Protocol Consultants International

Protocol Consultants International
Judith Bowman, President and Founder

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Compliments in the Workforce

by Judith Bowman on 10/23/14

Compliments of appreciation. We all appreciate a compliment but ironically, don't practice giving them enough at work.  Are we getting too caught up in political correctness and forgetting that acknowledging others is basic to who we are.  Saying "thank you" and showing appreciation to someone who helps make our job easier, work more interesting or enjoyable is an opportunity to make others feel special and advance relationships.  Thanking another for help with a project, supporting you or believing in you is important.  Extending a sincere compliment is almost universally appreciated and reflects positively on you.  

Compliments regarding a co-worker's appearance or clothing however, can be tricky, as sexual innuendo and sexual harassment issues are real.  What may be intended as harmless may be misinterpreted.

President Obama introduced California's Attorney General Kamala Harris at a Democratic fundraiser as "by far, the best looking attorney general in the country." The remark raised a few eyebrows.

Was this a sexist remark? Was the superior/subordinate card in play?  Are cross gender compliments to be reconsidered at work?  Are compliments on looks or other personal affects including attire ever acceptable at the office?

Despite having extended similar compliments to those of the same gender without incident, President Obama called the Attorney General to apologize for the remark which I believe is ridiculous as there was clearly no sexual innuendo here.

Should we feel free to extend a compliment on attire/accessories or notice a new hair style?  " like your tie!" (said with a lilted voice and raised eyebrows) is not the same as looking pointedly at the tie and saying to the person, "that’s a good-looking tie!"

Remember, it's "how we say it."  Tone, context and patterns of extending compliments are everything when it comes to unwanted remarks.

Also, the nature of the relationship should be considered.  If a close friend at work is extending the compliment, this is different.  We form close bonds with the people we work with and appreciate their candor.

Extending insincere compliments to make the other person feel better or because you know they like the tie is gracious and thoughtful.  Any time we go out of our way to make another feel good about themselves, is a positive thing.  
Not extending compliments at work for fear of sexual innuendo or offending would be a great loss.

The bottom line, no offense will ever come from you telling me, "You look fabulous!"

Cell Phone Etiquette

by Judith Bowman on 10/20/14

Most people don't intend to be rude at the dinner table, in meetings, at social gatherings, on dates, however, rampant use of cell phones has become a habit. In fact, for many, cell/IT devices are considered an addiction.  90% of all Americans own a cell phone and 29% say they can't imagine life without them.

An errant phone alarm, a rogue text, a program attendee thumbing a phone surreptitiously is insulting to the speaker. The mere presence of a phone is suggestive and insulting and suggests that someone or something else may be more important. Should you choose to use your device in the presence of others, alert them in advance and then, if the call/text comes through 1. Apologize and 2. Excuse yourself and 3. Then take the call or address the message outside of public purview.   

It is courteous and good business practice to limit your attention to your IT devices and focus on people at hand.

Top tips to raise the cell phone bar: 
  1. As soon as you reach your destination:  cell phones and pagers:  Off!  … And out of sight.  Place in briefcase or purse.
  2. Mobile devices should not be part of the business luncheon place setting.  
  3. In meetings, if the phone must be on display, turn to silent or vibrate mode.
  4. Check email and respond to texts after the meeting. Not doing so suggests that the speaker is unimportant.  Perceptions are real; appear engaged/as a team player.
  5. Keep voice tones low and conversations short.
  6. Make sure ring tones are consistent with your professional message.
Blatant use of cell phones socially and in business in front of others with whom we have prearranged time is downright rude, personally insulting and reflects poorly on the offender… and it's not just "the kids" who are the offenders.   We have a real epidemic on our hands. Take the initiative to practice these tips and be the example. Coworkers and friends will notice and everyone will benefit.

In today's technology-driven workforce, awareness of appropriate cell phone usage is imperative.  It is not only courteous but smart business to show respect for others by limiting attention to our IT devices.  Most people don't intentionally set out to be rude, we just get into bad habits.  Because many companies do not have policies regarding cell phone usage, we all have an opportunity to lead by example!

Telling the Truth

by Judith Bowman on 10/09/14

Lying has long been known as one of our less venerable characteristics to the extent where Moses deemed the habit "tablet worthy" and it landed spot #8 on the Ten Commandments. 

Think about it:  how many of us have called in sick to work when we weren't?  (58% more common around major sporting events) … whether you are extending an insincere compliment or making an excuse to get out of going to lunch, telling lies is insidious.     

Lying is incredibly common in business across the board - - Dodd-Frank was passed because there was so much lying on financial statements by CEOs. 

Sad to say, some of the best leaders are liars. Think of Steve Jobs' (reality distortion) and Larry Ellison's proclivity to proclaim a product was available when it wasn't—("vaporware!") 

Although lying occurs at the highest levels, there are consequences…some feel they will never get caught, but they do!

Bernie Madoff, Richard Nixon (lied to himself) "I am not a crook!" Bill Clinton, Elliott  Spitzer, Mark Sanford and Arnold Schwarzenegger come to mind. 


  • a story repeated often enough becomes undistinguishable.
  • we are great at self-deception!
  • today, automated systems can track lies and cover-ups

Lying truths:

  • can compromise credibility, integrity, trust and damage relationships/reputations, kill careers.
  • about small things begs the question, what else might you lie about? 

Top reasons for lying:

  • closing a deal
  • appeasing customers
  • covering up - mistakes/failed projects
  • covering up - for another employee
  • explaining tardiness and absence
  • denying knowledge of an event/situation
  • keeping the peace
  • fearing consequences

Remember, when you lie, the lie not only needs to be believable, but proven and then remembered!

When you lie you invariably end up dancing.  Therefore, be prepared to put on the dancing shoes because that’s what invariably happens.

Telling the truth may be harder in the beginning, but in the long run it is the right thing.

  • requires less energy
  • builds character.
  • means you don’t have to worry about being caught (in a lie)
  • you won’t have to tell more (cover up) lies

nor carry the burden of deception

It’s much harder to take an ethical stand and insist on honesty. 

The bottom line:  your reputation as an ethical person is central to professional success; word travels quickly.

Business Model with a Soul - Arthur T. Demoulas, Market Basket

by Judith Bowman on 09/14/14

These days, a time when companies seem to be all about the bottom-line, Arthur T. Demoulas, CEO of Market Basket, has effectively demonstrated to the world who has watched, that when you treat people fairly and give them respect you earn respect,  loyalty and, allegiance. 

Conversations Change the Brain

by Judith Bowman on 09/07/14

Conversations are the source of energy that have the power to release transformational thoughts – (products and goods) into the world. Conversations are the golden threads that enable us to move forward and trust others. It is through conversation that we communicate and ultimately, connect. Conversation is integral to the health and productivity of a company culture.

Please read my review of Judith Glaser’s new book, Conversational Intelligence.

In this world of texting and email, is the thank-you note still needed?

by Judith Bowman on 04/30/14

Sending a thank-you note is still relevant in the working world, especially in the interview.

Get more tips on How to Stand Apart @ Work in my article in Forbes.

Forbes article

How to Stand Apart @the Interview! - Top Tips

by Judith Bowman on 04/22/14

Get the competitive edge on the 2.8 million job openings by following these tips. 

April 2014 Newsletter

by Judith Bowman on 04/22/14

We are pleased to announce our April newsletter in which we share timely tips on handshaking, as well thoughts on how to effectively use of humor to diffuse volatile situations. We also provide insights into the hot topic of Conversational Intelligence.

The Confidence Cornerstone

by Judith Bowman on 01/29/14

Confidence is the cornerstone of successful people.  We here at PCI maintain that once we are secure knowing that everything said and done is within acceptable codes of conduct and acceptable behavior, we are confident to focus on people and topics at hand.  Confidence advances achievement.    Confidence is within each of us.  For some, inner confidence is hidden, camouflaged or untapped.  We only need to believe in our ability to overcome adversity through our inner confidence.   We must want to log on....

When we act confident, we are perceived as confident and, as  René Descartes suggests, "I think therefore, I am;" perception is reality. When we consciously program this "I am" attitude into our subconscious mind, and after consistent practice and repetition, these behaviors become a natural part of who we are.

Call upon things that don’t exist as though they do. Assume the feeling of a wish fulfilled and persist in the feeling. When we believe that something good is about to happen, it does. When we feel we can do something well, we do. When we know that we will act in an upright, appropriate or particularly effective manner, we will.

"We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." Aristotle.

When you practice and emulate these behaviors, you will feel more confident and exhibit a confident persona. 

Although no one is born confident however, anyone can develop a confident persona and program the positive "I am" attitude into our subconscious mind. We only need to 'log on' and believe we can. When we persist with conscious, regular, practices a confident persona will emerge.

Everything we need to succeed and excel is inside of us.

"If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got." Henry Ford

Step out of comfort zones and into different situations. This will challenge the status quo and help us cultivate interpersonal communication skills and build self confidence. 
If you don’t believe in yourself, then no one will.


Developing Inner Confidence

by Judith Bowman on 01/21/14

The philosopher in me has been called out.


Challenges are inherent in life. Some of life’s most triumphant moments are shaped in the face of adversity. While some believe challenges are a curse,  Elizabeth Kubler Ross feels, "If you shield the mountain from the windstorms, you'll never see the beauty of the carvings."

Like the mountains, we all experience different stages of gradation; we shift and we change, and with each challenge lies opportunity to make choices which  form our  values, determine our character and shape our destiny. 
The windstorms of our lives serve as opportunities to enhance our confidence.  Once we learn how to confidently navigate the shifting landscape, we can bravely traverse the challenging terrain.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure."

- Nelson Mandela

Odyesso Calvalia offers lesson in Nuances

by Judith Bowman on 10/27/13

While we may live in the moment we must not lose sight of the fact that in order to be fully effective we need to be fully present in the moment with other people. The way we conduct ourselves every day, and the way we treat others is noticed and judged. In fact, others notice more when what we are doing is NOT right.


I recently saw the Calvalia performance of Odyesso in Boston. The show features among other things, 58 male horses including Lipizzon stallions, Apolossas, and more. There was one beautifully choreographed vignette where teams of three and four magnificent horses were parading in unison around the stage in a figure-eight, with women standing, - one foot on each horse - quite a feat! The symmetry and artistry were flawless and the riders were perfectly in sync. This scene was stately, majestic, captivating. However, through all of this pageantry, I noticed one horse off to the left who would not conform. One horse decided to lie down, put his head on the sand on stage and watch his comrade horses perform. Soon, all audience eyes were on the one horse who would not perform, who was not doing it right. Hence, during this masterful and magnificent scene, the audience was actually laughing! As it turns out, this was not an arbitrary act of fate but in fact, part of a well-thought out well-choreographed performance. Producers chose to capitalize on the fact that we all do notice when others don't do it right and played the audience to work right into this scene.

We can learn from this exploit! First Impressions are lasting. Remember, 'the world's a stage' and this is not the dress rehearsal. Shakespeare says, "You need to know the rules before you can play the game." The game is life and it's true, "you never get a second chance to make a great First Impression!"

Nuances matter and 'perception is reality!' It's still all about People! How we conduct ourselves form the first handshake and the first "hello" helps determine the depth and direction of a future relationship and personal rapport. Getting it right the first time cannot be over-stated. When we demonstrate more respect, listen more attentively, communicate more effectively we are more resilient and flexible in a world where others notice, - a positive reflection on us. Demonstrating respect and consideration goes a long way in terms of advancing relationships and distinguishing ourselves from fierce global business competition which is the rule today.

Rudeness in the workplace is on the rise!

by Judith Bowman on 09/11/13

Rudeness in the workplace is on the rise.  According to a recent study* 96% of employees surveyed said they experience rudeness at work. Rudeness also incurs tangible costs to businesses including: 

  • lost work time worrying about the incident (80%)
  • declining commitment to the organization (78%)
  • decline in work performance (66%)
  • … and more.

Fact: people choose how they conduct themselves.  

Question:  Are we choosing rudeness as a lifestyle? 

I think not.  We are inherently a compassionate society with the good and sensitive side of our humanity far outweighing the negative.   We all say, and do things without thinking and then we become comfortable and ultimately, set in our ways.  Let these studies and (this) article(!) serve to create awareness of the way others’ actions are being perceived.

The good news is, we are noticing, and more importantly, calling others on it to let them know:

  • rude conduct is not acceptable
  • we reject uncivilized behavior
  • we are taking a stand against rude behavior

NOT responding would be far worse.

*(Ref.: Georgetown University and Thunderbird School of Management study.)

Tipping on Take-out orders?

by Judith Bowman on 08/28/13

The recent query and controversy regarding Drew Breese ($3 tip on a $74 order) for take-out) prompts the question: To tip or not to tip counter staff for takeout orders in restaurants with dining rooms.

Answer: It is not necessary to tip staff at fast food or an exclusively take-out restaurant because the service is included in the price. Tipping for take-out orders in restaurants with dining rooms to acknowledge the effort in creating an enjoyable meal (especially where extras/exceptions have been requested) is appropriate. Tipping is a way of saying "thank you" in the ways that matter. Tipping is appropriate when counter staff make extra efforts or are especially pleasant and help make your take-out experience and maybe even your day(!) more pleasant. When counter staff display small, simple courtesies such as using your name, making conversation, ... are pleasant (!) and respectful..., etc. this is appreciated and should be duly acknowledged... in the ways that matter.

Insuring Prompt Service also suggests pleasant service and being polite, friendly, respectful and efficient when interacting with customers from the time an order is placed to the time the order is handed to them, is all part of the service.

Whenever a customer wants to tip, regardless of the amount they are recognizing efforts to create an enjoyable meal which is appreciated. The $3 tip technically, was not even required from Mr. Breese who was making a gesture.

 In this recent very public blunder by the restaurant, it is refreshing to see that they took responsibility for the error. Read the manager's statement from the Del Mar Rendezvous Restaurant here.

A Day of Thanks

by Judith Bowman on 11/22/12

I am ever so thankful for the friendships and business relationships I have made over the years. Thanksgiving Day is when many of us share food and give thanks for the blessing in our lives. I am honoured and privileged to work with so many fine people, and I ask that we all take time to give Thanks for what we have, and be as Kind and Giving as we can.

Caritas Smile to Hold All White Masquerade Ball

by Judith Bowman on 11/09/12

Sometimes a charity really resonates with me, and I feel compelled to share my excitement with friends and clients. The mission of Caritas Smile is to INSPIRE, EDUCATE, EMPOWER and instill a sense of BELIEF to Women and Children in need. It is my hope that you will consider this organization for a charitable gift in 2012.

One was to support Caritas Smile is to attend their 2nd Annual All White Masquerade Ball on November 10 in Downtown Providence at the Marriot. Tickets are available for $75, and you can order them on their website.

If you cannot attend an event in Rhode Island, please visit their website and consider donating through their Support the Happiness Movement link.

Thank you for your kind attention, and thank you for anything that you can do to support this worthy casue.

Please visit Caritas Smile

Tel: 508-888-7800   E-mail: Judith Bowman

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