Sunday, October 31, 2010

Facebook and Now LinkedIn As Well... Frightening!

Halloween 1984

Who needs Halloween for tricks, treats & frights when we have Facebook and LinkedIn?  Worldwide, security breached, plagues of portals, for your past to come back to haunt you 365 days a year.  They suck more out of one's life than anything from Twilight or True Blood, and have more surprises at every turn than well crafted, amusement park haunted houses.  

They also, rather nonchalantly, heist email addresses from your computer with a simple question like, "Want to see if any of your contacts are also on (whatever site one is on)?"  One click and every person I have ever sold things to on Ebay, or whose email address was sent to me because only a small portion of the population seems to know what "Bcc" stands for, then pops up.  I closed my Facebook account 2 years ago, and just recently discovered LinkedIn had become just as intrusive.  

I was getting requests from people I may have exchanged one or two emails with, or parents whose kids I taught 10 years ago, and so on.  I only have my company name, phone number, etc... now, and I no longer accept invitations to connect with others.

I tried Facebook at the requests of friends, not realizing that the requests were from the portal itself, not really from my friends.  After signing up, I was bombarded daily with long lists of people that, yes I did know, but possibly didn't want to share anything other than a business connection.  I wondered, How did Facebook know I knew these people? I looked at the list and got it. Facebook pulled them from your email account, you big dumb bunny! 

With several email addresses, I knew why Facebook wanted to be in my email account and I was none too happy. However I figured that as I was finally connecting with some old friends who I rarely get to see, I would just ignore the pleas to add them as my Facebook friends. Common sense took a back seat for those few weeks.

I posted some photos, a little bit of a bio on myself, listed my favorite things... the usual nonsense.  About 2 weeks in to my Facebook foray, an old high school chum left a message on my Facebook wall.  It read, "Remember the time we went to the nude beach?"  Yes, I did remember we had stumbled on to a private beach in Laguna, back in the mid-seventies.  As we laid out our towels and got our tanning lotion on, we noticed that though we had our bikinis on, no one else at the sparsely populated beach was clothed. We had driven around for so long looking for a beach with no kids running around and screaming, we decided to stay, not to pay attention to anyone else, act natural (not au naturale) and work on our tans.  

Knowing that people Google my name to check my business out, I tried in vain for 3 days to get that remark off my wall.  What would parents or corporations looking to hire me make of it?  My past was haunting me.  Now I was a teen in the 1970s, and that one event was pretty tame, but after reading some of the delusional, misogynistic, destructive, bigoted, character assassinating comments people leave on websites, I didn't want anything more left on my wall to haunt me.  Real or imagined.  Again, I was a teen in the 1970s.  A crazy age in a crazy era, when .... well, let's just say I would rather forget a lot of the 1970s.  In fact, if I could, there are many parts of the 1980s I would like to claim amnesia on as well.  Even better, now I would like to forget Facebook.

I closed my account.  If I ever do want to be haunted, I can just look through my old high school and junior high school yearbooks.  They are scary enough for me!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Etiquette of Getting Your Message Across

Using Effective Posturing, Tone of Voice & Social Savvy

The aura surrounding you when you are confident of your actions is a powerful tool in making your way successfully to the top in life and business. The following are proven techniques and skills that allow you to smoothly navigate your way through even the most demanding of social and business situations.

• Whether it is a meeting in your office, at the office of another, in a restaurant or if you are having guests into your home, be on time. If you are delayed for some reason, let someone know. Delays can cause stress so try not to allow it to show. Apologize to those who were on time, then from that moment on, keep your posture open and relaxed. Do not let your posture or body language give your stress away. Meanings of gestures and actions like body wrapping can vary wildly throughout the world and easily be misinterpreted. According to authorities on kinesics (the science of nonverbal language), what a person is verbalizing can be loudly contradicted by the person’s own body language. Don't allow your conversation or presentation to be side-tracked by yours.

• If you are on time for meetings with groups you are unfamiliar with, stand tall and pause just slightly at the door, then pause again before taking your seat. Oddly, studies have found the more time you take, the more status others will attribute to you. You are creating an air of importance.

• When mixing with others in social and professional settings, do not let your emotions reveal themselves through desperate or aggressive posturing. Display assertiveness instead, by slightly leaning in toward a person who is speaking to you, to show you are listening attentively. Then move back slightly when you are speaking, so as not to appear overly needy or aggressive. This is also true for hand gestures. Use gestures with your hands sparingly. They can accentuate your message when done correctly, but distract and detract from your message when overdone.

• If the seating is informal, ask where you should sit before sitting down. Survey the room casually to know who you will ultimately need to impress. If you are in a boardroom for example, look to see who is sitting where. If you are in any type of negotiations, you will want to know who sits in the “Power Seats”. Seated at the head of the table is the person holding the most power.  Second in power is generally to that person’s left or right hand sides. The only other real seat of power, is at the opposite end of the table. When dining socially at a formal dinner in the U. S., the seats of power in a couple’s home, for example, are the opposite ends of the table. To the right of the host and hostess are the guests of honor. To the left of the host and hostess, are those who are the second in importance.

• Never directly point to someone or at someone. If you need to recognize someone or gesture toward an object in the room to make a point, lay the palm of your hand out facing upward and gesture by stretching your hand out in the direction of the object or person you are mentioning.

• Make sure you introduce yourself to all others around you who you do not already know. Reintroduce yourself to persons who may have forgotten your name, or forgotten meeting you before. Have business cards ready to give to people you meet. Always ask for one in return.

• If giving a presentation of some sort, request the lighting be altered if needed. Excess noise reduction is also a must. To be fighting for everyone’s eyes and ears is difficult even for the most experienced of professionals.  The more control you have over the room, the more you will feel in control in general.

• Stick to a highly structured and “safe” agenda for any talk you are giving. Avoid being trapped into speaking on something you are not ready to speak about, comfortable in speaking about or something you are not knowledgeable about to a professional degree. Do not try to “wing it”. Unless you are an Oscar winning actor, your chances for success are slim.

• Be prepared to back up anything you say publicly, or even privately. When you have inevitably been given the status of “Professional” or “Executive”, you will find that the most private remarks of yours may be quoted. When in doubt, before you speak on sensitive issues or giving your personal opinion, you can drop the line, “This is strictly off the record...” or “Speaking off the record for a moment...” Said with a smile and conviction, the person you are speaking with will know it isn’t to be repeated. Beware; Your comments may still be quoted, misquoted or repeated regardless.

• If speaking to a group, tuck your chin downward to maintain eye contact on a level basis or lower. Do not throw your head back to emphasize a point.  Do not “play” with bracelets, necklaces, ties, earrings, accessories or items of clothing. It will distract your listeners from your talk. If nervous, make any movements out of your audience’s eyesight; bouncing knees, etc...

• Make your statements assertive as opposed to aggressive or passive. For example: “I believe this is the correct choice.” Not, “Maybe we should look at some other choices... I don’t know... But for right now this is what I think.” Or, "This is only choice for me and it should be for you too!” Wishy-washy doesn’t work well in any situation unless you want to be perceived as someone who has no real opinion. Questions that begin with, "Don't you think..." or "Don't you agree..." leave others feeling as if they have to agree with you.  Try to drop those from your conversations.

• On that note; Never use false sincerity or false personal statements as a gimmick to make the sale, or in an attempt to get your point across. Phony testimonials and speaking about fake clients can be very transparent. Listeners will see through you faster than you think and will leave them questioning your abilities, product or services.

• Unless your business is politics, refrain from discussing personal political opinion. The display of political pins, buttons, or even bumper stickers on your car, etc... can kill your business and social ties 50% of the time. If cornered by someone with little social savvy who demands to know your affiliations, use caution when giving an answer. This same person was most likely a school yard bully in younger years, and may require “creative” or evasive answers. Do not invite emotions or passions in to your business negotiations or social relations unless the politics are more important to you than the relationships themselves.

• Control the attention span of an audience with brief silences if members of the group are whispering, texting, or otherwise causing a disturbance. That pause will be heard loudly and generally will get the attention of the offenders. Let listeners absorb what you’ve said before moving from one point to another. Use a second or two to look around the room and make eye contact with several people before saying something like, “The next point I’d like to mention... ” or “Another matter that needs to be discussed is...”

• The average attention span for a speaker to an audience or group is only 20 minutes. (Video or power point presentations come in lower at only 8 minutes) Attention drops considerably after the first 20 minutes and significantly more after 30 minutes. Get key points across within the first 10 to 15 minutes to make your talk or presentation more memorable.

• Try to sound natural. Do not use tired phrases or jokes unless they are truly spontaneous or suddenly timely again. Culture speak, or phrases and terms heard continually in popular songs, television commercials and advertising jingles, are also best left out of professional conversation and presentations.

• Archaic phrases, words and references may make you sound well educated among some groups, however they may also confuse your audience and throw off the effectiveness of your speech, or presentation, entirely. Speaking in plain English will get you heard.

• On the other hand, avoid using slang or words that you think might endear you to a specific group. It can cause problems, create misunderstandings and leave others with an impression of you that is unflattering.

• When you are the one listening, try to recognize the needs and desires of those speaking. Experts believe that a person’s conversation can have 2 or 3 differing levels of interpretation. Do not assume you know someone is in agreement with you. You can hear, “That’s a good idea...” and think the person agrees with you, when actually, he just thinks it’s a good idea, but not necessarily a good plan.

• In mainstream American culture, nodding one’s head signifies agreement with someone. Nodding one’s head, in many other cultures may mean the person understands you or hears you, not that he or she agrees with you. Just as you watch your own body language, watch those around you. What signals are you getting?   If you are unsure of what people mean, do not be hesitant to ask them to elaborate.

• Use personal stories and anecdotes sparingly. If you frequently speak to the same people, chances are you’ve told the story previously.

• Leave personal problems at home. Don’t bring them with you. Everyone has bad days now and then. You are not the rare person who experiences stress. When you are in a place of business, keep a businesslike demeanor. When you are socializing with acquaintances, the operative word is sociable.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cell Phone Etiquette & Tech Manners.... For Use When You Do Not Wish to Become the Newest Social Pariah

I found this "cell citation" on line and had a good laugh. I would never recommend using it however, unless you want to display just as much rudeness as the person you wish to chastise. Your rude reaction to someone's rude action do not cancel each other out. It does not make you "even." Etiquette does not quite work that way.

I am sure I have violated one or two of these infractions listed below , but I do so very rarely. And while I found this amusing, it is just like I tell my younger etiquette class students; There are many rude things you will see and hear people say and do in movies and on television. They get lots of laughs on the screen, but in real life these things hurt other people's feelings and can cause a lot of anger. Life does not come with a soundtrack or laugh track. Relationships with family members and friends are not usually mended in an hour or so. Sometimes, they are never mended simply because someone opened his or her mouth and said things he or she should not have said.

A few years ago after teaching a manners class at a local school in which I covered cell phone manners, I received an email from a student. He was in third grade, and quite sharp for his age. His email read, "Dear Manners Teacher, Why weren't restaurant tables near the pay phones more popular years ago?" Wow! He had actually read the handout he had received that day on cell phone manners? I praised him for reading all of his handouts and explained why sitting next to a pay phone was about as popular as sitting next to the restrooms. At his age, he probably did not recall ever seeing a pay phone. Come to think of it, the last ones I saw were in Amsterdam in 2007 and the area was covered with graffiti. (The eye pollution of graffiti and the teens that leave their mark with it must be universal.)

Tonight I was listening to the local news and saw a segment on diners complaining about other restaurant patrons using their cell phones next to them in restaurants. Hmmmph! For years I have been hearing restaurant management and staff complaining about the same thing every time I go for staff training at restaurants. I know a few have taken my advice and established cell phone zones for their patrons, but for the most part I usually hear, "Corporate has to make that decision." Ironically it may be patrons making that decision for corporate, with their lack of frequenting establishments who allow tech gadget use to go unchecked by diners. One patron interviewed for the news segment said that he was guilty of using his cell phone in restaurants because he wanted to, "stay socially connected." I know I for one would rather eat in a quiet and calm dining environment, focusing on my dining companions and our conversation, so I avoid restaurants with the noise equivalent of a busy Chuck E. Cheese. I also know though, that as we are staying more "connected" via tech gadgets, we as a society are actually less personally connected to one another. Want to really stay socially connected? Schedule a time to get together with old friends more, and do it in person. Send an actual hand written letter, or a funny card to a friend or relative you are unable to see in person. Hug a loved one. A hug says much more than a text message ever can. Oh yes... and try to follow my rules that follow.

The RSVP Institute of Etiquette's
Common Sense Etiquette for Cell Phones & More...

1. Don’t use your cell phones in restaurants, unless you are doing so in a "cell zone" that the restaurant has set aside for just such a purpose. If everyone wanted to listen to one side of a stranger’s phone call while eating in restaurants, the tables and booths by the pay phones would have been much more desirable years ago. As I recall from my restaurant management days, that was rarely the case.

2. If you absolutely have to take or make a call, keep your voice down so as to not distract or annoy others around you. Refrain from “cell yell”, arguments, playing referee to arguments, foul language, or calls of a personal nature.

3. If you are a visitor for the first time in someone’s home when your cell starts ringing, show some class, or you’ll become part of the fastest growing social nuisance. Ask for permission to take the call first, or step in to another room (not the bathroom, puh-leez!) or step outside to make or take any calls.

4. Learn to text if you are tethered to your phone. It’s more quiet and usually less obvious. Office buildings, shopping malls, grocery stores, etc.... are all areas I really do not mind someone texting in, as long as he or she is not laughing hysterically, muttering while texting, or the person texting is the cashier that is supposed to be ringing up my purchases. Never text while driving. Do not text, or read text messages, while sitting in dark movie theaters, in any house of worship, or if someone is talking to you about any matter of importance.

5. Under no circumstances should you take someone’s picture with your phone without permission to do so.

6. An earpiece is great for cutting the cord. Unfortunately you can sometimes appear to be wandering around talking to yourself. Use the same rules for any other type of cell phone call. Excuse yourself to take or make calls, or have the courtesy of letting others around you know that you are talking to someone, and it cannot be avoided.

Laptops, Notebooks & Blackberry, iPhones, iPads & PDAs, Etc... 

1. To be able to take your classroom or office with you, wherever you go, is certainly a technological leap the world could not have truly imagined 50 years ago. It is also something that people don’t necessarily want seen today. There are places designed specifically for the student, writer, business professional, etc... to set up their offices and work. If you are not in one of those places, leave your laptop alone.

2. When dining or visiting with friends or colleagues, it is impolite for one to pretend he or she is involved in the conversation at hand, while one is actually perusing their messages or surfing the web on one’s iPhone or other hand held device. Unless it is something to share with everyone else, excuse yourself and leave the room or read your messages and web surf at a later time.

3. Poor laptop manners have sent more than one student out of a class or employee packing with a pink slip. Find out any policies regarding open laptops in meetings, etc... (The biggest complaint from teachers? Cheating on tests. Employers? Employees checking email on their laptops or hand held devices during meetings.)

4. NEVER watch or stare as someone is entering a password or pin number. Be polite and look away, or step away, while someone is using passwords, etc... Other

Toys & Gadgets-
1. Keep the volume off when using “Game Boys” and any other hand held games while out in public. This goes for robotic toys and other such noise. Listening to iPods,and other Mp3 players are wonderful ways to pass the time. Listening to complete strangers sing along to music you can’t hear, and don’t want to hear, are not. If you have your iPod on out in public, keep your mouth shut. Sorry, but humming is not allowed either.

2. Be aware of other people and your surroundings when your ear buds are in. People are notorious for suddenly going blind the minute their ears are connected to headphones. If you want to lose yourself in your latest downloads, don’t do it while someone is trying to have some sort of social interaction with you. Worse than losing yourself, you’ll lose friends.

3. With regard to digital cameras, web cams, or video cameras, see #5 under Cell Phones.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Business & Finance: Deathless Duel

Business & Finance: Deathless Duel

On a tragically funny note-

I love the style of this writer from 1931 in TIME Magazine. He (or she?), writes about Italians, and a banker Domenico Di Luglio casting an evil eye on another bank in Rhode Island. The writer also mentions that Di Luglio eats too much and drinks too much. The other banker is described as "elegant" twice. Yes, Di Luglio does make 4 attempts to shoot another banker, Francesco Galiano, failing miserably. And attempted harm or murder are both reprehensible behaviors. But what would his food intake have to do with this? Or his possible superstitions simply because he is Italian? The journalism seems a bit reprehensible as well. I'm seeing poor manners in both Di Luglio and the writer of this archived article. Take note; Never should one mention nationality (unless it is pertinent to the story), the possible superstitions of another, or bias readers with how much one supposedly eats or drinks.

Oh yes... Now guess which one was my great-grandfather. As I stated, tragically funny.
TIME Archive,
Italians fear Il Malocchio, the evil eye. Last week in Providence, R. I., Domenico Di Luglio, 65, seemed to cast an evil eye on Woonsocket Loan & Discount Co. as he strode up and down in front of it for the better part of an hour. Banker Di Luglio, a powerful man who eats more than his doctor advises, likes the red wine too, had just that morning resigned as president of $500,000-in-resources Dante State Bank, giving the position to his son.
At length, stomping in great steps, Banker Di Luglio entered the Woonsocket offices. He went to the desk of Woonsocket President Francesco Galiano, 64, an elegant gentleman who had once been his partner, whose son had married a Di Luglio daughter. Banker Di Luglio had heard that Banker Galiano had said evil things about Dante State Bank. Whipping out a .32-cal. revolver he pulled the trigger four times. The gun did not go off. Banker Galiano grabbed for his own revolver, fired into the wall. Banker Di Luglio grabbed the gun away, bashed elegant Mr. Galiano in the head with it. Mr. Galiano was taken to a hospital. Mr. Di Luglio went to jail where he refused bail, asked permission to stay all night and cool off.
Read more:,9171,742465,00.html#ixzz115dQ3fC2