Manners that Matter in the Workplace, with Lee Caraher

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Transcript

Mac Prichard:

Hi, this is Mac from Mac’s List. Before we start the show, I want to let you know about my new book, Land Your Dream Job Anywhere. I’ve been helping job seekers find meaningful, well-paying work since 2001, and now I’ve put all my best advice into one easy-to-use guide.

My book shows you how to make your resume stand out in a stack of applications, where you can find the hidden jobs that never get posted, and what you need to do to ace your next job interview. Get the first chapter now for free. Visit MacsList.org/anywhere.

This is Find Your Dream Job; the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life. I’m Mac Prichard, your host and publisher of Mac’s List. I’m joined by my co-hosts, Ben Forstag, Becky Thomas, and Jessica Black, from the Mac’s List team.

This week we’re talking about manners that matter in the workplace.

Your manners at work can make a huge difference in your professional success. Every day, people do or say things on the job that hurt or help their careers. This week’s guest expert is Lee Caraher. She says everything we do sends a signal.  And people you don’t even know are listening and making judgments that can affect you professionally. She and I talk later in the show.

We all make mistakes in our jobs. Ben has found a website that offers a five-step process for how to acknowledge our errors and move on. He tells us more in a moment.

What do you say when an employer asks about your salary needs in a first interview? That’s our question of the week. It comes from Sue Crawford of Corvallis, Oregon. Becky shares her advice shortly.

As always, let’s first check in with the Mac’s List team.

Now, we’re talking this week about manners in the workplace and have you all seen people do or say things that have hurt them professionally? You look like you’re ready to go, Jessica.

Jessica Black:

Well, the thing that came up for me initially was, and this is classically a female syndrome, but I think it can happen to anyone. Anyone can be guilty of it, is saying “sorry”, but using filler words like “just” and diminishing words like that, that seem outwardly very polite, but it can hurt you professionally. Because it makes people take you less seriously.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, it’s interesting you should bring this up, because last week Becky and I were recording the video for our new course, Job Interview Essentials, and you chided me once or twice for saying  sorry, when I was on take six or seven.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, you were saying “Sorry” a lot, and we were both like, “Don’t say sorry. It’s okay, it’s part it.”

Jessica Black:

Right.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, I know, I was thinking about that too, because I had a colleague at my last job who was just brilliant and was always apologizing for things she did not need to apologize for.

Jessica Black:

Right.

Becky Thomas:

That made people think of her in a certain way that was less than confident. I think that did hurt her professionally. I think it’s something that she’s working on. It’s also something that’s ingrained into our culture, it’s like, “If you apologize for yourself, people will think you’re nice,” but really, you need to own your strengths.

Jessica Black:

Well there’s a fine line, you know? Do apologize if you’ve made a mistake, if there’s something you need to apologize for.

Becky Thomas:

There’s a legitimate reason.

Jessica Black:

But there’s so many times where it’s a pseudonym for “excuse me” or something like that, where it’s a “Oh, sorry.” When you bump into somebody when you’re passing them or whatever. You don’t have to say sorry, you could say excuse me. You could say other things that don’t make it like it’s your fault.

This is something that I bring up because it’s something that I’ve personally worked on very hard over the last several years, because I’m naturally that, “polite person”. I don’t mean to put myself in quotes because I don’t think I’m polite, because I am very polite, but I don’t think that saying sorry when you bump into someone means that you’re polite. It’s a cultural thing that…

Becky Thomas:

It’s like a tic almost.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, it’s a cultural thing that needs to be broken, and it’s something that I have worked on a lot.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, that’s a good one.

Jessica Black:

I still say it, but I try to make note of it.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah. Well thank you for calling me out on it. Becky, do you have one? Something you’ve seen in the workplace that has hurt people?

Becky Thomas:

I was thinking about  gossip. I’ve had folks who just do too much gossiping and talk about other people more than is necessary, and it gets back to the boss or something like that.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah.

Jessica Black:

Or it just brings a toxic culture into the workplace, lots of things happen through it.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, that’s a good one as well. “Good” in air quotes there. What about you, Ben?

Ben Forstag:

I’m going to offer two. The first one is going to be really petty, but.

Mac Prichard:

Fire away.

Ben Forstag:

Which is…

Jessica Black:

Oh! Not filling up the water?

Ben Forstag:

Yes! If you finish the water jug, just fill it up.

Mac Prichard:

Oh.

Ben Forstag:

Same thing with a coffee pot.

Mac Prichard:

So for the benefit of listeners, where is the water cooler?

Ben Forstag:

It is right outside of my door.

Becky Thomas:

He’s monitoring, he’s got a little a little checklist at his desk, like “Becky emptied it, she didn’t refill it. Check.”

Ben Forstag:

No that’s in my head.

Becky Thomas:

It’s all up here.

Ben Forstag:

No, the more serious one though is…

Jessica Black:

But that is rude. I will say, it’s common courtesy.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah.

Jessica Black:

If you use the last of something, you replace it.

Mac Prichard:

It’s like the roommate with a milk carton who leaves a quarter of a cup of milk.

Ben Forstag:

It’s not an irredeemable sin, though.

Jessica Black:

It’s not, yeah.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah.

Jessica Black:

But it still reflects on people.

Mac Prichard:

Bad manners.

Ben Forstag:

The more serious one though, and this is something that always makes someone look worse in my eyes, is, anytime someone pulls the, “That’s not my job.” line.

Jessica Black:

I hate that one.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah.

Ben Forstag:

Usually, in most organizations, you’re not being asked to do a whole lot of things that aren’t your job. People aren’t trying to put you down by asking you do to work. But there’s sometimes when all hands need to be on deck because we all need help with something. If in an organization where people say, “That’s not my formal job title, I don’t need to do that.” It corrodes team morale, and any sense of like teamwork. Yeah, I think it’s a mistake to do that.

Now if someone is abusing the whole, “will you help me with something?” or “could you do this?” that’s a different matter.

Becky Thomas:

But you also wouldn’t say, “well that’s not my job.” You would be like, “Hey, I’m going to set some boundaries here. This is what I’m working on, and if you need something, we’ll figure something out, but something else is going to have to come off of my plate..” Don’t just be like, “Well, here’s my job description, and it doesn’t contain this item that you just asked for.”

Ben Forstag:

So yeah, that’s what I would say as the real, that’s more of the cardinal sin there.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, I think that’s a big one.

Mac Prichard:

Alright. Well I don’t have any venial sins to share, but for me, a cardinal sin is texting during meetings.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, that’s just poor form.

Ben Forstag:

Mac, I was playing Pokemon Go. I was not texting.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah okay. Good to know.

Jessica Black:

That’s just bad.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah. I think that open laptops and note taking, that’s one thing, but if you’ve got your phone out and you’re texting, you’re not present and you might as well not be at the meeting.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, good point.

Mac Prichard:

But I know that Lee has a long list of these things, both positives and negatives.

Jessica Black:

Alright.

Mac Prichard:

So we’re going to go through them in our conversation with her.

Jessica Black:

Well I love manners; I’m excited for this one, it’s going to be good.

Becky Thomas:

It’s like Miss Manners for jobs.

Jessica Black:

Yeah.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, it is. But let’s turn to you, Ben, because you’re out there every week exploring the internet for resources that can help our listeners with job searches or careers. So what have you uncovered for us this week?

Ben Forstag:

This week I’m going to share a resource that I think is valuable, both in the workplace, but probably in your life at large as well. Because whether we’re talking about being an employee, or just being a person in general, everyone’s going to make mistakes. That’s just who people are. If we weren’t making mistakes then we’d be robots.

So the resource I have today comes from The Muse, and it’s Made A Mistake? Five Steps To Saying I’m Sorry.  Now this, I have to admit, seems a little frou-frou to me sometimes, the whole idea of getting through the emotional upset about being sorry. But I think this is really valuable stuff. I think it’s things that everyone should keep in mind.

Jessica Black:

I agree.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah,  I’m with Jessica on this. For me, I think some people struggle with this. Admitting error and acknowledging that they’ve made a mistake. I was actually excited when I saw this pop up in the script.

Ben Forstag:

I’m glad I’m able to excite you.

Also I think there’s this pressure at work, especially when you’re early in your career or early with an employer, that you don’t want to do anything, any mess ups or any mistakes that will give you this black mark on your record, and it’s going to ammo for them to dismiss you. I think at the end of the day it’s often better to acknowledge your mistakes up front and deal with it quickly. Where people run into problems is not acknowledging their mistakes. Trying to hide them or trying to not talk about them. Then they just kind of compile upon each other.

Jessica Black:

Open communication is the best policy.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, and I know you’re going to jump into this… I just have to say quickly, as somebody who worked in public relations and communications for decades, it was always refreshing to work with people who were willing to admit things had gotten screwed up, or “I made a mistake”. Because then you could talk about the steps you were going to take to fix the mistake. I did a lot of crisis communication and when I was managing that, when people could acknowledge a mistake, then you could shift the conversation to what you were going to do to fix it.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah. It gets the whole blame game out of the way, which is the least productive part of any conversation about a mistake that’s been made.

Jessica Black:

Well, it does show that you are a big enough person, or a brave enough person, or whatever word you want to use, to be able to own up to that. I think that that shows a lot of character.

Ben Forstag:

You’re right.

Jessica Black:

But go ahead.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah, no, I think you’re right.

Jessica Black:

Thank you.

Ben Forstag:

So this comes from TheMuse.com; again it’s one of my favorite blogs for job stuff. I was going to read through the five steps that they offer, and I encourage everyone to go and read through the entire article later on. But they say that when you make a mistake, these are the steps you should take.

First, react quickly. Get ahead of the problem or the issue and tell the people you need to tell.

Number two, just say no to email. So don’t apologize by email; find someone in person and do it in person.

Number three, be honest. That makes sense.

Number four, be humble. I think if you’re giving a legitimate mea culpa, humility is part of that.

Number five, I think this is the important one that we touched on earlier which is, have a little faith. Again, you’re doing this to be upfront and open with your colleagues or your supervisor. You need to have faith that they’re not going to use this against you at some point in the future. That they’re going to accept it and say, “Okay yeah, a mistake was made, we’re fixing it, and we’re moving forward from there.”

So again, a really good blog post, especially if you’re a human like the rest of us in this room. It’s Made A Mistake? Five Steps To Saying I’m Sorry, and it’s available on TheMuse.com blog.

Mac Prichard:

Great, well thank you, Ben. If you’ve got a suggestion for Ben, please write him. We’d love to share your idea on the show. His address is ben@macslist.org.

Now, let’s turn to you, our listeners. Becky is here to answer one of your questions. So what’s in the Mac’s List mailbag this week, Becky?

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, this question comes from Sue Crawford of Corvallis, Oregon. She says:

“I’ve come across several hiring employers who start the process with the question, “What are your salary requirements?” How do you address this? It seems like if you put a high number you will be cut immediately, and if you put a low number, you are selling yourself short and potentially leaving money on the table. What to do?”

Good question, Sue. We’ve been talking a lot about salary lately and this is definitely a tricky one, especially if an employer is not giving you any kind of an idea of how much they’re going to pay.

So I think the important thing here is to know your worth yourself. We recently just put a blog up on the website about salary research and this is really going to be important for you as you encounter hiring managers who are going to ask you for your salary requirements. You need to know your number and why you’ve chosen that number and have some hard data to back it up.

But the first thing you need to do when you’re encountering this question is really to put salary in perspective. Especially for the hiring manager, they are looking for someone, yes to fill their salary requirements and not be way out of budget for them. But I think more importantly, it’s about finding someone who can actually do that job for them.

So first off you need to really express your excitement about the role, and let them know that your priority, especially early in the process, is just to get to know them, find out if you’d be a good fit. All that good stuff. Then have a realistic range in mind, and you get this range from real salary data, from real people, in your area. So these numbers need to reflect your realistic, actual position in your career. Your expertise, your location, and it should be pretty customized. There’s so much data out there that you can easily get that.

Also, the level of responsibility in this specific role you’re applying for will reflect what number you decide. So if you’re targeting a specific salary, like one number, you should still give a range of at least ten percent on either side, just to show them that there’s room to negotiate, and you also make it clear that you know what you’re worth, and you will negotiate to be compensated fairly.

So just be upfront with them, be honest, and have the data to back it up. Punt it if you can, put it off if you can till later in the process. But I understand that a lot of employers are going to ask you that question early. So just have your research done and be really solid on that range that you feel comfortable talking about.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, I think that’s all really good advice. Then, I think you may have just brought it up now, as part of this, but I know we talked about a little bit about it last week, or the last couple of weeks, with all of our salary stuff that we’ve been talking about.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah.

Jessica Black:

But when those questions do come up, of being able to address it head on, expressing that you know what you’re worth, and then also bringing it back to the value you’re going to bring to that. So, that, what you’re worried about Sue, with a number getting you cut out of the process, but when you do bring up a number that may scare the employer, what you think may scare the employer, you can bring up what you were saying about the data, and all of that. It’s not just a number you’re looking for, you’re looking to contribute value as well.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, for sure. Tie it back to the value that you’re offering them.

Jessica Black:

Yeah.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah, I’m getting a sense that salary is an important thing. We keep getting all these questions about it. I totally understand salary is why most people go to work.

Becky Thomas:

A big deal. Yeah.

Mac Prichard:

It is a big deal.

Becky Thomas:

Right.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah, just echoing on what you two said earlier; it’s like the, defer, know your own value, and defer that conversation as much as you can until you can showcase your value to the employer. I think a real frustrating thing for job seekers is when there’s no salary range there, oftentimes you don’t even know if it’s worth your time.

Becky Thomas:

I know.

Ben Forstag:

If the employer is thinking thirty to forty thousand and you’re thinking sixty to seventy thousand, you’re not going to meet in the middle between those two ranges. That’s why you sometimes have to do a little bit of covert research, using Glassdoor and other sites like that to see if you can infer what the employer might be thinking. But yeah, it generally is a tactic for maximizing the offer you’re going to get, delaying as much as you can talking about salary, is the way to go.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah.

Mac Prichard:

But I love the emphasis on research, because when you do the research, you know what the market pays and you know what your skills are worth. That gives you the confidence to ask for a number that without that research might seem scary.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah.

Mac Prichard:

You want to aim high within your market range, because when you agree to a number, chances are you’ll be in that position for three, maybe five years, and your annual increases are going to be tied to that base. So you’re making a decision that’s going to affect you for five or more years. You want to make sure you understand what the going rates are.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, absolutely.

Mac Prichard:

Good, well thank you all, and thank you, Sue, for that question.  If you’ve got a question for Becky, please send her an email. Her address is, becky@macslist.org. You can also call our listener line, we’d love to record your questions. That number is area 716-JOB-TALK. We also love tweets, so tweet your question. Our twitter handle is, @macs_list .

If we use your question on the show, we’ll send you a copy of Land Your Dream Job Anywhere.

We’ll be back in just a moment. When we return, I’ll talk with this week’s guest expert, Lee Caraher about manners that matter in the workplace.

Most people struggle with job hunting. The reason is simple; most of us learn the nuts and bolts of looking for work by trial and error. That’s why I produce this podcast, to help you master the skills you need to find a great job. It’s also why I wrote my new book, Land Your Dream Job Anywhere. For fifteen years at Mac’s List, I’ve helped people in Portland, Oregon find meaningful, well-paying, and rewarding jobs that they love. Now I’ve put all of my job hunting secrets in one book that can help you no matter where you live.

You’ll learn how to get clear about your career goals, find hidden jobs that never get posted, and ace your next job interview. For more information, and to download the first chapter for free, visit Mac’sList.org/anywhere.

Now let’s turn to this week’s guest expert, Lee Caraher.

Lee Caraher is the CEO of Double Forte, a public relations and digital marketing firm. Her company works with top consumer and technology brands.

She is the author of Millennials & Management, which shares how to get an intergenerational workforce to contribute to the larger goals of an organization. Her new book, The Boomerang Principle, shows companies how to build long lasting relationships with employees.

She joins us today from San Francisco.

Lee, thanks for coming on the show.

Lee Caraher:

It is so great to be with you guys.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah,  it’s great to have you.

Our topic is manners in the workplace, and I think many of our listeners may think, “Well why does that matter in a job search or on the job?” Lee, what would you say to those folks?

Lee Caraher:

Oh my gosh. Well the first thing is that the manners in the workplace, and manners that you have actually before you even enter into the building for that interview, can decide if you actually get the job or not. So many times, we’ve found in our work here at Double Forte, over the last fifteen years, is that the manners of someone got in the way of them being hired even though their credentials had been really good. So we decided to tell people what would be the hurdles, and we found that there’s so many manners, etiquette, so many things that you should and shouldn’t do, that people just did not know because they had not had the benefit of the experience I had growing up with Emily Post or cotillion lessons. We spend a lot of time now helping people understand what to do and what not to do, so that at least you have a fighting chance of getting a job.

Mac Prichard:

Okay, so I can imagine listeners thinking, “That sounds awfully big. What are these things I’m doing that might be preventing me from getting a job or promotion?” Are there a top three or five on your list that come to mind? Or stories?

Lee Caraher:

Yeah, I think the first piece is just your over all. Are you chewing gum? Do you have a hat on? Have you taken your sunglasses off and they’re not hanging off your neck. Did you take the earpiece out of your ear? Your phone. Are you nice to people as you walk into the door? In our company, the last person we talk to after someone’s left us, is the security guard at the front desk. “Were they nice to you? Were they rude? Did they say please and thank you?” We ask those questions so we can see the whole person. Because someone might show up and look a little different than they did at the front desk.

But what we find is that the whole package really matters, and what it really indicates is that you’re thinking about it beforehand. You walk in and that first impression is so important. It just means you’ve thought about it. It doesn’t mean you didn’t chew gum, it doesn’t mean you didn’t have an ear piece in, it doesn’t mean you didn’t have sunglasses hanging off your neck. But it meant you thought about your first impression. In any business, that first impression really matters in everything you do.

So what you’re looking for in etiquette is respect and thoughtfulness more than anything else.

Mac Prichard:

Well, I’m glad you brought up the word etiquette because I think sometimes, when people hear manners, or you made a reference to Emily Post, they think these are in 19th, or 20th, century affectations. Something very formal, and don’t really belong in the modern workplace. So tell us what does etiquette really look like in the modern workplace, Lee?

Lee Caraher:

I think etiquette looks like respect, it looks like thoughtfulness, and it looks like common sense.

So in some places, common sense could be as simple as, if you’re sitting next to someone, just talk to them, don’t chat ??? them. Don’t use your message bot, right?

Mac Prichard:

Right.

Lee Caraher:

All the time, people are emailing, and sitting right there, and you just want to know what they want for lunch. It’s like, “Please, just turn around and talk to the person.” So that makes sense.

Other etiquette pieces, that’s just a common sense piece, the thing about respect is understanding where you’re going. You’ve done some research before you show up for that interview, before you reach out to the person. So you know if they’re male or female. I cannot tell you…So, I use my middle name, Lee, professionally, and it is spelled L-E-E, so it could be male, it could be female. I cannot tell you how many emails I get in a month that are to ‘Mr. Lee Caraher’ or of that nature. Well it is not hard to find out that I am not a male.

Mac Prichard:

It’s pretty easy, yeah.

Lee Caraher:

I am easy to find.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah. You’re all over the web, as digital and public relations person should be.

Lee Caraher:

Right, and it means that someone didn’t bother to go look at it. I just delete that, I don’t even bother. So that is respectful, that is etiquette. Knowing who you’re talking to is etiquette. It’s sort of like, I used to work for a Japanese company and how you hold your business card actually matters much more there than it does here. That, I went and figured it out before I went to Japan for the first time. I actually went, we had to go through Japanese etiquette classes in my company. That just means that you’re ready to listen and you’re ready to be heard, and ready to be part of the culture of the company. I think that is the research and the thoughtfulness around the etiquette piece.

Sort of like, do you tuck your shirt in or do you leave it untucked? Well, for that first interview, always tuck your shirt in, that’s just common sense, but also, you don’t know who’s going to be there that day, right?

Mac Prichard:

Right.

Lee Caraher:

I think that respect is, don’t act like it’s your space. So you don’t show up with your coffee cup, you just present yourself as if you’re coming into someone else’s home. Not just throwing yourself around in their space. Those things go a long way, and if you just think about it that way instead about it, of how to cut butter and practice cutting butter with a banana, which is what I did in cotillion practice, oh so many years ago. Then it makes it a lot less imposing.

Mac Prichard:

So what are good places or role models or resources for people to look at to master these skills? I love that it is common sense, as you say, but when you want to move beyond common sense.

Lee Caraher:

No one in the business world would not benefit from having the Emily Post guide, called The Business Advantage, which is etiquette at work. It is a big book, it is a fifty dollar book. It is a door stop. But it is a font of information. Originally, when I first realized that I hadn’t hired two people at my company because they didn’t know how to eat or use their napkin correctly. One put their lipstick on at the table in the interview process. That was the stupidest thing, I can teach people how to eat. I decided to get everyone in my company an Emily Post book, that looked very nice on everyone’s desk and nobody opened it.

But it is a great resource to have. So from that experience, we created a box called Everything Speaks: A Desktop Guide To Manners That Matter In The Workplace that you can find on my website. You can look at my blog, we talk about this all the time. There are several, if you just went onto twitter, and searched for #etiquette, #work, there are several great twitter feeds specifically on this that will help you get through your day.

Mac Prichard:

And what would you say, Lee, to people who have an interview coming up next week, and they want to make sure they make that good first impression you talked about, because they understand it’s important. What are your top five dos and top five don’ts in terms of manners in the workplace when you’re walking into the room for that first interview?

Lee Caraher:

I think the first thing is, be prepared. So go to the website and make sure you understand who the company is and find the people on LinkedIn, who you are going to visit, just so you understand if you’re meeting with a man or woman. Are you meeting with someone who’s old or young? Just understand who you’re seeing.

Number two, on how you look. So go look at the website; the website should reflect the culture of the company. Are they buttoned up, everyone wears a suit? Are they all in flip flops and shorts? Understand where you’re going. I like to tell people, once you understand what the culture of the company is, just in terms of dress, you want to match that, plus one. So if they wear flip flops, you wear sneakers. If they wear sneakers, you wear loafers; if they wear loafers you wear wingtips. Whatever. So match it plus one. So that it shows that you know that you’re their…you’re not necessarily their equal yet.

Get rid of all the distractions. Anything that is a distraction, that would get people not looking at you. So for ladies, shorter shoes, not longer skirts, no big jewelry. Hair tied up, or whatever. Things that would not be distracting in terms of the conversation. You don’t want to be known for being the person who had that great bracelet, god knows what the hell she said all day. If you’re a man, tuck in the shirt, no man spreading, shave that day. Just those things. For everybody, throw the gum out before you go in the building, get rid of the coffee cup, take your glasses off, take your earbuds out. Just sort of be neat, and don’t have anything in your hands that are extraneous. Just be ready to roll, rather than having to warm into it.

Third, I guess whatever number I’m on, once you’ve left, they’ve spent time with you, maybe it went well, maybe it didn’t go so well, but an email that day, within like twelve hours. An email within twelve hours that says, “Thank you for your time, I so enjoyed meeting you,” whatever things. Then something that’s really relevant that came out of that interview, that you would like to press on. Because no one ever says everything they want to. Then also, the next day, put in the mail, a hardcopy, snail mail, thank you note as well. If you do both of those things you’re already going to be in the top ten percent of people who are applying to the job.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, and I know people are always looking for ways to stand out in the interview process, and I like that tip a lot. As you say, very few people do that.

Lee Caraher:

I think I would just give you one more thing. Oftentimes we guess wrong about how long it’s going to take us to get there. So if you’re not going to be at least five minutes early, and you know you’re not going to be at least five minutes early, call and tell them, “It looks like I’ll be there right on time, or I’ll be a couple minutes late”, but don’t be late without giving them the heads up. Show them the respect for their own calendar. This is a downfall for many, many, people because they don’t guess right on how long it’s going to take you to get from point A to point B, and they’re running a couple minutes late, and they don’t apologize. Well you can head that off at the pass, by saying, “My train took longer than I thought, I’ll be there at two past the hour”, or whatever it is.

Mac Prichard:

You mentioned earlier having a meals with coworkers or managers. When you’re interviewing for a job, often, and I’m sure you’ve done this, I think we’ve all had this experience as candidates, we’re invited to go out for dinner or lunch with our prospective employer, or manager, or colleagues. How should people approach that meal, Lee? How do some people candidly screw it up?

Lee Caraher:

Well like I said, we had a couple people screw it up royally. They didn’t use their napkins, one woman put her lipstick on at the table, another person answered the phone while we’re at the table. They didn’t get hired and they were great candidates for everything else. Afterwards I was like, “Oh that was dumb. I can’t teach people how to have initiative, but I can teach people how to eat.” But I see it all the time, so a few things.

One is, your napkin goes in your lap. Sit down, put the napkin in your lap.

Number two, don’t drink alcohol at the meeting. Even if your host is drinking, particularly at lunch, don’t drink. If it’s at dinner, limit yourself to one glass. Never drink more than your host, if your host is not drinking, you don’t drink. If they drink two glasses, you drink one. If they drink three, two is the max. Max, max, max.

Don’t take a phone call at the table. Don’t put your lipstick on at the table. Don’t use your knife as a mirror. Just don’t do those things. Maybe you have a phone call that you have to take, so you just tell your host, “I am waiting for this important phone call from (whoever it is), that I might have to take. I’m going to keep the phone on vibrate. I’ll excuse myself if I have to take the phone call. Just letting you know ahead of time.” But the phone goes in the purse, or in the pocket, not on the table. Always.

Then, from a food perspective, choose things that are easy to eat. This is the time to stay away from noodles, this is the time to stay away from shellfish that you have to pick out of the shell yourself. A salad and an easy entree, like chicken or steak, or a vegetable thing, are just the way to go. Don’t order dessert, unless the other person is going to order dessert.

Mac Prichard:

Okay. As you talk, I’m reminded of a colleague here in Portland who would take candidates out to dinner and she paid attention to how they treated the servers.

Lee Caraher:

Always.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, and she had a couple of candidates who were finalists and she was ready to make an offer, but because of the way they behaved toward servers, she decided not to do that.

Lee Caraher:

So true. It’s sort of the same of going to the security guard and saying, “Did they treat you well?” How you treat everybody around you really is…a good place to work is paying attention to how you treat everybody regardless of rank. One of the reasons to take someone out to dinner is to see how you do in a mixed environment, not just being in an office with the person who has more power. So, so important.

Another thing, I’ll tell you someone who did not get the job. I recruited somebody for a client, and we had the client with me, and the woman was meeting with me and her at this other event just for that last final thing. We had the contract in our bag, we were ready to give her the offer. She took out her can of Altoids, she opened it up; it was full, I mean there were four of us there in all, and she took one out for herself, and she put it back in her purse without offering us an Altoid. She did not get the job specifically because of that. So think about everything. If you put something in your mouth and you’re not at a dinner, ask if someone else wants some. Just do it.

Mac Prichard:

Well, I’ve enjoyed this conversation a lot. A lot of it is just good common sense and being gracious and kind to others in the end, isn’t it?

Lee Caraher:

Aboslutely.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah.

Lee Caraher:

You know, what makes you not want to be around somebody else is often what makes other people not want to be around you. Just thinking about it beforehand will put you so far ahead of other people. It’ll give you a leg up in any interview.

Mac Prichard:

Well, Lee, tell us what’s coming up next for you?

Lee Caraher:

Well I’ve just published my second book, The Boomerang Principle, as you said, and I’m very busy with that. Talking with companies and leaders around the country about how to inspire lifetime loyalty from employees, that may not work for you for a long time. Sort of ironic that way.

Also working on my next book and deciding where to move on that. So I will decide that shortly.

Mac Prichard:

Okay, well we’ll keep an eye out, and we’ll include links to both of your books in the shownotes, as well as your website where I know people can find you, by visiting, www.leecaraher.com.

Lee Caraher:

Absolutely.

Mac Prichard:

Alright. Well, Lee, it’s been a pleasure, thanks for being on the show.

Lee Caraher:

Thank you so much for having me, Mac.

Mac Prichard:

Take care.

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio with Jessica, Ben, and Becky. Tell me, what are your thoughts about my conversation with Lee?

Becky Thomas:

I thought it was….ugh, go Ben. We just talked over each other. Bad manners.

Ben Forstag:

Ladies first.

Becky Thomas:

Oh, thank you.

Mac Prichard:

I think it’s okay to talk over a little bit. Cross talk.

Becky Thomas:

Oh yeah, cross talk, cross talk.

Jessica Black:

Well that wasn’t even really talking over each other, you both just started at the same time.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah.

Becky Thomas:

Okay. Now, I’m all like, are my manners good? Are they bad? What am I doing?

Jessica Black:

Well you have been looking at yourself in your knife.

Becky Thomas:

I have?

Jessica Black:

All day.

Becky Thomas:

Applying my lipstick…

Jessica Black:

Yeah.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah.

Becky Thomas:

During this entire podcast. So.

Mac Prichard:

This is reminding of me of that interview with Vanessa Van Edwards, who talked about body language.

Becky Thomas:

There’s a lot of that.

Mac Prichard:

My posture got very proper when I was talking to her.

Becky Thomas:

But yeah, I think the examples might have been funny or silly, that somebody would think it’s okay to come in and be rude to a security guard, but people don’t necessarily think about that stuff. So I think it’s worth taking the time to think about the things that you’re doing, and whether or not you’re being as polite or thoughtful as you could be. Because that stuff does matter.

Jessica Black:

It does really matter. I think that being present and being aware of what you’re doing…I think sometimes, in most cases, people don’t mean to be rude, they’re just so focused on preparing, or in their head.

Becky Thomas:

Thinking about the next thing.

Jessica Black:

Yeah.

Becky Thomas:

Like the Altoids lady, I felt bad for her.

Jessica Black:

Yeah. But it’s true. You want to be empathetic to that person because you know there was probably a lot on her mind and there was other things going on. But that goes back to what I said.

Becky Thomas:

The little thing matters so much. You need to take the time.

Jessica Black:

It does and nothing is too important that you can’t stop and take a few minutes to acknowledge a security guard, or take a moment and not open your Altoids case. Whatever it is, and just be in the moment, and not be worrying about the next thing.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah.

Jessica Black:

I think that helps a lot to keep yourself polite, and etiquette….

Becky Thomas:

Etiquettey?

Jessica Black:

Yeah.

Becky Thomas:

That sounds kind of weird.

Mac Prichard:

Ben, I think you have a point?

Ben Forstag:

I liked her point about selecting your wardrobe. Because I know in house here, we’ve had a little bit of disagreement between the folks who, like me, think you should always wear a suit, (if you’re a man,) to an interview. It doesn’t matter what they’re going to wear; hoodies, you should still wear a suit. Then there are folks who say you should try to match them or their office culture, and if they wear hoodies you wear a hoodie. I think she offered a nice pragmatic solution to that, “Whatever they wear, take it up one step.”

Jessica Black:

I liked that too.

Becky Thomas:

That was good yeah.

Jessica Black:

Because it does help to be able to…I think that it causes a lot of, I don’t know if stress is the right word, but worry and thought, about “Well what do I wear?” Because there is that camp where you always wear a suit, or you always dress really nicely. But if it is an office culture where nobody wears a tie…like here, we wear jeans a lot, and we’re pretty casual but we still look nice, but we are very casual. So if somebody came in wearing a suit, they would feel uncomfortable and we would feel uncomfortable.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah.

Jessica Black:

Ben doesn’t agree with this.

Ben Forstag:

No, no I’m shaking my head. You always wear a suit.

Becky Thomas:

I disagree. I agree with Jessica.

Jessica Black:

Yeah.

Becky Thomas:

If you’re super formal and the office is clearly not that formal, you’re not a fit.

Jessica Black:

It feels out of place.

I’m agreeing with you, Ben, on I like her feedback about go one step above.

Becky Thomas:

Right.

Jessica Black:

So that you are wearing a nicer version of whatever it is. But don’t wear a full tuxedo. You know?

Ben Forstag:

I’m not saying tails and the monocle and the top hat. No, but I think a suit, or for women, a jacket.

Becky Thomas:

So are you talking a suit with like a matching jacket and pants are all matching?

Ben Forstag:

Or a sports coat.

Becky Thomas:

Like pin stripes?

If you’re walking into an office that’s hoodies and jeans, you still wear a suit, with like matching jacket and pants? I don’t think so.

Ben Forstag:

I think yes.

Becky Thomas:

Nope. Listeners, tweet us. What do you think?

Mac Prichard:

I think this is like the resume question. Two page versus one page. Yes.

Jessica Black:

Yes.

Mac Prichard:

I like that. What should they tweet, Becky?

Becky Thomas:

Oh gosh, I don’t know just…

Ben Forstag:

Ben was right.

Becky Thomas:

No, Becky and Jessica were right. That’s what they should tweet.

Jessica Black:

#wardrobewars

Becky Thomas:

Oh yeah, there you go. Nice.

Mac Prichard:

Alright.

Well good conversation. I too liked her point about dressing one level up.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, that was good.

Mac Prichard:

Speaking as the only person in the room who owns a tuxedo, I like formality too.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, absolutely.

Becky Thomas:

How do you know? I might own one.

Mac Prichard:

That’s true.

Becky Thomas:

No, I don’t

Mac Prichard:

That’s right, I shouldn’t presume that. Thanks for calling me out on that. But again, I liked her emphasis on common sense and graciousness and kindness, because it can sound complex and you can get nervous. You want to do things right, and there’s so many choices. But applying those principles that she outlined helps provide a  good guide for how to approach this.

Jessica Black:

Yeah. When in doubt, just be a good person.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, and think about what your mother would say.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, absolutely.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, because we all have mothers and parents who have taught us good manners.

Jessica Black:

That’s right.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah.

Well terrific, well thank you, Lee, for joining us, and thank you all for that, Becky, Jessica, and Ben, for that spirited conversation. Thank you, our listeners for downloading today’s episode of Find Your Dream Job.

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Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job!

Good manners still count in the modern workplace. Whether you know it or not, the things you do–and don’t do–make a big impression on your boss, your interviewer, or your colleagues. Guest expert Lee Caraher shares essential reminders to make a great impression, and avoid disaster, by staying aware of basic office etiquette.

This Week’s Guest

Lee CaraherLee Caraher is the CEO of Double Forte, a public relations and digital marketing firm. Her company works with top consumer and technology brands.

Lee is the author of Millennials & Management, which shares how to get an intergenerational workforce to contribute to the larger goals of an organization. Her new book, The Boomerang Principle, shows companies how to build long lasting relationships with employees.

Resources from this Episode