The Career Lady®: What behavioral trends are you noticing in etiquette?
Thomas: People know what they should do but there is a conscious decision not to do it. And “it” being the right thing or the appropriate response to certain situations or environments. I am not sure why. For example, texting in church is inappropriate yet it is done openly. Cell phones with annoying ringtones are distracting in the office but the phones are not set to vibrate. People yawning in public without covering their mouths.
The Career Lady®: What advice would you give someone who is interested in pursuing this career?
Thomas: I would encourage them to read the many available resources on the subject and consider being certified with a credentialed institution such as the Protocol School of Washington or the Etiquette & Leadership Institute.
Thomas explains why etiquette is important, where she sees a lack of etiquette skills and how you can incorporate good manners at home, in school and in the workplace.
The Career Lady®: Why is etiquette important?
Thomas: It is important because it is a code of behavior that makes business interactions predictable and easy to navigate for all involved. Etiquette, or protocol, is a combination of common sense and consideration for others. It creates a set of behaviors which makes people feel comfortable and respected. When you take etiquette into consideration in everything you do it will make your work life more successful and pleasant.
The Career Lady®: What do you see as a major area that people are lacking in skills?
Thomas: I can’t sum it up into one major area but I would probably say common sense and consideration for the fellow man. As well as the ability to move beyond one’s own comfort zone or what one may have been taught.
The Career Lady®: What are some good ways to keep good manners in the home, schools, or in the workplace?
Thomas: There are a number of things you can do at home, in school and in the workplace.
At home have a special “fancy” night. Once a month. Everyone has to be on their best behavior for an hour or two. Incorporate a dining experience at a high end restaurant or put flowers or candles on that empty dining room table. Have dinner at your dining room table with the television off. Invoke penalties for inappropriate behavior in public as well as at home during these special nights. Give everyone something to look forward to as they put into practice the lessons taught at home.
At school I know that our educators are over burdened. However, I want to encourage them to continually hold students accountable for their actions or the lack thereof. Encourage the PTA to sponsor a Manners Matter session. Get creative and innovative in introducing etiquette concepts.
In the workplace, be sensitive and considerate to others around you. Treat everyone like they were your first level manager or better yet a second level manager. Be consistent with this new habit as old habits are hard to break.
The Career Lady®: What are the 3 most disturbing types of behavior in office settings?
Thomas: There are three which immediately come to mind.
Conducting personal grooming habits in the workplace is unacceptable. Examples include clipping nails and flossing – especially in a cubicle environment.
Conducting conference calls or utilizing a speaker phone in a cubicle environment or even in an office setting with an available conference room. This is also unacceptable.
Heartily blowing your nose in a small open area such as in an elevator or outside of a conference meeting room. The appropriate place for this would be in a restroom or out of ear shot.