Present Miss!

I am not sure how they do it in school now but I remember responding to my Roll call with a loud enthusiastic“Present Miss!” In fact, I remember each one of my friends had a unique way to respond.  We marked our attendance with that shout, but is the physical presence equivalent to being really present?

I have a cook who comes to the house. She is one bright spirited lady who makes tasty food in a jiffy. Her cleanliness and neatness while prepping up is something to learn. It’s been more than fifteen years since she has chosen cooking as her profession and is quite proud that she has not had a single major complaint until now. I asked her how she manages to remember the exact taste preferences of so many houses (Seven exactly). She replied in Kannada, “When I step into a house, I leave all my personal thoughts on the doorstep. I am only thinking of food and the taste the family would want.”

Her mantra to do her job well is “Be present in the moment”

When we are being present in the moment we have our awareness directed on the outside. Our mind is not travelling to the past or future but is focussed on the now. And that is a very useful and powerful way to be as there is no conflict in the mind and our energy is directed towards what matters most at that moment.

Why practice being present in the moment?

In my earlier blog, https://blogmanjiri.wordpress.com/2017/04/13/presence-what-is-that/, I have spoken about the presence of a person. It has been observed that people who have a presence have the ability to focus their attention on the now. People with presence are other conscious and turn around each situation to be not about them but about others. That’s what great leaders do, make others feel important. Since their attention is outside they are observant to the changes in the mood and energy of the others and shift their communication accordingly.  So if you wish to have a presence at work, this ability would be very necessary to develop.

Recently I saw an incident. After a meeting, we were served some ice-cream. The hostess was taking great pride is explaining how she had arranged for the special flavour. Then she asked a lady participant if she was enjoying the flavour. The other lady immediately said, “Yeah, we have it all the time”. Clearly, the lady had missed the question! The hostesses gleaming face lost its colour in a flash. As an observer, I witnessed the importance of being uptime. It helps us to respond rather than react, be observant of the non- verbal feedback in communication and build relations.

Practicing being in the moment also helps us to manage our state/mood during the day. We can easily get anxious, moody or indifferent during the day as millions of things are happening around us. But when we choose to be present in the moment we automatically throw away the choice to carry emotional baggage of any incident in the past or during the day that has affected us. We look at every interaction with fresh eyes and that helps us come alive in the discussion. It enables us to give full attention to our job.

Just as being mindful of the moment is useful, going inward and spending time with ourselves or our thoughts is also equally important. Both have its own importance, but the choosing has to be done wisely. When you are making those presentations in office, getting into the thoughtful mode may not be helpful. There, being present in the moment would be an essential pre-requisite to think on your feet.

Uptime

One of the ways to be present in the moment is by using a simple NLP principle called “Uptime”.  Being uptime means you are breaking your attention away from you and focussing it towards the outside world. It is about taking a break from self and noticing the environment and others. It’s a state where you direct your attention towards people and observe things more as for how they really are. You observe changes in their physiology, listen to how far they seem to understand,  notice whether the conversation is moving in a useful direction etc and look at it as information…..just information. However, the moment you begin to form your own interpretations, the mind begins to travel and you lose your uptime.

Try and recall a time when you had travelled for a vacation or otherwise to a new place. Remember how you were being as you absorbed the new surroundings around you? How you had looked at everything with bright unmarked eyes? That’s your Uptime!

Getting into uptime is a way of energizing yourself, turning on to the world, shining your flashlight ahead of you   – Anne Linden

Keep that smile on….

Love

Manjiri

Talking through Emails

Since I was feeling a little lost in deciding what to share in my next blog, I went ahead and did the easiest thing. I asked my client, and he said he would like to read about email writing and the tension it causes at the office.

As you are reading this piece you may feel that it’s too basic with obvious bits of information, but I assure you the best of us falter here.  In our attempt to sound brief and succinct we end up being abrupt. While we want to sound all business like we sometimes come across as indifferent and disrespectful in our writing. I sure have been there many times.

So I asked myself, “Why is it happening?” I realised it’s because I had not been attentive of my intention. Secondly, since the person was not around I had been focussing only on the message, and how I was feeling at that point of time.

Emails are equivalent to a conversation with another person but only in this case, we don’t have the convenience of being flexible in our communication based on the responses of the listener. What we write becomes the final message and cannot be erased. The reader can read the message several times and feel the heat or have a respectful experience. Writing an email or messaging is certainly a skill that is worth developing if you feel people and relations at work are important.

Your Email can be the First Impression of you:

When you finally meet a manager face to face from another regional office after interacting with him on a couple of emails it’s actually not the first time you are meeting him. Think about this – He writes to you and several others to submit some information about the last official trip you have had. You take your own time to reply and send the details. He replies back probably denying passing some of the bills and also makes it a point to note your delayed reply. You feel troubled and write to him giving him a piece of your mind. Now that you meet him, can you sense the tension? How do you perceive him? How do you think he perceives you? How could you have handled it differently?

I believe emails were formulated to communicate information, data, schedule meetings etc. But most often it is seen that it also becomes the breeding ground for animosity, a place to express sarcasm and disgruntled feelings. Instead, considering the fact that we communicate quite a lot through emails, what if we looked at messaging as a space to create and maintain relationships?

It does not take much, really!

When you sit down to write a mail, what are your thoughts?

    1. If time is on your mind and you wish to finish it off as a chore in the next half an hour or so, then probably you may get abrupt in your writing. Eg: Your client writes to you raising several questions about the progress of a project. You reply saying,

            “ My team is on the job and will get in touch with you today!”

  1. 2. If you are upset with the progress of a job and want to get things rolling as completion of the task is what you are thinking of, then you might use a language that is a bit cold. You may write,

              “ The tasks are getting rescheduled and the deadline is approaching. What needs to happen to get this job done?? I want the final execution plan up and running by today evening 5:00 pm. Please confirm asap! “

  1. A client is complaining and you feel he is being unreasonable. Now if your attention is on defending your actions, then your email may sound like you are giving excuses. Eg : You write

I understand from my staff that you are upset with the delay. Since you had not issued the purchase order on time we had already mentioned that there would be non- compliance of the due date.  Also, the other vendors appointed by you have not cooperated with us, and that has caused further delay. Please refer our trailing emails.”

But… along with the above if you truly believe that this relationship is important to you and each individual deserves respect, then how you would be writing would be very different.  You will generate a positive intent while writing any email or a text message when your focus is on maintaining a fine balance between work completion and the human aspect. 

Eg: My friend had sent a request email asking for a deposit reimbursement for a facility that he had been using and was now no longer needed. He received a mail stating

Dear…
“Sure, the deposit reimbursement will happen once all the pending amounts are cleared”

He felt it implied that he has not paid his bills and certainly did not appreciate it. But then keeping the focus replied saying:

Dear…

Thank you for your immediate response.  I believe I do not have any dues. You may check with your office though. 

Regards,

The author, Lynn Gaertner-Johnston, of Business writing with heart writes in her book – Invest a few moments or minutes while writing a message and it saves a huge amount of time, effort, and money that are otherwise required to salvage situations that have suffered because of insensitive communication or no communication at all.

Your written messages can make people feel valued and respected – Little things you can do   

  1. Acknowledge messages:

Imagine you have a guest at home and he has said something to you, do you simply look away? I think not. So just like we acknowledge someone in person, a quick reply saying a “Thank you” or “Yes, sure. Noted.” can make the reader feel great.

  1. Interim emails:

Now imagine you have knocked on someone’s door, you know he is in there and yet does not open the door.  That’s the feeling most of us get when we don’t receive a reply to a message within a day. It is possible that one does not have the information then or has the time to reply. So send in an interim email asking for some time. This will create a better rapport with the receiver.

  1. Going beyond the template:

Initially, when I began working I had no idea how to write an email so I referred to the emails written by others, and soon was sticking to a formal language template. Phrases like please do the needful, this is to bring to your kind notice, using “we” than “I” etc delivered the message and also made me feel safe. But it was not the wisest choice if I wanted to build relations. Connecting with people through pleasant engaging language is an excellent way to build goodwill.

  1. Relationship Building Language:

Sometimes instinctively we write the first thought that comes to our mind and sound abrupt. That could lead to a misconception of our intention in that conversation. Positive worded sentences always hit the right tone. Thoughtless, embarrassing comments or feedback will weaken your relations. Eg: I will not be able to send you the details as I don’t have the report vs I will send it to you as soon as I receive it.

  1. Know when to speak and when to write:

I had met this person sometime back who had gone through a lot of stress at his last job since he had tried to resolve an issue with another department through an unending email spat, involving all levels right up to the MD. Later he realised all that was needed was to have a meeting with the right people. So if you have an email going back and forth, just give yourself a moment. And if you have to resolve a possible conflict, choose the ground wisely.

A Quick Tip:

Have a quick mental check about the purpose of your email, your relation with the receiver/audience and anticipate the experience of the reader. This will help in creating the right tone and select the appropriate language.

 “If you believe business is built on relationships, make building them your business” – Scott Stratter

 Till we meet next,

Keep smiling

Love

Manjiri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What we wear to work!

When I am facilitating my presence or etiquette workshop one of the topics that I present is professional dressing/wardrobe.  This is one of the brightest segments as I sense the energy of the audience come alive in this module. Clothing interests everyone, even those who find discussing it as frivolous or overrated.

Just like we have never had a class in school for listening, most of us have not been taught how to dress and we instinctively do it wonderfully well.  In fact, for each one of us, our outfit is not just about looking good but also a way of expressing ourselves.  As professionals I do believe how we choose to dress is important as it is a part of our behaviour.

I had this participant in a training program, a young boy. He asked me a question as to why he had to wear a uniform to office? Then he mentioned since he wears a uniform which are formals he feels restricted and does not like it. He then mentioned that while he was in college he had the freedom to wear what he wanted, it felt vibrant and free while participating in festivals and studying. He wondered why all industries don’t have the same rule like some popular software companies in the US, where they are allowed to wear what they want.  Anyway, how does it matter what we wear? Our work is important isn’t it?” He said.  He had spoken for a whole five minutes about how it mattered to him.

I think the uniform gives a snapshot of the atmosphere of a company.  I feel when one is wearing a uniform, patterned with the name of their company, it enhances their sense of belonging and responsibility. The uniforms are designed in a way that they send a message to the viewer “I am at work and mean business”, and that sets the tone of the environment. Also when the entire organisation is wearing the same outfit it encourages cooperation and reduces feelings of disparity. While I shared these insights, the young gentleman looked thoughtful, but not very convinced.  Let me share more as to why your work clothes matter.

As Professionals, how does what we wear matter?

As professionals, it matters how we dress as it impacts our behaviour and relationships.

It impacts our behaviour as it affects our state/mood. I remember during school days when I wore a pretty dress to school on my birthday or a festival, I used to feel very different, relaxed and distracted. I could never really get my attention on the school work. The lace, the rustle of the fabric, my Cinderella shoes used to take me to a different world.  Many of my clients mention that at work they want to wear what makes them feel comfortable, relaxed and good. I guess we all want that. But comfortable clothing and feeling comfortable are two different things. You may need other resources such as focused, confident, attentive, energetic while working.  Also feeling comfortable at work and comfortable at the beach or on your home sofa watching television cannot be the same. When I train or coach I make sure my clothing is comfortable. But how I want to be in a workshop will be different than in a one on one session and hence I choose accordingly.

It also impacts our relationships as how we dress affects people’s perception about us. One student once told me “Mam, I don’t judge people on their clothes, I would like to give them more credit than that”, which is wonderful, and though we can choose to be aware of not judging people based on their appearance, whatever they wear does affect our perception of them at an unconscious level because each one of us is driven by our values and beliefs. When I walk into an air conditioned office, where the company culture is formal and meet an executive having a stubble, wearing a shirt that looks unwashed and stale, I definitely begin to doubt his quality of work while we speak though he sounds very encouraging.

It can distort your message. At work, we want people to pay attention to the discussion and listen to what we have to say. However, if our appearance is distracting it can affect our effort to be engaging and build rapport. What looks lovely or stylish out in a pub or at a party can seem very distracting while having a business conversation across a table. Sometimes the beautiful shade of lipstick, the bright nails and the shimmer in your huge danglers can dim your presence. A worn out collar, wrinkled shirt or a T-shirt with a slogan at work can hijack your message.

So, how do we dress?

Each one of us has certain values in clothes, a self-image, beliefs about how one should dress and that guides our choices. These define our individual preferences. So, if I believe I need to look smart as it will help me in being successful, and standing out is important to me then I will select my wardrobe accordingly. When I say, simplicity, being comfortable is the best way to be and looking like everyone else in the industry is what I want, then my choices would be different. Here are a few pointers to think about when you get ready to go to work.

Our life is frittered away by detailsimplify, simplify. – Henry DavidThoreau

As Professionals do give a thought to this when you plan your wardrobe and then watch how easy it becomes to choose from your assigned wardrobe.

  1. What is the Industry I am working in? Creative Media, Fashion & Lifestyle, Manufacturing, Banking, Construction etc. Know the set expectations from these sectors.
  2. What is the work environment in my organisation? Formal, Artistic, Relaxed & easy going?
  3. What is the occasion? Respect the occasion.( Client presentation, conference, vendor meet, exhibition, training)
  4. What message do you want to convey to the people? (Authoritative, Approachable, Discipline, Cooperative)
  5. How do you want to be with them? ( Confident, Assured, Firm, Easy going, Friendly)

While you consider all these parameters individually and collectively just remember each item of clothing (clothes, shoes, bag, socks etc) speaks a language of its own.  So choose consciously, as ultimately we want people’s attention to be on our face and not on what we are wearing

How we dress matters but the person inside matters even more, so let us give appearance sufficient importance, not more. And, whichever way you choose to dress, make sure you wear that smile too!”

Keep smiling…..

Love

Manjiri

Communication – Action Behind the Scenes

Out of many, one area that professionals approach me to work with them is on their communication skills. Participants during a chat after a session sometimes ask me tips on improving communication. When I ask my clients to give a feedback to themselves most of them have communication skills as an area for improvement. Interestingly, there was this conversation I had a few years back with one of my participants at a training. This person wanted communication skills lessons. When I asked a few questions, this is what he shared. He had been working for over ten years in his organisation; other people in his team were getting opportunities that he felt he deserved. During appraisal, his boss had asked him to improve his presentations to the management and work on his ability to handle the Q&A following the presentation. His relation with most people at the office was process driven, except a few, and he wished to change that. He also mentioned that he had a habit of interrupting people and that caused him to feel regret later.

When I asked him,” Is it possible that it is not just your Interpersonal Communication Skills, but something else that needs your attention?” he looked puzzled. His focus was on practising and learning the techniques to improve his communication which was essential, but what he really wanted was to feel confident and secure while communicating.

As we know, communication happens both verbally and non-verbally. What we speak, how we listen, our physiology including voice, and also our behaviours are a part of communication. However, I would not want to spend your attention on illuminating the importance of communication or its techniques. There are some invisible parameters which play a huge role in our ability to communicate confidently and I would like to share my thoughts about them.

Unveiling the hidden:

How we think, has a great impact on our interpersonal communication skills. Usually, we are more concerned with the “What” of communication, but the “How” is equally important.  The “How” is a derivative of our thinking that cannot be memorised. I was working with a gentleman for a marketing initiative a few years back. All was well, but very soon I started realising that he was not committed to the schedule. Neither was he keeping me informed. I felt he was not giving the mind space to my project the way I wanted. I was not sure how to bring it up and have a discussion around it. I had all the dialogues running in my head. I knew what I wanted to say, but was not sure how. I knew I had to be patient and polite but was still not sure how. I knew I was getting upset and had to focus on getting the work done but was not sure how. So, was never able to say it. I just was not finding the confidence to do it. In fact, along with confidence, I felt I did not have any clarity about how I wanted to communicate.

Would you say I needed to improve my communication skills? Yes, of course, but that would be the inside phase of communication. That’s where it all begins.

So if you wish to better your communication skills, feel secure, take a moment and direct your awareness within yourself. Dive in and go inward as that is where the action behind the scene is happening while we communicate.

Going Inward! How does that help?

Imagine, when you walk into a meeting, you see yourself as a shoulder that your boss loves to fire from, you look at most of the people in the management as monsters and the meeting room as a boxing ring! Your intention is not to give in to any of the ideas of those people and your awareness is mostly around how you are feeling at that point of time while listening to your own voice in your head. All of this is happening unconsciously while you enter the room!

How do you think you would be communicating then?

Unless what we see, feel and say on the inside is not encouraging or empowering we will not feel secure while communicating. Sometimes we tend to slip into a pattern of thinking which takes the life out of our external observable communication skills. So, what could you do?

What you could do:

So if you are in a situation where you are not getting desired responses, feel drained, agitated or not very resourceful in certain situations while communicating, it would be worthwhile to explore how you communicate along with examining what you are communicating.

Exercise:

  1. When you say you would like to improve your communication skills get a clear picture of what exactly is your meaning of better communication. What is it that you wish to change and improve? Get specific situations.
  2. Then be Aware
  • How you see and think of yourselves in that situation – Do you see yourself smaller, insignificant or an equal?
  • How you see and think of the other person – Does the other person seem better, superior or not so important?
  • How do you see the situation – Does it look like a war zone or an examination? A kid’s play or a boring board game? Make changes in these pictures in a way that you feel you are standing on firm ground.
  • What is your purpose of communication? Just saying what we have to say or hearing out a person does not complete communication.
  • Are you being present in the moment? Are you observant enough to see if your message is received? How would you know? Where is your attention while listening? Are you aware that the communication is going away from the purpose? What do you do to get it back?
  1. Get to know your strengths/resources, name them. E.g.: Observant, Creative…
  2. Notice your triggers

This will guide you to be more mindful while communicating and also more effective. Since all the internal conflict/ chaos has been addressed by working on the internal aspect of communication you will feel congruent and come across as self-assured.

 

“You were born to be real, not to be perfect. You are here to be you, not to live someone else’s life.” – Ralph Marston

Till we meet next!

Keep smiling!

Love

Manjiri

 

 

 

 

 

The Etiquette Mystery-Part II

Why don’t we follow Etiquette each time?

I have been thinking of the why and these are my thoughts!

One day I saw something at the airport.  These were two wonderful young girls standing ahead of me. The officer lady was guiding us to distribute the traffic to different security counters. The first girl heard the instruction, lifted her sack higher almost punching the officer and walked past brushing her. The next girl took her cue from the officer, looked back at her for a moment, smiled, said Thank you, and moved on. What I realized in that moment was that the first girl was focused on something else and not aware of her surroundings. Maybe her meaning of polite behavior is not being rude verbally. I am sure if it was her interview and the interviewer had ushered her into the cabin she would have been very different. Whereas the second person was in the moment, focused on what was happening around her, and maybe her meaning of politeness is acknowledging people

Anne Linden in her book says “Most of our behavior is not under our conscious control” Most of what we do is automatic.

And, when we learn Etiquette we are trying to change/ guide our behavior consciously. That needs deeper work than just trying to remember rules as there will be different environment’s and triggers. Behaviours are what we do and they define us. But most of the time they are done unconsciously, and that is why they are spotted by others while we are not even aware of it. I am speaking of the behaviour we do without intending to be rude yet people think of it as insensitive or impolite. Tell a person how intrusive he is when he speaks loudly in an open office space and he will wonder what you are talking about!

Some of the reasons I think why we may be overlooking Etiquette/Manners sometimes are:

  1. Habits :

We all have habits and some of these may not be appropriate in a situation. You may have the habit of shaking your legs while speaking, shaving the stubble only when you feel the need to impress, the habit of returning phone calls only to those you feel are important or reacting with a sharp word. These habits are impossible to shake off unless you are aware of them, consider them as rude and consciously want to change them.

  1. Thinking of it as Pretence:

I had this participant in one program who was pretty miffed with the word etiquette. He called it a western elitist concept and wanted to know if there was any etiquette on how to clap hands as well J. Etiquette is about being considerate and respectful to the occasion and people. What could be phoney about that?

  1. No Reason:

While we are our perfectly mannered in our interviews like as though our conscious mind is on high alert, once on the job how often does it last? Sometimes we don’t see a reason to extend a courtesy because we feel the other person is not that important, or we feel nobody is noticing and that’s the time we slip.

  1. Stress :

Our emotional state also influences our behaviour. Sometimes our head is filled with other thoughts, or we are so absorbed in matching our steps with the fast moving corporate world that we just don’t notice what we are saying or how our actions are affecting others.

  1. Our Meaning and Beliefs:

I believe each one of us has our own meaning of how to behave well. While we do appreciate the etiquette guidelines we eventually do what we believe is important. For my wonderful office help at the office, etiquette/manners mean speaking softly, a clean shave, and saying Good morning, Thank you, with a smile and sorry with a lost face. Participants in my training program are unconvinced when I inform them that etiquette suggests, at a business dinner, if a piece of tableware falls down, you need to inform the restaurant staff instead of picking it up.

  1. Intention:

Another most important reason is our intention. Our intention guides and influences our behaviour too. Intent to be polite only to have a good reputation is different from wanting to have a pleasant disposition. Intent to do a behaviour as it is to our advantage in that situation is quite different from wanting to be respectful to any situation, person or occasion.

What could you do?

If you are one of those professionals who feel being considerate and civil is important and wish to get better then here are some of the things you could do.

  • Know the etiquette rules as they have been formed keeping in mind civility and respect towards other people.
  • Practice being more in the moment, learn to direct your consciousness externally.
  • Be aware of how you behave in situations, as you cannot change something you do not know. A quick external feedback would be useful too.
  • Notice your emotional state during the day. Do make a mental note of the triggers that makes you behave differently than usual.
  • Take a moment to step into a resourceful state. One way would be to use your physiology. Change your posture with the simple act of lifting your rib cage. It will get you alert. Try it on.
  • And not to miss, consciously think through your intention. How essential is being civil and courteous to you? “Why” and “For What” is it important? Make sure your answers are stated in the positive and empower you.

Etiquette in Business is important because it lays down rules for civility and collectively creates the behavioural culture in the organisation. Yes, we all slip and may forget to offer courtesies, and that’s okay as long as we know. Just make sure that you are not being offensive and annoying.

After all, we all are continuous work in progress, aren’t we?

We become what we repeatedly do – Stephen Covey                 

Till next time

Think deep, live the moment

 

Love

Manjiri

http://www.manjiricoach.com

 

 

The Etiquette Mystery (Part 1)

What is Etiquette?

Have you encountered a situation where you have finished a long shopping spree and as you are waiting in the queue at the billing counter the person behind you seems to be bumping and kicking at you with his shopping basket?

As the lift stops at your floor, people jump in and you have to squeeze your way out?

You are enjoying a meal with your date at a restaurant and the adjoining table has seated a loud family who is ruining your evening with their noise?

At the medical shop as you are being served, someone barges in roughly next to you and demands the attention of the store keeper?

 

What would you call these? Annoying, rude behaviours? Yes, they are and imagine what would happen if we all did this? Well, Thank god we don’t because there is something called as” Etiquette” which we follow and that helps maintain civility in the society.

Etiquette is an evolving set of rules of behaviour applicable in a situation. Experts have laid down etiquette rules right from embarking a lift, the use of a washroom, your business grooming to writing an email/letter. Etiquette covers almost every area of our life and this code of behaviour helps us maintain good relations, reduce conflicts, and show respect to others.

My Training Experience

When I got into the training and facilitation business I was quite excited to conduct Business Etiquette workshops. Even today the subject is very close to my heart maybe because I love having rules, and what I find wonderful about them is they do not differentiate between individuals. However based on the country they do alter a bit.

In my sessions, the dining etiquette raises a lot of eyebrows. Many people assume that the term etiquette is a western elitist concept. But it is not. Experts have written rules about how to treat or behave with people in a situation or use a facility based on the principle of showing respect and being kind to others, and that is Etiquette. Nothing snooty about it or is it?

Many do not like the term rules so I refer to them as guidelines, and someone has most aptly called them as guidelines for sensible living. Did you know both manners and etiquette are actually two different terms? Manners are more about general guidelines on behaviours while etiquette speaks of specific behaviours.

Why is Etiquette important in Business?

For a business to function well it is important to have pleasant cordial relations at work and etiquette helps you to build good relations. Etiquette in business is much more than just saying Sorry, Thank you and Good morning. It is about intentionally extending courtesies like guiding a visitor in the office premises, holding the door for someone or attending to a client/vendor immediately who has walked in with an appointment. It is also about refraining from abruptly keeping the phone down, speaking loudly in the open office sitting space or borrowing your neighbour’s stationery without permission. They collectively contribute towards forming the image of the company as polite dignified behaviours have their own merits. At an individual level, they guide you to be polite and feel confident on any occasion.

If we know the guidelines, why don’t we follow?

When I began conducting workshops on Business Etiquette for professionals and fresher’s, I attempted not to sound like a rule book by keeping it as realistic as possible. The clients used to have a great time understanding and clarifying their doubts especially with dining etiquette. But the post-training feedback spoke about the lack of consistency from the participants. I wondered why?

I used to have discussions with the top chiefs of companies who wanted to arrange etiquette programs for their juniors. The behaviour of their teams was impacting the culture within the organisation and also the brand image. However during the meetings, few of these same bosses have made me wait even after having an appointment, have placed business cards on the table instead of handing it to me, slurped on their tea, sat in the chair at an angle facing away, scolded their juniors in my presence, not responded to emails and many more. I would like to believe those seniors had good knowledge of etiquette based on our interaction, but what stopped them from doing those appropriate behaviours?

Each time I travel, I am appalled at the way some well-dressed; tech savvy, educated women behave at the ladies security counter. They push their way through the line saying “excuse me “in a commanding tone since their flight has been announced or break the line to grab the trays and place their gadgets like as though those are the last few left on the planet. I am sure they notice it when others do this, don’t they notice themselves?

I have caught myself being curt a few times. Stood very near to a person in a queue or have been distracted with the mobile while the other person is speaking. How did I miss it?

No one wakes up in the morning, looks in the mirror and says, “I think I’ll be rude today”. Most of us think of ourselves as polite, but when we’re in a hurry or dealing with strangers we don’t always use the manners we know we should. –  Emily Post’s18th Edition

Why do we overlook our manners/etiquette at times? What happens? What do you think?

Will share my thoughts in my next blog. See you soon!

Till next time,

Think deep, live the moment!

Love

Manjiri

http://www.manjiricoach.com

Presence, what is that?

When I meet people socially one of the most frequently asked question is “What do you do”?  Initially, I try to keep it brief saying I am in business and a Coach – Trainer.  Out of curiosity, a few ask me some more questions and I am most happy to share.  When I say I coach professionals, on their presence it draws blank looks and some relate it to leadership skills. This is usually followed by a conversation where I try and explain what it means.  These questions have helped me get clarity about my meaning of the term and I have also learnt different ways of explaining it.

“Having a presence” has been expressed in different ways. Few definitions mention it as a blend of poise, confidence, gravitas and good communication skills. Some define it as a combination of our external behaviours or an ability to manage perceptions. What do you say? What is your understanding of the term?

My meaning of Presence:

Have you noticed that in your monthly meeting with colleagues and bosses you are more aware of some people in the room? You see all of them but your attention is drawn to only a few.  Out of them, there may be those who bother you for some reason and let’s leave them aside for a moment. Now notice, without intending there is this one person or a couple of them whom you seem to keep looking at again and again. When they speak or present you seem to listen better, or each time a question is asked you look at them from the corner of your eye to know their response. Knowing they are going to be around for occasions or any meeting makes you feel reassured and comfortable unknowingly. You observe and try to learn from them. It feels like you can be yourself when you interact with them. That’s someone with a Presence!

Now there is this other person or few of them whom you know.  They are extremely skilled, knowledgeable and intelligent professionals who maybe have a great sense of humour too. While they have a personality that draws attention, you feel an unexplained uneasiness while speaking to them. They always seem to have the right things to say to you but it’s almost like they are surfing on the waves, smooth yet superficial. You cannot help but notice a hint of criticism in their voice when they speak and how each conversation ultimately belongs to them. They make their best effort to be likeable. Very notable personalities, but you don’t feel any connection.

So are they charming and impressive? Yes, but do they have a presence? I don’t think so. When someone is trying too hard or too full of themselves they would qualify more as reputation builders.

People can come alive in your presence or feel crushed. What do you choose?

Your Presence is attributed to how people experience you. How you make other people feel when you are with them, how they experience your energy and how they see themselves while they are in your company. It is shaped by your ability to be present with people in every moment while being guided by your sense of purpose and intention. It’s formed by how you connect and communicate with people while being aware of their understanding or expectations.  It is sensed by others when you express yourself completely while feeling secure from inside.

Your Presence is,

  • Less about charm and more about grace
  • Less about superb vocabulary and more about the genuine emotion in your voice
  • Less about that suit and more about your pleasant look
  • Not about pretending to hear but allowing your body to listen
  • Not about perfection but acknowledging and apologising when at fault
  • Not about being goody-goody but responsible
  • Not about excuses but about keeping your word

It is more about being comfortable and secure with who we are and not feeling the need to demonstrate anything. It is about being consciously aware of our intent in each moment and flowing in genuinely.

Why is Presence Important at work?

As a professional would you like if your colleagues and management trusted you? Customers admired you? And your team gave a sincere ear and sufficient thought to your ideas while you spoke? We all would like that. Won’t we? Being acknowledged and appreciated at work is what we all would like and building a strong presence is one way to be noticed.

As professionals, if you want to be successful or get better opportunities I believe working on your presence would be far more helpful than hoping to create a good impression. People will keep judging and scoring us whereas all we want is opportunities, growth in the workplace and fulfilling relations. Having a presence may not be a prerequisite for professional success but it certainly is the right step towards getting that opportunity to be successful, stand out and have pleasant relations at the office. The good news is that we can all have it if we work towards it. It has to be created each day with a readiness to grow with every moment through the day.

The Presence of a person is mostly referred, spoken and explained in terms of certain behaviours people do, but presence is not seen. Just because you see a person does not mean he has it. Presence is felt and that feeling is impossible to define!

If you wish to know how to have a presence at work, keep watching this space as I will share more about it in the coming weeks.

      “Presence is more than just being there” Malcom Forbes

Till we meet next 🙂

Think deep, breathe deeper, live the moment!

Love

Manjiri