Tag-Archive for ◊ etiquette ◊

• Monday, August 06th, 2012


In an era of seemingly uncivil people (cue slap fest on The Real Housewives of New Jersey), I recently stumbled upon Rules of Civility: The 110 Precepts That Guided Our First President in War and Peace, edited by Richard Brookhiser.

Originally published in 1997, with a healthy update from Brookhiser in 2003, Rules of Civility pre-empted the onslaught of reality television, and stories of soccer moms behaving badly on the field. This book takes a refreshing look at sage advice President George Washington followed, which he first found as a child in the 1700s.

While a few rules appear outdated (rule #9 – spit not into the fire, nor stoop low before it), the majority of the ‘rules’ are practical ways of living…and conducting business affairs. More than a primer in etiquette, Rules of Civility focuses more on the motivation beyond the action. For example, rule #23 admonishes that “when you see a crime punished, you may be inwardly pleased, but always show pity to the suffering offender.” The motivation is to treat others the way you would want to be treated.

Here are the top five career-related rules:

1. Rule #12: Shake not your head, feet, or legs, roll not the eyes, lift not one eyebrow higher than the other, wry not the mouth, and bedew no man’s face with your spittle by approaching too near him when you speak

These are a few non-verbal communication no-no’s that job seekers and entrepreneurs meeting with potential investors should avoid.

2. Rule #15: Keep your nails clean and short, also your hands and teeth clean, yet without showing any great concern for them.

Be neat, tidy, and professionally garbed when you interview for a job, or go to work everyday; however, take care not to overly emphasize your appearance, for it can make you appear conceited and superficial.

3. Rule #35: Let your discourse with men of business be short and comprehensive.

Brevity, when speaking with business leaders – men and women – is always a plus.

4. Rule #40: Strive not with your superiors in argument, but always submit your judgment to others with modesty.

The boss – or customer – is always right. Also, do not be heavy handed with your judgment, so as not to embarrass your co-workers or become the office know-it-all.

5. Rule #82: Undertake not what you cannot perform but be careful to keep your promise.

Enough said.

Which of these rules hit home the most for you?

© Copyright 2012 Ask The Strategist™


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• Monday, March 07th, 2011

ASK THE STRATEGIST: Advice for the Divorcing Couple

March 7, 2011

Dear ATS: My husband and I are in the process of going through a divorce (only our close family members know). He has a very high profile job and we often host dinner parties and events for his clients and executives from his job. The trouble is we are hosting a party for some potential international clients in a few weeks and our relationship has gone from bad to worse – he has technically moved out of the house. My question is considering that we are splitting up, should I still host the event with him? – A.E., New York, NY

Going through a separation or divorce is hard enough, but being in close proximity during an intimate event when no one knows how bad the situation is, can make co-hosting trickier.

Have you spoken to your husband about your trepidation? Having a conversation, perhaps in a coffee shop or other non-threatening environment, will help you articulate how you are feeling about hosting such an important event while you are at a marital crossroads. If you feel as though you would both end up in an embarrassing disagreement during the soiree, tell him! If you decide to host the party, make a pact that you will not engage in hurtful verbal or nonverbal behavior – no insults, silent treatment, or staring competitions – during the evening. It will definitely put off your guests and potentially jeopardize the pending deal.

Ultimately, you have to decide if spending a few hours in a potentially uncomfortable environment is out of your comfort zone – and worth the sacrifice. If you choose not to go through with it, though, let yourself off the hook. Sometimes it is better to not play along and give the appearance that everything is okay. Remember, if the guests become clients, they will expect to see you at all future corporate events. Are you okay with that?

Good luck, and keep us posted.


DISCLAIMER: ASK THE STRATEGIST is an advice column that seeks to address business, career, workplace, and etiquette issues. Any advice dispensed by The Strategist is purely for informational and entertainment purposes. Take the advice and opinions at your own risk – and betterment! Follow us on Twitter @atstrategist. Post your question/email your conundrum/send video to ask@ksgsc.com. All submissions become the property of ASK THE STRATEGIST.

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• Monday, February 07th, 2011

ASK THE STRATEGIST: Speakerphone Snafu Causes Workplace Drama

February 7, 2011

Dear ATS: I work in a small office in the DC area. All of us have cubicles and are in somewhat close quarters. One of my co-workers is a multi-tasker who always uses the speakerphone for business and personal calls. A few days ago, a group of us was talking about a situation involving our supervisor. It wasn’t a nice discussion. Well, my co-worker let us go on and on with our conversation without telling us our supervisor, who was on travel at a conference, was on speakerphone! Since then, the office atmosphere has been really tense. Should I say something? – T.R., Fairfax County, VA

T.R., I could admonish you and your colleagues for talking about the supervisor out-loud in the office where you all work, but I think you now be cured because you were busted in the act. Having said that, a lack of speakerphone etiquette, i.e. not letting folks know they are on it or that others are within earshot is unprofessional, and it is just not the cool thing to do.

I suggest two possible approaches to dealing with this issue. Since you are in a small office, there is a possibility that most of you eat lunch together. I’d suggest gently bringing up what happened and directly address the co-worker who placed your supervisor on speakerphone and let him/her know that, even though it was a mistake (hopefully), the faux pas has caused a little tension. Use this as an opportunity to acknowledge that both sides were wrong, and approach the discussion as a teachable moment, rather than a blame game.

The second suggestion is a more formal approach to dealing with Phone-gate. If the supervisor is still smarting after hearing the comments from you and your co-workers (you did not indicate in your question if he/she did), and the rift has interfered with workplace productivity, then you may want to engage a company human resources professional to help handle the situation through one-on-one or group training session as appropriate. It takes the pressure off the co-workers and places the problem solving in the hands of a neutral party.

Good luck, and keep us posted. THE STRATEGIST

DISCLAIMER: ASK THE STRATEGIST is an advice column that seeks to address business, career, workplace, and etiquette issues. Any advice dispensed by The Strategist is purely for informational and entertainment purposes. Take the advice and opinions at your own risk – and betterment! Follow us on Twitter @atstrategist. Post your question, or email ask@ksgsc.com to submit your conundrum.

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• Monday, January 31st, 2011

ASK THE STRATEGIST: I So Wish I Had Not Posted That

January 31, 2011

A respected human resources professional recently had what Oprah would call an A-Ha! moment. A few days ago, Jerry (not his real name) sent a rather snarky and menacing email to a person who allegedly offended him – and mainly his wife – by spreading “innuendoes” and “false accusations” among people they both know. Jerry threatened to seek legal action for defamation, contact the offender’s clients, and distribute a communiqué detailing the perceived offenses to anyone who inquires about the showdown between the two.

Jerry’s main concern was that his wife has been distraught over the incidents that led up to his electronic rant session.

Unfortunately, Jerry accidentally sent the email to the person who offended his family through a Listserv to which I belong.

How can Jerry clean up this mess?

The first thing Jerry should do is acknowledge his error in sending the email to the Listserv group. He should then contact the person referenced in the rant directly, and apologize for taking the situation to an entire group of more than 5,000 people (the offender is on the Listserv, as well), which was totally inappropriate.

Jerry should then self-impose a cool down period of one week to let the emotions subside so that he can tackle the slight by his colleague and deal with the real issues at hand rationally, and like an adult – without the threats.

Sometimes, when we are ruffled, we fire off emails and don’t always check the recipients to whom we send the fiery responses. In this case, those of us who knew nothing about the intense situation between two human resources professionals unwittingly became drawn into the drama when Jerry pressed the send button.

Jerry can use this experience as a lesson in learning: some things are better said face-to-face when someone offends us. If we do choose to hide behind the false sense of anonymity the Internet has cultivated, at least ensure you get your message to the right recipients.

DISCLAIMER: ASK THE STRATEGIST is an advice column that seeks to address business, career, workplace, and etiquette issues. Any advice dispensed by The Strategist is purely for informational and entertainment purposes, and are solely her opinions. Take the advice at your own risk – and betterment!

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