Kim's - Valuable Tips, Ideas, and Insights to greater Confidence and Success

Click here to view Kimberley Roberts' bioetiquette, manners, confidence, and success go hand-in-hand Welcome to my ClassyTip for this week which focuses on:

- Appearance
- Behavior
- Communication

Business protocol - Tip #30

The business environment has become more casual in many industries, but basic protocol still sets standards that need to be followed, even if the dress code is casual.

If we are working for a large corporation at one of the centralized locations, we usually have the opportunity to observe other people in similar positions to learn ‘how best to present ourselves’ during meetings and other corporate events.

But what do we do if we work out in the field and travel to our corporate headquarters for an occasional meeting? Or what if one of our ‘superiors’ travels to our territory to meet with us?

We need to be aware of the appropriate protocol that should be follow for these circumstances.

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The basic rule of business protocol is – When we are the ‘junior person’ in a business group we will defer to the more senior people. Fortunately, in many cases this privilege of seniority has actually been earned.

However, I realize there may be times, when for one reason or another, we don’t ‘feel like’ we want to defer; but always remember this is part of the corporate game and is expected. And we may only hurt our own careers if we decide to challenge the protocol and behave differently.

This protocol can be very stressful when we are new, young employees who have good ideas and want to contribute to the meeting, but are not given the opportunity, or our ideas are ‘dismissed’ each time we bring them up. When this happens, don’t drop the ideas -- they may have value. Instead, clearly and succinctly write them down and look for other opportunities to share them – perhaps in a different format, such as a one on one meeting with someone, or in a timely memo.

Fortunately, as our careers grow, we will find ourselves in more senior positions. When this happens, remember how it felt being the junior person, and be gracious to the newer employees in your group.

But for now let’s get back to our business protocol and what it means to defer to a more senior person. One quick note when we are the junior person, our behavior deferring to the more senior person is done with professionalism and dignity.

The senior person goes first –

-- Going through a door, entering a room, getting into a cab means the more senior person ‘goes first’ which signals to others who the leader is in the group. This practice also allows for the leader to be the first person greeted if our group is attending a meeting elsewhere. And this ‘senior position’ lets the leader receive special treatment and recognition when appropriate, as providing the opportunity for a ‘maitre d’ to tell the person to have a pleasant meal.

Elevators can present an exception to this rule. Entering and exiting an elevator needs to be done in an efficient manner for everyone’s welfare, so the last people into an elevator are the first people to exit it. Since the senior person is the first to enter and we follow, we are usually the first to exit.

The senior person receives the best seating position –

-- Best view, most comfortable, power location means that seniority has its privileges, and one of those is to have ‘the best seat in the house’, whether at a board meeting, in a restaurant, on an airplane, or in a taxi. One reason the senior person goes first is so she/he has the opportunity to select the best or most powerful seating location, if it hasn’t been pre-determined.

The junior person handles the details and incidentals –

-- Reservations, cab, tickets, tipping, check-ins are the responsibility of the junior person, but are extremely important in order to make sure everything runs smoothly. This may include confirming airline reservations, hailing a cab, or any number of other small details that add up to a successful visit or event.

When we are in situations where travelling, hotels or restaurants will be involved, we need to make sure to have small denominations of cash available to use for any tipping, since it’s our responsibility to ‘take care of it’.

It’s easy to lose track of the cash spent for tipping or cab rides, especially when there are many of these incidences occurring within a day or two. One technique I’ve used for these circumstances is to write down the amount of cash in my wallet before I meet with the individual or group. Then when I have a discreet opportunity, I’ll recount my cash and list that amount. By doing this, I can later correctly re-create my expenses, which is especially helpful when there may not be receipts for some of the tips, such as for bell hops or doormen at a hotel.

The junior person is reserved and follows the senior person’s lead –

-- Keep conversations to a minimum unless encouraged by the senior person. Since we don’t know if there are critical or complicated projects on the mind of the senior person that may be taking his/her focus, we are best served by taking our conversational cues from the senior person’s demeanor.

If the other person is engaged in a conversation with us, by all means keep up a two-way dialog. But, if she/he starts reading a report during the cab ride to the airport, stay quiet so the other person can concentrate.

The classy person who is a senior member in any business situation understands that a level of professionalism can be maintained while being approachable. He or she does not make unreasonable demands, and pays attention to the junior people when they are speaking.

I'm Looking forward to sending you another of my ClassyTips next week. Until then, have a great week, and don't forget to visit my Forum where you can ask your questions on 'Becoming the Best You Can Be'.

Kiberley Roberts ClassyTips

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