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We Have Moved….

March 25, 2011

Thank you for coming to the Polished Professional to read our latest musings. We have decided to move our blog into our website Protocol International.

Please come and visit the new location of the Polished Professional.

TIPS: ‘To Insure Proper Service’.

December 16, 2010

Happy Holidays!  On the topic of Tipping etiquette one thing is for sure,  tipping  is an important custom in our country.  We must use this time of year to thank people who have served us, particularly if they have served us well and gone above and beyond.

Thanking people for taking care of you has a double reward. The reward of giving and the reward of receiving again!  Remember TIPS is an acronym for ‘To Insure Proper Service’.  Here are some etiquette guidelines to share with your neighbors…

  • Do more for those who do more for you.
  • Tip about the amount you pay for their services. If you use a babysitter once a week, tip the equivalent of one night. For a nanny who works five days a week, then I’d tip a week’s salary — plus a small gift  from the child.
  • Averages and ranges can vary based on the type of establishment (luxury condo), regional customs (New York, ATL, ChiTown major markets!), and your own budget.

If your budget is tight this year, cutting back on tipping may be what you  need to do.  You must still make sure you express your appreciation in some way to the folks who make your life easier.  Don’t feel guilty for giving less or not giving at all.  It is what it is, but there are other kind gestures including the almost extinct handwritten note, the heartfelt handmade gift or treat, the kindness of a generous eye to eye ‘thank you for all you do’ that may suffice, this year. If you can tip,  here are a few suggestions from your personal Protocol and Etiquette Consultant!

  • Prioritize your most important service providers. If someone’s work makes your life dramatically better, that person should be at the top of your holiday tipping list. The trusted house cleaner, the doorman that helps your daughter when she comes in late,  the garage attendant that lets you park near the door and adds Armor All to your tires! They should get more of your holiday tipping resources than service providers you use infrequently or who are not as passionate about their jobs and you.
  • Don’t skimp on your employees. If you have household workers, such as a nanny, a housekeeper or a caretaker for an elderly relative, the holiday bonus is often considered part of the employee’s compensation.  It all depends on your past practices, what’s customary in your area and what you promised when you hired the person, of course, but withholding or shortchanging the bonus could be considered a cut in pay and you could wind up losing a valued worker because of it.
  • Tip strategically. If you live in a building with a doorman, superintendent or both, failing to tip can lead — unfortunately — to bad service. The higher the customary tip, the less likely a plate of cookies will cut it. Talk to your neighbors to see what the going rate is and try to come close to that figure to make sure your packages still get delivered and your friends can get into the building.
  • It’s OK to consider need. The lower-paid the worker, the more holiday tips are likely to be appreciated — and the bigger impact your gift can have. Your tip to a manicurist or gardener may be a bigger deal than the same-sized token to a package-delivery person.
  • If you tip generously all year, you can skimp a bit. A smaller tip or a modest gift at the holidays is fine.
  • A note should accompany any tip. Your message doesn’t have to be elaborate, but should include a couple of sentences thanking the person for his or her good work and wishing a happy holiday.

Housekeeper or Cleaner: Cash and/or a gift.
Personal trainer: Cash or gift
Livein help (Au  Pair or Nanny): One week’s pay and a gift from your child(ren).
Live-in help (Cook, Butler, Housekeeper): One week to one month of pay as a cash tip,  plus a gift from you.
Handyman: $15-$20
Doorman: $50-$80 for a doorman; $15-$20 each for multiple doormen
Superintendent: $20-80 or a gift
Garage attendants: $10-30 or a small gift
Gardeners: $20-$50
Favorite waiter or waitress or delivery person: Be generous, they survive on tips
Hairdresser or Manicurist: The price of a service

Protocol and Etiquette Consultant appreciates the opportunity to serve and even more, hearing from you!

Happy Holidays to you and to your neighbors and to those who care for all of you!

Cheryl Walker-Robertson is Chief Protocol Office of Protocol International. Protocol International is a service company that specializes in training and image enhancement through workshops, seminars and one-on-one coaching. Visit www.4protocol.net to learn more.

 

Top Tips to Navigating the Office Party

December 8, 2010

Is your company hosting a holiday party?  This year more employers will host holiday parties than they have in the past three years.  Sixty percent of organizations intend to host corporate events off-site, up ten percent from 2009, according to a November poll by the Society for Human Resource Management.

There may be fewer workers and the parties may be more modest. Even though, it is a good idea to remember the office holiday party is a business event not the place to let loose — and lose focus on your purpose and your image.   You are still on stage.

An appropriate outfit and attitude are crucial. The wrong choice of clothing or questionable behavior can hinder an employee’s career prospects.  In such a competitive environment, people have to really hone their social skills.   A social gathering that includes the entire office is a great opportunity to make a positive impression and get some face time in an informal environment.  Please let us know if you have any tips to add to our list:

Top Tips to Navigating the Office Party

  1. Do RSVP and do go. The hostess and/or organizer will appreciate knowing that you will be there as soon as you know.  Your name will be on the list and you will get all the benefits associated with that.
  2. Don’t dress inappropriately. If you wouldn’t wear it to the office, you shouldn’t wear it to the office party. Of course, your clothes can be more festive than those you wear to work (think sequins, color, and sparkles), but they shouldn’t be revealing.
  3. Do arrive on time. This is a good chance to chat with senior executives in a relaxed atmosphere before it gets too hectic.
  4. Don’t drink too much. Alcohol lowers your inhibitions and alters your judgment.  Even if you think you can handle your alcohol quite well, remember, perception is everything. You don’t want to look like you’re drinking too much, even if the alcohol has little effect on you.
  5. Do keep conversations positive and upbeat. Don’t spend the evening complaining, bragging, correcting, whining, or ridiculing. And do avoid controversial subjects (such as religion, politics, etc.) and off-color jokes.
  6. Don’t talk about people behind their backs. Just because someone is absent from the office party doesn’t give you reason to talk about them. In addition to the fact that it’s just not nice, it is a bad reflection on you.  Everybody knows if they will talk about her they will talk about you.
  7. Do enjoy yourself. Employers spend so the big office parties are meant to be a reward for their employees, to meet significant others, and an opportunity to mingle with clients.

Have a good time and Happy Holidays.  Let us know if you need to brush up on your networking or dining skills.  We are here for you.

Cheryl Walker-Robertson is Chief Protocol Office of Protocol International. Protocol International is a service company that specializes in training and image enhancement through workshops, seminars and one-on-one coaching. Visit www.4protocol.net to learn more.

Another Country

November 30, 2010

Guest post by: Alexsandra Mitchell

Another Country is more than the acclaimed novel by James Baldwin, it is the substance of hope for many who seek different life and cultural experiences through submersion.  When one decides to make that move to ‘another country’, there’s a myriad of responsibilities and actions one must take to assure that transition is as smooth as possible.  With my recent move to Dakar, Senegal, came a series of to-do list and months of preparatory  actions to make sure all bases were covered (and even with all my planning, some still hadn’t been taken care of prior to my move!).

Long before you prepare your going away celebrations and tearful airport departures with loved ones, here are a few tips on how to assure that your next move is your best move!

  • Register with the local US Embassy.  If there are any unstable events in the area where you will be living, this will allow the embassy to have your information for notifications and emergency updates.
  • Go to your local bookstore and purchase any written materials you can on the country you are moving to, for its customs and traditions, and places to visit while on your stay.  I like http://www.lonelyplanet.com ‘s series of books. They have great insight on hotspots and tips for countries all over the world!
  • Make sure you check with the CDC website for all required shots, medications, and vaccinations for your travel destination.  Your health is your number one priority while away, and this can ensure that you are your best you while away!
  • Do all routine doctors’ visits previous to departure for you trip (dental, OB-GYN, overall check-ups), just in case the country you are moving to does not have adequate medical treatment, there is nothing like being sick in a foreign country! Fill all current prescriptions that will be needed for the duration of the trip.
  • Purchase proper attire for the regions climate, and pack light.  Chances are, if you are staying for an extended amount of time in another country, you will be coming home with more than you left with.  Take it easy on the luggage to avoid hefty over-weight charges at the airport.
  • Check with the embassy’s standings on the foreign country to see if you need a visa for extended stay there.
  • Get a power adapter with the proper voltage for all electronics.  There is nothing like being away from home and the ones you love, and being unable to connect to them because of something as silly as not having a power adapter (I know, because I made this same mistake myself!).
  • PLEASE pack at least one round of a commonly prescribed antibiotic, and Imodium AD for unexpected emergencies, as well as a small first aid kit (you and your body will thank me later).
  • Make copies of all travel documents including passports and visas, in case the originals are lost or stolen, such that getting a replacement won’t be such a hassle. Theft of passports in airports is more common than one may think. On a trip a few years ago, several people in the group I was
  • traveling with had their passports stolen, just as we were waiting at JFK to check-in!  Keep your passport in a safe place as you travel, and while in your new home.
  • Take care of all bills and debts prior to your trip.  It is easy to forget about everyday responsibilities while caught up in the excitement of a big move.  But you will regret not handling your business while away when the consequences begin to set in.
  • GET SKYPE!  Thanks to the Internet and the wonderful people at http://www.Skype.com, keeping up with loved ones at home is easier than ever before just by downloading the software on your computer and having people back home do the same.  With this software you are able to call and video call people at home (computer permitting) for free if the two of you are online simultaneously.

Dealing with many of the aforementioned tips can be dreaded tasks, but they are all worthwhile in the long run while away from home!  Lastly, plan the largest, most fabulously-lavish going away party you could ever dream of!  Getting a chance to spend time with family and friends before your big move  may allow you to feel more comfortable and secure, knowing that you have the love and support of people and home (and it doesn’t hurt to party either).

Cheryl Walker-Robertson is Chief Protocol Office of Protocol International. Protocol International is a service company that specializes in training and image enhancement through workshops, seminars and one-on-one coaching. Visit www.4protocol.net to learn more.

Image by hn. via Flickr

How do you do…..It ?

October 27, 2010
The China Business Network Silicon Dragon Dinn...
Image by Elliottng via Flickr

The Contemporary Protocol on Introductions

One of the most common business needs is one that many stumble over and even fear — making introductions.

I’m talking about face-to-face introductions between you, colleagues, clients, and superiors.  We often find ourselves in a situation where introductions are in order: at meetings, in networking situations, in restaurants where we bumped into people we know with clients or associates, in the parking lot, the supermarket, in the elevator.  The list can go on forever.

While it may seem simple on the surface, very few people, including high-level executives, know how to make a correct introduction.  It is an important business tool and skill to have.  This lack of understanding always surprises me as introductions set the tone for the future of a budding business relationship. Done well, an introduction can serve to reassure a prospective partner or client that they are dealing with a seasoned professional.  But if it’s botched, an awkward or incorrect introduction might be brand damaging both for you personally and the company professionally.

By following Protocol International’s Do’s and Don’ts of Introduction, you’ll put yourself in a good light and those you’re introducing at ease.  Below is our list of Six ‘Do Tips for Introductions.  (Contact us for the Don’t Tips.  We really love hearing from you.)   Even better, let us complete the thought in our interactive workshop the “Art and Science of Networking” for your organization.  It includes introductions, pre-planning, strategy, follow-up, body language and so much more.

As the saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a great first impression.” Knowing that your first impression is a correct one will go a long way towards boosting your professional image and your self-confidence.

Protocol International’s Top Six Introductions DO’s:

  1. Always introduce yourself, whether it’s a chance meeting for a few seconds or a business dinner lasting several hours. When you introduce yourself first you establish control of the meeting or encounter, demonstrate initiative and an ability to be direct – all pluses in a business situation.
  2. Always state your name and something about yourself. For example you might say, “Good morning Mr. Doe, I’m Harry Smith from Atlas Motors.”
  3. If you fail to introduce yourself to a newcomer, or fail to introduce those whom you know but who don’t know each other, you demonstrate a lack of leadership.
  4. Always introduce from the bottom up. That is the “lesser authority” is always introduced to the “higher authority” by saying the higher authority’s name first. For example, a junior executive should be introduced to a senior executive. Similarly, a company executive should be introduced to a client. Clients and customers are always considered more important than someone in your firm, even if the client has a lower rank than your colleague. Example: “Ms. Higher Authority, I would like to introduce Mr. Lesser Authority from our legal department. Ms. Higher Authority is the Vice President of Human Resources.”
  5. Always highlight the company or position of the individuals you are introducing and, if appropriate, include pertinent information about each. For example you might say: “Mark Stevens, I’d like to introduce John Doe, he’s the senior vice president at ABC Cell Phones, and the person to call if you need anything related to cellular phones. John, Mark is president of Stevens Associates, the best P.R. firm in the country for promoting products.” A descriptive introduction eliminates the inevitable silence that often follows as unfamiliar individuals try to guess what the other does or whether they have anything in common. By providing the information you put each individual at ease and establish an opening for conversation.
  6. Always stand for introductions. This goes for both men and women and for both business and social occasions. No exceptions.

Etiquette Tips from the City Girl in Senegal

October 21, 2010
Landscape of Casamance Region, southern Senegal
Image via Wikipedia

I am so proud of my goddaughter Alexsandra Mitchell.  She has always been an adventurous one and an ambitious one.  Always.  She was a world traveler by the time she graduated  from the illustrious Howard University earning a B.A. in African-American studies. She’s been to several countries in Africa, built homes in  New Orleans, and had done impressive research at the prestigious Schomburg Museum in Harlem.

She is now a fellow at the Senegalese-American Bilingual School in Dakkar, where she teaches English as a Second Language (ESL), and American Studies to elementary school students.  She will Skype with me several times a week and we laugh, and sometimes cry, but she always has terrific tales to tell.  Here she offers us some etiquette advice for Senegal.  Chip off the old block eh…

Etiquette Tips from the City Girl in Senegal

Tip #1- You MUST shake everyone’s hand when walking into a new space.  Greeting is a very important component of Senegalese society, and a sign of respect.

Tip #2– When eating Senegalese Style, (which means around the bowl communally), only use your right hand.  It is a major faux pas to use the left hand to shake hands, or eat in Senegal, because the left hand is often used to substitute toilet paper. Also, make sure to stay in your section of the platter, as it is very disrespectful to eat in someone else’s space.

Tip #3– If you are staying with a family for an extended amount of time,  when giving the you’re your belongings, make sure to take out the “your personal  things” as you must wash them yourself by hand.

Tip #4– Always carry your own toilet paper, or a pack of tissue.  Most public bathrooms will not have toilet paper, and some may not have a toilet seat.  Good exercise for strengthening the thighs.

Tip #5–  When staying with a host family:  bring a gift for each family member of the house.   Giving a gift is a great way to show your appreciation for the family welcoming you into their home.

A return to etiquette in the work place

October 15, 2010

Protocol and etiquette are necessary and not only factors in being a civilized member of the human race but it is good business.  It can be shocking how much the work place has changed in the past two to three decades once you really examine it.  We now have PDA’s, IPADS, IPODS, three different generations of workers, gyms in the building, more cubicles and fewer walls, fewer people doing more of the work, and so much more to consider.

Many people have no idea that their behavior has consequences both for their personal brand but also for the reputation of the businesses they represent.  Managers and business owners must be sure the people who represent their brand understand the rules of protocol and etiquette.

We have all witnessed people who don’t. This includes colleagues who blow a customer off, drink too much, tell an inappropriate joke or answer a cell phone in the midst of important meeting or presentation, reach across the table to eat out of your plate. The list of brand shattering behavior can go on forever about every imaginable situation.

Here is our list of brand busting business situations.

1.     Business Meeting Protocol– The person who steps on everyone as they speak, ask question that have already been addressed or is altercative in meetings.

2.     Executive Etiquette- The person who doesn’t know to let the Sr. Executive have the best seat at the table, hold the door, check on logistics when traveling, or where they should sit in the taxi when with their Sr Executive.

3.     Dining Etiquette- A salesperson licking the knife clean during an important dinner with a client, adding salt or other seasonings to an entree before tasting it, taking too long to order or being rude to the wait staff.

4.     International Protocol– The person who complains about the way “they do things here” and are unprepared at understanding titles and customs, no gifts and the wrong handshake.

5.     Techno Etiquette -The one who is texting while talking to you.  The person who uses abbreviations and has misspelled words throughout in a formal email, who is on their cell phone constantly while in the office or who keeps their IPOD on while on the elevator.

6.     Dress to Impress– The person who thinks that they are so smart that they do not have to put effort into how they look.

7.     Networking– The person that drinks too much, that only spends time with their associates, arrives late and leaves early, has a wimpy handshake and doesn’t know how to introduce themselves effectively.

Tell us your story and be eligible for a beautiful Protocol gift that we will raffle off for the “Best Business Etiquette Bust”.

Have you become too casual, too informal, and too much like a reality television show that leads employees to greet their bosses and customers with a Yo, what’s up.’ demeanor?  Try out one of our workshops Respond to this email with Business Bust Prevention for a 20% discount on any workshop or consultation scheduled in November.