Best in Class: Etiquette and People Skills for Your Career


Test your business etiquette awareness and avoid the Seven Deadly Sins of 21st Century Business Behavior with business etiquette expert Lynne Breil, CSP.

People skills, such as business etiquette, support employee relationships amongst professional peers and the general public. The most sought-after people skills include business etiquette, professionalism, written and oral communication, interpersonal, and leadership.

Join Lynne for this essential webinar where she explains why these people skills are vital for your business and how they help your company stand out above the competition.

Participants Will Learn

  • How to make a strong first impression
  • The skills for effective small talk and listening
  • The importance and components of professional presence
  • How to improve communication skills in meetings, on the phone, and e-mails

Who Should Attend

  • Corporate/organizational trainers and facilitators
  • Independent consultants
  • Managers responsible for training

Sara Lindmont: Hi everyone, and welcome to today’s webinar, Best in Class: Etiquette
and People Skills for Your Career hosted by HRDQU and presented by
Lynne Breil. My name is Sara and I will moderate today’s webinar. The
webinar will last about an hour. If you have any questions, go ahead and
send those into us and we’ll answer those as we go along, I’m behind
the scenes, I’ll be here answering any technical questions, then we’ll
have some time at the end for Lynne to answer some content questions.
So go ahead and send those in. You want to use your questions box on
the control panel, it may say chat, but there’s a white space there type
your message in, click send, that’ll come right over to us. You can send
those as the session goes on or at the end we’ll also remind you to send
in any questions that you might have.
Sara Lindmont: Our presenter today is Lynne Breil. Lynne is the founder and CEO of the
Professional Edge, Inc. A go to resource for people skills training in the
workplace and that includes business etiquette, oral communication,
leadership development and professional image. Lynne started her
company over 25 years ago, teaching troops, girl scout troops that is.
Little did she know that would lead to a professional speaking career
that has taken her across the US and Europe. She’s delivered programs
to corporations, government groups, nonprofit agencies and colleges.
Sara Lindmont: She’s even taught student athletes at Villanova University, dining
etiquette skills. Lynne’s book, Best in Class is our featured publication
today and the topic of our webinar. In it, she writes about the seven
deadly sins of 21st century business behavior. She is also the author of
the upcoming book, Making the Grade: Presentation Skills From
Classroom to Conference Room. Here to help you avoid committing any
of those deadly sins is the prognosticator of people skills and a manners
maven in her own right, Lynne Breil.
Lynne Breil: Thank you Sara. It’s my pleasure to be the manners maven for the
moment and thank you all for joining this webinar. Now about 25 years
ago when I started talking about business etiquette, there was one book
I could find that was on the market that expressly talked about
executive manners, Letitia Baldrige wrote that book in 1995. And in it
she mentions that there are three criteria for deciding, okay, what is the
best thing to do? What is the most appropriate thing to do in a business
etiquette situation? And she said that it’s based on three things. And
when I say she said, she said, “Business behavior is based on three
things. Number one, it’s based on kindness. Number two, efficiency. And
number three, logic.” So if we had a fire drill right now and it was time
for everybody to leave, you’ve already heard the foundation of what I’m
going to tell you.
Lynne Breil: So if you’re wondering really what is the best thing to do in a situation
where we’re faced with what do I do? And what’s the best behavior?
Ask yourself, okay, what’s the most kind thing to do? What’s the most
efficient thing to do? And what makes the most sense? So today I am
going to talk about people skills and professional presence followed by
business etiquette sins of the 21st century. And when I hear people that
I talk to in sessions that I deliver mentioned to me their pet peeves,
these are the things that come to the forefront. I’ve listed them on the
agenda and I will present each one of these to you and talk a little bit
about it. Everything from body language, blunders, to dirty dining.
Lynne Breil: But I do want to say that this whole topic of people skills, it’s not new.
As a matter of fact, there was a publication in 1918 by Charles Mann
and you’re looking at a picture of that very publication, A Study of
Engineering Education. And in that publication, Mr. Mann refers to a
study where he asked 30,000 members in large engineering firms to
number the six qualities needed for top engineers. In other words, what
did they think were the personal qualities more important than
knowledge of engineering science? Or if you use engineering science,
where would it fall in that list?
Lynne Breil: And you’re looking at those top six skills. And if you look at them closely,
you’ll notice that the top four are congruent with what we call people
skills. So what have we done with this information that was learned so
long ago? Well, not enough. There was actually a statistic that the
Stanford Research Institute, Harvard University and the Carnegie
Foundation released mentioning that divide between people skills and
technical skills and you’re reading it as I am technical skills and
knowledge account for only 15% of the reason an individual gets, keeps
or moves up in a job, 85% of job success depends on people skills.
Lynne Breil: So I’m sure that you can all think of a time when you have had someone
in your organization get promoted because they’re very good at the
technical aspects of their job, but then they seem to hit a wall on the
leadership side because they can’t relate to people. And that’s where
etiquette and good business behavior come in. And that is really where
people skills come in because no matter what technology comes along,
it’s really still people who matter in business. Now, if you’re still unsure
of what people skills are, maybe this video from the movie Office Space
will help you determine exactly what people skills are. And some of you
may have seen this clip before. I’m going to play it for you now.
Lynne Breil: (Silence)
Sara Lindmont: Lynne were you able to close the video? Well, it looks like Lynne might
be having some technical difficulties. So give me a minute here, we
appreciate your patience. So Lynne, if you can hear me, what you want
to do is go back to your sharing section and select the monitor that has
your PowerPoint on it and that’ll remove the video. Can those in the line
hear me speaking? Somebody just chat in real quick. Let me know that.
Yes. Okay, great. Thank you Laurie. Thank you Diane. Okay, great. So go
to webinar hasn’t completely shut down on us. It looks like we just lost
our presenter. All right, let me see if I can catch her.
Sara Lindmont: (Silence)
Sara Lindmont: Thank you everyone for … Just to share some humor behind the scenes
here. Travis has shared with me that losing the presenter is such a minor
issue in a webinar, don’t sweat. Thank you Travis. I have [inaudible
00:11:45] as I am, I’m clearly sweating. So let’s say she is not responding
to me, so I wonder if she has lost internet. Let’s give her another couple
of minutes here before we decide we need to reschedule. So let’s see if I
can, Lynne, are you able to hear me? If so, you can shoot me a quick
email if you’re not able to chat in the text box.
Sara Lindmont: (Silence)
Lynne Breil: … Sara, if you are there I can actually hear you. Can you hear meSara Lindmont: Yes, I can now hear you. Okay, perfect. So that change worked for you.
Okay, good. Lynne, I’m going to make you the presenter again and you
will show your screen and that probably did what it needed to do to
clear out the video portion. Perfect. So we see your slide deck and I
think a couple of people on the line you can chat in. Yep, slideshow
mode. It looks like you are on the very next slide. Yep, you’re good to go.
Thank you. Oh, everybody’s saying we all can. Yay.
Lynne Breil: Oh my gosh. Okay I onlySara Lindmont: [crosstalk 00:13:37].
Lynne Breil: I only have one of my screens, but I can run with that, so it’s not a
problem. Okay. Good. All right thank you. I apologize about that. I’m
sure I hit the wrong button, but anyway, I’m actually going to go on.
Thanks for staying with me, everybody. The next slide is about
professional presence, which is part of what we’re going to be talking
about today. And in Sylvia Hewlett’s book Executive Presence, she
comes from an opportunity to research and talk to 4,000 professionals,
college educated professionals, almost 400 of them are top executives.
And what she did was she asked them what they felt were the pillars of
executive presence. And they said there were really three things that set
people apart in their profession. And it was gravitas, which is how you
act, it was what you say, which is communication, and it was
appearance, how you look.
Lynne Breil: And even though you’re looking at the percentages of the differences of
these three, don’t think that gravitas is by a long shot, the only thing
that matters, in other words, how you act. Because it also matters how
you speak and communicate. And one of the top skill sets that senior
executives or senior leaders said in communication was the ability to
actually stand up and give a presentation. That’s really part of people’s
skills it’s not just about content, it’s about the ability to engage an
audience and the ability to read an audience, or read a room and having
a sense of humor. And on the gravitas and we’re talking about how you
act, the senior leaders said that it’s about being decisive. It’s about
having emotional intelligence and that’s managing and controlling your
emotions and recognizing other people’s emotions or all people skills.
Lynne Breil: It’s also about having confidence in being able to make that quick split
second decision. Like if you lose the monitor on a webinar or something
like that, that you know what to do. The last one, and I say last only
because I’m talking about it last, because that 5% on how you look
doesn’t mean that it’s only 5% of importance because it feeds into all
the others. But how you look and top aspects of appearance for both
men and women, really have to do more with doing something with
what you do, with what you have, in other words. Not about being
young, it’s not about always being tall, being attractive, it’s what you do
with what you have.
Lynne Breil: And so we’re going to talk about some of these things as I go through
the seven deadly sins of today’s session. And I am actually going to see if
I can go to the [inaudible 00:16:30], we go to the next slide. Ladies and
gentlemen, I now have to ask you a question as we get started. And it’s
about survey of human resource and performance professionals who
identified the most valued competencies, and they actually had about
18. Which of the four below were not in the top three? And this, I know
there’s a poll that you were taking, so I’ll give everyone a moment to
participate in this poll.
Sara Lindmont: Perfect. So everybody should see that. Okay. Yep. Great. We can see
everyone is starting to respond and that’s it. You’re just going to click on
those open radio buttons and then hit submit and that’ll come through
for us. We’re getting some really good participation.
Lynne Breil: And these again, were again the most valued competencies according to
human resource and performance professionals. Good.
Sara Lindmont: Okay. Looks like we’ve got everybody in, so I’m going to go ahead and
share those results. And do you see those results, Lynne?
Lynne Breil: I do. Yes. Thanks. Actually going to surprise you that the one that was
not in the top three in this survey, human resource and performance
professionals was intelligence. Even after I talked about people skills,
we’re going back and saying, “It’s not always about having the highest
IQ. Maybe it’s about the emotional intelligence too as well as job
knowledge.” So I’m going to be talking about etiquette and people skills
for business today. And I’m going to show you a graphic of some of the
things I’m going to be talking about the seven deadly sins of business
Lynne Breil: We’re going to start actually with body language blunders. And
psychologists say that 60 to 80% of your message you communicate
through body language. That’s the nonverbal part of your
communication. But we don’t pay a whole lot of attention, many of us
to what we’re doing or saying with our body. And Patti Wood, who’s a
body language expert says it in a face to face interaction, “With just one
person, you can exchange up to 10,000 nonverbal cues in less than one
minute.” And nonverbal cues can include all the ways you present and
express yourself apart from the actual words.
Lynne Breil: So we’re going to talk today about some of those cues. And this reminds
me of Ralph Waldo Emerson quote that said, “What you do speaks so
loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” I have a question for you about
body language. Here is the first one. People will judge your personality
and level of confidence by how you shake their hand. So we’re going to
open the polls again.
Sara Lindmont: Wow. You see those results?
Lynne Breil: Well, I guess that was a no brainer because the answer is agree. After all
maybe I kind of gave a little bit of a disclaimer up front about what that
would be, but exactly true that the handshake is like the … If you look at
body language, it’s the same way you might look at a currency. The
handshake’s like the dollar bill. And I’m going to talk about some of the
things that maybe you’ve seen people do or not seeing, you’ve
experienced people do when it comes to handshakes. And I have some
don’ts and some dos on the slide. I have the don’ts now I’ve given these
handshakes names, but the fist bump, I’m sure everybody knows what
that is. I actually had a chance to ask some medical professionals who I
thought, these are if anybody would do fist bumps because they don’t
want to grasp the whole hand, it would be medical professionals?
Lynne Breil: Well, not true. They’d say that the handshake, the traditional handshake
is much preferred to a fist bump. But what about the sweaty palmer and
what do you do with it? If you are one to have sweaty palms and you
just give yourself a swipe against your clothing and just very quickly
before you shake hands and that should take care of a little bit of that.
The wrestler is the one who just turns your hand so that your Palm is
downward and the person’s hand is underneath you, and that’s kind of
like some people say, “Well, it’s a show of dominance. Not good in
business.” And then the bone crusher, we’ve experienced this where
somebody just grasped your hands so hard that it’s painful. The lobster
claw is where you just grasp, excuse me, fingers instead of going web to
web. Again, not very fulfilling as a handshake and certainly not a show
of confidence in business.
Lynne Breil: And the lingerer, what is the difference between holding hands and
shaking hands? And the lingerer is the one to hold onto your hand and
you probably release your grip five times and they’re still hanging on it.
It’s very awkward. And the tickler, Imagine that you’re shaking hands
with someone and all of a sudden you feel something a little odd
because they are moving one of their fingers against your palm, that’s
called the tickler. When I demonstrate these in training sessions, people
really have to laugh at that. But those are the don’ts. And the reason I’m
talking about handshakes is that in the American business culture, it
really does, the handshake show our levels of confidence. So even
though I have seasoned professionals in classes that are in training
sessions, we actually talk about what makes a good handshake? Eye
contact? Grasping the other person? Web to web?
Lynne Breil: How many times do you shake? Well, it’s two or three times and then
release. And I like to say, you know when it’s over, it’s kind of like a kiss,
you know when it’s over. But since handshakes is the only legitimate
form of touch in business, when we first meet someone, you want to
get it right, and that’s handshakes. And then we have other body
language basics like taking up space. Why? Well, because when we’re
not confident, what we do is we close ourselves up and pull ourselves
together. If you look in a business setting, the people who take up the
most space physically who have the largest offices, let’s say the large,
the most space are probably the ones that outrank others. Now that’s
just fundamentally what we see, but also, I’m not saying it’s right or
wrong, I’m just saying that, that’s what we kind of we allow people who
have a greater rank to take up more space.
Lynne Breil: So think about using the space that you have, also using eye contact,
which is, it’s kind of tricky because when you’re walking, you have to
look where you’re going. But I had some business that I did with a law
firm and the biggest criticism, very large firm that some of the
associates and the administrative team had with the lawyers was that
they weren’t, they didn’t feel they were making enough effort to build
relationships with the staff. And when I made some observations and
asked some questions, I found out that the lawyers, when they walked
through the campus or through the building, they had their heads
buried in their mobile devices every time they left their office. So that
they weren’t making eye contact just walking down the hall with
Lynne Breil: And walking with purpose, what I mean take wide steps, it makes you
seem more purposeful and it denotes confidence. And as far as avoiding
your pockets, any image consultant will tell you that when you show
your hands and they’re visible in communication, it’s a much more
powerful gesture. And of course smiling, because confident people
smile, they don’t have anything to worry about. And so that you’re going
to see confident people smile.
Lynne Breil: Well, let’s talk about networking is one of the other sins. Networking
that’s not working. And the reason I have this guy up here is because we
actually asked professionals what they think the whole networking, the
idea of networking really is, what are the goals are? And when I ask
people, do you think its … How many do you think that networking is
about, getting your business cards in the hands of as many people as
you can at a networking event?
Lynne Breil: And a couple people raised their hands and then I say, “Well now if
that’s what you feel the goal is, how does it make you feel in that
setting?” And many of them say, “Negative words.” And one person
said, “Well, it makes me feel sleazy.” And on the other hand, I ask
professionals, “Well, how many of you think that networking is about
building a relationship with someone in your industry?” And these
people give me more positive words. Well, whatever word you attach to
networking, remember that the goal is about helping people, it’s not
exclusively to sell. And so I do have an agree or disagree question that I
already answered for you. So we don’t have to take a poll on this. I’ll just
go right ahead, Sara and show them that the answer is disagree. It’s not
about pitching your company and getting your business card into the
hands of as many people as you can. It is about helping others.
Lynne Breil: Some networking facts include that 80% of all professional opportunities
are found through networking. And, we have found when we have
interviewed some of our clients and people who actively attend
networking and industry events, that they have increased their business
performance. Lawyers have reported more billable hours when they are
actively involved in industry associations and network and make a
practice of it. And the other thing about networking is think about this,
most people know at least 200 other people. Now if you made a list of
all the people you know from kindergarten on, neighbors, your parents’
friends, your kids’ friends, their parents, people from elementary school,
junior school, high school or junior high school, high school, college,
church, other social functions that you’ve gone to. And I’ll bet most of us
could come up with a list of 200 people.
Lynne Breil: And that means that when you meet someone for the first time, you
have access to 200 people that you’ve never known before. You meet
two new people at a networking reception, now you have access to 400
people and keep doing the math. So these are some networking facts.
However, people do make mistakes networking. And some people just
go with the idea of getting through the evening, they don’t have a plan.
Nowadays a lot of industry events, there’s a published list of attendees.
So go find that list if you can and you have access to it, and look at who’s
going to be there and pick a couple people that you want to express and
make a point to introduce yourself to because they belong to a company
or an affiliate that you’d like to have access to, and there you have a
plan. But be strategic also about joining networking groups, which ones
are really going to help you in your profession.
Lynne Breil: Another mistake is not leaving your friends. It’s okay to arrive with your
friends. It’s okay to leave with your friends, but divide and conquer. You
don’t have to save seats for your friends at a banquet or a networking
event. It’s probably not your comfort zone, but you’ll meet more people
if you branch out. Yesterday I did a program for an academic institution
and people were arriving way ahead of time and they were putting their
items on seats because they wanted to all sit with their friends. And I
thought, well, I have to be really careful about how I mentioned, leaving
your friends. But my husband and I we’re business partners, we will
deliberately sit at different tables, at a meal function that’s industry
related so we can talk to more people. People think we’ve had a fight or
something, but that’s not true because what we’re doing is dividing and
Lynne Breil: We’ve already talked about business card bashing and tentative body
language make it looks like with open body language, you’re
approachable. When you have your hands in your pockets or when you
have your head buried in your mobile device that doesn’t look like
you’re someone who wants to meet people, especially if you’re in a
standup reception where people can go up to you and introduce
themselves. And the other thing is have that good ten second
introduction that is intriguing and makes people want to learn more
about you. We’re going to talk about follow-up in just a moment.
Lynne Breil: But let’s go to some things that you should be doing. And as I said, set
goals and leave your friends, bring business cards, enter the room with
confidence. And here’s something that I’ll add. Sometimes it’s easier to
approach, not odd numbered groups. The people, the groups of threes,
groups of five, definitely people standing by themselves because the
conversation tends to be a little less inclusive or exclusive I should say.
When you approach, odd numbered groups. It’s more casual, easier to
break in the conversation. And don’t hog the food. You decide if you’re
going to work the room, maybe it’s not about the food of course,
because it’s not your last supper. But sometimes it’s easier instead of
balancing a plate of food and a drink in one hand and the food in the
other is decide either you’re going to eat or drink as you’re traversing
the room. You can always take a couple minutes and go the hors
d’oeuvres table and hangout and get some hors d’oeuvres.
Lynne Breil: I meet a lot of people at hors d’oeuvres table, so of course don’t stay
there the whole night as you go back in and work the room and walk
around, that plate of food or the drink make a decision, it’s one or the
other. It’ll be easier for you to access your business card and it’ll be
easier for you to shake hands. And by the way that plate of food or that
drink goes in your left hand, you want to keep your right hand free for
shaking. And have a good ten second introduction. Here’s mine. When
people say, “Lynne, well, what do you do?” I say, “Well, I teach
professionals how to behave in business.” Now I could stop there
because usually people jump in and say something like, “Oh, that’s really
interesting.” People could really use that nowadays. But think about
what you do in your job and what benefit you offer clients or why your
job is important.
Lynne Breil: I teach people how people are professionals, excuse me, how to behave
in business. My company is a resource for people skills training. That
includes, and then I’m often talking about what we offer if the
conversation goes in that direction. So think about how you can
introduce yourself in a way that’s make someone want to ask you more
about what you do. And I think the secret is tell them how you help
people in what you do. I did a program for tax accountants a couple
months ago. Now, you may look at that as that doesn’t sound like a real
exciting job, but one of the tax accountants said, when he introduces
himself, he says, “I help my clients stay out of jail.” And he said, “I don’t
even say I’m a tax accountant, because as I know somebody who’s going
to jump in and say something.” And they do. And then they say, “Well,
really, come on. What do you do?” I say, “Well, actually, I’m working for
this firm.” And he tells him what he does. But he’s already gotten their
Lynne Breil: All right, let’s go on to smart business small talk. And I have to say that a
lot of people think that small talk is not important. But small talk gets
big results. 50% of the population, according to psychology today are
introverted. They think that it’s a waste of time to banter and chit chat.
But small talk is a necessary starting point to opening doors. It invites
people to engage with you and it’s a relationship starter. So for
example, when you meet someone for business lunch, you should
always start with some small talk until you order or get your first course.
And if you find that it’s hard to get past, what to say, here are some
suggestions for business small talk. Now I will mention the caveat here is
that these are domestic business specific, that this does not travel well
because the list would be different in other countries. And I’ve
mentioned that in my book, Best in Class, how this is different when we
go into other cultures.
Lynne Breil: Okay, I want to go next to a friend of mine, Steve Coscia who says, “That
the lack of follow up today is one of the biggest mistakes that people
make.” And he said that, “In the absence of information, people tend to
make up their own.” When if you think about that we do, we make up
our own information. When we don’t hear back from someone with an
email or a question, we just decide what the answer is and we could be
right, but most times we’re wrong. So I’m going to share with you some
of the acceptable follow up rules. And these have changed over time
acceptable turnaround times for phone calls, when I ask professionals
today, they say within 24 hours, worked related days. And then email
people expect an answer the same day, especially because we are using
our mobile devices really three out of four times when we open up
Lynne Breil: But think about this, one size does not fit all. So use your contacts
preferred medium. If you know your clients or know your business
associates. Some people want to talk to you by phone, some people
would rather not talk to you by phone and just prefer an email, it’s less
intrusive. Some people prefer a text over an email. So I know and I’ve
made a note of what my clients like because today I still have clients
that prefer a face to face meeting and I’m driving home in my car
thinking, you know what? That’s really could have been solved or it
could have been handled with a phone call. But this is what they prefer.
So the other thing is responding back to messages that if you asked a
question that you initiated and if there’s a thread of messages, make
sure that you are radically responsive to that.
Lynne Breil: And a handwritten note, I have to tell you that handwritten notes have
not lost their value in the workplace, right. What if someone takes more
than 15 minutes or refers you to a client or helps you with something,
I’ll give you an example. About a year ago, one of our clients who owns a
bus company and he has about 75 employees, he gave them as he did
every year a gift card for the holidays. Now this year though, he did
something different. He wrote a handwritten note and tucked it inside
the envelope that had the gift card in. Now he said to me, he said, “It
really pained me because I have the worst handwriting, but I wrote
something, I tried to make them different and I wrote things bad that
they were valued try to personalize every one.” He said, “I have never
gotten as many thank you’s, people came up to me, people sent me
emails, people stopped me and thanked me for the Christmas gift.”
Lynne Breil: Now it was a holiday gift, excuse me. And he said, “I didn’t really do
anything different the amount of the gift card hadn’t increased. It came
from the same place, it was the same gift they got last year.” But what
was the difference? He included a handwritten note and that makes all
the difference and people responded back thanking him overwhelmingly
like he had never had that much response and what they were thanking
him for really was taking that time.
Lynne Breil: Well, let’s go on to email because a lot of times people think that, we
don’t get a response to our email, it’s not our fault, it’s somebody else’s.
But the truth is if you’re not getting a response, it really could be you,
how you write your emails, how long they are, the subject line, the
timing, the tone, the format, the spelling. I mean everything, the
signature block is something that you were doing, was not getting the
attention. And if your emails aren’t getting the attention, then you
might not be getting the attention that you expect and deserve in other
business situations.
Lynne Breil: So if I’ve one thing to say about email, it’s this, reply no matter what. I
know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking to spam. No, no, no there’s a
difference between bacon and spam, right? I know is, but reply to the
bacon and here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to show you a couple
of slides that gives you some specifics on email etiquette. Starting with
the first one about a question. We’ll do a couple of questions on email.
So here’s a good one to start and I think we’ll open the polls to this.
Most professionals choose to open an email based on, okay?
Sara Lindmont: Yep. It looks like we’ve got everyone.
Lynne Breil: Okay. Good. Very good. I’m going to move on. This is actually an
interesting one. It is the subject line. So really good. We have some the
interesting, this is yes. So thank you everyone. Very, very, very good
answer. You know that, I found that, a study that said 33% of readers
decide whether to open based on this, but you’re telling me that it’s
maybe much more and I agree, the subject line has a lot of opportunity.
We’ll talk about that in just a moment. I talked about replying to your
emails as a first rule, be responsible. If you can’t send an email that
answers every question or that has all the information send a bridge
email. A bridge email is one that just says, “I got your email, I’ll be
getting back to you later. Thanks for the email. I’ll give you more
information tomorrow.” That’s a bridge email, doesn’t say anything
other than I got it so people know and they don’t have to make up their
own information.
Lynne Breil: But here’s one thing to remember. Stick to one subject per email. Now I
have the acronym bluff because this is a really good place to start with
email, writing an email. And bluff is an acronym that stands for bottom
line up front. So instead of going through a lot of rhetoric and a lot of
text, remember just the first thing that you say in your email should be
relative to the subject. And I say stick to one subject because if you have
a multiple number of subjects that are unrelated, it’s better for people
to have different emails because it’s easier for them to respond as they
should to that one subject.
Lynne Breil: Here are a couple more. Have a signature block, one of the first, and
thank you Sara for being my example here. A signature block that
includes another form of how people can get back in touch with you. I
mentioned a signature block, but I have to tell you that so many
professionals do not include signature blocks. And if you’re thinking
really Lynne to every message? Well I have the long one and I have the
short one. So maybe if you’re in a thread, the short one is easier going
back and forth. But it’s your choice, and then including your logo, make
sure that it’s clickable, that when you click on your logo in your
signature block, it takes that recipient to your website. It’s a really good
way to promote your business. Don’t confuse email with texting
because people don’t always understand text lingo and they don’t
understand acronyms and they don’t understand maybe emotive cons
that don’t always come through in an email.
Lynne Breil: Use a professional salutation and yo is not a professional salutation. I
have had students of mine at York College of Pennsylvania say, “Yo,
professor.” In an email or, “Hey professor.” Well that’s not a good
salutation, but think of it, especially if it’s an external email. A couple
more, we talked about the subject line, a clear direct relevant subject
line, not a vague subject line. Think of subject lines that really, are clear,
they’re relevant and they’re enticing. Stay above the scroll. I mean, most
professionals, if they have to scroll down, they’re probably not going to
read what they have to scroll down. So keep it above the scroll and
proofread every message.
Lynne Breil: I had a student who texted me, a graduate student and I think that, well,
they actually used their mobile device to write the email. It wasn’t a
text, it was an email and the email was, “Professor, I would like to sleep
with you after class.” Well, I know they didn’t mean that they meant I
would like to speak with you after class. I’ve never seen a student drop a
class so quick. But anyway, I know I would have, I would have been
mortified. All right.
Lynne Breil: Know that people from different cultures speak and write differently.
When I’m referring to here is when you’re dealing with different time
zones, when you’re dealing with different dates, they are written
differently in different cultures. So make sure that you’re specific about
that and that humor doesn’t travel well and you’ve heard other
professionals say that. So I would say for the most part when you are
writing an email in a different culture, that is the time to be a little bit
more formal, especially in your salutations and in your closings, which is
what I’m going to talk about next.
Lynne Breil: In an email avoid the regards, best wishes, warm wishes, warmly. I don’t
know what they mean anyway. So why would you put them in an email?
Do something more specific regarding if it’s an action that you want
someone to do, like give me a call thanking them for something they’ve
done, maybe a pleasantry, enjoy your vacation. Keep tabs on your tone.
It’s one of the things I will say, I mean, there’s so much to say about this,
but one thing that I try to do is I try to avoid using an apostrophe T
words and in email because there think of all the, an apostrophe T
words that you know, they’re probably negatively or they have a
negative connotation.
Lynne Breil: And then pick up the phone if you have more than three back and forth
messages on the same topic. And that comes from what I polling
professionals like you and I say, “Okay, well, when do you think you
should really pick up the phone?” Let’s talk about mobile phone
mishaps. Because, more people today are opening emails on their
phone. I think the latest statistic I saw was about 74, 75% opening
emails, sending emails from their phone. But let’s talk about some of the
mishaps. When it comes to using your mobile device on the job, this is
the list I don’t have to go over all of them, but you’re looking at them
here. And some of them I really like when you think of using your email,
I like all of them, but I mean, once I’ll pull out place your mobile device,
screen side down during face-to-face meetings.
Lynne Breil: I say mute your mobile device. This seems like, yeah, sure, I know that.
But I was just at a seminar with senior citizens and there were 200
senior citizens in this room and I tell you, their mobile device, the
phones were going off left and right and people couldn’t … They didn’t
know where the mute button was. It was really funny. And people
sometimes fumble with that. Here’s the other thing, I’ll go down the list
to the third one from the bottom. Don’t visibly react to content on your
device when your attention should be in the room or in a meeting. One
thing for professionals to also remember is maybe the non-business
apps, kind of keep those out of sight, I’m going back up to the top of the
list, but nobody really needs to know what games you play or what
social networks you have an account with or that you have a Netflix
Lynne Breil: So keep these apps on your home screen and place your other apps in a
separate screen so that other professionals do not see them, and they
don’t need to see them. Here’s the next one about using your mobile
device to send a work-related email. Is it the best medium? All these
questions, can you keep it simple? Do you have a salutation? Do you
have a signature block? Is it time to reevaluate your ring tone? I hear a
lot of professionals complain about ringtones. Are you using your
mobile device to send negative messages? That’s probably best done
face to face. So those are some mobile device mishaps. And cubicle
etiquette is our next one.
Lynne Breil: Cubicle and open space offenses. And that is an actual picture that I was
sent by a participant in one of my … It wasn’t their cubicle, it was
someone in their workplace. So cubicle etiquette includes the top pet
peeves, which are noise, food smells, oversharing your life, messy
cubicles, and sneaking up on people. So after we did a survey with One
Open Space, a company that had open spaces, these were the top
cubicle pet peeves. And, I also included what you would want to do to
minimize those.
Lynne Breil: I’ll move on to down and out dressing, which is number six. And I know
we have a question associated with down and out dressing. I think most
of you knew that if I’m talking about business behavior that the way
people dress, and I started the webinar out this way matters. So here’s
the question. Yoga pants are appropriate attire for casual Fridays. So the
poll is open now and you can take a look at that to see if you agree or
disagree to yoga pants.
Lynne Breil: Oh, okay. Interesting. Thank you. It is a disagree, but I will tell you, wait,
wait, wait, wait. Because this item is up for contention, I understand. I
have to say I would tend to disagree that’s because I’m in an older
generation. But it’s interesting that Gen Xers and baby boomers tend to
say that since they know when millennials and Gen Zers tend to say
they’re okay. My advice is to follow what your bosses or your higher
ranking individuals are wearing. If they’re not wearing yoga pants or
leggings, you shouldn’t either. Last to say with yoga pants though, again,
business attire is part of your brand. Dress for what you’re doing, not
the day, and when I wrote my book, I will tell you that I had broken
down six dress codes, everything from resort casual to boardroom
attire. And there’s a lot to be said about how the different
interpretations of that.
Lynne Breil: So you know, professionals it might not be enough to say it’s casual
Friday, there are different forms of dress codes. When you say casual
dress, are we talking about small business casual, baseline casual, smart
casual, executive casual? So be specific, and like I said, I broke those
down in my book because there is and for different industries there
might be different interpretations of casual dress.
Lynne Breil: Well, here we go. The final one, dirty dining. Many people think that
when you go to a meal for business, it’s the time to kick back, relax and
let your guard down. But that’s really pretty far from the truth because,
the best deal can be like a test. And I think people are like owls at a
business meal, that their eyes are everywhere. People can tell a lot
about how organized you are, how much you pay attention to detail,
just simply by the way you handle yourself at a meal, your table
Lynne Breil: Now there’s some things that we should think about with a business
lunch. I have this cartoon don’t even think about enjoying yourself
because it’s a test and it can certainly tell a lot about you. Some, I do
have a question about, this is a fun quote. I love to ask these questions
so, that a banquet, how do you communicate with servers that you’re
finished with your meal? So the polls are open and thank you everyone
for voting. Thank you. Thank you.
Lynne Breil: The answer is just as you said, 91% of you said put your utensils in
finished position and that is the correct answer. I have a lot of people
say, “Well, do servers really know what it is? Finished position is when
you turn your fork tines down with your knife alongside of it and have
the handles facing the right side of your plate, because servers will serve
from the left and they’ll clear from the right.” So you’re making it easier
for servers to grasp the utensils and your plate in one grasp.
Lynne Breil: And here’s a list of things not to order. Probably no surprises here, but
it’s kind of like a diet when you look everything from French fries to
cheeseburgers to steak. Steak is, by the way, steak is just tough to eat,
three chewy. So I don’t know that it’s a good thing when you’re trying to
discuss business. Soup is sloppy, hard breads are messy, traditional
salad, lettuce leaves get stuck in your teeth. You know the spinach in the
teeth thing and people laugh at that but it’s true. Appetizers, and I
would tell you what’s wrong with an appetizer? Well, many times
appetizers are deep fried finger foods, and that’s messy too. Pizza,
dessert, if you’re hosting a meal and you suggest dessert, then it’s okay
to order it if everyone else does.
Lynne Breil: Spaghetti well that’s goes without saying. So many things not to order.
You think, well, what can you order? When you didn’t tell us what to
order. Well, okay, here’s what you can order. Let’s think about things
that would be easy to eat. Cooked fish, pasta that’s bite-sized, chopped
salads. And also you’d have them go to a go to meal that you like.
Maybe it’s a Caesar salad or something that with chicken that is easy,
you know you’re going to like it, easy to consume. So that’s my list of
what not to order.
Lynne Breil: And actually we are at with that seven deadly sin, the last slide before
we go to questions, if there is time left, worst dining mistakes, I’ll say
that people really do make these mistakes and the business meal sets
you apart many times from your colleagues. But don’t choose the wrong
restaurant and don’t order the wrong thing. If you’re doing business,
choose a restaurant where you know you’re going to have good service.
I don’t care if you ate there four times this week, and you know this, the
service staff. But here’s another one, stay in sync with your guests. If
you’re a fast eater, slow down. If you’re slow eater be mindful of when
people are finishing up and put your utensils in finished position. It’s not
your last supper.
Lynne Breil: Being picky. That may say is subliminally that you’re difficult to deal
with. And there are lots of subliminal messages that you send during a
business meal. Of seating arrangements, in especially in other cultures
there may be a strategy of where you are seated for your meal. So if you
have a chance to be the host, you might want to help people and think
ahead at times or you might suggest people sit. The others again, speak
for themselves, we’ve talked about small talk, ignoring an RSVP request,
is just professional to let somebody know if you’re going to be there.
And remember I said it’s not your last supper, there’s always a Taco Bell
around the corner. Which brings me to a very little time left, but I’m
willing to stay on for questions. I will turn it over to Sara now to
facilitate that.
Sara Lindmont: Wonderful. Thank you so much Lynne, and thank you everyone for
participating today. Go ahead and send in your questions, we do have a
couple of minutes, so let’s go ahead and use those wisely. So go ahead
and send those in, while we’re waiting for those to come in I do just
want to share, with everyone where you can get Lynne’s book. It is
available, at their website,, for attending the
webinar you do get a special offer on that book. So make sure you check
that out and get more detail into your business etiquette skills.
Sara Lindmont: So we do some questions that have come in. So let’s take a couple of
seconds and answer those. So Bill asks, and you sort of referenced a
little bit around generations. But he asked specifically, “How do you see
generational differences, even kind of being alike but then also
different, in organizations across the different generations?”
Lynne Breil: How do I see generations being alike but also different.
Sara Lindmont: Yeah. In how they work in these etiquette areas.
Lynne Breil: Well, Bill, thanks for your question first of all. There are lots of statistics
that say that diversity in generations is a strength in the workplace
because it contributes to a lot of different ideas, a better approach to
problem solving. So those are very good things, and I would recommend
that the more homework you can do to determine what motivates
different generations, the better off that you’ll be as not just a
supervisor, but knowing what people want. And again, that goes back to
people skills and it goes back to etiquette in the workplace. So I said the
generations a diversity in that is good, and as the statistics show it. Also,
lots of data that you can find about what motivates different
generations. We now have four generations in the workplace. And so
keep that in mind as you supervise people and work with others.
Sara Lindmont: Yes. Great. Great. Thank you. And our next question is from Juvette and
it’s talking about, acceptable dress code. When you have a difference in
perception on acceptable dress code, what do you do? How do you
handle those conversations? And the interpretation of the dress code.
Lynne Breil: Okay. Usually when that happens, and the name again at the
questioner, I’m sorry.
Sara Lindmont: Juvette.
Lynne Breil: Thanks for that question. I’ve had it before. When you try and decide,
and guide people and they don’t get it or they misinterpret it, it’s usually
because the dress code policy and the company’s very vaguely written
and also it’s not enforced. Which leads me to my next point because if
you are a supervisor, you need to be very clear and specific in
addressing with somebody is violating that dress code and he’s not
dressed appropriately. You can’t be wishy-washy about it, and it’s a
difficult awkward moment, but you have to stay true to what your
company’s policies are.
Sara Lindmont: [inaudible 00:59:29].
Lynne Breil: I would say. Yeah. And it’s so much more difficult to make a dress code
more okay. How do I want to say more professional or more
conservative than relaxing one. So if you want to tighten up your dress
code that is not impossible, but that’s difficult to do. So I would
recommend that you be as specific as you can in what is institutionalized
in your company.
Sara Lindmont: Good. Wonderful. Thank you so much Lynne. And that’s the time we
have today. Before we close, I just want to introduce HRDQ to those
that are new with us. HRDQ publishes and delivers research based
experiential learning products that you can deliver in your organization.
So you can check out our online print self-assessments, we have up out
of your seat games and you can deliver those in your organization just
purchase the materials. We also though have expert trainers that can
come onsite and deliver the trainings for you. So give us a call, head to
our website, and we do look forward to being your soft
skills training resource. Well that is the time we have for today. Lynne,
thank you so much for a great, great presentation.
Lynne Breil: It was my pleasure, Sara, and thanks to all of those who joined on the
Sara Lindmont: And thanks everyone for participating in today’s session and happy



Lynne Breil, CSP*, is a “Manners Maven” and has been dubbed “the Joan Rivers of business etiquette.” Her audiences laugh as much as they learn! She is the founder of The Professional Edge, Inc. and a Professor of Communications at York College of Pennsylvania. She’s the author of 2 etiquette books: Share a Meal. Close a Deal. Business Dining from A-Z. (2015) and Best in Class: Etiquette and People Skills for Your Career (2018). A former Miss America Semi-Finalist, Lynne is a trained concert pianist and an avid golfer.

*The Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation, conferred by the National Speakers Association and the International Federation for Professional Speakers, is the speaking profession’s international measure of professional platform skill. It is held by less than 800 people worldwide.

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