Business relationships can be stifled through the poor usage of table etiquette. In my career, I have dined at some of the most fabulous restaurants as well as witnessed some of the most deplorable table manners. Some of the most professional people, lose their professional edge at the mercy of a dining table. Why? Sometimes they get too comfortable and talk endlessly and other times, it is because they do not understand protocol.
Below are a few dining Do’s and Don’ts:
1. Do not sit unless the host invites you to have a seat.
2. At business meals, reflect or pray quietly to yourself.
3. Wait for the host to place a napkin in his or her lap; this signals you to lift your napkin and place it in your lap.
4. Do not begin to eat until the host lifts his or her fork to start to eat. This signals all others to pick up their utensils or drinks and it begins the dining process.
5. Do not complain about the food or insult the waiter or waitress; your poor treatment of them can be looked upon unfavorably in the eyes of your interviewer, boss, co-workers or clients.
6. Keep conversations professional and light. Avoid topics of bad health, rumors, gossip, and all other inappropriate discussions.
7. If you must sneeze, burp, belch, cough, or blow your nose, try to stifle it by turning away with your arm or a napkin. Then, immediately excuse yourself from the table for clean-up and hand washing.
Note: If you are extremely sick, stay home. The worst show of bad manners is someone who shows up to public places who are sick and can possibly spread germs to others. Decline the invitation stating that you are sick. Others will be thankful that you did.
Ummu Bradley Thomas
For more information on business dining and other life skills to becoming viably employed through personal refinement, you can order “The Polish That Pays, Workforce Preparation Edition” or call Ummu Bradley Thomas at 410-820-8700 to set up a one to one training session.
Subordinates may share private information with managers. Some of the information may involve concerns regarding fellow subordinates or superiors. If you are offered information:
A. Do not discuss it with other subordinates – use good judgment. The receipt of confidential information requires a certain level of maturity which you must have as a manager. Do not gossip it along or make fun of it.
B. If the information involves something that may hurt the company, advise the subordinate that you are required to share it with your superior as it is required by your company.
C. If the subordinate shares information about his or her health, sexuality, religious belief, political belief, any other personal belief, or other information that is harmless to the company; it should not be passed along or repeated. Check your company’s policies on the handling of receiving certain information. You may also inform the subordinate that you are not at liberty to receive certain information or you do not feel comfortable with learning such personal information and that they may want to refer to your superior for handling.
D. If a subordinate is harassed, harmed, or discriminated in anyway, you should report it immediately to your superior and/or follow the directive of your company.
Never list a reference that you have not verified. I once interviewed a person that I thought was excellent until I telephoned that person’s references. None of the references call me back. One of the references said “Are you serious?” The point is that you should know whether person will be a positive or negative reference.
Before placing down your 3-4 references, contact the person and ask the following:
1) Do you remember me when I work for you in 2005?
2) Did you have a good experience working with me?
3) Would you feel comfortable providing a reference for me?
In fact, you may want to take it a step further and have a friend or family member contact them from an unlisted number to do a mock reference check if you are still unsure about the person. Reference checks typically involve the following questions:
- Please verify that the applicant was employed at your company from ___ to ___.
- Note: These dates should match the dates on your resume or curriculum vitae.)
- What was this person’s position and duties with your company?
- Note: Do not inflate your job title. If you were a secretary, that does not make you a supervisor. However, you can say or list administrative assistant if you were a secretary or legal assistant if you were a paralegal. Note whether the position was volunteer.)
- What strengths did this person bring to the position?
- What were the person’s duties?
- Was this person prompt at reporting to work?
- Why did or does this person want to leave your employment?
- How well did this person get along with others?
- Did this person display a professional attitude?
- Would you re-employ this person?
- What else should we be aware of as we review this applicant for a position here?
On average, most companies request 3-4 references: 3 professional and 1 personal. Make certain that you give the correct telephone number, position, address, and email for the person(s) that you are listing for a reference. Note that for professional references, you can get references from:
- Those you managed
- Those who managed you
- Those you worked with on the team
- The Human Resource Department
Ummu Bradley Thomas
How often have you called an inappropriate voice mail and thought to yourself “What was that person thinking?” When you are in the process of searching for a position, adjust your voice mail recording from sounding “too personal” and turn it into a professional one. A professional voice mail should:
– Exclude any music or background noise
– Exclude any jokes or slang
– Include your name and request for the caller to leave a detailed message containing the (1) date, (2) time, (3) purpose for the call, and (4) a return telephone number.
This is very important. I will never forget the time I recommended a woman to work for a Community College and when the HR called her voice mail it indicated: “Sorry to keep you waiting, but _____ is busy creating.” It sounded more like a call girl service than a woman who was interested in becoming a College Recruiter. The HR representative later mentioned that the person’s voice mail sounded “too radical for the position”.
Ummu Bradley Thomas
Behavioral interviews are important for some employers. This is typical when you are interviewing for a person who wants employees who have “thick skin”. This happens when a bossy boss wants you to avoid, ignore, or not get upset with them because they are bossy. The behavioral portion of the interview may include questions such as:
1) Do you ever get angry on the job?
2) How often do you have disagreements?
3) When was the last time you were angry on the job?
4) Have you ever worked for a difficult boss?
5) What do you think of your previous employer?
6) Why did you leave our previous employment?
7) What are your strengths?
8) What are your weaknesses?
Just keep in mind that while the behavioral portion of the interview is being conducted, the interviewer is watching for your answers while observing the changes in the pitch of your voice, your tone, your body language and your demeanor. Keep great eye contact, focus and keep your answers accurate with the information on your resume.
Ummu Bradley Thomas
It is really important to show your confidence on the job. This gives your supervisor the feeling that you are competent, assured, and can handle tasks in a professional way. Your body language sends a message to the outside world about what you really mean. Here are a few quick things to remember about body language:
1) Each movement equals one word.
2) Individuals communicate more with words than in action.
3) The average person speaks between 125 – 150 words per minute, but it is often lost in translation due to poor use of body language.
4) The average person communicates 93% of the time with actions and 7% of the time with words.
5) Body language is interpreted in eye movements such as blinking, rolling eyes, enlarging eyes, crossing eyes, darting eyes, closing one eye, looking upward, looking downward, and squinting.
6) Body language is interpreted in facial expressions. This includes frowns, smirks, and smiles, raising eyebrows, pushing eyebrows to the center, yawning, poking out lips, shifting mouth sideways, and blinking.
7) Body language is interpreted through hand and arm movements. This includes gestures, placing hand on hips, placing hands on chin, placing hands in hair, placing hands on knee, pointing upward, pointing downward, waving hands, sitting on hands and crossing arms.
8) Body language is interpreted through leg movement. This includes crossing legs, style of stance, wide legs, closed knees, stretching, flexing, standing, shifting legs and much more.
Ummu Bradley Thomas
Learning to put YOU in your potential employer’s shoes is a key to success. Once you are able to place yourself in your potential employer’s shoes, you can then ask yourself:
1) If I had an employee like me, would I give myself a raise or fire me?
2) If I had an employee like me, would I depend on him or her to get the job done? Handle deadlines? Follow through? Be professional? Speak with the customer?
3) If I had an employee like me, would I ask him or her to dress more professionally? Gossip less? Come in on time?
Once you are able to answer the above honestly, you will be able to gain a reflection on how you appear to your future employer. Keep in mind if you get the job or while you are still interviewing the following:
• No one owes you anything!
• Your personal success is not guaranteed…without your involvement.
• Nothing happens until you start!
• You have the solution…now what?
• That you must fulfill both your own as well as your employer’s expectations through consistent and diligent effort.
• You must feel comfortable enough to ask questions about assignments that you do not understand.
• That taking notes and following up with tasks are key.
• That by providing updates will successfully open and continue a line of communication. If you keep people in the light, you will never be left in the dark.
• That accuracy is important. Never fudge assignments, numbers, achievements, or accomplishments.
Ummu Bradley Thomas
The ability to tap into resources is truly a special gift. This is not to say that you run around aimlessly finding help for every little item. This is to say that you search for guidance on how to move forward.
Not just any guidance. A good mentor. You may find that you need more than one mentor and that is totally fine. You could have a financial mentor, a career mentor, a spiritual mentor, a health and fitness mentor and the list goes on and on.
The first major purpose of a mentor is to help us to become accountable for our goals, roadblocks and actions. If we tell someone what we set out to do, the mentor will remind us of our plan and help us to stay on track. The second purpose of the mentor is to help provided us with information and advice that is not readily available to us. Some people knowingly make the mistake of getting marital advice from someone who has been divorced twice. If a person has been divorced twice, you do not want marital advice from them. You want to know how to get a divorce from them and then pitfalls to avoid in the process.
Others get money advice from a person who may have filed bankruptcy. You do not want financial advice from them, however, if you were filing bankruptcy, you may consult them about the process, etc. The same is true with looking for mentors while on the job or searching for employment. Do you look for the person who has failed and ask them what made them go the wrong way? Absolutely not! Find someone who is succeeding and ask them how they succeeded, so that you can do the same thing.
Do you have any mentors? Do you trust anyone enough in your inner circle to get advice? If so, that’s great! If not, you may want to look at your inner circle. Birds of the feather truly flock together and if you want to arise above the madness of it all, start looking for other positive goal-oriented folks who are both looking to do and have already done what you are looking to do and most important… successfully.
Ummu Bradley Thomas
Don’t do rush jobs on your emails and cover letters. Take time to proof read them. Do not add jokes, don’t show that you are nervous, don’t act desperate, don’t reveal too much, and show your best assets. If you have difficulty writing and are not as well versed, ask someone to review your writing for you. Write and rewrite it with reviews until you can put your meanings into words professionally. Take a writing class at a community college program if you need to, especially if your job will require writing. Try your best to get your very best points across. Let others know that you are the logical choice.
Note things to avoid:
1) Politics – Any discussions involving Democrats vs. Republicans, heavy spending vs. financial responsibility, and donkeys vs. elephants, do not belong in the workplace.
2) Conversations Involving Shagging – Avoid conversations involving who is and who is not hot in the office, conversations on those you are dating and what you are doing intimately.
3) Comments on Sexual Orientation – Do not ask another any questions about his or her sexual orientation. Be a professional and remember to respect others for both their differences and similarities.
4) References to Religion – Avoid making judgments on the religion of others, passing judgment on those that do not practice the religion of others and passing judgment on those that worship differently.
Ummu Bradley Thomas
When searching for jobs, your first leg of strategy should be networking with friends, family, acquaintances and previous employers. After all, the people you know more than likely have your best interest at heart. This is why it is important for you to be professional, have integrity, be dependable, and treat people respectfully both on and off of the job. You do not want them to wonder whether you will prove to be a huge embarrassment to them if they referred you. Have you ever referred a person to someone else and gotten disappointment? I have. For that reason, I no longer try to set people up on blind dates. It just does not work. You should be able to indicate to people:
1) What your skills are
2) Why you are unemployed
3) What jobs you are interested in pursuing
4) Ensure them that they will not be disappointed for referring you for a position.
You must set the person that you are attempting to network with at ease. While you are unemployed or searching for a new position, you want to continue to keep the image of a person who is successful and professional. Your image is an outward reflection of who you are as a person. You want to always have a resume handy for them to review, consider, and pass on for you.