can go there and get the same thing in Dallas as they can in Chicago. Even if you’re a one-location operation, make sure your customers know they will get what they expect. This extends so far beyond food, though.

Keep your hours consistent. The number one complaint I get about small businesses is that customers say they never really know when they’re open. If you have “ish” following a number that is intended to indicate when you’re open, I highly recommend you lose the “ish.” It isn’t cute. It’s confusing. If someone takes the time to drive to your place of business, and you’re not there when they expect you to be there, they likely will find an alternative.

Particularly with small businesses, the profit margin is small. However, sending home employees at 2pm when you’re scheduled to stay open until 4pm because things are slower than you’d like will lose you future business.

Staying on the path of consistency, make sure what you offer remains consistent. Especially as a parent, it’s very frustrating when I order something for my child expecting, say, a sandwich, fruit and chips (because that’s what I’ve received before when I ordered the same thing), and you bring only a sandwich and chips. If you bring something extra, make sure you state it’s extra. Otherwise, it becomes expected.

It takes time for people to adapt to change. Don’t be too quick to pull the trigger when trying out new hours or menu items. Make sure you advertise it well before simply deciding that change doesn’t work. People don’t know what they don’t know.

Keep in mind that your employees are your living, breathing brand. Choose them wisely. Employees should be willing to help and engaging with the customers.

No matter what type of business you run, if you rely on customers, you are in the service industry. Treating your customers with respect and dignity will always give you an edge on your competition.

 

Business Etiquette Series, Part 1

I rarely do series posts here because I tend to get a little scatterbrained. However, I really want to emphasize business etiquette, particularly as it’s the time of year the school year is winding down and many college graduates are job hunting.

Etiquette is particularly important in the business world, which is a fairly conservative environment. I hope this series will be of benefit to you! As always, please let me know if you have specific questions you’d like answered, and I’ll make sure I respond.

Just like in any other area of etiquette, understanding what is expected of you will help put you ahead in the game. I hope this series helps you grow more confident in your job/job hunting!

To begin, let’s start with a few basic business do’s and don’t’s.

Do:

(1) Offer a firm handshake accompanied by eye contact when greeting someone
(2) Dress appropriately for your job (we’ll cover more of this later)
(3) Treat the person in person with you with priority over email or the telephone
(4) Show up 5-10 minutes early for an interview or meeting
(5) Keep your resume up-to-date

Don’t:

(1) Use casual nicknames, such as sweetie, in a professional environment
(2) Carbon copy (CC) someone onto an email response without the prior consent
(3) Use your phone during meetings or business luncheons
(4) Use the title of Doctor socially unless you are a medical doctor
(5) Chew gum while with customers or during an interview

 

Do you have anything you’d like to add to the list?

 

Hats Off To You!

Once upon a time in a land far, far away, men removed their hats in buildings. Regardless of the man’s age, this no longer seems to occur like it should, so I’d like to explain why it would be wonderful if we brought this back.

I’m sure many of you have heard the expression, “hats off to you.” The removal of one’s hat is a gesture of respect, which is the core reasoning behind men removing their hats inside of a building. It is respectful to those around you. A man’s hat, unlike a lady’s hat, is generally utilitarian in nature. It serves a purpose, whereas a lady’s hat is often a part of her outfit. That being said, if a lady is wearing a baseball cap or a utilitarian-style cap, she, too, should remove it when indoors.

Back when gloves were common, gloves were considered a slightly utilitarian part of the woman’s outfit, which is why she would remove her gloves prior to eating. Many things that are considered “fancy” now, such as an inner envelope of a wedding invitation had a “work” purpose when they first came into practice. In that case, the exterior envelope was a protectant layer to the actual envelope of the invitation and would be removed prior to delivery. Similarly, a man’s hat protects his head from the cold and/or sun. A lady’s hat most often does not. A lady’s hat is meant to be part of her outfit, which is why hers may remain on.

When we embrace differences, we create culture.

I understand that it’s popular in today’s world to think that men and women should be treated absolutely the same regardless of what differences may be there. However, I’ve yet to see a hat a man has worn that would be considered part of his outfit. Something I think is important to keep is mind that different does not mean one must be superior to the other.

I hope this post has explained the “why” behind a man removing his hat inside, and I hope it will encourage the men readers to do so going forward. Thank you for reading!