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Expanding your business outside your country? Expand your cultural awareness as well.

October 7, 2010

Cheryl Walker-Robertson goes global

Globalization has made cross-border business deals more common than ever.  But, every day, deals are jeopardized or lost when international business prospects are offended by Americans unaware of other countries’ customs, culture or manners.  “Americans are way too informal in their dealings with their counterparts abroad, and they end up perceived as uncouth and even obnoxious,” says P.M. Forni, a professor of civility at Johns Hopkins University. “Innocence, stupidity or arrogance make them behave in Cyprus the way they would in Cleveland.”

Politicians and celebrities are not immune, generating highlight reels of faux pas for late-night talk shows.  In May, actor Mickey Rooney caused a stir in Great Britain when he violated protocol by kissing Queen Elizabeth’s hand at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C.  In April, Richard Gere repeatedly kissed actress Shilpa Shetty on the cheek at an AIDS awareness rally in April in New Delhi, India, a country where public displays of affection are generally taboo.  An Indian court issued a warrant for his arrest and irate protestors burned effigies of the actor.  The warrant was later suspended.

President Bush used an expletive while talking to British Prime Minister Tony Blair at a meeting in Germany last year.  He also gave German Chancellor Angela Merkel a shoulder rub while she spoke to Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi.  Many Europeans were offended because the summit was a formal occasion and they viewed the actions as demeaning.

Many American business travelers also commit faux pas, making, in many cases, already-challenging deals all the more elusive.

An American Hotel owner inadvertently insulted or embarrassed his hosts. During his first business meetings in Thailand a few years ago, he started the gatherings by talking about business.

Another businessman made the mistake of asking personal questions of a Scottish man on a business trip to England.

Recent literature cites an acknowledgment by business executives that understanding cultural differences is absolutely essential for doing business abroad.  Unfortunately, this same literature reports that surveys of major corporations indicate that relatively few offer this type of preparation for their people. Whether your company offers the training and/or the knowledge or not you are responsible and accountable.  Here’s what you should consider.
These 5 hints are a tip of the iceberg

  1. Learn about the country, culture and politics. There is a difference between being British and being English.   Plus there was a both a travel alert and a transit strike looming while we were in London.
  2. Know a few words in the language. They speak English in the UK but they also have words like Lift, Loo, Cheers, Half-Four, Peckish.
  3. Listen before you start to sell. My first 3 trips to China consisted of meeting and listening to potential customers before opening up the discussion to sales.
  4. Protocol—greetings, listening, dress, dos and don’ts of conversation, forms of address, dress, dining, gifting, business cards.
  5. Business Practices—importance of punctuality, negotiation practices, entertaining, cognitive styles, values, decision-making.

Also consider calling Protocol International for our customized International Briefing by country. 

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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.

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You don't know what you don't know", Part II – The Answers

September 27, 2010

On our last post we challenged you with an etiquette quiz and this week we have a winner and the answers.  Manners are important.  Being formally trained and participating in workshops that add to your personal and professional development help with your brand and with that of your company or college. The protocol and etiquette of dining especially if you are dining with your clients, your manager or an interviewer can be crucial.

Participating in one of our interactive workshops can only add to your dining savvy.  Think about it as the eating season approaches- galas, customer appreciation events, conferences, interviews, client entertaining, holiday parties, etc.

Congratulations to Fabiola V Rivara for winning the raffle.  We hope you enjoy the imported, hand stitched dinner napkins and the Dining Etiquette Book.  We got a lot of responses and thanks to all that participated.  We will add your name into the next raffle to give you a second chance on a great Protocol Gift.  Now for the answers to the….

Frequently Asked Questions

1.    When at a business meal when should I start eating?
A: Wait for your host to signal the meal’s beginning. The host may wish to make a formal statement, prayer or a toast before attention turns to the food. Normally, the host will verbally ask the guests to begin or start by passing a dish himself or he may begin by serving up a dish or even spreading a napkin on his lap..

2.   I am not a religious person. What should I do if a meal begins with a prayer?
A: It is well to remember that you are in the company of other people and their customs.  If your hostess asks you to join hands or bow your head is not asking too much for you to accommodate her in this regard. Conversely, if you feel strongly about your religious tradition and are in the home of a person who pointedly does not pray before meal time, do not be ostentatious in your ritual. Be meek and humble, say your prayer silently and reverently to yourself and proceed with the meal..

3.   Who is served first?
A: If you are the host, insist that your guests are served first and that they begin as soon as they are served as you want them to enjoy the meal at the appropriate temperature..

4.   What is the correct percentage for a tip?
A. Providing the service was good, a tip of 15% of the bill before tax is a good rule of thumb. If you happen to live where the state tax is between 7% and 8% you can calculate the tip easily by looking at the amount you are taxed and simply doubling it. You can then round this amount off higher or lower, depending on the service and your state’s tax percentage.

5.   My client had finished eating but I was still eating, shouldn’t the waitress remove his plate?
A: This is actually a question of pace on your part.  If the client is finished eating a course you should also be finished the course so that you can both move on to the next course together whether its dessert or business..

6.    What should I do with my napkin if I need to leave the table?
A: If you have not completed your meal it should go in your chair, remember to push your chair in.  If you are finished neatly to the left of your place setting

Never be fooled by the apparent congeniality of a business meal. Whether a prospective employer is taking you to lunch or you’re trying to win the big contract, your table manners have never been under greater scrutiny.

Table manners were designed to keep us from offending one another with unappetizing behavior. The rules of table etiquette can be very involved. Let us help keep you out of trouble and, hopefully, land that job or contract or business relationship.

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.

Related posts:

Business Meal Blunders

Four Dining Do’s and Dont’s

More on Gestures..Where Did That Come From?

“You don’t know what you don’t know”, Part II – The Answers

September 27, 2010

On our last post we challenged you with an etiquette quiz and this week we have a winner and the answers.  Manners are important.  Being formally trained and participating in workshops that add to your personal and professional development help with your brand and with that of your company or college. The protocol and etiquette of dining especially if you are dining with your clients, your manager or an interviewer can be crucial.

Participating in one of our interactive workshops can only add to your dining savvy.  Think about it as the eating season approaches- galas, customer appreciation events, conferences, interviews, client entertaining, holiday parties, etc.

Congratulations to Fabiola V Rivara for winning the raffle.  We hope you enjoy the imported, hand stitched dinner napkins and the Dining Etiquette Book.  We got a lot of responses and thanks to all that participated.  We will add your name into the next raffle to give you a second chance on a great Protocol Gift.  Now for the answers to the….

Frequently Asked Questions

1.    When at a business meal when should I start eating?
A: Wait for your host to signal the meal’s beginning. The host may wish to make a formal statement, prayer or a toast before attention turns to the food. Normally, the host will verbally ask the guests to begin or start by passing a dish himself or he may begin by serving up a dish or even spreading a napkin on his lap..

2.   I am not a religious person. What should I do if a meal begins with a prayer?
A: It is well to remember that you are in the company of other people and their customs.  If your hostess asks you to join hands or bow your head is not asking too much for you to accommodate her in this regard. Conversely, if you feel strongly about your religious tradition and are in the home of a person who pointedly does not pray before meal time, do not be ostentatious in your ritual. Be meek and humble, say your prayer silently and reverently to yourself and proceed with the meal..

3.   Who is served first?
A: If you are the host, insist that your guests are served first and that they begin as soon as they are served as you want them to enjoy the meal at the appropriate temperature..

4.   What is the correct percentage for a tip?
A. Providing the service was good, a tip of 15% of the bill before tax is a good rule of thumb. If you happen to live where the state tax is between 7% and 8% you can calculate the tip easily by looking at the amount you are taxed and simply doubling it. You can then round this amount off higher or lower, depending on the service and your state’s tax percentage.

5.   My client had finished eating but I was still eating, shouldn’t the waitress remove his plate?
A: This is actually a question of pace on your part.  If the client is finished eating a course you should also be finished the course so that you can both move on to the next course together whether its dessert or business..

6.    What should I do with my napkin if I need to leave the table?
A: If you have not completed your meal it should go in your chair, remember to push your chair in.  If you are finished neatly to the left of your place setting

Never be fooled by the apparent congeniality of a business meal. Whether a prospective employer is taking you to lunch or you’re trying to win the big contract, your table manners have never been under greater scrutiny.

Table manners were designed to keep us from offending one another with unappetizing behavior. The rules of table etiquette can be very involved. Let us help keep you out of trouble and, hopefully, land that job or contract or business relationship.

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.

Related posts:

Business Meal Blunders

Four Dining Do’s and Dont’s

More on Gestures..Where Did That Come From?

“You don’t know what you don’t know”

September 14, 2010

Eating is often a social occasion.

Manners are important in society. They help us to be civil to one another. A person who minds their manners knows how to act in every circumstance and tends to feel comfortable and more confident.  The thing is, people do not know what they do not know.

Nowhere are these skills more important than at the table. The protocol and etiquette of dining, particularly dining with a business companion is crucial.  The demonstration of your know how in this area communicate respect to the other diners, the host, the restaurant, your waiter, the chef, your company, yourself.

Our Workshop “The Art of Fine Dining” is one of our most popular and definitely one of our favorites.  Participating in one of our interactive workshops will make you a more confident and an even more charming dinner companion.   Let’s test your dining savvy and you can determine if you need a refresher.  Do you need your staff or members to benefit from not having to question or guess but to knowing the written and unwritten rules?

These are our most frequently asked questions.  Do you know the answers?   Take our quiz and send us your answers.

Our Frequently Asked Questions

  1. When at a business meal when should I start eating?
  2. I am not a religious person. What should I do if a meal begins with a prayer?
  3. Who should be served first?
  4. What is the correct percentage for a tip ?
  5. My client had finished eating but I was still eating, shouldn’t the waitress remove his plate?
  6. What should I do with my Napkin if I need to leave the table?

Everyone who responds with answers, right or wrong, will be entered to win a Protocol International gift. If any of the questions really stump you and you need a refresher, we will give you a discount on the “Art of Fine Dining” or “Finessing the Business Meal” workshop.  Be it for a group or one-on-one.  You must book by October 30th.

Never be fooled by the apparent congeniality of a business meal. Whether a prospective employer is taking you to lunch or you’re trying to win the big contract, your table manners have never been under greater scrutiny.

The fact is that table manners were designed to keep us from offending one another with unappetizing behavior. For example, you may think that it’s better to pick food out of your front teeth with that handy matchbook cover than to have spinach stuck between your choppers. But your potential employer may not want to shake your hand after it’s been digging in the recesses of your mouth.

The rules of table etiquette can be very involved but also can be very rewarding!

Top Ways to Improve Your Image.

September 8, 2010
franka jovem

Image by brutapesquisa

We wish you the best this Labor Day Week.  It’s sad to see the summer coming so quickly to an end.  The long nights will shorten and the work pace will pick back up.  Let’s consider the new work season, or for some a new school season, and what adjustments could be made to remain competitive.  We have gotten a few inquiries about how one can improve their image at work. With layoffs, hiring, cutbacks, redesigning jobs and employment relationships, your image at work could not be more important.  So please review our top 9 tips for improving your image at work and please feel free to add the 10th.  Give us some feedback we would love to hear from you.

Top Nine Tips for improving your image at work.

  1. Check the temperature.  Know what  your image at work is? Ask a few people out for lunch and get 360 feedback,  ask your manager, your mentor, and colleagues- above you, on your level and below.  Get opinions from people you trust to give it to you straight. Or hire us to do it all for you.
  2. Check your gear. Dress for the job you want. The adjustment could be maximal or minimal.  New eyeglasses, new hairstyle, new portfolio, briefcase/ bag, a fine writing instrument can all be slight enhancements that can tighten your image.   Better fitting clothes including undergarments, will also improve your image.
  3. Check your attitude. Are you a great team player?  Are people comfortable around you?  Do people tell you the truth or what you want to hear for fear of retribution or defensiveness?
  4. Check your tone. Do you sound like you are always ready to fight? Are you condescending or accusatory? Do you act you are everybody’s mommy, or worse, daddy?
  5. Check your calendar. Are you attending the company functions both business and social?  Social functions can be intimate opportunities for co-workers to see another side of your image.
  6. Check the last time you invested in you. Do you need to be more proficient in an important aspect of your job?  Take a class, read a book, or get a coach.
  7. Check your protocol. Do you manage your team appropriately? Do you show deference to executives where appropriate?
  8. Check you etiquette. Do you eat elegantly or like a Viking?  Do you treat common areas with respect?  Do you interrupt people? Are you on your cell phone with personal calls and texting like you are obsessed?
  9. Check yourself. Do you live up to your word?  Do you make promises that you consistently do not keep?  Do you over promise?  Do you lie?

Let us know what you can add as number ten.  We would love to hear how you make the transition from summer to fall and beyond. And what you are planning to work on for an enhanced professional image. If you let us, and if you need us, we’d like to help.

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Golf Etiquette – It’s more than your swing

August 31, 2010
The "Island Green" 17th hole at the ...
Image via Wikipedia

Labor Day is approaching quickly and as summer winds down you have to plan on getting the most out of it.  We recently traveled to Maryland to help some friends celebrate CB’s 50th birthday bash.  Dennis and the fellas set up two rounds of golf.  Golf, unlike other sports, has its own set of customs and expectations for fans and spectators.  These range from what you should wear to etiquette on the course.  Here are a few rules to stay in check while on the course.

  1. Be sure to sport the appropriate attire (pun intended) some courses require collared shirts.
  2. Keep It Safe
    • Do not swing your club until you know that others in your group are at a safe distance. Likewise, keep your distance when others are swinging. Be aware to steer clear of trouble.
    • Do not hit the ball until you are certain that the group ahead of you is out of range.
    • A golfer should avoid stepping within at least a one-foot radius of the hole.
    • Never throw clubs in anger. In addition to being rude and childish, it could also be dangerous.
  3. If your ball appears headed toward another player or another group, give them a warning by yelling out, “Fore!” (an internationally recognized alert)
  4. Observe the safety suggestions posted in golf carts and drive carefully. Golf etiquette requires keeping your cart off the grass as much as possible.
    • When two players in a cart hit to opposite sides of a hole, drive to the first ball and drop off that player with his club, then drive to the second ball. After both players hit, meet up farther down the hole.
  5. Golfers should note each player’s putting line, and avoid stepping on it as they play on the green or stand on a line of sight, that is, in the line of sight either ahead or behind a player who is attempting to putt.
  6. The player with the best score on the previous hole has the honor of teeing off first. If there is no outright winner of a hole, then the order of play does not change from the previous tee

Here are some additional tips to make note of:

  • Maintain a good pace: Keep the round moving by being prepared to hit your shot when it is your turn. You probably don’t like waiting on other groups – don’t make other groups wait on you.
  • The player who is furthest away hits first in a group. However, in friendly matches (as opposed to tournament play), this rule can be ignored in favor of “ready play” – players hit as they are ready. All players should agree to “ready play” before it is put into effect.
  • Do not spend too much time looking for a lost ball, particularly if there is a group behind you ready to play. If you insist on taking the full five minutes allotted in the rulebook to look for lost balls, golf etiquette says wave up the group behind to allow them to play through.
  • In the tee box, other players should stand alongside the person playing, out of the way and not behind the player getting ready to swing. Should the player about to play the ball ask his partners to move, the request should be honored.
  • Always try to keep pace with the group ahead of you. If space opens in front of you, allow a faster group behind you to play through.
  • Select your clubs before walking to your ball, take a couple clubs with you. Taking only one club and then having to retrieve a different club, is a huge time-waster.
  • Always leave the green the way you found it. Fix the divots.

The R&A rule book states that “[t]he overriding principle is that consideration should be shown to others on the course at all times.” However, Dennis says don’t take yourself too seriously play to have fun!  Do you have any pet peeve golf etiquette issues?  Let us know.

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Conference Protocol & Etiquette – What’s appropriate and what’s not.

August 25, 2010
FLOSS International Conference, conference 1
Image via Wikipedia

Professional and Social Conferences are very important strategies in the life of a reputable business person.  Thus understanding etiquette and exercising protocol during these meetings is a crucial skill and ability that you should possess.

Below are a few tips on what is appropriate and how to maximize the conference opportunity.

  1. When you enter the room speak and shake hands. Your handshake needs to be firm and steady to transmit confidence and strength.
  2. Be able to express what it is you do and or who you are in less than a minute. Have an elevator speech that will yield profitable results and pleasant conversations.
  3. SMILE! You need to be serious and professional, however at the same time you have to be pleasant and approachable.  Make sure your body language communicates the message you and your company want to send.
  4. Bring ample business cards. Your purpose should be to meet and hopefully bring back business to your company.  Do not run out midway through the conference, meeting, or networking session.
  5. Be prepared.  Study the collateral’s prior to attending to the conference.  Do your homework and figure out whom you would like to meet and see over the next few days.  Scan through the welcome packet and highlight any names of people you’d like to see.
  6. Choose workshops for the information you want to receive. However also consider the people you want to meet and network with when choosing.  You may have to make a decision on which is more important because it may not be the same workshop for both goals.
  7. Network with other attendees before you get there.  If you think clients or associates will also be attending, send a note card in advance.  It will be a great gesture on your behalf whether they are attending or not.
  8. Do not over indulge. On anything.  Leave the conference with your image enhanced not as the conference joke.
  9. Move around.  When you meet someone, introduce yourself and exchange business cards.  Have small talk and set-up another time to meet, or a time for a call when you return to the office.  Shake hands as you leave, thank them and then move on to the next person.
  10. Come to the session prepared with notebook paper and pens.  If you forgot to bring some, you may be able to find a notepad in your hotel room or at the front desk, but better to be prepared ahead of time.
  11. Do not take up two or three seats.  Move right on in and meet someone new, sitting next to you.  Introduce yourself.  Enjoy their company before the speaker begins.  Or better yet, arrive early to sit in the front and learn as much as you can.
  12. This is a time to learn. If you’re with a chatty attendee, politely tell them that you would love to talk after the session.  Be polite, sincere, and firm.  Tell them right at the beginning of the conversation.  If you wait too long to say something, you can get hooked into the conversation, and it will be more uncomfortable to get out.
  13. Respect the speaker.  As a speaker, it can be frustrating to be on a stage in front of a group and realize attendees are chatting among themselves.  If you must have a conversation or make a phone call, please leave the room out of respect.
  14. Wear your name badge.  Instead of using a lanyard, which makes the badge nearly impossible to read, pin it on your clothing.  The right side is preferable for it is easier to read when you shake hands.
  15. At meals remember the basics and introduce yourself to everyone at the table.  Do not reach over the table to shake hands.  Meet everyone before you sit down.  Do not eat until everyone at your table is served.  If you are waiting for a special meal, let everyone know it’s OK to start eating because your meal will be late.
  16. Do not be the one posting and tagging unwanted pictures on your social media.  You need to ask permission or better yet, what goes on in Vegas stays in Vegas.

These are many more the protocol and etiquette basics that will allow you to have a comfortable, fun and productive  time at your next industry, business or social conference.  If you want to maximize the experience, call us for the Protocol International customized conference briefing.   Our affordable priced programs  will provide you with all the information you need to make the most of your conference and stay one step ahead of competitors

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