Thursday, October 31, 2013

Did you get caught??!

There is a lie being whispered into our heads these days. It says “nobody cares, you can just do what you want, and no one is paying attention”. It is a lie. People are watching and there will be consequences! The choices made to do something, be in a particular place, say a certain thing or phrase, all have the potential to cause regret and grief later. Character takes a lot to build but very little to destroy, or as political activist Thomas Paine states “Character is much easier kept than recovered.”

Recently, several incidents in the media have highlighted how a slip in judgment can snowball into a loss of community respect and public humiliation. If what you are in private or the places you frequent are questionable, or even the demeanor you display under pressure is mean and nasty, it will change the way people view you. Your professional character will be questioned regardless of past accomplishments or family background. It will not matter that to you, past behavior was just a stepping stone into your future, nor does it matter whether you felt responsible for the ethical activity around you or that you felt disrespected in the vilest way. Your actions, your presence, your response must always portray moral character, fortitude and professionalism.  Another author put it like this “How horrible it will be for those who try to hide their plans from the LORD. Their deeds are done in the dark, and they say, "No one can see us" and "No one can recognize us."  Here's a tip: someone is always watching, someone always sees, and in today’s environment, someone is always willing to not only record and post it, they will also “tag” you with full disclosure!

Professional presence like character is powerfully transparent. It withstands past scrutiny and responds appropriately to present circumstances and public disclosures. “The measure of a man's real character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out” ~Thomas Babington Macaulay

I am Pamela Coopwood, and I am “Speaking of Protocol”

photo credit: via photopin">">photopin 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

No time for Masquerading!

Be careful what you pretend to be because you are what you pretend to be.~ Kurt Vonnegut Jr

Costumes tend to lend a sense of false security! What other time are we encouraged to be liberated behind a mask or an array of clothing, to release our inner inhibitions, all under the guise of fun?! But, the Account supervisor who donned her favorite purple “Lady Godiva” cape is probably rethinking her decision after she showcased her costume in full regale sans undergarments at the post work office party… or make that sheer flesh toned undies! Not only were her private parts on display but her professional standing and morality as well. Indeed her fall from grace had much to do with her fall from respect in the eyes of her coworkers, her superiors and her team.

Although this is the time of year when we are certainly allowed to contradict and poke fun at our everyday demeanor with fake tattoos, outrageous hair and/or earring ornaments, we must also bear in mind that even fun can become a threat if an unspoken protocol and/or expected behavioral boundary is crossed. Rather to err on the side of modesty than to be caught resembling the emperor without enough covering and lacking the wisdom to realize that the world is laughing at, not with you.

Here are some tips for the season’s festivities that will allow you to have fun without compromising your professionalism:

1. If it calls for a costume, don’t show up as you! You will not only dampen the spirits of the other party-goers, you risk appearing snobbish, separate from the team and making everyone regret that your invitation didn't get lost in the mail!

2. Keep your fetishes and exhibitions hidden! Avoid any provocative or controversial costumes. Ladies resist wearing see-through ANYTHING!! Also nix too short or too low. Gentlemen should not use this time to make a political statement or poke fun at groups, niches or anything that could be interpreted as poor taste.

3. If you leave home in full regalia, be certain that you are not the ONLY one who is doing so! Clients should feel that they entered a seasonally festive environment not the work space of Wilhelmina Weirdo. Bring a change of clothes if there is any chance you will be called out for a client meeting.

4. Don’t call unnecessary attention to yourself with gadgets that are childish and unbecoming to you as a professional. While a fake toy whistle may be okay, a squirting boob is not. Also, if you are an Executive or CEO, skip clothing or trinkets that show off your tattoos, piercings or similar items.

5. Always remember that in this period of social media, you could be viral before you know it! Think about every repercussion of your actions and dress, not just for this event, but for your lifetime. Something’s are just too important to risk!

6. People view guests as an extension of you. If you bring a guest to a function, if necessary, discuss acceptable boundaries and behaviors before arriving at the event! Even if you are new to the company or the person is new to you, it is your responsibility that they not offend. While you may not be able to control their social interactions or manners, be prepared to leave if their behavior threatens your credibility in any manner whether through too much drink, or inappropriate conversations and/or behavior.

7. Remember, that just because you are playing dress up does not excuse unprofessional behavior. Things said behind the mask are still, things said. Never allow an occasion to “undress” your professional presence.

I am Pamela Coopwood, and I am “Speaking of Protocol”

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ethics or Etiquette?

There is a smug assumption among business professionals that if they have good etiquette, they will consequently have great ethics. Often when asked to speak on the topic of etiquette, it is assumed that cloaked within the presentation will be subtle references to ethics. Most often, it is not there. They are not the same. Although one can be present without the others, a professional presence not only exhibits both, but understands the line of demarcation between the two.

Business Etiquette is a learned but unwritten code of conduct that makes interactions predictable and professional. It originates from Protocols, which are the rules that govern a civil society. The rules combine common sense and consideration for others, into codes, for appropriate behavior in the workplace and in society as a whole.

Business ethics are the principles and norms that serve as guides for good and bad conduct in business. The guides may written as codes of conduct, or not written, but implied, as standards derived from society and one’s personal belief system. Ethical codes are important because they help us be good and law abiding citizens.

Being ethical does not make you lawful inasmuch as knowing etiquette does not make you mannerable. Stephen J.A.Ward, in writing about ethics in an article entitled “Nature of Journalism Ethics” states “Ethical questions are not reducible to questions of etiquette (what is commonly done), prudence (what is in the journalist self-interest), financial gain (what enhance profit) or law.”

Ethics governs how we practice professionalism, i.e., does it violate laws or individual rights. Etiquette governs how professionalism relates to others, i.e. manners and decorum.

Pamela Coopwood
Principle, Speaking of Protocol, LLC/ The Planned Event, LLC

Monday, October 7, 2013

Shall we dress down "Protocol" for a dressed down society?

A Point of Protocol:

“Protocol is everything.” Francois Giuliani 

Protocol, an established code of behavior, is silent but steeped in tradition and required courtesies. A breach in protocol often goes unspoken but has ruined many promising relationships. Today’s “business casual” mindset underestimates the role of protocol in business interactions and negotiations. As the marketplace becomes more culturally intertwined, social intelligence and professionalism has become increasingly important. 

Protocol and etiquette training provide the knowledge necessary to navigate with confidence and control in any business or social setting. 

Protocol...knowing right and doing it!

I am Pamela Coopwood,and I am Speaking of Protocol.