NEW YORK (AP) — Much has changed about workplace and business etiquette since Emily Post was dispensing advice herself.
Post died in 1960, but her family has carried on her love of good manners through the Emily Post Institute in Burlington, Vermont. The latest from the Posts is a third edition of “The Etiquette Advantage in Business,” released this month by William Morrow.
Great-great-granddaughter Lizzie Post said an update was needed to take into account the explosion in social media and digital communications, along with a more casual work environment in many fields.
SOCIAL MEDIA AND SMARTPHONES
When you make a mistake, ‘fess up. Post recalled a recent radio show call-in question that went something like this: “‘I butt-dialed all of my business contacts while on a 10-hour hike over the weekend. What do I do and is there a term other than butt-dial that I can use?’ We say purse- or pocket-dial work, too, and apologize immediately using whatever communication you usually use for each contact.”
Generally, she said, avoid the urge to get all loosey-goosey. Use email, private message, text and voice mail very, very carefully.
“Unless you would feel comfortable posting it on a bulletin board in your town or screaming it to everybody that you know, don’t do it,” Post said.
HUGS AND KISSES
“I’m always surprised at how much there is of this when I’m doing business. I’m getting hugs and a kiss on the cheek as a hello. Usually it’s after the very first meeting. The very first meeting is still usually a handshake.”
But Post is a fan of hugs and kisses on the job after the first meeting, depending on your field. “I like feeling like I’m doing business with a person who I have a personal connection with. I know many people who want to keep professional professional and they don’t want to be hugging somebody that down the line they might have to say, ‘Look, we can’t work with you anymore.'”
Such think sessions have an etiquette all their own. Post warns against passively trying to control through rejection, where a participant brings no ideas to the table but spends the time pooh-poohing the ideas of others.
“Sure, there are going to be some ideas that you knock down for a certain reason, whether they conflict with a contract or it’s nothing like what the client is going to want, that sort of thing,” she said.
“But a brainstorming session needs to be the kind of open environment where you let things marinate, you let them percolate. It’s one of those places where being the negative Nelly, being the person who’s saying no, no, no, no all the time does not make you a team player and it does not make you smarter than everybody else. For me, that is the most annoying person to have on a team.”
WORKING FROM HOME
You may know exactly how you want this to go, Post said, but your friends and neighbors may have other ideas.
“It’s really important to lay boundaries with friends, lovers, neighbors. Let them know, ‘This really is my work day and I do need to focus and be focused and dropping by just isn’t something I can accommodate. I’d love to see you at 5.'”
Does that go for spouses, too? Is it OK for an at-office spouse to leave chores for the home-office spouse?
“No, not without talking about it first. You need to talk about it ahead of time, because that really is a work day,” she said.
Post advises making a schedule and sticking to it. And she’s not an advocate of staying in PJs. “Take a shower, get dressed. It’s still your work day.”
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