Thursday, January 22, 2015

The "Invisible Man"

“When you don’t know what you don’t know, you don’t know what you’re missing.”
Judith Rasband AICI CIM

Professional Presence: Social and professional stance that elicits trust, respect and camaraderie. It responds appropriately with behaviors and mannerisms acceptable in a civil society.

Protocol is an established code of behavior. It is rooted in tradition and steeped in courtesies and required decorum. A breach of protocol or etiquette is often unspoken, but has been the ruin of many promising relationships. However, the command of protocol and etiquette is often overlooked in today’s “business casual “marketplace.

As the business arena becomes more culturally intertwined, protocol and etiquette have assumed an increasingly important role in establishing long-term relationships. Professional presence facilitates a positive personal rapport and builds the foundation for solid relationships. It is the invisible cloak worn on top of your suit and just inside your skin. John Kuypers “Who's The Driver Anyway?” states that "presence is self awareness and the foundation to growing your presence with others. It is the polish inside of a person. When worn correctly, it is the edge that quietly distinguishes you as charismatic and self-assured professional." These attributes coupled with requisite social skills make up a person’s “presence power points”.

Professional Presence is not part of an employment application. It is not listed as a job title or function, or measured according to the number of degrees behind your name. It does not show up on standard tests measuring intelligence or technical expertise, but it identifies you to everyone you meet. In short, it is the essence of who you are. It is exuded in all of business and social affairs, every time and everywhere. It is in fact, the "invisible man"!

But, how does one gain this presence? Unless one was reared in the genteel society of charm schools and debutantes, it is a skill taught rather than caught. Proper protocol instruction makes sense of the nuances of professional behavior from knowing when, where and how to sit, the significance of a handshake, making a proper introduction, and to whom honor is given at a dining function. Protocol instruction delves into the challenges of the international arena and paints a clear picture of how to avoid and recover from social faux pas. This knowledge is necessary to be confident and in control in any business or social setting.

Today, training courses in Protocol and Etiquette should be championed by Human Resources departments as part of employee on-boarding as well as annual refresher training curriculum. Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and company managers would do well to consider contracting Protocol Instructors before employees are asked to interact with clients in a private or social manner. Private lessons are always valuable for personal training or as refreshers for host/hostess duties. Because military protocol is different in many aspects from civilian life, protocol training may be used as a social and cultural bridge back into society or to help civilians provide the proper respect and consideration when honoring military personnel. Whether in a group or private setting, protocol instruction benefits all involved. From the company CEO to the college graduate entering the workforce, professional presence is the edge that gives everyone a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Protocol…the silent language of the accomplished professional.

Pamela Coopwood, CEO of Speaking of Protocol, LLC is available for corporate training and workshops in professional protocol and business etiquette. For a complete list of available training visit or to book her as speaker at your next event contact her now at