Business Etiquette

Be An Angel Today on National Be An Angel Day.

Be an angel

Today is national "Be An Angel Day".  We all have people in our lives that we call our angels - the people who save the day, are there for us when we have a bad day or come to the rescue when our lives fall apart.  I can think of a few angels in my life; my techie angel Oscar who has helped me numerous times with countless computer issues, my former client and good friend Marg who gives me sound advice and doubles as a shrink, and recently our good friend Michael who took it upon himself to reprogram my TV at the cottage.  It's these little acts of kindness that improve our lives and make us smile again.

The day was started in 1993 by Jayne Howard Feldman to encourage people to do random acts of kindness.  In our personal life it could be mowing your neighbours lawn, buying coffee for the person standing behind us in line, tipping our taxi cab driver and telling them how much you appreciate the service they provide, or calling up a relative and expressing how special they are in your life.

Workplaces frequently lack in civility and kindness. For a moment think about what you can do to be an angel at work.  Take the time at work to buy a co-worker coffee or lunch, personally thank a person or team who worked on a project with you, go that extra mile to help someone and make a point to smile at everyone and acknowledge their presence.

What are you doing today to be an angel? 




Valentine's Day - Handling Romance in the Office


With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, cupid ‘s arrows may be landing in an office near you. According to a recent survey by, 40% of respondents revealed that they have dated a coworker, with 18% indicating two or more such relationships. Of those who have dated a fellow employee, 34% have resulted in marriage. Here are some tips on handling an office romance;

1. Keep your romance private until you have been dating for a while and you’re really sure that you want it to go public. It’s easier for everyone this way.

2. No public displays of affection which can make coworkers feel uncomfortable. Refrain from holding hands, flirting, kissing, sex in the office and any other displays of affection.

3. Avoid broadcasting your personal relationship on social networks for all to see. You never know who might read your Twitter! 

4. Send flowers or gifts to the home not office. People that you work with don’t have to see your Valentine’s day gift or card.

5. Keep business and personal life separate. Don’t flaunt your personal life or share personal information about each other at work. Don’t bring fights or conflicts into the office. Be careful about what you share with colleagues, as few people can keep a secret.

6. Refrain from sending romantically or sexually explicit emails or valentine cards to each other. Your email isn’t private and you don’t know who may read it.

7. The bottom line is to behave professionally at all times. This also applies if your relationship doesn’t stand the test of time. It’s always risky dating someone with whom you work. If the relationship does fall apart be mature and gracious. Never kiss and tell.

It’s not surprising that romance in the office is fairly common these days, considering we spend a third or more of our lives in a work environment.

Those Little Things That Drive Your Co-workers CRAZY


It’s sometimes those little things that people do at work that drive their co-workers crazy. In the open office concept with cubicles in close proximity we easily hear, smell and see what others around us are doing. Sometimes the simplest thing can become a big annoyance and tempers can flare when it is repeated day in and day out.

Here are some of the little things that annoy people at work:

Little repetitive noises

When you’re trying to work noise can be very distracting. No one enjoys sitting next to someone all day long to hear them belching, sniffling, talking to themselves, whistling, humming, clicking the pen, chewing food and popping gum.

Colleagues who add unsolicited comments

During private conversations or meetings, your colleague in the next cubicle listens in and constantly adds their two cents worth. Or worse, they pop their head over the cubicle and join the discussion. 

Following someone into the bathroom 

People like a little privacy and space. The bathroom is the place to do business not conduct business.

Olfactory overkill

Everyone loves the smell of their own cologne or perfume, but others may not feel the same way. The problem is after a while we become accustomed to our own fragrance and can’t smell it. So we apply more and more which can be overwhelming to our co-workers.

Personal grooming

Personal grooming should be done in private, not in public. This includes painting nails, clipping toe nails and flossing teeth.

Borrowing items

Don’t invade someone’s personal office space and borrow an item without first asking permission. Always remember to return what you have borrowed.

Body odors

Being next to someone who smells of body odor, stinky feet or bad breath is disgusting. A private discussion is needed as they may not realize that they smell.

High tech rings and dings

Our computers and phones add to the list of annoying sounds at work - the ding every time a message comes in, the cellphone that keeps ringing, and goofy ring tones. Be respectful and turn the sound off at work.

While these things may drive you crazy, it’s important to understand that many of these annoyances are not done intentionally. Quite often a co-worker doesn’t realize that they are doing anything wrong or out of the ordinary. The best way to resolve the issue is to calmly and politely discuss it with the person in private. It’s always best to resolve the issue before it escalates and gets out of control.

7 Tips For The Holiday Office Party

Holiday party

Many a career has been ruined at the office holiday party. We’ve all heard the horror stories – some unbelievable, some funny and some very sad.   While you may be encouraged to have a good time and let loose you should be mindful that this is a business function and all the rules of conduct that  normally apply at the office also apply at the party. How you conduct yourself is noticed especially by management. While people may not know your name they will remember your face and how you acted. You want to ensure you are memorable for the right reasons not the wrong reasons.

Don’t skip the party

Always attend the office holiday party, because it is a business function and attendance is mandatory. Trust me, management will notice if you don’t attend and it will make you look like you’re not a team player. Even if you have another commitment, at least make an appearance for 30 minutes.

Mingle & socialize

The holiday party is the ideal time to mix, mingle and network. It’s the opportune time to get to know others in your office and senior management.

Limit business talk

It’s inevitable that there will be some business talk, but don’t be labeled as the boring person who spent the entire evening talking about business. Come prepared to talk about other things such as what your plans are for the holiday, your children, pets, hobbies, recent movies and even share a few funny stories. It’s the holiday season so be positive in your conversations and avoid any negativity. As tempting as it may be don’t gossip, especially about your colleagues.

 The 2 drink limit

You never want to get drunk and make a fool of yourself. Many people are reprimanded and fired due to their actions at the holiday party. To ensure you don’t get drunk; eat before you go, have a glass of water or club soda after each drink and water down your drinks with lots of ice.

Don’t flirt or hit on others

This is usually the result of drinking too much. We’ve all heard the story of the employee who hit on the boss’s spouse. You don’t want to be part of a sexual harassment case.

Dress appropriately

Find out what the dress code is. Skip anything too revealing or flashy. Remember this is a business event. You don’t want people saying, “ Did you see what they wore” Err on the conservative side. 

If you are bringing your significant other or date make sure they know how to dress and what is expected of them. It’s equally important that your date dresses and acts appropriately.

Thank the host and organizers  

Try to thank both the host and organizers before you leave, or send an email or thank you note the next day. Don’t take the party for granted as a lot of time and money is spent. Your appreciation will not be forgotten.

Going to Work Sick - Should You?


You've come down with the flu or a cold.  What should you do - stay home or go to work?  The answer should be simple, but it's not always.  Do you choose absenteeism or presenteeism - attending work while sick?

The logical answer is to be considerate and take a few days off to avoid infecting others at work.  A Queen's University study found that it cost employers twice as much in productivity losses for employees who come to work while sick compared to those who stay home.  Due to technology many people can work from home.  If you can, do so.

Unfortunately, it's not always that simple.  Sick days are not offered by all companies, and some employees can't afford to stay home and lose the income.  Others feel pressured to come to work due to job insecurity or no one to cover for them at work.  For some people it's not an easy call to make.

Here's some tips on what to do if you absolutely have to go to work when ill.

  • Isolate yourself.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Use alcohol based hand wipes.
  • Avoid shaking hands.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue.
  • Use a clean tissue to touch door handles and elevator buttons.

The Consequences Of Using Bad Language At Work


Oops, a little slip of the tongue and a bad word slips out of your mouth at work. In this day and age should we be concerned about using profanity in the office? After all we are being inundated with the likes of Gordon Ramsey, Joan Rivers and the X-files.

Last week I was interviewed by CBC Television on the consequences of swearing at work. CareerBuilder recently conducted a nationwide survey on swearing in the office and the results were interesting. They found that half of the workers surveyed swear in the office and of those who swear, 

  • 95% swear in front of their coworkers
  • 45% in front of their bosses
  • 17% in front of senior leaders
  • 7% in front of clients

The impression you leave on your employer

  • 81 percent believe that the use of curse words brings the employee's professionalism into question
  • 71% are concerned with the lack of control
  • 68% with the lack of maturity
  • 54% thought swearing made an employee appear less intelligent

The bottom line

While you may think that it is your prerogative to use bad language at work, think again, as it may be costing you. Sixty-four percent of employers said that they'd think less of an employee who repeatedly uses curse words, and 57 percent said they'd be less likely to promote someone who swears in the office. The bottom line is swearing is poor business communication and creates a negative impression.

Taming your tongue

Breaking a bad habit takes time and a desire to change. Some companies resort to having a Swear Jar and fining employees a minimal amount for each time they’re caught swearing. For those companies that want to eliminate profanity in the office, there’s a company called the Cuss Control Academy that offers seminars and presentations on how to tame your tongue. Check out their Ten Tips for Controlling Your Tongue.