According to etiquette expert Ann Marie Sabath, many of us are guilty at one point or another of being rude in the workplace—oftentimes without even knowing it. "The key is how to handle an awkward situation with tact and diplomacy," she says. As the president of At Ease, Ann Marie hosts etiquette seminars at offices around the country to school individuals on the dos and don'ts of social and business etiquette. Jean talks to Ann Marie about how to handle with grace a few of the most common situations that we face today:
- Ann Marie says it is appropriate to use devices such as a cell phone or BlackBerry when you are more than an arm's length away from other people. They should be shut off before you enter a meeting. If you're going to be inaccessible for more than half a day, Ann Marie says to update your message accordingly.
- If you're on time, Ann Marie says that you're actually late. You should be waiting for the client when he or she arrives—if you're getting paid or providing the service, you should be the one kept waiting, she says.
- Understand the power of the written thank-you note. They may be few and far between these days, but an e-mail thank you should never take the place of a written thank you. "Any time it takes more than 15 minutes for someone to do something for you, a thank you should be sent," Ann Marie says.
- When dressed business casual, Ann Marie says women should always wear a collar, whether it's on a jacket, a button-down shirt or a dress. By doing so, they are projecting a presence in the room, she says.
- Wear a minimum of three accessories, which can include glasses, belts and watches. Ann Marie says that for men in particular, a watch is a business tool.