Category Archives: Attitude

Hats Off to Barrie Wurzburg and the Women’s Foundation

Ms.MannersGood things are rarely accomplished alone. Tonight Barrie Wurzburg kicked off the 2016 Modern Day Woman’s Conference at Joseph this evening.  The conference was orchestrated by the Women’s Foundation of Memphis and will continue tomorrow at Baptist Memphis Education Center, Garrett Auditorium. Barrie is a third-generation entrepreneur of a family-owned business that sells designer shoes, handbags and jewelry, and just one of the many women from diverse professional sectors that will share their wisdom on topics ranging from women’s health and wellness to career development and leadership. More importantly, other women like Barrie will share real-world experience with younger women, and hopefully, mentor-mentoee relationships will form. This is just one of many great things going on in Memphis.

 

The best Thanksgiving gift

Ms.MannersDear Readers,

Why not send someone a thank you note this Thanksgiving?  In the hustle and bustle of the holiday weekend, what better way to reflect and show gratitude than by taking time to hand-write a note to people who make our lives better?

Tell someone how they have influenced your life, how much you love them, and things about them that make you want to laugh – or cry. A thank you note is a wonderful present when it’s warm and heartfelt. Write that thank you note right away, the sooner the better. But if time slips away, better late than never is the rule.

Naturally, you need to write a note anytime you receive a gift, even if you opened it in front of the gift-giver. You should send a thank you note for wedding, bridal or baby shower presents, when you’ve stayed over-night in someone’s home, after attending a dinner party, and, of course, as a follow-up to a job interview.

The best thank you notes are hand-written on wonderful stationery, convey genuine appreciation, and include a description of how good you felt when someone was particularly kind or when you received a gift. You could say how you’ll think of the gift-giver each time you see the gift; thank the hosts of a dinner party by describing how much you enjoyed a particular dish or how interesting you found the conversation.

William A. Ward said, “God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say “thank you?”

With gratitude,
Ms. Corporate Manners

Why is communication so poor in my company?

Ms.MannersDear Ms. Corporate Manners,
What can I do about the poor communication in my company? We are a very traditional sales organization. It’s my perspective that management seems to withhold important information from employees, and employees are scared to communicate with managers. I usually find out things through the company grapevine, and that feels like the classic game of “telephone,” with my co-workers putting their own spin on the information I receive. I don’t want to step on toes, but better communication would make my job easier. Any advice?
Signed,
In the Dark

Dear Dark,
You are not alone. Studies show seven of 10 employees believe communication is poor between different levels of management at their companies. Middle managers in many organizations feel senior managers and employees would have a better understanding of each other if they only spoke directly with each other. Ironically, these middle managers usually get in the way of that communication. Add to that the fear factor – managers are human and may not feel comfortable communicating if they don’t know the answers or fear they will make a mistake.

You can’t change the people you work with, but you can polish your own skills. First, manage your expectation on what information should be provided to you by differentiating between “nice to know” and “need to know.” If something impacts the real work you do, your future or the future of the organization, you DO need to know.  In that case, reduce the water cooler discussion and go directly and respectfully to your manager and ask. Organize your thoughts before you have the conversation, be brief and to the point. Remember, good communicators listen more than they talk.

You may not be able to change your organization or the communication skills of the managers above you, but by modeling your own leadership communications skills, you may move the bar a bit.
Sincerely,
Ms. Corporate Manners

Holiday decor: How much is TOO MUCH at work?

Ms.MannersHello Ms. Corporate Manners,
Employees at our company have recently been told to cease all holiday decorating.  I’m very sad about this because I think our company is becoming so impersonal. Customers love it when we decorate or dress up for holidays, and it makes for a very enjoyable and happy work environment. Shouldn’t the customers and employees have a say in this? 
Signed, 
Holiday Blues

Dear Upset,
Many people (except Scrooge) love holidays, but your bosses also are responsible for maintaining a certain professionalism in the office. Going along with management can be YOUR holiday gift. I imagine your customers appreciate your caring and fun spirit as much or more than the decorations.
Sincerely,
Ms. Corporate Manners

Related articles

Four quick conference call tips

Ms.MannersDear Ms. Corporate Manners:
Sometimes there are so many background noises during my conference calls that I can’t hear what’s being said. Sometimes people forget to press the “mute” button, and I hear side conversations – and it’s really hard to focus on the one I’m supposed to be listening to. Do you have any advice about conference calls?
Signed,
I Prefer to Hear No Evil in Hattiesburg

Dear Hear No Evil:
Wow. Maybe we are on the same conference calls. Here are four quick tips:

  • Never place a conference call on hold during the call.
  • Use the mute button on your phone when possible to reduce background noises.
  • Shuffling papers near the phone or microphone distracts other people on the conference call and can, in fact, prevent others on the call from hearing.
  • Make sure any electronic devices, such as Blackberries and cell phones, are not near the phone being used for the conference call.

Sincerely,
Ms. Corporate Manners

etiquetteMore conference call etiquette
Dear Ms. Corporate Manners:
I was recently waiting for a conference call to begin when another participant placed his line on “hold” for some strange reason. When the line was finally taken off “hold” and the conference began it was impossible to hear anyone on the call because all our voices were echoing when we tried to speak. Ultimately, we had to reschedule our important conference call. Do you have any advice about placing phones on “hold” during a conference call?
Signed,
Echoing in East Tennessee

Dear Echoing:
Don’t worry; there could be an easy fix. Just make sure you disconnect the first conference call line before you dial the next call. Failing to do so may produce a disruptive echo effect.
Sincerely,
Ms. Corporate Manners

© Penny Aviotti and Ms.Corporate Manners 2003 – 2013.

Did you decorate your office this 4th of July?

LogoHello Ms. Corporate Manners, 
Where did patriotism go? Our office was told to cease and desist on all decorating. This meant we had no flags this 4th of July, and we won’t have heart window clings on Valentines Day, clovers on St. Paddies Day, pumpkins on Halloween or birthday decorations for our beloved co-workers’ special days. I’m very disappointed about this drab and sterile turn our company has taken. Customers loved it when we decorated or dressed up for holidays, and it made for a very enjoyable and joyful work environment. Shouldn’t the customers and employees have a say in this? 
Signed,  
Very Upset in Drab 

Dear Upset,
I imagine your customers appreciate your caring and fun spirit as much or more than the decorations. Now that the 4th of July is over, talk to your managers respectfully. If management continues to discourage decorations, maybe you and your co-workers could brainstorm some new ways to celebrate the holidays.
Sincerely,
Ms. Corporate Manners

© Penny Aviotti and Ms.Corporate Manners 2003 – 2013.

Eating on a conference call and negative co-workers

LogoMs. Corporate Manners ponders conference call munchers and negative co-workers

Dear Ms. Corporate Manners,
I’m writing about something that is so gross and unprofessional. A woman was on a conference call with several of us, talking and eating at the same time.  While she was talking with a mouth full of food. I wanted to say, “Please stop eating and smacking in our ears.” What should I have done?
Signed,
Sickened

Dear Sickened,
You did the right thing by doing NOTHING.  Remember, there were other people on your conference call.  Since you couldn’t control her behavior, you took the high road by focusing on the purpose of the call and the other employees who were doing the right thing instead of making a big deal about the one who was doing something wrong.
Sincerely,
Ms. Corporate Manners

Dear Ms Corporate Manners,
The people I work with are lovely people, but they have a serious problem with being negative at work.  It is stressful to come into the office and already people are in a foul mood.  It radiates off them and makes life hard on everyone around them.  I understand that we all have our bad days, but in our office it seems as if these days occur nearly three out of five days a week.  What can help to make them leave their rude, negative attitudes at the door?
Thanks,
Drowning in Negativity  

Dear Drowning,
Negativity is a real downer because it sucks away positive energy. You can’t change the people around you, but you can stay focused on YOU and make the best of the situation. If you find yourself feeling negative, practice gratitude by intentionally spend a few minutes thinking of something positive in yourself and in others around you.
Sincerely,
Ms. Corporate Manners

© Penny Aviotti and Ms.Corporate Manners 2003 – 2013.

Challenge yourself; envision change

LogoDear Ms. Corporate Manners,
I want to know if you have any ideas how I can make some changes to my life. I’m not liking my life (and myself) much these days.
Signed
Ready to Change in Memphis

Dear Ready,
Someone once told me I can’t take a vacation from myself. Like you, I need to make some different choices. That’s why I enlisted the help of – and now team up with – Kelly Wight of Envision EDGE. She believes genuine transformation comes  through holistic change. Her life-coaching program addresses mindset, exercise, nutrition and discipline. And she custom-tailors each Envision EDGE program – there is no “one size fits all.”
Sincerely,
The Ever-Changing Ms. Corporate Manners

P.S. Check out our new partnership by signing up for the Envision EDGE newsletter.

More questions about moody co-workers

LogoDear Ms. Corporate Manners,
A salaried employee in my work group comes in late everyday and leaves early everyday. When she finally gets to work, she is on personal cell phones – yes, I said “plural” – talking personal and church business. How do you think the employees who have to punch the time clock feels when nothing is being done about it? And . . .when the boss is out, this abuse is even more obvious. I am a non-salaried employee who works hard all day to get the job done. Obviously, this employee doesn’t have enough to do. I would like to say to this employee, if the shoe fits, I hope you are reading this and start earning your paycheck. I actually spoke with my boss about it “again” and she finally talked to the lady. We’ll see what happens. She’ll straighten up for a while then she’ll be back to her usual abuse. Could you put something in your blog that would shed light on similar actions? How would you handle this?
Signed,
Sick and Tired of It 

Dear Sick and Tired,
You do bring up a valid concern. But please consider that you are making an assumption without knowledge of what a salaried employee is doing before or after hours to complete his or her job. Since this is not a time clock violation and you’ve already discussed it with your manager, you either need to talk with human resources or hope that if you’ve noticed that employee’s work ethic, someone in a higher position may have noticed as well.
Sincerely,
Ms. Corporate Manners

Following are two letters from readers who disagreed with Ms. Corporate Manners’ answers to Moody Co-Workers:

LogoDear Ms. Corporate Manners,
Concerning your answer to “Sick and Tired,” a while back, I worked with someone like that before. But I handled it differently and asked her out of concern if something was wrong. I found out her parents were having health problems, and she was trying to take care of them. She was just quiet because she had a lot on her mind. But she was friendly otherwise to co-workers and customers. So my advice is to be sure you know the reason for this person’s quietness. It may not be sulking – just matters of the heart! 
Signed, 
Don’t take Things So Personally 

LogoDear Ms. Corporate Manners,
In response to walking on eggshells, what does age have to do with it? That’s a really childish cut. Maybe this person is quiet because of how he or she perceives other people in the department. You see this person, but have you ever tried to look at yourself? The person may not be giving anyone the silent treatment or feel like someone is stepping on her toes. Do you think maybe it is your behavior that causes the situation? Do you think that you yourself may give silent treatments? Some people see other faults but do not see their own. The way it sounds, you the person who wrote in sound to be ones that are cruel and shunning this person. Signed,
Slinging Eggs

Dear Don’t Take Things Personally and Slinging Eggs,
Sometimes the words come out of my lips before I’ve thought them out thoroughly (or in this case, out of my computer’s mouth!) The next time I’ll take more care and compassion with my answers.
Signed,
Ms. Corporate Manners

© Penny Aviotti and Ms.Corporate Manners 2003 – 2013.

Are moody co-workers driving you crazy?

LogoDear Ms. Corporate Manners,
Have you ever heard of the term “gaslighting”? Well, I work at a very small company with a staff of three people. One particular person is extremely immature, even though she is kind of old, and will sulk and give us the silent treatment for weeks if she feels that someone has stepped on her toes (which is apparently all the time). It makes it so uncomfortable for the rest of us, and we take a huge sigh of relief when she leaves the office. What can we do to change this unpleasant stressful working environment without making things worse? 

Thanks,
Walking On Eggshells

Dear Eggshells,
I don’t know if you have been “gaslighted,” which comes from the 1944 film Gaslight where a husband tries to trick his wife into thinking she’s crazy and needs to be institutionalized. It may not be intentional, but your coworker seems to be driving you crazy. Unconsciously, you could be transferring her bad mood to yourself. If you set an intentional goal to have a more positive mood, your coworker won’t have so much power over your workplace experience. Try it, and write back with your results.
Sincerely,
Ms. Corporate Manners

© Penny Aviotti and Ms.Corporate Manners 2003 – 2013.

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