Staring At A Person
When Speaking With Him
not for nothing that the eyes are called the windows to a person’s soul. Eye contact creates a strong connection between
two people and also creates an impression of sincerity and trustworthiness.
• Look at a person when being introduced
to him/her, maintain the eye contact even while speaking. Eye contact with another person shows your interest in him/her.
It also forces you to pay attention to what s/he is saying.
• Make soft eye contact, i.e. look into the other person’s
eyes, and then shift your gaze to other parts of the person’s face occasionally.
• While speaking with a group
of people, look at one person for a few seconds and then shift your gaze to another.
• Making eye contact does not
mean that you try and stare a person down with an intense pupil-to-pupil gaze. Staring at a person is the quickest way of
making him uncomfortable and so, putting him on the defensive.
Is Shaking Hands
An Accepted Norm?
is a universally accepted way of greeting people, as also a universal source of worry! While everybody has their own theory
about the correct way to shake hands, the general rule is to keep the handshake firm, brief and as far as possible, dry.
On being introduced, offer your right hand. Smile and make eye contact. Offer a greeting.
• Keep the handshake firm
and brief. This is not a show of strength, so don’t try and cripple the other person. At the same time don’t let
the handshake be a half-handed, limp, wet fish sort of grip.
• Do not attempt to hold hands till introduction is
over. A good handshake lasts for about 3 to 4 seconds.
If you offer a handshake and it is refused, just withdraw your
hand. Under most circumstances you have followed protocol while the other person has been ungracious in refusing to respond.
Are Your Listening
Skills Up To The Mark?
have you found yourself talking to somebody who was not interested in listening to you or was more interested in getting his
point across? How do you avoid falling into the same trap?
• First of all, listen actively. Maintain eye contact
with the speaker. Remind yourself that you have something to gain from this.
• Participate enthusiastically! Ask
questions, and pay attention to the answers. Clarify doubts, but don't overwhelm the speaker with the force of your voice
• Wait for the other person to finish speaking. Avoid interrupting unnecessarily, and don't consider
every conversation as a forum for airing your views!
If the speaker is rambling, and cutting into time you cannot
possibly spare, make your excuses politely. After all, you just might be in his shoes tomorrow!
Maintaining An Arm's
you ever had someone stand so close to you that you could feel their breath on your face? And did you move back, only to find
the other person move in closer? That was an invasion of your personal space!
• Personal space is the area around
the physical self that a person considers his. Moving in too close or standing too far away can create discomfort. Be alert
for signs that a person is uncomfortable with how close you are standing to him/her.
• In urban India and in most Western countries, an arm's length, or about 3 feet is an accepted norm.
• In some
European countries like Italy and Spain and in most South American
countries, people tend to stand much closer. In most Arab countries too personal space is less than the accepted Western norm.
In Japan however, people prefer to stand further away.
space is not only a 'personal' but often a cultural issue too. Respect it!
Royal Manners That
"Punctuality Is The Politeness Of Kings,’’
-- Louis XVIII
no excuse for lateness, not in a social situation, and definitely not in a business environment. Nobody likes to be kept waiting,
and it reflects very badly not only on your organization, but also on you, personally, if you make a habit of being late.
• Apologize first, and then take the appropriate action. You have made someone wait, and you might have caused
a colleague to take on your work in addition to his own.
• When you are delayed, try, as soon as is possible, to
inform the person expecting you that you cannot make your appointment on time. Tell them how long you are going to be delayed,
and if they cannot wait, reschedule your appointment.
• When giving an excuse for being late, make sure that it
is plausible, and as far as possible, truthful. However, there’s no need to go into the fascinating details of how,
and why, you were delayed.
• Be on time or just a few minutes early. That you happened to be free, or in the neighbourhood,
is no reason to drop in on someone way ahead of schedule. Most people work on tight schedules and cannot be expected to drop
everything and entertain you.
The Art Of Conversation
think that conversation is about competition, then you’re talking about a debate. If you think it’s about interesting
gossip, then you’re thinking kitty party. And if you like the sound of your own voice…then you should be reading
this! Good conversation is an art that can value add to your personality everyday, provided you keep the following pointers
• Never thrust your opinion on another person.
• If you are as important as you think you
are your actions will speak for you. Don’t boast.
• People will gossip. However, think twice before you speak
about anyone. Don’t be critical or insulting of someone who is not there and when the gossip turns mean or malicious,
don’t do it.
• Avoid talking about salaries and commissions, and promotions you feel should have been rightfully
• Sex – whether it is about your sex life or another’s, about a colleagues sexual orientation
or about office affairs, don’t discuss it.
Manners Speak Louder
manners are always under examination, and by committees little suspected, awarding or denying you very high prizes when you
least think of it."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
the least suspected committee may well turn out to be your next employer and the prize, your ideal job! You just never know.
So, if you happen to travel a lot, hobnob with clients and visit other offices as part of your work schedule, ensure that
your manners are impeccable and your visiting etiquette, intact.
So, how good is your visitor etiquette? Evaluate yourself
by going through these simple but effective rules.
• Be punctual. If you are 5 minutes early, even better. This
indicates that you respect other people’s time.
• Don't stroll into a place as if it’s your own.
Be polite to everyone you meet irrespective if it’s the receptionist or the CEO.
• If the office that you
are visiting needs you to sign in, and take a visitor card, comply with the protocol. You could supply the receptionist with
your visiting card.
• While waiting, don't try to chat up the receptionist, in case your feeling bored!
While waiting in someone's office, don't touch anything on his desk or around his room. Similarly, his reading material is
his own, and is not there for you to kill time with.
• Carry your own pens and note pads; it looks very unprofessional
when you ask to borrow these.
• Get your work done and leave. This is not a social visit so don’t grab every
opportunity to chitchat.
• On your way out, remember to thank the receptionist!
Smarten The Way You
voice and the way you use your words, plays a large role in the kind of impression you make upon a person. Your speech patterns
are very revealing, not only of your social and educational background, but also of your mood and confidence levels. It helps
to have a deep and attractive voice, or a sweet and clear one, but even if you don’t, you can cultivate a very pleasant
manner of speaking.
• Pay attention to the pitch and volume of your voice. To get a good idea of how you sound
to others, tape your own message in an answering machine and play it back; if you sound loud enough or shrill enough to give
a bagpipe competition, consciously.
• As long as your speech is clear, and your grammar correct, don’t worry
too much about accents. If, however, your speech carries very strong local influences, you could easily be misunderstood,
and so, it definitely pays to soften a pronounced regional accent!
Infuse your voice with enthusiasm. Watch out for
bad language and sarcasm. It’s not impressive or funny to anybody other than you.
single person you meet, every single day of your life, sizes you up in the first few minutes of meeting you and it is true
that you are judged by the way you look. A business environment is no different. While ability is the deciding factor, no
doubt, the first impression is formed on the basis of appearance, speech and demeanour. And it's usually long lasting! Use
• Give enough importance good grooming. You don't need to be a slave to fashion, but being neat,
clean and smartly dressed goes a long way in creating good impressions. While your personal sense of style may be exotic and
eye-catching, office dress codes usually demand a more subdued look. Choose clothes that can weather the corporate climate
in your office and industry.
• Speak clearly and at a moderate pace. Forget trying to ape the voice a radio broadcaster,
but you can definitely infuse some enthusiasm in your voice and speech. Avoid swearing and be aware of when your voice gets
shrill, your attitude gets naggy and your tone aggressive.
• Carry yourself with confidence. Be pleasant and positive
in your dealings with others. It’s the little things that add up.
• A little time and energy spent on personal
hygiene, diet and exercise, is the quickest and most effective way of increasing your attractiveness quotient.
attention to body language. Fidgeting, picking at your face and clothes, and crossing and uncrossing of your legs are some
of the most common and obvious signs of nervousness. Consciously eliminate them from your behavior pattern.
loves a compliment. Sometimes however, if you are insincere or effusive, this simple act can go very wrong. Perfect the art
of giving and receiving compliments gracefully.
• Don’t hesitate to show your appreciation of people or
of jobs done well. Praise a specific task, quality, or look; it sounds insincere if you shower praise continuously and indiscriminately.
If a colleague sports a hairstyle you wouldn’t force on your dog, don’t pretend it is the best look he’s
• Accept a compliment graciously. A smile and a ‘Thank you, I really worked hard on the project’,
is a far better response than acting extremely humble and brushing off praise. At the same time, don’t behave as if
everything you say or do is outstanding, and a compliment is merely your due!
• Use discretion while making comments.
You never know when they could be used against you. Like for instance, it’s not appropriate to comment upon a colleague's
physical attributes, even if you think she can give your favourite pin-up a run for her money. This could amount to sexual
harassment in someone else’s eyes!
How Good is Your
a phone call is as easy as picking up the phone and saying "Hello"… or is it?! In spite of the telephone being a very
frequently used means of communication today, many people still struggle to use it in an effective manner.
Pick up the phone within the first few rings.
• A 'Yes', is probably the rudest way of answering a call, and simply
saying ‘Hello’, doesn’t help the caller in any way. Identify yourself, and your company, and offer to help.
• Always have pen and paper at your desk so that you don’t have to scramble for them when you have to take
• Be aware of background noise, like music for instance. If it is within your control, shut it
• Be courteous. End the call on a positive note, or at the very least, by thanking the person for his time.
Don’t slam the phone down on the unsuspecting caller, just because you have said all you wanted to!
one of those people who have a fantastic memory for faces, yet can’t recollect a name to save your life? Have you ever
greeted someone you know, carried on a conversation with them, and heaved a sigh of relief when you escaped without having
to admit that you couldn’t remember their names? Try these tips, and you may just never be in that kind of situation
• Make an effort to maintain eye contact and listen carefully when being introduced. Focus on them,
and not on the familiar or interesting face you can see over their shoulder! Repeat the name when responding to the introduction.
• Use the name at least once within the first few minutes of having heard it; ask the person to spell the name or
ask for its meaning or origin.
• If you have been given a business card, later, make a note on it about any distinguishing
characteristic that reminds you of the person.
Know How To Make
Intelligent Small Talk?
have been made; you’ve made eye contact, smiled, said ‘Hello’, and smiled again. This gives way to a pregnant
pause. You feel awkward. Someone in the group clears his throat and then everybody rushes in, desperate to say something.
There is embarrassed laughter! Sounds familiar? So, what do you say after you say hello! Plenty, if only you make an attempt.
• The easiest way to start and keep a conversation going is to get people to talk about themselves. Ask how
they know the host, or what they do. Just make sure you’re not asking your host, or your boss, this question!
Be well informed. Everyone has access to newspapers and magazines. Keep yourself up to date on political and social events.
• Relax, and show a genuine interest in those around you. Don’t worry too much about pronunciation or accents
or vocabulary. More can be achieved by you being your natural self than by your best attempts to impress the other person.
Is A Thank You Note
to etiquette hell is paved by good intentions and a lack of action! How often have you promised yourself that you would thank
someone for their hospitality or for a lovely gift, and have promptly forgotten about it, till you saw them again? Remember
that a thank you note can go a long way. You will be remembered well, it can lead to new opportunities, and you never know
when you will need the contact, the friendship and the assistance from this person again.
• Be prompt in sending
a thank you note. It should go out the next day or, if you are travelling, as soon as you reach your home or office.
Invest some time in writing your note of thanks. If that is not possible, at the very least, sign a typed note. Include a
comment saying how much you enjoyed the stay, meal, or gift, but don’t be effusive in your praise.
however that it is not necessary to write thank you notes to a friend for an informal dinner at his house, to a prospective
client for meeting with you for coffee and discussions, or to your colleagues for every day courtesies. Anything more than
a simple ‘thank you’ or phone call of appreciation, would seem pretentious in this case.
Do You Smell Clean?
routinely flatten themselves against a wall as you pass by, maybe it’s time to stop and ponder why. An honest friend
will provide the answers and good personal hygiene, the solution.
• Sweat by itself is not offensive; it is only
when you give it time to react to bacteria, that it develops its unique repulsive properties. Daily baths and generous usage
of deodorants should take care of this problem. Remember perfume is not a substitute for a shower!
• Blow into your
cupped hands vigorously. If your breath makes your head spin, you need urgent dental assistance! Visit your dentist regularly.
The daily routine of brushing, flossing, and gargling with mouthwash takes care of most problems, but to keep your breath
fresh, you also need to watch out for strong smelling foods and the occasional rumbly stomach!
• Pay attention to
your feet; shoes and hot Indian summers don’t make for good partners. Make sure you use cotton socks, and do dust your
feet with an odour absorbing powder. Never, ever, use the same pair of socks two days in a row!
business and social environments require close interaction between people, so it’s only fair that we subject those around
us to as few strong personal odours as possible. A body need not be synonymous with strong
odour, good or bad. Good personal hygiene takes care of body odour. Very strong perfumes are offensive too, especially in
the close confines of office spaces. Use only the mildest fragrances for the office.
• Remember that just as you
have a right to the food of your choice, your colleagues also have a right to work in an atmosphere that doesn’t reek
of your lunch. Save strong smelling foods for meals away from office.
• Smoking is another major offender. The smell
of stale smoke lingers in your clothes, and in your breath, skin, and hair. If you have to smoke, as far as possible, pick
a well-ventilated place. Use breath mints generously. Be scrupulous about hygiene and launder your clothes regularly.