Category Archives for "Etiquette & Manners"

Feb 27

5 Office Friendly Tips for Eating at Your Desk

By Joanne Blake | Dining , Etiquette & Manners , ShowCase , Showcase Sidebar

Business dining etiquette advice to avoid desktop dining faux pas

In an ideal world, none of us would have to eat at our desk. Tips and advice for eating at office desk etiquette - photo of girl eating at deskWe would not be stressed and could enjoy a fabulous restaurant on our 2 hour lunch break like French workers. But this is the real world where we’re always working under deadlines and our desk becomes our table d’hote.

Table for one?
While we cut people slack if they’re eating in the staff lunchroom, it becomes trickier when eating at your desk, inches away from colleagues. This is not the time to eat garlic infused bread or Continue reading

Dec 16

Christmas Gift Advice – Remember Your Local Charities

By Joanne Blake | Etiquette & Manners

Charity begins at home

Let’s face it, most of us are pretty lucky.Christmas Gift Advice - Local charity tips - a hand holding inspirational words like donate, help

Don’t we have too much stuff already? So rather than write another blog on corporate gifting tips, we thought we would remind you of another gift giving idea.

Change of plan

The past couple years instead of corporate gifting and personal gift giving, Terry and I have been making donations to charities.
This year, because of the downturn in the economy in Alberta  and the consequences of the wildfire in Fort McMurray we decided to focus most of our giving on local charities.

Your community


I encourage you to think about your community and who could do with a charitable donation. We have our own favorites like the Edmonton Food Bank and the Salvation Army and this Christmas we looked around for other worthy organizations.

Goes around, comes around

We found a great web site that lists 100 worthy charities in the Edmonton area.
Do some investigating on your own. Remember it doesn’t have to be a cash donation. Volunteering some of your time with a local group is a holiday gift that rewards the volunteer as much as the organization.

Spread the word

Don’t be afraid to let your clients or friends know in a card that you have made a donation to a good cause instead of gifting. It may encourage them to do the same.

You and yours

Our best wishes to you and yours for a fun and safe holiday season and a generous and joyous new year.

PS if you do want some corporate gift giving help and advice here’s a link to a PDF tip sheet entitled Client Gift Giving Tips from Style for Success

Posted by Joanne Blake – the Canadian business etiquette expert and grateful giver
Dec 06

Office Party Etiquette Tips – What not to do at the office Christmas party

By Joanne Blake | Etiquette & Manners , Networking

Office party- HELP!Office Party Etiquette Tips - What not to do at the office Christmas party

It is that time of year again .

With the Christmas season upon us, CBC Edmonton AM radio show called me for some help and advice on how to avoid embarrassment at these unavoidable gatherings.

Here are some helpful tips and a link to the full article in CBC News entitled – Common sense is not always that common: What not to do at the office Christmas party

Business first, party second 

Getting tipsy with your boss and colleagues is filled with pitfalls. It’s important to recognize that it is business first, social second. People forget that and think, “Oh, it’s a party, I can let my hair down, wear my sexiest outfit, drink at company expense and flirt with that cute guy or gal  in payroll.

Naughty or nice?

Though it can be tempting to let loose, your naughty behaviour will be remembered by all, including the boss. Especially if you’re in a sales or client facing role, the people at the top will be observing how you interact and assume that behaviour will be taken externally.

Mix and mingle

Try to avoid “shop talk”  especially if you have spouses or partners attending. Focus the conversation on people’s lives and interests. Keep it light and ask lots of questions. Don’t be exclusive. Be sure to mingle with clients and co-workers outside your department.

Taboo subjects

We’re all human so at the end of the day we’ll vent about so and so.  It can be bad manners even when we never expect it to go anywhere. Under the influence of alcohol, the Christmas Office party isn’t the place to do it.

Ugly Christmas sweaters?

What you wear at the office Christmas party says a lot about you. Take it up a notch. Especially if clients are attending, unless it’s part of the theme, leave your ugly Christmas sweaters at home.

Last man standing

It can be bad manners to arrive too early (unless you want to help setup) and you never want to be the last man (or woman) standing. Arrive fashionably late and leave before the party starts to fade.

Have fun and use your etiquette common sense but remember, common sense is not always that common.”

Click here for the complete article on Canada’s CBC News: What not to do at the office Christmas party

Posted by Joanne Blake – the Canadian business etiquette expert and well-mannered party gal
Oct 28

Civility vs the 2016 Presidential Election

By Joanne Blake | Current Affairs , Etiquette & Manners

Presidential Manners? How Low Can Donald and Hillary Go?

Has the US election lowered the bar onPicture of boy and girl arguing - illustrating the incivility of presidential election civility?

As a polite Canadian and business etiquette expert, the American election has been both fascinating and disturbing. It makes our Canadian elections seem pretty tame, in a good way. Leaders in Canada debate the issues and rarely let personal differences or personality sidetrack them.

Debates or tantrums

The same cannot be said for the American presidential campaign. I was dismayed watching the presidential debates. It was like watching a couple of kids bad mouthing each other at the school playground. Unfortunately watching this kind of display normalizes bad behaviours and has a trickle-down effect. If leaders can’t control themselves, how can business people or ordinary citizens be expected to take the high road?

Americans are dismayed too

I just listened to a fascinating panel discussion on NPR National Public Radio about the decline of civility in US politics. While the panelists had varying views, none of them lost their cool while discussing it. Below are some of the great points they made. (click here to listen to the 15 minute show on civility and the presidential campaign or read the text).

Lack of civility in politics a crisis

The panelists quoted a recent survey that found 76 percent of surveyed Americans believe the lack of civility in politics is a “crisis.” In that same survey, twice as many voters blame Donald Trump for the rising incivility. Calling his opponent “the devil,” “a liar” and “a nasty woman”, some say reflects a change in the culture of manners and decorum, including a blurring of the lines between private and public talk.

Like slamming a door in your face

One the guests, author Deborah Tannen said it best. “Most of us think of civility as a level of politeness, so for example, holding the door for the person behind you. What we’re dealing with now goes beyond that. It’s a kind of verbal violence, almost. Maybe the metaphor would be not holding the door open but slamming the door in the face of the person behind you.”

Violent consequences?

Tannen took it a step further. “We’re not talking about anybody not being allowed to express any opinion at all. But when it becomes belligerent, when it becomes vitriolic, when it becomes personal, when it becomes threatening — We do see cases where physical fights are breaking out, physical attacks follow because of the level of hatred and animosity that is stirred up by a certain kind of rhetoric.”

Rude Children

As presidential politics degenerates into the caustic realm of reality TV, it’s hard to not follow suit, let alone try to teach etiquette and civility to children. In future, we may have to admonish children when they’re rude to “Stop acting like the President.”

(Click here to listen to the Diane Rehm radio show on civility and the presidential campaign)

Posted by Joanne Blake – the Canadian business etiquette expert and civility in politics and life promoter
Sep 26

What is the correct headphone or earbud etiquette at the office?

By Joanne Blake | Etiquette & Manners

Two earbuds, one or none?

headphone earbud etiquette - rock onRecently I was delivering a business and electronic etiquette presentation for construction professionals targeted for advancement. One of the leaders asked the proper protocol for wearing earbuds at the office. He said he finds it awkward to interrupt colleagues or employees wearing headphones when he needs to get their attention.

A universal earbud rule?

He shared this challenge with his daughter who was happy to fill him in on what she felt was correct headphone manners. All her colleagues practice it so she believed it to be a universal rule.

Here’s her headphone etiquette; if the person is wearing both earbuds, it means that they’re engaged in a task that requires immense concentration and you should avoid interrupting. However, if they’re only wearing one earbud it means you can go ahead and interrupt them. She explained that everybody in business knows this rule and he should get with the program.

Does everyone know this earbud rule?

As the group discussed this we found a few problems with this electronic etiquette “rule”.

If you take out only one earbud when you talk to someone, the message you’re projecting is “I recognize you’re talking to me, but I really don’t want to give you my full attention.” Or it could mean “hurry it up, I have other things I need to be doing, and hearing about what you did on the weekend isn’t one of them”.

This buds for you?

Just because something is done in one office doesn’t make it a universal rule. Electronic etiquette evolves and changes as new technologies emerge. It is important to discuss it with your colleagues, maybe at a staff meeting and decide what is going to be the headphone protocol in your office. Does it make sense and is it still good manners? Is it logical and still builds communication and respect for clients and colleagues in your workplace?

Face 2 face

Ultimately, it depends on your role, and how responsive you need to be. In general wearing headphones in a professional office environment, where you are in view of the public should be discouraged. If you’re in face to face customer service, you’re not likely to be tuning others out. It can make you look unapproachable and unsociable which can hinder working relationships.

Excuse me

Then there’s the difficulty of actually getting someone’s attention if someone’s back is turned away from you and can’t hear you. The good manners way to interrupt someone in a cubicle setting is to “knock” or verbally announce yourself at the partition.

The chicken or the… earbuds

If they’re wearing two earbuds and you have to touch them to get their attention and they don’t see you coming, you might startle them. You could text them and ask them to drop by your desk when they have a moment. But what if you’re wearing your earbuds? It becomes a vicious circle! What came first, the chicken or the earbuds? You could always try firing nerf bullets or elastic bands. And that becomes a whole other etiquette question.

Posted by Joanne Blake – the Canadian business etiquette expert and well mannered earbud wearer
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