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10.08.2021
Barbara Pachter
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Before the pandemic, a corporate client inquired about my business etiquette seminar. During our conversation she told me that she hadn’t hired someone because, “She looked old, as she had gray hair.”

I did not color my hair during the last 16 months. It was wonderful not having to go to the hairdresser every couple of weeks. My dyed brown hair has almost all been replaced with a combination of my natural gray, silver, white, and black hair.

 

 The photo on the left – taken five years ago – is my corporate head shot, and on the right is a recent photo. Photographer Joey Del Palazzo took both photos, and we tried to recreate the original setting as best we could for the second photo shoot. 

I teach business etiquette and professional presence, and I know that hairstyle and hair color are important parts of a person’s image. I also know that people have strong opinions about hair color. There’s a meme featuring The Joker that says: Change your hair color and everybody loses their mind.

 

Do you make assumptions when you see a professional with gray hair?

 

Do you think gray hair makes a woman look old, out-of-date, or less professional? And do you believe that gray hair can make men look distinguished, but not women?

 

I want to believe that gray hair can signal wisdom and experience in both men and women. I also want to believe that gray hair – if it’s cut well and suited to you – is not a reason to reject anyone as a job applicant or seminar lecturer.

 

One of my clients recently admired my silver-gray-black mane and told me, “People pay a lot to get your current hair color!” On the other hand, my style-conscious sisters joke that I am now the oldest sister! (I am the middle sister.)

If I keep my new hair color – and I’m leaning towards doing so – I will follow the advice of businesswoman and white-hair fashion icon Iris Apfel: “If your hair is done properly and you have on good shoes, you can get away with anything.”  

Pachter & Associates provides seminars and coaching on communication, career development, business writing, presentation skills, professional presence, and business etiquette. For additional information, please contact Joyce Hoff at joyce@pachter.com. (www.pachter.com)  

04.04.2021
Barbara Pachter
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I had the following conversation with my son after he had his car serviced:

“Mom, they did a great job on my car,” he told me.

I asked, “Why do you say that?”

His reply: “As I was leaving, we talked about new cars and the mechanic told me to have a safe trip home.”   

I thought to myself that my son knows very little about the inner workings of cars, yet because the mechanic was nice and friendly to him, he believed that the man had done a good job on his vehicle.

He is not alone in how he judges the quality of someone’s work.

A colleague recently decided to go with one software vendor over another because, as she said, “He was so friendly.” I call this phenomenon the “halo effect” of being nice.  (The term “halo effect” was first coined in 1920 by psychologist Edward Thorndike, who concluded that your impression of someone will influence your view of his or her abilities.)

And there are consequences to not being nice.

David Von Drehle, a Washington Post columnist, wrote an opinion piece concerning the recent troubles surrounding New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. In it, he commented: “Many things have been said of Andrew Cuomo, often with respect and occasionally with admiration — but ‘nice to people’ is not one of them.” The headline on the column explains that comment: Andrew Cuomo is plummeting, and there’s no one left to catch him.  

Remember that being nice and friendly will not make up for inferior work. Let me say that again: Being nice and friendly will not make up for inferior work. What it will do is encourage people to view you and your work positively. People will enjoy working with you or for you if you are nice to them.  And that is an advantage in anyone’s line of work.

Here are five steps to follow to encourage others to react to you in a positive way: 

1. Greet people. This is one of my more common suggestions, yet people still tell me that they often feel ignored by others. People believe that they greet others, but I encourage you to monitor yourself over the next couple of weeks, and make sure that you really do. You need to say “Hello,” “Hi,” “Good morning,” or offer a similar greeting to people you know – and to people you don’t know. This is also true during Zoom meetings. Greet people when you join the meeting. If people are talking when you enter the meeting, you can smile and wave.

2. Make some small talk. You don’t need to know people’s life stories, but a little small talk can help establish a connection between people. Use “safe” topics. You can talk about the weather (front-page stories such as hurricanes generally have more conversational appeal), traffic, common experiences, travel, sports (if everyone is interested), entertainment (movies, plays), holiday celebrations, upbeat business news, vacations, current events (cautiously), and the activity you are attending. Additional information on small talk can be found in my book, The Essentials of Business Etiquette.

3. Offer to help, when you can. Why not lend a helping hand, if possible? If someone seems overloaded with assignments, assisting that person is a nice thing to do.

4. Speak well of others. You appear gracious when you speak well of other people’s accomplishments, not just your own. 

5. Have an exit line. An exit line establishes the ending of an encounter and paves the way for the next meeting. Sample exit lines include, “Nice talking to you,” “Have a great weekend,” or “Have a safe trip home.”

Pachter & Associates provides seminars and coaching on communication, career development, business writing, presentation skills, professional presence, and business etiquette. For additional information, please contact Joyce Hoff at joyce@pachter.com. (www.pachter.com)   

 

 

08.03.2021
Barbara Pachter
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Yet another study shows women are interrupted more than men.  

A recent article in The New York Times, For Women in Economics, the Hostility Is Out in the Open, discusses a study reported last month that found when female economists presented their research findings, they were interrupted by audience members asking questions. The women received 12 percent more questions than men, and they were more likely to get questions that were patronizing or hostile.

Other examples of women being interrupted more than men include:

--A few years ago an article in the Harvard Business Review,  Female Supreme Court Justices are interrupted more by male justices and advocates, found that male justices interrupted female justices about three times as often as they interrupted each other during oral arguments. The research also found that “there is no point at which a woman is high-status enough not to be interrupted.”

--During a women’s communication seminar in Kuwait some years ago I commented that men interrupt women more than they interrupt other men. One of my students said, “Barbara, you’re right. You can see the American men interrupt the American women on your TV shows that we get here.” I was surprised that this gender bias was so obvious – but I really shouldn’t have been. 

When a woman is interrupted regularly with questions or comments (anyone can be interrupted occasionally), her credibility is being challenged, and her influence can certainly be minimized as a result.

The following suggestions can help women – and men – to manage interruptions assertively, whether people are asking unsolicited questions or interjecting unwanted comments during small meetings or large group presentations: 

Let people know when you will be taking questions. Either the speaker or the meeting organizer can tell people how the Q&A will be handled. Often the audience is asked to hold questions until the end – though this doesn’t mean everyone will do so! The Times article mentioned that “several universities have instituted rules meant to cut down on bad behavior, such as banning questions for the first 10 or 15 minutes of a talk so that speakers [economists] can get through at least the beginning of their presentations uninterrupted.”

Continue speaking. If you do so, the person trying to interrupt you often will stop talking. You may need to raise your volume a little to make sure the person hears you, but don’t shout.

Ask yourself: Are you making it easy for people to interrupt you?  Don’t underestimate the power of your nonverbal communication skills. Appear assertive – keep your body language open, and don’t cross your arms. Look at the audience. When you avoid looking at your audience, some members may feel emboldened to interrupt. Make sure you don’t move back when interrupted – it can make you appear fearful. Move towards audience members when you can. Check your rate of speech: Are you speaking too slowly, which allows others to jump in? Check your volume: Are you speaking loudly enough to have what you say come across authoritatively?

Defer answering, if the answer to the question will be explained later in your talk. Often, you can say, “I am going to hold off answering that question as I will be discussing that topic in a few minutes.” Of course, if the CEO asked the question, you may want to answer it right away!

Don’t be a puppet on your audience’s string. If the audience is shouting questions at you, make sure you repeat the question you are about to answer. If you don’t, you are being controlled by the audience as you try to field one question after another. When you take the time to repeat the question, you gain control – you decide which questions to address, and in what order. 

After you have answered someone’s question, do not ask, “Did that answer your question?” You could be setting yourself up, as the person may respond, “No.” And then what do you do? If the questioner wants more information, he or she will let you know – or seek you out later.

Additional information on how to make powerful presentations can be found in my book, The Communication Clinic: 99 Proven Cures for the Most Common Business Mistakes.    

Pachter & Associates provides seminars and coaching on communication, business writing, professional presence, and presentation skills. Contact Joyce Hoff at joyce@pachter.com for more information. (www.pachter.com) 

 

20.12.2020
Barbara Pachter
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Why are female doctors introduced by first name while men are called 'Doctor'?

This provocative headline was on a Washington Post article a few years ago that featured two women physicians at the Mayo Clinic who had noticed that their male colleagues were usually introduced at conferences as “Doctor So-and-so.” But the two women and other female doctors were often introduced by their first names, when the person introducing them was a man.

Last year, I heard the pilot of my flight introduce himself using his title of captain, but then introduce his co-pilot by her first name only.

And most recently a Wall Street Journal opinion piece by Joseph Epstein made minimizing remarks about Jill Biden’s use of her title "Dr.", including the comment: Any chance you might drop the “Dr.” before your name? “Dr. Jill Biden” sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic.

Is the use of titles a big deal? Yes. I believe it is. 

How people address you and what you call yourself really do matter. Names – and titles – have power. Names and titles may confer dignity, or take it away. They influence how you are perceived, and whether people take you seriously.

Though the problem of unequal introductions may not be on the same level as eliminating sexual harassment or the gender pay-gap, it is a communication concern with negative implications for women.

Denying professionals the prestige that a title conveys is a subtle way of undermining them.

Whom would you take more seriously, or believe was more competent: “Dr. Tom Jones” or “Sally Smith”? It seems obvious that it would be the person with the title, because that testifies to his training and professionalism.

The following six suggestions on use of titles and names will help you stop negatively influencing others’ perception of women, even inadvertently. These tips apply for both men and women, and to writing emails.  

1. Be consistent with your use of titles. Use professional titles equally for both men and women. If you are mentioning a man by his title, such as Doctor Jones or Professor Smith, refer to a woman the same way. This is valid whether you are giving a speaker introduction, introducing someone to other people at the office or in social situations, or simply mentioning people in informal discussions.

2. Use a woman’s title. Some organizations are very informal with names, but if professional titles are typically used in your organization, refer to women by theirs, such as Dr. (Sally) Jones.

3. Refer to friends/colleagues by their titles when in business settings. You may have a great relationship with Dr. Jones and use her first name when you are together. When you are with other people, however, you should refer to her by her title. You are recognizing her achievement in front of others. If you do not do this, you are establishing a norm that tells people it’s okay for them to call her by her first name. And that may not be the case. (This also applies to men.)

4. Be consistent with the honorific ‘Mr.’ and ‘Ms.’ This is similar to the first item. If you say or write, “Mr. Williams,” do the same for the woman, “Ms. Jones.” This conveys a level of respect for both parties. You do not want to say something like, “Mr. Williams and Karen went to the meeting.” In an informal setting you might also use first names for both, such as “Tom and Karen went to the meeting.”  

5. Refer to women in the workplace as ‘women.’ Businessmen aren’t referred to as boys; businesswomen shouldn’t be referred to as girls. The words “girls” and “boys” indicate children. I know, I know, you are going to say that it’s intended as a compliment, or it’s a way of expressing camaraderie, as in “girls’ night out” or “the girls I work with in the office.” But ultimately it fosters a less-professional image for women.  

6. Don’t use a woman’s nickname or shorter form of her first name —unless you know it is okay to do so or are asked to do so. Children are often called by nicknames. And many shortened names do not have the same standing as full names. My name is Barbara. Do not call me “Barb,” and definitely not “Barbie.” This situation can be tricky. Sometimes people, especially high-power people, will use their nicknames to seem friendly and more approachable. Christine Todd Whitman, the first woman governor of New Jersey and former head of the EPA, will often refer to herself as Christie Whitman. (Her current website is www.christiewhitman.com.)

Men also can be influenced by shortened names. According to a story about basketball legend Michael Jordan on the CBS show 60 Minutes a few years ago, he went from being called “Mike Jordan” to “Michael Jordan” after he scored the winning basket in the 1982 NCAA championship game.

(Note: At the beginning of my blog I didn’t refer to the author of the WSJ article as Joe or Joey Epstein. I used Joseph Epstein--giving him some measure of respect, which he seemingly didn’t want to give the First Lady-elect.)

Start paying attention to your word choices. You may be surprised at how you have been referring to women. Additional information on communication can be found in my book, The Communication Clinic: 99 Proven Cures for the Most Common Business Mistakes.

 

*This is a repost of a previous blog. It has been updated.

Pachter & Associates provides seminars and coaching on communication, business writing, professional presence, and presentation skills. Contact Joyce Hoff at joyce@pachter.com for more information (www.pachter.com)  

 

 

 

My name is spelled correctly in my signature block; why do so many people misspell it in the salutation? 

Only my good friends call me Bobby – my coworker should have used “Robert” or “Bob” in the salutation.

I hate reading an email that starts with “Good morning” when it is 9 o’clock at night. The writer has just highlighted that I am 12 hours behind in answering my emails. 

Unfortunately, the salutation – whether in an email or a letter – provides endless ways to upset your reader, as indicated by the comments above, from participants in my seminars. And if you offend someone in the first line, that person may not read any further.  

Effective salutations can help you connect with your reader, which is especially important during a pandemic. Here are suggestions for starting your correspondence without offense:

1. Spell the recipient’s name correctly. Let me repeat this: Spell the recipient’s name correctly. It may not bother you, but I want to impress upon you that many people are insulted if their name is misspelled. Check for the correct spelling in the person’s signature block. You can also check the "To:" line. Often, people’s first and/or last names are in their addresses.

2. Don’t shorten a person’s name or use a nickname unless you know it is okay. Use the person’s full name ("Hi, Jacob") unless you know it is okay to call him Jake. My name is Barbara, but please don’t start your emails to me using “Hi Barb.” (And the only people who may refer to me as Babz are my son and his friends!)

3. Avoid “Dear Sir/Ms." This salutation tells your reader that you have no idea who that person is. Why then should the reader be interested in what you have to say?  

4. Use a non-gender-specific, non-sexist term if you don’t know the person’s name. You can use Dear Client, Customer, or Team Member. You can also use Representative, and add it to any company name or department name, such as “Dear Microsoft Representative,” or “Dear Human Resource Representative.” 

5. Salutations are highly recommended in emails. Email doesn’t technically require a salutation, as it’s considered to be memo format. When email first appeared, many people did not use salutations. Eventually, people starting adding salutations to appear friendlier and to soften the tone of their writings.  

There is a hierarchy of greetings, from informal to formal, and you should match the salutation to the relationship you have with the recipient. The hierarchy follows this format: 

       Hi,   /   Hi Anna,   /   Hello,   /   Hello Julianna,   /   Dear Justin,   /   Dear Mr. Jones,

If the person you are writing to is a colleague, “Hi Anna,” should be fine.  If you don’t know the person, or the person has significantly higher rank than you have, you may want to use the more formal greeting: “Dear Justin,” or “Dear Mr. Jones.” 

In addition to the greeting, pay attention to these points:

–After two or three emails have gone back and forth on the same email string, the salutations can be dropped.

–The punctuation completing the greeting is a comma. 

–If more than one person will receive an email, use "Hello Sara and Bill," or "Hello Everyone." 

– "Hey" is a very informal salutation ("Hey Josh," ) and generally should not be used in the workplace. Opening with "Yo" is definitely not okay, no matter how informal your relationship with the recipient. Use "Hi" or "Hello" instead.

–As illustrated in one of the opening quotes, there are people who don’t like receiving an email that starts with “Good morning” or “Good afternoon.” Although I believe this is a minor offense, using “Hello” instead eliminates the possibility of offending anyone.  

6. Salutations are required in letters. (Okay, there is one type of letter, the simplified format, that doesn’t require a salutation, but that’s not typical usage. The format is generally used for marketing.) In today’s workplace, a letter is a more formal type of correspondence, and should start with “Dear” followed by either the person’s first name and a colon – “Dear Marie:” – or an honorific and the person’s last name, followed by a colon – “Dear Mr. Jones:”. 

Additional information on writing emails can be found in my book, The Essentials of Business Etiquette: How to Greet, Eat, and Tweet Your Way to Success.

Pachter & Associates provides seminars and coaching on business writing, professional presence, business etiquette, and communication. Contact Joyce Hoff at joyce@pachter.com for more information. (www.pachter.com)

29.11.2020
Barbara Pachter
No comments

If customers include a closing in their emails, it indicates to me that they are friendly, and so I will do their work first. 

A woman in one of my writing classes made the above comment when we were discussing how to end an email. Others joined in and added that they liked seeing closings in emails they received. I agree.  Emails that simply end without some kind of closing can seem too abrupt. And in today’s coronavirus world, it is especially important to seem approachable. During my recent Zoom classes, numerous questions surface about which closing is appropriate in our casual workplace. Deciding what to use can be confusing. When email first appeared in the workplace, salutations or closings were rarely used. Over time, we have added both to our emails. Though there has been some discussion in the media about whether we need to use closings, in my experience, the majority of people want to keep them. I encourage businesspeople to use closings. Here are my six suggestions: 1. If you start with a salutation, end with a closing. It provides balance to the email. The correct punctuation after the closing is a comma. 2. Match the closing to the salutation. If you use an informal salutation, such as “Hi Amanda” or “Hello Gavin,” use “Regards,” “Best,” “Best regards,” or “Thanks” to close. If you use a more formal salutation, such as “Dear Ms. Jones,” use “Sincerely” or “Sincerely yours.” Only the first word of the closing is capitalized. 3. End with a “closing statement.” Since closings are more relaxed in emails than in letters, you can use a brief statement as your closing, such as “See you at the meeting,” “Thanks for your help” or “Have a great weekend.” 4. With no disrespect intended, avoid using ‘Respectfully.’  This very formal closing is usually reserved for government officials and clergy.  Another closing to avoid is “Faithfully yours.” This wording comes from British English, and a woman from India who was in my class said that she was advised very quickly by her boss not to use that closing in the U.S.   5. Tell people what you want to be called. After the closing, on the next line, type your name the way you want to be addressed. If you want to be called “Mike” instead of “Michael,” you should sign “Mike.”  6. Once emails become a back-and-forth conversation, you can drop the closing. It begins to sound repetitious and somewhat silly if you have a long string of emails all proclaiming, “Best regards, Mike.” Additional information on emails can be found in my book The Essentials of Business Etiquette: How to Greet, Eat and Tweet Your Way to Success. Pachter & Associates provides seminars and coaching on business writing, professional presence, etiquette and communication. For additional information, please contact Joyce Hoff at joyce@pachter.com (www.pachter.com)
22.10.2020
Barbara Pachter
No comments

My coworker hates her job. She keeps complaining to me. I have tried to talk to her about what she could do, but she is not listening. She is worried about finding a new position during the coronavirus pandemic.  

My husband keeps threatening to quit his job. He only comments negatively about his job and the people who work with him. I wish he would just do something.My friend was having difficulty with her schedule, but she didn’t go to her boss to discuss alternatives. She just quit. When I had a problem, my boss adjusted my schedule. My friend’s might have been adjusted, too, if she had said something.As these comments from participants in my seminars indicate, tackling problems that affect our work lives can be difficult. When some people become dissatisfied with their work, they do nothing. Perhaps they don’t know how to proceed, or maybe they don’t believe there is anything they can do to improve the situation. Usually, the only action they take is to whine about their bosses, their colleagues, or the work. Unfortunately, complaining doesn’t accomplish anything – except having your friends, colleagues and others stay clear of you.Some, on the other hand, get so frustrated that they impulsively quit their jobs without having another lined up, or without even a plan for the future. Both reactions can affect your career negatively. However, there is an alternative that can help people evaluate their work situations. Answering the following four questions encourages people to take action and decide their next steps. 1. Ask yourself, what is the real issue? It is easy to say, “I hate my job,” but it is important to identify why. What is the real issue that is causing you to be unhappy? Be honest and be specific. Is it the type of work you do, or just one aspect of the job? Is it the commute, the money, your boss, the people you work with, or any number of other causes? One man I coached liked most of the facets of his job, but wanted to quit because he had to make frequent presentations. Another realized that her new position involved using unfamiliar technology, which made her feel uncomfortable and unqualified.  2. Can you solve the problem? Now that you have identified the issue, is there something that can be done? Is there a realistic solution? If so, what do you have to lose by asking for it? Make the case for your suggestion, including any benefits to your department or to the company. Remember that if you don’t speak up, chances are nothing will change. 3. Are there advantages to this job? If you can’t solve the problem, think about what you are gaining from the position.  Don’t just quickly say, “Nothing.” Here are four possible things to consider: --Is the job a stepping stone?  Will you need the skills you gain from this position to qualify for a job on the next rung of the ladder? One of my early jobs involved working for a horrible boss. Yet I stayed until I had gained the experience I needed, and then I left.   --Is there any education or training perk to which you have access? Some companies will fund part or all of your ongoing education. This can be a major benefit for many people. --Who are you meeting? Does the job allow you to interact with people and build your network? If so, it is possible that by having a strong network, additional job opportunities will come your way. --Can you learn to manage your boss? Learning to work with difficult people is an important skill that almost certainly will be beneficial to you at some point in your career.4. Is it time to start a job search? Depending on how you answer the above questions, you may decide that it is time to start looking for a new position. (Specific suggestions for looking for work during the pandemic can be found in my blog, Looking for a job? 10 tips to help you succeed in a coronavirus world). You may even decide to change careers. Any number of alternatives may now be available to you. This doesn’t mean you just quit your job. Generally, it is best to look for a new job (or career) while you are still working at the old one. Information on conducting a thorough job search can be found in my book The Communication Clinic: 99 Proven Cures for the Most Common Business Mistakes.   Whether you decide to stay at your current job or to look for a new one, feel good about your choice. You are doing something: You have taken charge of your career. I post regularly on communication and etiquette. We can connect via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or my website:pachter.com  About: Barbara Pachter is an internationally-renowned business etiquette and communications speaker, coach and author of 11 business books. She helps individuals communicate more effectively and enhance their professional presence.  (bpachter@pachter.com)  
01.10.2020
Barbara Pachter
No comments

   

My coworkers post such vile things on their Facebook pages. I want to tell them that they’re all idiots.

I want to work out; I don’t want to argue with my trainer about the election. If she doesn’t stop talking about her candidate, I will go elsewhere.

I don’t want to discuss politics at work. Yet, my colleagues say nasty things about the candidates and often end up yelling at each other. What do I do?

 

The recent outbreaks of uncivil behavior in the political arena have impacted our everyday experiences, as the comments above testify. But it's time for people to fight back – politely, of course – and assert that being uncivil to one another is not the way we want public figures to behave. Nor is it the way we should behave.

Bear in mind:

-- You don’t have to mirror the impolite actions of others.

  

-- You can be “polite and powerful” and express yourself without resorting to bad behavior.

 

Use these tips to encourage polite behavior in your workplace and in your wider world. (These apply to your social media postings, also.)

 

1. Don’t attack back. Remember that someone else’s bad behavior is no excuse for your own. I know this may be a hard concept to accept, and even harder to implement – but it is worth practicing. If somebody says something to offend you, it may feel good to respond with a comment like, “Well, what do you know, you idiot?” But this type of response is not going to build your credibility or accomplish anything. Plus, it gives the other person power over you, by getting you to say things that most people will regret later. 

2. Disagree agreeably. If you have difficulty with someone, talk to the person. Listen to what he or she has to say. You can evaluate an idea without attacking the person who is promoting it. Explain your reasons. Provide the specific information, quotes and/or research. You can say, “I see it differently, and here’s why…” which is a lot more productive than screaming at people or calling them names. Or, you can say, “Let’s agree to disagree and move on,” or “I am not discussing politics at work. Let’s get back to the topic at hand.” 

3. Avoid inflammatory words. Using harsh words such as “stupid,” “ignorant,” and “dumb” only inflames a situation, and this approach is unlikely to lead to a positive resolution. Name calling is just wrong – and childish. Cursing at people is not only mean, it also reflects poorly on the one doing the cursing. (Additional information on word choice and how to respond assertively to aggressive comments can be found in my book, The Communication Clinic: 99 Proven Cures for the Most Common Business Mistakes.)

4. Remember that it’s hard to be nasty to people who are nice to you.  This includes meetings in person or via Zoom. Keep “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me” in your vocabulary. Greet others when you see them. Don’t interrupt people. Help them when you can. These behaviors are common sense, but unfortunately they’re not always common practice.

 

5. Do something. If you really don’t like something, take action. Don’t complain to others, get involved. Join organizations. Volunteer for causes you support. Start a blog where you assertively (politely and powerfully) express your opinions – but make sure you follow your company guidelines, if you do.  6. Walk away.  And if you don’t want to do any of the above, you can always avoid hostile or impolite discussions by removing yourself from the conversation or taking a break from social media.

 

Pachter & Associates provides training and coaching on business etiquette and communication skills. For additional information, please contact Joyce Hoff at joyce@pachter.com.    

 

 

 

The world is falling apart, so why bother looking? I was just laid off. I’m too shocked to do anything. Why look for a new job? There is nothing but the virus out there. If you have avoided looking for work during the coronavirus pandemic, you are not alone. As the comments above -- culled from my coaching sessions -- illustrate, many people have not started their job search, or are approaching it in a half-hearted way. I understand. The pandemic has really shaken the business world as millions of jobs have been lost. It is a difficult time to look for work, and it’s easy to think, “Why bother?” But there are openings. Some businesses are hiring. Earlier this month, LinkedIn stated that more than 180,000 people had recently been hired through its connections, and in May the United States added 2.5 million jobs.  Do not give up. Job seekers who are persistent and determined are more likely to succeed.  Here are 10 suggestions to help you in your search: 1. Update your resume and social-media sites. This should be among the first things you  do. Your resume may not be current, as you weren’t planning to be unemployed. Add any new jobs, promotions, activities, awards, or additional studies. There are lots of online resources that may help. Google “resume writing” and you will find numerous examples of ways to structure your information. Or hire a professional resume writer. You may need to create more than one resume, depending on the types of jobs you are seeking. 2. View your search as a full-time job. Since you are unemployed, you need to use the time you would have spent at your old job looking for a new one. Yes, I do mean 9 to 5!  Of course, you can be kind to yourself and take a longer lunch break and a day off occasionally. But the bottom line is this: At the end of the day, you want to feel that you worked.  (If you are taking odd jobs to help make ends meet, your day gets even more complicated.) 3. Have a quiet, dedicated work space. This is the place where you keep your job-search materials, and do your searching. If you have young children at home because of the pandemic, this may be harder to achieve. Get creative. One man I know took over half of the dining room table.   4. Create a daily work schedule. List the activities you need to do. This makes it more likely you will actually do them. Some of these activities include:        --Checking online job sites, such as indeed.com or simplyhired.com --Checking the websites of companies you want to work for – many companies list job openings   --Spending time on LinkedIn, applying for jobs, and connecting with your network --Reading articles on the web about conducting a job search  --Taking an online class to enhance your skills --Allowing time to exercise! Yes, build that into your schedule, too 5. Respond to openings quickly. You don’t want your application to get lost in the shuffle. Many people may apply, and you want your resume to be one of the first to arrive. This makes it much more likely to be reviewed.   6. Stay in touch with your colleagues and network. Let people know you are looking. More people get jobs through networking than any other way. Your friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and friends of friends can’t help you unless they know you’re looking.  7. Participate in your professional associations. Though you may not be able to network in person, you can still interact with other professionals online through virtual training, conferences, and networking events. For example, my son’s professional association recently held a “Cocktails, Conversation, & Connections” Zoom meeting.  8. Be prepared to interview via video conferencing. In addition to preparing answers to questions you think you may be asked, you need to prepare to present yourself professionally online. Know how to use the technology. Practice. Position yourself in front of a neat, uncluttered, and quiet setting. Be aware of what others will see behind you. Make sure there are no controversial objects in bookshelves or on the wall. Dress appropriately – as though you were being interviewed in person. Your location needs good lighting. You want to be seen clearly, without any shadows hiding your appearance.  9. Use your college career center.  Though most centers have suspended in-person meetings, they still provide many resources, including reviewing resumes, holding virtual workshops, and posting job openings.  10. Be a resource for others. Let other job seekers know if you learn of openings that might be suitable for them. When you help others, they are more likely to help you.       Additional information on job-search activities may be found in my book, The Communication Clinic:99 Proven Cures for the Most Common Business Mistakes.  Pachter & Associates provides seminars and coaching on business etiquette, presentation skills, career advancement, professional presence, and business writing. For additional information, please contact Joyce Hoff at Joyce@pachter.com. (www.pachter.com) 
With almost the entire business world operating under the restrictions of a coronavirus pandemic, many of us are becoming all too familiar with meetings conducted online instead of in a conference room or office.   But, as a woman I coached via Zoom recently observed, “Since your colleagues aren’t in the room with you, it’s easy to forget that they are still observing you!” Her comment highlights a key pitfall about online meetings – not paying attention to how others see you during a videoconference.  This is especially true if you are not accustomed to presenting yourself professionally online, but now find yourself working from home and using videoconferencing apps to meet with colleagues, bosses, customers, clients, vendors, or even friends and family. It can lead to distracting behaviors that I’ve attributed to such characters as Eye-roll Ruby, Angry Andy, and so on. These eight examples of what not to do will help you to be mindful of how you are presenting yourself when video chatting: 1.    Too-close Cody.  We don’t want to see your nose hairs! Position yourself far enough from the camera so you don’t show a tight shot of your face – that is, from forehead to chin. In most instances, you want to show your head, shoulders, and part of your chest. 2.    Who knew, Nell? Your background for a videoconference can be a simple wall or a section of a room in your home. Be aware of what others will be able to see behind you. The paintings or artwork on the wall, items on your tables, or books on your bookshelves will reveal aspects of your personality that your colleagues may not know. For example: Who knew Nell collected trumpets! This may be a good thing, as colleagues will discover more about her – or they may learn way too much about her!    3.    In the dark, Daniel. Make sure your location has good lighting. You want to be seen clearly, without any shadows hiding your appearance. Be careful if you have a window behind you. If it is bright outside, you will appear as a dark silhouette.    4.    Interrupting Isabella. These are unusual times. People know that kids, pets, or grandparents may be roaming around your house during business hours. Your dog coming up to you occasionally might be fine, but being interrupted constantly by your kids or pets will disrupt the meeting. To the degree that you can, manage these interruptions. 5.    Eye-roll Ruby. One woman I coached recently complained that her colleague kept rolling her eyes whenever my client spoke. Such behavior is distracting and rude. And speaking of eyes, look at and talk to the camera, not the image on the screen. If are looking at your computer screen, you may appear to be looking down. If you look directly at the camera – usually positioned in the center of the frame above the screen – you will appear to be looking the other person in the eye.   6.    Angry Andy. This is the person who has a very stern Standard Facial Expression, which is what I call the expression your face assumes when you are in neutral mode. Your SFE is what people see when you are looking at them, listening to them, or just not talking. Many people have stern facial expressions and don’t even realize it. What message is your face conveying about you?  (See my suggestion below; additional information about facial expressions can be found in my book, The Essentials of Business Etiquette.)  7.    Gesturing George. You don’t want to gesture too much. Waving your arms around can become a distraction. Resist the urge to twist your hair, play with rubber bands, or click your pen. These are all distractions that make you appear nervous. Resting your head on your hand makes you look bored. And, as many people know, crossing your arms can make you appear defensive or “closed.” 8.    I’m still in PJs, Poppy. One woman I coached via Zoom looked like she was wearing her pajamas. Working from home is more casual than working in the office, but not that casual! Match your clothing choice to the purpose of the meeting. If you are seeing your CEO, dress more professionally. If you are meeting with your team, you may want to dress more casually. But remember, it’s still business. “Casual” does not mean sloppy. And yes, you do need to wear the entire outfit, not just the top that shows above the table. You never know when something might happen that requires you to stand up suddenly. Need I say more? Suggestion: A practice session can help you to become aware of the image you are conveying to others. Situate yourself in the same location you will use for online meetings, and then connect with a friend to analyze how you appear on camera – and make any adjustments necessary.   Pachter & Associates provides seminars and coaching on business etiquette, presentation skills, career advancement, professional presence, and business writing. For additional information, please contact Joyce Hoff at Joyce@pachter.com or 856.751.6141. (www.pachter.com) 

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About Barbara Pachter

Author of 10 etiquette books, Barbara Pachter is a leader in the business etiquette field, with over 20 years experience as an etiquette trainer and coach. Her first book The Prentice Hall Complete Business Etiquette Handbook in 1995 helped set the standard for the field, and her most recent book, The Essentials of Business Etiquette: How to Greet, Eat, and Tweet Your Way To Success continues to establish etiquette guidelines for the ever-changing workplace. 

She has given more than 2,500 presentations throughout the world and won numerous awards, including “Best 50 Women in Business in New Jersey.” Her books have been translated into 11 languages. Pachter is also adjunct faculty in the School of Business, Rutgers University. 

She is founder of Pachter & Associates, a business etiquette and communications training company. Her clients range from Chrysler and Microsoft to Pfizer, Cisco and Campbell Soup. 

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