Symbols & Remembrance: Wearing your Poppy

Today marks the day that our poppies go on sale and I’m a firm believer in both buying and wearing a poppy. The sale of poppies not only supports the vital work of the Royal Canadian Legion but also serves as an Royal Canadian Legion Volunteersimportant physical reminder of past wars and conflicts. Remembering and marking (not celebrating) these events is as important now as it was when they first came into being in 1921.

I try to buy my poppy from the Legion volunteers who set up their tables in and around the town because I enjoy chatting with them and showing my support. Today I had the enormous pleasure of meeting these two lovely volunteers, Marleine Levin and her mum, Eva Kay.  I was doubly-pleased to discover that they are two strong Scots women originally from Glasgow (my Nanny’s birthplace). Marleine kindly offered to pin my poppy on so that it would be secure.

Wondering how to wear your poppy?

In late October and early November the inevitable questions arise: when and how to wear your poppy?

When should I wear my poppy?

The practical answer about ‘when’ is that, in Canada, the Royal Canadian Legion poppies officially go on sale on the last Friday of October (today), so that generally dictates timing, unless you have one leftover from previous years. No matter when you start wearing your poppy, it should be worn through November 11th then tucked away for next year.

I’ve been asked whether it’s acceptable to wear a poppy year-round.  While it’s a nice thought to show support throughout the year, the impact of the symbol starts to wane over time, so it’s best to restrict it to a few weeks a year.

Where do I wear my poppy?

There are many people who feel strongly about this. Left side, right side? On a cap or hat, or not?

Read moreSymbols & Remembrance: Wearing your Poppy

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Job Well Done

When someone does a good job, tell them. Please Ring For Serivce

Then, tell their manager.

Not only does it give you a good feeling, but reinforcing good customer service becomes a virtuous circle.

I particularly like doing this when I talk to anyone in a call centre who does a good job. Let’s face it, if you work in a call centre chances are you work long hours and deal with many annoyed, frustrated or downright angry customers. So when I speak to someone who is friendly, professional and helpful I want to make sure they know that I appreciate it.

This week I had to ring a call centre because I wanted to cancel my membership in a car sharing service. The service itself is fine but I never use it and wanted to stop paying the monthly fee. I was hoping to be able to do this online, to avoid the inevitable sales pitch but, of course, they want you to go through the sales team. In any case, I called and spoke to Lloyd, who couldn’t have been nicer or more helpful, in spite of the fact that I was calling to cancel.

At the end of the call Lloyd asked the final ‘is there anything else I can do for you today?’ question, to which I replied ‘yes, I’d like to speak to your supervisor or manager to tell them how helpful you’ve been’. I love doing this. Not only does it reinforce good customer service but it also comes as a pleasant surprise to both the sales person and their manager. In addition, many call centres have points systems, so when you do take the time to provide positive feedback, the sales rep gets a ‘gold star’ and is often rewarded.

Is there a downside to doing this? Yes, sometimes you have to wait on hold for a bit to get the manager on the line, but that time is well spent because not only will you make their day, it will leave you feeling pretty good as well.

I highly recommend you try this the next time you get a nice person on the telephone.

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Accepting Compliments: Don’t do that. Do this instead.

This article is part of our Don’t do that. Do this instead series.*

Compliments are lovely.  We all like to hear nice things about ourselves, don’t we?

While most of us like hearing compliments, not many of us feel comfortable receiving them.

Justify a compliment: DON’T DO THAT

Instead of being left with a sense of accomplishment when someone pays us a compliment we find ourselves slightly embarrassed; we stumble for words, look at our feet and probably mutter something self-deprecating.

Often the conversations go something like this:

‘Job well done!’ …‘Oh, I was just doing my job.’

‘You look gorgeous!’ …‘Oh, I, um…in this old thing?’

‘Great presentation.’ …‘Oh, anyone could have done that.’

Not only does this leave us feeling slightly embarrassed but it also leaves the person giving the compliment feeling awkward and takes away from their good intentions. When we make excuses and try to rationalize the compliment we run the risk of turning it into a much bigger ‘event’ than the other person intended.

DO THIS INSTEAD: Say ‘thank you’

Read moreAccepting Compliments: Don’t do that. Do this instead.

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Come and go during conference sessions: Don’t do that. Do this instead.

Come and go during conference sessions: Don't do that. Do this instead.

This article is part of our Don’t do that. Do this instead series.*

Many of the topics I cover in this series come about because I witness or experience them. This is one of those topics.

This weekend I attended a conference in town. It was a great event. I heard knowledgeable key note speakers, met terrific people and sat in on interesting breakout sessions. However, it was during the breakout sessions that I noticed an unfortunate trend: people who enter and leave, and re-enter, and re-leave (such an annoying act that I’ve had to invent a word for it…) the sessions.

Come and go during a conference session: DON’T DO THAT
No matter how quiet, or unobtrusive, or stealthy you think you’re being. You’re not. Ever.

Now, I appreciate that on occasion we can find yourselves in the wrong session, particularly when there are multiple sessions taking place at once, however, that’s not what was happening in this instance. I went to four sessions on Saturday and in every single one, people wandered in and out, over and over again, and not just at the start but throughout.

People entering and exiting a room is bad enough when you’re in a large space where doors are at the back but Saturday’s sessions where taking place in small boardrooms; there was no way of going unnoticed and yet these repeat offenders seemed oblivious to that fact.

What truly surprised me about this was the number of times people would come in and go out, and come in again, as though they were looking for the best session. This is terrible conference behaviour. It shows an incredible lack courtesy towards everyone in the room, but particularly the speaker.

Read moreCome and go during conference sessions: Don’t do that. Do this instead.

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Overload your ‘To’ address field: Don’t do that. Do this instead.

This article is part of our Don’t do that. Do this instead series.*

Too Many Cooks (or in this case, recipients)

Cooks?
What have cooks got to do with anything? What am I talking about? Well, here is what I’m talking about: ‘too many cooks spoil the broth‘.  In essence, this means that if too many people are involved, no one knows who is meant to do what: “have you added the salt, do I need to add the salt? I’ll just throw a little extra in to be safe”.

The same thing happens when you include everyone in the To box when addressing your emails. If you pile everyone into the To box then those you are writing to don’t know what their role is meant to be: are they meant to reply? reply all (this requires a whole post of its own!)? ignore it? wait until someone else replies first? HELP!

Mass all your recipients in the To field: DON’T DO THAT
When you lump everyone in that one box you generally create confusion, and here is what happens (or doesn’t happen) as a result:

  • No one knows who is expected to act
  • No one replies (because they are waiting for someone else to do so)
  • Some people reply, but forget to ‘reply all’, so only you get the information
  • Some people do ‘reply all’ but forget that they are speaking to everyone, and inadvertently cause offense
  • Everyone replies, at the same time, with differing ideas and opinions – leaving you to sort out the ensuing mess

There are other scenarios but we haven’t got the time. So, instead of being the architect of the above (or worse):

DO THIS INSTEAD: Clearly address your emails
The genius of email is that it offers up terrific options to organize your audience. This not only helps you sort out who needs the information but also helps your audience understand their roles. Couple this with a clearly worded email (letting every one know their part) and you will be on to a winner.

Read moreOverload your ‘To’ address field: Don’t do that. Do this instead.

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‘Hey!’: Don’t do that. Do this instead.

This article is part of our Don’t do that. Do this instead series.*

HEY!

Relax, it’s 2016
Yes, yes it is, and life is generally less formal than it used to be – which is not necessarily a bad thing. However, there are times when a lack of formality can lead you down a path that impacts your professionalism.

Be fooled into foregoing formalities: DON’T DO THAT
Recently, a short video was doing the social media rounds. It showed a group of young reporters receiving a briefing in the White House press gallery. During their briefing, President Obama made a guest appearance: he sauntered in, relaxed, smiling and carrying his cup of coffee.

When the group was invited to ask questions, one young women started hers with, ‘Hey’.  If you’ve seen the clip, you’ll know that President Obama, ever the diplomat, responded with a smile and a ‘Hey’ in return. HOWEVER, look closely, that smile is one tight smile.  In this situation, some (teeny tiny) leeway would have been granted because of this person’s age and inexperience, and nerves, but it still impacted how he responded.

Read more‘Hey!’: Don’t do that. Do this instead.

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RSVPs: Don’t do that. Do this instead

This article is part of our Don’t do that. Do this instead series.*

R.S.V.Ps

Who doesn’t love a party?RSVPs: Don't do that. Do this instead
I suppose that’s a loaded question because some people don’t actually ‘love a party’. But there the invitation sits: on your mantel, in your inbox, lurking in your voicemail.

So, whether you can’t wait to arrive, and out stay your welcome (that’s a different post), or you want to make a brief appearance and leave early, you need to reply to the invitation.

Neglect to RSVP: DON’T DO THAT
These days the idea of letting your host know that you are (or are not) going to attend an event – an event to which you have been so graciously invited – seems to be something that people think is ‘optional’.

It’s not.

I repeat, not replying is not optional.

Whether it’s a wedding, an office event or a backyard BBQ, if you’ve been invited you MUST reply.

Read moreRSVPs: Don’t do that. Do this instead

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LinkedIn: Don’t do that. Do this instead.

This article is part of our Don’t do that. Do this instead series.*

LinkedInLinkedIn: Don't do that. Do this instead.

Six degrees of separation

LinkedIn is a fabulous business tool in so many ways, not least of which its ability to create powerful connections. That’s why it drives me nuts when people initiate those connections in the most anonymous way possible.

Sending the ‘standard’ LinkedIn request: DON’T DO THAT
We’ve all received it, it reads:

Hi Hilary, I’d like to join your LinkedIn network.

And that’s it. No background, no context.

When I receive requests like this, unless I know exactly who that person is, I ignore them, and I know from conversations with others that I’m not alone in this.

Now, I will admit that it is partly to do with the way LinkedIn operates. There are times when you click the ‘Connect’ button and the next thing you know LinkedIn is telling you that the request has been sent. If you are me, you then find yourself yelling ‘Argh!’ at the computer.

So, if you want to really grow your network on LinkedIn in a meaningful way:

DO THIS INSTEAD: Personalize every request
If you want to make sure that people will pay attention to your request, then include a note, every time.

Read moreLinkedIn: Don’t do that. Do this instead.

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New Series: Don’t Do That. Do This Instead.

Have you ever had your relationship with a colleague, client or boss change suddenly – and not for the better? Yet you’ve not been able to put your finger on why.

Small actions. Big Impact.
I’ve always maintained that some of the smallest things we do often have the biggest impact on how our professionalism is viewed.  In this new series, “Don’t do that. Do this instead.”, I’m going to help you avoid the tiny (and not so tiny) things that can trip you up and place barriers between you and your success.

Small bites for easy digestion.
Each entry is intended to cover one small piece of a larger topic. However, even though seemingly small, each and every action has a big impact.

Read moreNew Series: Don’t Do That. Do This Instead.

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How to Become a Meeting Master

Meetings, meetings everywhere – no time to stop and think.

I once worked in an environment that was made up entirely of meetings: all day, every day. I’m still not exactly sure how I managed to fit in the actual work these meetings generated.Clock Musee d'Orsay

If you work in a company, any size company, eventually someone will ask you not just to attend, but (gasp/horror) to organize a meeting. So, in anticipation of that day, here are the steps to follow to ensure that your meetings stand out in the sea of others – for the right reasons.

1. First and foremost: do you need the meeting? I kid you not, people don’t ask this nearly often enough, and odd though it may seem, not all meetings need to happen. Make sure you know the reason for the meeting: is there a question that needs answering, a project to work on or a problem to be solved? If you have your reason, move to step 2 – if you don’t, go back to your day job (which is, chances are, not organizing meetings).

2. Alright, you have your reason (well done!), now you need to set the agenda. This is another task that seems to stump some. If you can’t come up with any agenda items then your reason for holding the meeting might not be solid – go back to step 1 and double-check. Keep in mind that agendas need to be relevant to the topic at hand, not long for long’s sake…the length of your agenda does not, I repeat, does not, reflect the importance of your meeting.

Read moreHow to Become a Meeting Master

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