Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Book’s tips show how a hello and a handshake can further your career

Reviewed: “New Rules @ Work: 79 Etiquette Tips, Tools and Techniques to Get Ahead and Stay Ahead,” by Barbara Pachter with Ellen Schneid Coleman, Prentice Hall Press, 2006, $13.95, paperback, 258 pages.

Author Barbara Pachter says it’s a good strategy, at a business event where alcohol is served, to order a drink you don’t much like and slowly sip it to make sure you don’t overindulge.
I (sort of) put this theory to the test at a recent after-hours networking event, when the bar had run out of the red wine or beer I would have preferred, and I had to drink (gasp!) light beer. But I don’t think that was exactly what Pachter was getting at. When the drinks are free, I’m not all that picky.
Pachter, author of numerous business books including “New Rules @ Work: 79 Etiquette Tips, Tool, and Techniques to Get Ahead and Stay Ahead,” states that when drinking alcohol in social/business situations, “Have a good time but…don’t forget your behavior always matters. Just because you are out of the office doesn’t mean that your behavior doesn’t count.
“Many workplaces don’t have a lot of rules — or may not enforce a lot of rules — when it comes to etiquette, or prescribed conduct, in or out of the office. “New Rules @ Work,” is practical and helpful in filling in the blanks.
Take the case of professional attire:Years ago, I was a contractor at a mutual funds company. Proper professional attire that included suits with conservative skirt lengths and certain types of shoes (no open toes, sneakers or clogs) worn with “proper hosiery” was required.
A lot of companies, however, opt for a “business casual” dress code. And in the heat and humidity of summer, those already casual rules may become even more relaxed, according to Pachter.
However, the author states, warmer weather doesn’t mean you can suddenly wear tiny skirts, skimpy tops or otherwise inappropriate clothing to your job.
“Sexy is not a corporate look,” warns Pachter.
She suggests, “If your company does not have a written policy, look at what other people wear, especially the more senior people, the more successful ones. They are often good role models.”
There’s also a chapter devoted to “e-mail embarrassments.”
“Of course, it is inappropriate to say negative things to coworkers about colleagues — past or present — whatever technology you are using. However, the risks multiply when you use e-mail,” Pachter writes.
Many of us have been on the receiving end of an inappropriate e-mail that was erroneously sent to “reply all” instead of just to the sender. Pachter advises avoiding potentially embarrassing e-mail situations by beginning a fresh e-mail rather than replying in the heat of the moment.
A chapter I found particularly helpful discussed handshakes.“You should be certain to shake hands when you: Greet someone with more than just a hello and when you say goodbye; are introduced to someone; are visited in your office by someone from outside the company — for example, a customer, client or vendor; encounter a business colleague outside the office; or feel it is appropriate.”
There are times when I first meet someone in a professional capacity and that person does not extend their hand for a handshake. It’s sometimes awkward and feels like a rejection. What I learned from Pachter’s book is that I, as a woman, should not hesitate to extend my hand first — something that I realized that I do sometimes hesitate to do.
The proper etiquette is that “a man should wait for a woman to extend her hand.” Also: “The higher-ranking person should extend his or her hand first.”
Another chapter I found interesting discussed saying hello to people at work. It sounds simple enough — greeting those you see every day or even returning a hello — but not everybody does it, according to Pachter.
“You would not believe how many people tell me they are frequently ignored when they say hello to colleagues they encounter in hallways, elevators, cafeterias and elsewhere in the office,” she writes.
Her guideline: “If you make eye contact with someone who is within 10 feet of you, you must acknowledge the person with a nod or a smile. At five feet you must say something: ‘Hello,’ or ‘Good morning’ will suffice.”
Even a simple greeting can make your boss, coworker or client feel a connection. Like Pachter’s other tips, this one might just help you “get ahead and stay ahead.”

No comments: