Protocol Consultants International

Judith Bowman Enterprises
Protocol Consultants International
Judith Bowman, President and Founder

Professional Presence, Corporate Training and Development
Consulting and Protocol Certification


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Contact Judith Bowman

"How to Stand Apart ™... Interviewing!"
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Protocol Consultants International


by Judith Bowman on 09/13/19

Book knowledge and technical skills aside, people hire people they like and trust. While it is important to "fit in" to a company's culture, know that what you bring is unique; accentuate your differences. As one of my trusted advisors in the Human Resource Industry has advised, "Be that person others want to know more!" and, as another senior television producer has shared, "if given the choice between the shiny apple and the dull apple, I'll take the shiny apple."

While many are great at our jobs we may be positively dreadful at the interview. Here are some guidelines to help you confidently navigate the interviewing process in our highly competitive hot global job market:

PreparationResearch the individual/company. Dress appropriately. Please know that Professional Attire is "never wrong." Un-encumber, leaving overcoats, etc. in the car. Everything about you speaks of quality... including pens.

Attitude: Walk through the doors as if you already work there, as if the person with whom you are interviewing is already your boss/manager.

Remember the 15 minute Rule: arriving "on time" means 15 minutes early (cell phones/pagers: off!) STAND in the reception area. Hold portfolios/briefcase in left hand, leaving right hand free to shake hands. Initiate the handshake (regardless of gender) and make eye-contact. Ask before assuming first names. Allow them to lead (they know the way!) Decline offers of hospitality (avoiding crumbs and worse - coffee breath!)

Seating: They are seated first. Choose the least comfortable chair. Remember to select the chair angular verses across from interviewer (eliminating the desk/barrier.) Hands belong on the table (you are "above board.")

*Body Language including sitting, gesturing, fidgeting, gazing about, etc. are all noticed/judged.

  • Exchange cards (use "calling cards")
  • Bring extra resumes
  • Ask before taking notes
  • Take personal notes to use in subsequent communication

Be prepared to tell your 'story' including choices you made, why you made them and how they have led to the next level which has brought you here today.

References - ensure they are willing to speak well on your behalf!

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn - ensure that you have nothing out there about which you would not want a perspective employer to know or view.  

Leadership - Even with administrative positions, interviewers want to know if you would be that person others look to in stressful/unusual conditions.

Compensation: Wait for the interviewer to initiate this topic.    

Accomplishments - discuss in a non-boasting way i.e. "I was fortunate for the opportunity to..."

Interview the interviewer, as well.  

If you want the job, ask for it.

Thank you notes: send an email thank you (after you have determined they are e-culture) and a personal thank you note the same day. The longer you wait the less impact the gesture holds. Use personalized stationery, blue ink and a postage stamp.

Above all, be yourself. Project a positive attitude and you will attract positive attention, reaction and results, whether you want the job or, not!


by Judith Bowman on 08/29/19

Our research shows that the topic of "Motivation" from a previous newsletter received the highest "open" rate e.g. just under 40% while the average open  rate is 2%. And thanks to you, valued PCI clients and friends, we are pleased to say that our average newsletter open  rate is approximately 20%. I would like to share the gist of our most highly read message which we hope will continue to inspire and resonate:

Question: What do you believe is the single biggest motivator of people in business? ... money, trips, cars, raises, promotions/job titles?

While these can be helpful, the fact is, the single most meaningful form of motivation is being acknowledged and feeling appreciated for our work as valuable. While this element is also a basic human need surveys show the workforce is typically the last place we encounter even a simple "thank you."  

Most of us spend more time at work with co-workers than our own family and good friends and yet, work colleagues are typically the last people we tend to recognize.

Interestingly, in High Context cultures such as China and Japan, the word "thank you" (shi shi) is never said enough! Not surprisingly, when people are acknowledged for their good work and thanked for contributions they are found to be 50% more effective the world over!
Simply saying "thank you" triggers the happy hormone dopamine which stimulates the brain and tells the brain you are happy, motivating you to do more and experience greater happiness - while at the same time, making others more likely to help again in the future as you are quietly ingratiating yourself to them.

For example, when we thank someone for their time now, they are more likely to be generous with their time, later. Further, being generous with our time makes us feel like we actually have more time. When we give of ourselves, give our time and do for others, this makes us feel pretty great, as well. People who give their 'time' feel more useful, capable, confident and effective which enhances their own productivity. Here are a few gentle suggestions to consider:
  • Offer your help.
  • Extend a compliment.
  • Offer unexpected praise.
  • Give someone a smile.
  • Give a gift of appreciation for no particular reason at all. 
  • Acknowledge others privately.
  • Publicity recognize others who helped you get to a pivotal moment. 
  • Thank those behind the scenes and show them their work is seen. 
  • Write a thank you note.
Personal relationships are intrinsic to business, community and family bonds. The individuals we encounter every day are not there by chance. These people are there to help us weather our storms, sharpen and shape us.   I can tell you that my greatest growth has come from challenging times and those people who have linked arms with me and held me accountable. We are better together and meant to work together, respect each other and treat each other with appreciation, dignity, caring and kindness.  
Everyone falls, and when we do, others are there to help us stand. To lead a successful life, we need to realize those people who are important and those with whom we feel are worth developing strong relationships. Make special note of those who are smarter, more accomplished, ... more positive! Always play Up in life and strive to develop strong relationships and form a community.   It's as much about what you give as what you receive.
Reach out of the 'self' zone and consciously acknowledge and encourage others daily. In so doing, you yourself become encouraged. Studies show we are our happiest - not when we get a gift or go on vacation, however, our emotional happiness is tied in to when we are helpful. Being helpful gives us the greatest sense of happiness. In fact, they call it, "Helpful High," a euphoric feeling. Look around and you will see people with whom you want to invest and be a part of your life. We can all help sharpen and shape each other.
There is a wonderful story about the redwood tree in California. These trees grow up to 350 feet. What is interesting is their roots are very shallow, only about five and one half (5 ½) feet underground. One would think that with their extraordinary height they would require extremely deep roots. Interestingly, the redwood tree's roots do not grow deep, they find the other trees' roots and begin to intermingle their roots and in so doing, find nutrition with one another, as their roots are so intermingled, they hold each other up. In fact, a tree in the middle of all those trees can die of old age and still stand for hundreds of years because it is so intermingled with the other trees. Finding strength from being interwoven with the other trees and their roots, blowing winds, torrential rains and severe drought will never threaten their stability.

If we could be as united in our lives as the redwood trees, I believe we could withstand and weather any storm or drought because we are not only helping hold one another up, we are giving nourishment and strength to one another. 

Consider who you are invested in, with whom you are standing and to whom you are giving precious time. When you reach out to others and commingle your roots, you give others your most precious commodities - the gift of appreciation, time, energy, strength - and you make a difference. 

When you entwine your life with someone else and you invest in them, I believe that's when you will stand strong, get 'high' and will be able to withstand the storms of this life.

How Business Attire Builds -or Breaks- Your Brand

by Judith Bowman on 07/15/19

Attire is a critical tool in business and in building your personal brand. The way you dress reflects how you feel about yourself, your life and your future. Dress to feel good about yourself and show respect for others around you. Dressing well is indicative of how you feel, how you project, how you are perceived and received; lead by example.

Professional business attire is not a nod to the latest fashion craze or a personal taste variable. Rather, professional business attire is very specific - for men and women and, foundational (pun intended.)

Socially, we dress according to how we feel that day. Professionally, we dress according to whom we plan to meet.

It is understandable that many are confused, even overwhelmed by the myriad of fashion choices and styling considerations when dressing for work. Retail stores are in business to sell the latest fashion craze and lawyers, doctors and professionals on television are actors donning enticing fashion forward attire to attract market share. You may be versatile and fashion forward with a flair for the latest trends and colors socially however, correct professional attire in business is very precise, which greatly limits confusion and makes dressing professionally the "easy A."

Women may have more room for error but a more natural advantage by virtue of the fact that they are women. "In a room of gentlemen," Karen Kaplan, CEO, Hill Holiday says, "who do you think they are going to remember, the 10th guy in the gray suit or the one woman?" Being a woman (in business) is an advantage, not a disadvantage. "In a room full of gentlemen, its easy to stand apart. Embrace what makes us different, ladies."

Quality and conservative are the rule governing professional business attire the world over. Think: Investment dressing and "Never Wrong." Colors, fragrances and accessories, critical elements of professional attire, are integral to your overall first impression and complete your professional statement. Remember, your goal in business is to establish a connection.

You want others to regard you as the quintessential professional in your field; dress the part.

The Primary Business colors - for men and women continue to be navy blue, black, charcoal gray and pinstripe in any color variation. Brown is considered taboo in business. Save your brown and eggplant suits for social affairs or to wear after you have the relationship, if at all.

Most importantly, understand what styles best flatter and complement your body type. If in doubt, enlist the assistance of a professional image consultant or personal shopper found in virtually all stores today. A proper fit is essential.Know a good tailor.

Shirts and Tops
Neutrals are best. Your top - shirt, blouse or sweater should not be too bulky or form-fitting. A crew neckline is "never wrong" and eliminates (flapping) shirt collar phobia. Sheer lace, excessive ruffles, bare backs and cleavage are taboo. Toss anything even remotely worn looking.

The timeless traditional business suit e.g. skirt/dress is "never wrong" the world over especially in High Context Cultures such as Japan. If you feel you look better and therefore perform better in pants, the pant suit is widely acceptable for women in business today. If you elect to wear pants, a pant suit (rather than slacks and a jacket) is the best choice. The blazer look is considered more casual. Remember to button your jacket leaving the bottom open to vent.

Wearing hosiery is being "finished" and presents a polished look.Even when the temperature is 110 degrees, hosiery is appropriate for professional women in business. Choosing the right color is important. In warm summer months choose neutral shades or beige; white hosiery is reserved for nurses and is considered taboo in business.In transitional months, opt for tan. Other than neutrals, tans and beige, black opaque in cooler months is appropriate.The most common faux paswith respect to women's attire in business is wearing sheer black hosiery during the day. "Sheer" black hosiery is the formal, the most elegant and reserved for evening and formal events.

Shoes should be classic ... comfortable (!)polished, professional. The classic pump is "never wrong." Suede is considered a notch above leather and no more expensive; spectators are fabulous. Shoe taboos in business: no sling backs, open toes, stilettos or flats (except with pants); the ballet flat is acceptable for a more casual look. Sandals do not make a professional statement, no matter how you wear them. Rule: shoes should be darker than your hemline.

Remove boots before going into any business meeting/networking function or social event.

Jewelry, Fragrances,Accessories
Jewelry is an appropriate wardrobe complement that also makes a personal statement and can be a great conversation launch, which also speaks professionally to your eye to detail. The working rule is: Less is more. When in doubt, do without. Gold and pearls are still considered the most classic choices. If silver flatters your skin tone or matches your i.e. eyeglass frames or other aspects of your attire, silver would be an acceptable choice. Nothing that dings, dangles or distracts should be worn i.e. earrings, bangles or charm bracelets, etc.. While these are wonderful accessories socially, they will detract from your professional message.

The Scarf
A classic scarf is a timeless accessory, often a conversation launch and speaks again to your eye for detail.

Invest in a small (black) classic understated purse that you can wear over your shoulder at any business meeting, interview or networking event and forget about vs. a large bulky fashionable purse.

Opt for professional colors and classic styles. Ski parkas and other sporty coats are fine for the slopes and weekends however, they will not enhance your professional image. Dark colors, a khaki beige or green conveys the appropriate level of professionalism. Rule: the length of your coat should be longer than your hemline - for women and for men. Mid-calf length is more professional than above the knee. If your coat is worn, or frayed, replace it. If it is ill-fitting, have this tailored to fit well. Make sure to maintain and dry clean regularly. The coat you wear will be visible to your clients (reception/office area) and however subliminally evaluated. Consider your overcoat, as you consider the rest of your attire.

Touching and Personal Space

by Judith Bowman on 06/30/19

We thank Joe Biden for heightening awareness of personal space issues today and the importance of respecting unspoken boundaries of personal space. The larger issue is perhaps a generational one as some men of previous generations today fall short and have not evolved which the "me too" movement has helped advance. Although I am sure Joe Biden means no disrespect, a 70-year old man should know the difference between basic appropriate versus inappropriate behavior. Touching, feeling, caressing, rubbing noses, massaging shoulders ... kissing a five year old child on her lips and smelling women's hair is not appropriate. We should all be aware of personal space issues and clued into reading silent signals and body language of others.

Personal space is that undeclared area around us which gives us our comfort zone.   Comfort zones change from country to country, culture to culture and even person to person. There are also different office cultures which vary. For example, a Silicon Valley start-up might foster lighthearted casual physical contact versus a more professional setting i.e. a conservative financial services or investment firm. Many workplaces today are being designed to be more aesthetically relaxed with open work spaces, big kitchen areas, warm colors and even free food which, in addition to encouraging "team spirit" is also more conducive to physical contact, high fives and hugging with which many are uncomfortable. Just because an office has no borders does not suggest there are none.

Generally speaking, we here in the U.S. prefer approximately one arm's length distance for our comfort zone, while those in England prefer more like two arms-length of distance. In England, royalty is not permitted to touch and PDA's even among the closest of married couples are frowned upon. It is interesting to note that Ronald and Nancy Reagan were renowned for holding hands which was unusual for the President of the United States (our royalty) to be publicly affectionate. The beauty in knowing the rules is knowing when it is okay to break them! In Asia, i.e. China and Japan prefer more like three arm's length of distance for their comfort zone. Touching is to be avoided at all costs while those in Latin and Arab countries prefer more like three inches for their comfort zone! American business women: please be alerted to this important cultural distinction and do not take offense. This is simply their way. Interestingly Latin women are recognized for dressing in ways we consider to be provocative i.e. short tight skirts, plunging necklines, bright colors and stiletto heels which might not necessarily discourage such behavior with Latin men.

Before we assume a familiarity that does not exist and is not mutual, when it comes to the initial greeting, if you are a kisser, hugger, touchy feeling person and go in for the kiss the hug, the embrace: read the other person's body language to know if they are encouraging or deferring the overture. Assuming others welcome your touch, hug, kiss, caress is misplaced.

Intimacy is so termed for a reason.  Being intimate suggests a co-relationship.   If the emotion is one-sided, then it is not a true relationship. The word "Relationship" itself implies "relating" to one another and not a one-sided singular existence.

All the rules of etiquette and protocol are in place to make others feel comfortable to eliminate the most remote possibility of an awkward moment and to make co-existing with family friends neighbors and perfect strangers easier not more disagreeable or uncomfortable. You need to 'earn the right' to cross the line. Discipline yourself to be sensitive and acutely aware of silent signals and body language at the start.    
How to avoid the unwanted intimacy:
Take Control:
  • extend a rigid arm/handshake to maintain "arms' length" distance.
  • say, "I'm not really a touchy, feeling person."
  • insert a physical barrier - a desk or portfolio until the moment passes.
  • humor is another deflector.
  • make meaningful eye-contact and speak with your eyes.
  • say, "you are making me uncomfortable."
When to go with it:
  • after a big project completion
  • major life announcement/event (engagement/wedding) or a personal loss
  • huge sale
How to engage:
  • ask, 'may I give you a hug?"

  • close your eye
  • whisper (while hugging)... just ask Joe Biden how breaking that rule went!
  • hug peers every day; make it special
  • hug in a way you would feel uncomfortable with your spouse standing next to you
  • hug from behind
  • hug in the restroom
  • sniff another person
Inappropriate behavior happens. Remember, it is how you handle the situation - what you do and say and how you say and do it that is key. Don't be the office Joe Biden. Too much touching can land you in the human resources office... or destroy future life opportunities (!) faster than you can say, "give me a hug."

Civility in 2019

by Judith Bowman on 02/20/19

Moving boldly and swiftly into another year of our Millennium, who would have dreamt that the enormous challenges our country would confront - in addition to man-made and natural disasters and imminent global dangers - would include a threat to the very core of our culture:  civility.

Road rage, bullying ... politics and polarization are real and rampant.  Disrespecting another person's opinion and shouting them down because they don't agree is downright rude. 

It is easy to be rude and hurtful hiding behind your key board or the wheel of your car blasting your horn uttering profanities.  It is also cowardly.  Being kind requires forethought and effort.  Acknowledging others, listening and understanding are skills requiring élan, sensitivity and finesse.  When we acknowledge others, show thoughtfulness or extend a gesture of kindness, however small, this serves as a stimulant (for them) and a lubricant (for us) as the "happy hormone" dopamine is released.  Ergo:  doing good (for others) also makes us feel good ... and it does not take much to make another person smile - - a kind word, a fleeting glance ! ... will lift another's spirits, change their outlook and maybe make a difference in another person's entire day.

We live in an uncertain world where multitasking and fleeting communication are the rule which places unprecedented pressures on individuals and professionals at all levels.  Ironically, despite the most amazing high technological advances designed to connect us, we have never been more disconnected.  "Virtual reality" is not real.  Electronic devices are tools in place to support our thoughts and actions not define them.  The fact is people do not know how to effectively communicate today and, in our unquenchable need to be connected, bedazzled, exceed barriers and limits and experience unprecedented thrills and speed, people are missing out on getting a fundamental human need:  to be acknowledged.  The intentional practice of acknowledging others through interpersonal communication and being "fully present" is rare and worse, has become a lost art.

There is a better version of ourselves within each of us.  Coming face-to-face with another person enables a direct understanding that people are capable of a deeper connection.  When others experience our presence, feel our sincerity, positive energy and caring, they feel acknowledged and trust that we truly value them. 

Why not look up from your screen, hold a door, smile at a random person, give an unexpected compliment, make random conversation with a perfect stranger.  Being considerate and respectful toward others is a distinctive trait and one reflective of our best selves ... and it's contagious!  Change starts with small steps and has a ripple effect... to change the world.

They say, "when a dove flaps its wings in China, the wind currents shift for thousands of miles across mountains and seas," which is just a poetic way of saying that everything we do has a ripple effect and that we are all inter-connected. 

We here in America have felt the ripple effects and have a responsibility to fiercely guard and protect our free society, and look out for each other, and future generations. This begins with showing respect - and listening - - even though we may not agree - with our parents, our elders, our president; agree to respectfully disagree.

World peace begins at home and finding peace and acceptance within ourselves, our own families, friends, and in our work environment is incumbent upon us. The New Year evokes reflection, resolution and attention to the imminent threat that compromises the core of our culture:  rampant incivility.

We have devolved as a society from the celebrated gatherer/hunter/"community" ethos into a less kind, less respectful even cruel society.

Q:  Can we teach kindness, respect, character?
Q:  Can we evolve back into being a kinder, gentler, more compassionate society?

Yes.  Everything in life is cyclical.  We can condition the brain to practice kind as part of the brain is empathy and compassion.  Kindness is synonymous with character and we can intentionally work to change our behavior and consciously extend the intentional practice of kindness. 

Our nation was built on principles where a promise with a handshake or one's word was good enough.  Let's consider a return to some basics which are easily attainable yet, need to be practiced every day in order to become part of you and your authentic self.  Start by being a better friend, partner, neighbor, co-worker and endeavor to comport yourself as your "best self." 
  • Acknowledge others
  • dress appropriately
  • give them your full attention
  • listen
  • be "fully present"
  • endeavor to understand
  • sympathize
... do the unexpected.

Things like thank you notes and host responsibilities seem so insignificant in the big picture, yet, ironically, the world is still all about respect, consideration and appreciation of each other in our daily lives. The New Year evokes reflection, resolution and attention to the core of our humanity.    

We all conduct ourselves in relationships with others however, the most important relationship is the one we have with ourselves. There is a better version of ourselves in each of us.  I have seen first-hand how our behavior directly affects others within organizations at every turn for the past 25 years.  

In Conclusion

While the world of etiquette and protocol are all about boundaries, in today's world, boundaries and promises once taken for granted, have been broken. Going forward, we realize, we can take nothing for granted.

Entering yet another New Year imminently filled with challenge, our promise and commitment to help make this world better for ourselves and our local and cross-cultural neighbors has only been reinforced and re- energized. Remember, everything we do has a ripple effect and we are all inter-connected.  We can't take anyone or anything for granted,  especially each other.

Charlie Baker says BE NICE!

by Judith Bowman on 11/15/18

Saturday, November 17th is the 3rd Annual Massachusetts Day of Civility. A day when everyone, every family, and every company is encouraged to perform a random act of KINDNESS.


To get energized and to learn more:

The Value of your Referral Network

by Judith Bowman on 11/07/18

Question:  How do you get the (impossible) meeting with the much-sought-after potential new client?

A:  Work through the mutually respected third party to secure an introduction.

In fact, the only way to get the much sought-after meeting with the highly prized person the world over is through someone you (both) know. And, how do you most effectively expand your repertoire of contacts? ... other than via the social network? 

Answer:  through Networking!

Networking is:  the single most effective means of reaching the greatest number of qualified individuals within the shortest amount of time while providing you the opportunity to write the most business.

Although central to your mission, thus far, your connector merely enables passage. Your journey - and the real work now begins to portray yourself as "meeting-worthy" and actually get the much-coveted face-to-face meeting.

Work the Connection

Once you have identified the "mutually respected third party," work your connection.
  • Ask your connector if you may use their name; never assume you may.
  • Ask honestly if they are willing to speak well on your behalf.*
* Never assume that because you know them or happen to have met their acquaintance 
   that the connector will speak well of you.
  • Ask the connector if you may keep them apprised of your progress.  If so, copy your connector in initial correspondence, referencing their name in the body of your email/letter.
Once on the Telephone with Your Target/Connection

The way you conduct yourself on this initial call is critical. It matters not who you know or how you got through to Ms. X now because unless you project well on the telephone you will not advance.
Initial Overtures via Telephone
  1. Research your target.
  2. Customize your "tagline" and practice in advance to confidently articulate.

  3. Ask pre-planned probing questions specific to their needs.* 
    *Remember, the number one rule in sales:  Identify the client need and fulfill that need!
AVOIDcolloquialisms and slang; close the "-ing's."

Top Telephone Tips: 
  • Stand when you speak.
  • Use a mirror and pretend your reflection is the other person.
  • Smile; project energy! A smile is "heard;" positive energy is contagious.
  • Ask if you may send them your (company) information.
Should i.e. a proposal or anything customized or additional be requested:

Ask, "By WHEN would you like to receive this?" and honor the time specified.

Premium subscribers receive more of this valuable information PLUS helpful hints. We would be honoured to have you as a Premium Subscriber.

Telephone Skills and Techniques

by Judith Bowman on 04/06/18

Many are challenged - even intimidated, when it comes to effectively using this inanimate object. Like most things challenging in life, the telephone has its own skill sets and rules governing proper and efficient usage. And, as with anything, the more you practice, the better you hone your telephone skills and techniques. Being telephone savvy is an area of expertise and productivity into which the savvy sales professional knows how to dial into (pun intended) and tap. 

The telephone is the only thing which stands between yet, has the potential to quickly connect you and your customer. Focus on your message and delivery each time you pick up the telephone; preparation is key. Remember, the way you speak is 85% of your message!


by Judith Bowman on 03/09/18

Introductions seem to come upon us almost as often as handshakes and, as we have conceded, most of us remain challenged remembering names, let alone how to execute a flawless business introduction. 

Therefore, when it comes to introductions, this seemingly simple, everyday ordinary act is actually far more intricate than you might think. Yet, at the same time, introductions present an invaluable opportunity to show you know "the difference," while demonstrating respect and quietly standing apart.

For more valuable information on introductions, please be sure to sign up for our newsletter.

Small Talk

by Judith Bowman on 08/08/17

You are at the dining table having a spirited discussion with the person on your left however, the person on your right is not responding and appears bored or disinterested.

You are walking from the reception area to their office or meeting room, going up the elevator ... 36 floors (!) with your host who says nothing. 

Silence may be "golden" ... or deafening!

SMALL TALK. Small talk is a really inappropriate expression for something that should be called the complete opposite: "big talk" "huge talk" or "really important talk" because it is the ice breaker which helps break barriers that retard building rapport and advancing interpersonal relationships. This seemingly ordinary, everyday ritual of making small talk - especially with perfect strangers, can be daunting and a challenge only for the unpracticed. Small Talk is truly an art and a skill you can use to positively influence and jump-start new relationships. However, you need to practice every day in order to become proficient, and have savvy small talk become part of you and your savvy authentic self.

The seemingly inconsequential ordinary gesture of making Small Talk is analogous to the prelude before a performance or the preface of a book... It is the set-up for what we hope will be a seamless transition into meaningful business discussions. The misleading term utterly misrepresents its undulating power. Small talk should be acknowledged for the singular opportunity it holds to adroitly manipulate ... in all good ways(!) people and situations to your advantage. In fact, not accessing competent small talk can limit you and be detrimental in business. 

When you take the time and make the effort to hone your small talk skills you will be richly rewarded as you experience the confidence in knowing you are not only helping place others at ease and making them feel special, you are at the same time, kindling the trust factor that spark relationships while quietly, yet most assuredly distinguishing yourself. The act of tactfully engaging others and the ability to artfully draw out the best in others to create more meaningful connections and advance careers cannot be overstated.

When you initiate the small talk this accomplishes three important tasks:

1. keeps you in the Control position. 
2. takes the burden off you to speak first. 
3. affords you the opportunity to hear the other person speak (first) thereby acquiring valuable information. 

Information derived from listening to their voice including tone, inflections, words they use, grammar, diction, etc., permits you to get a sense of their inner emotions such as nervousness, boredom, trepidation, ... allowing you to ultimately adjust your own behavioral style and adapt to ultimately connect.

As for topics, anything out - in plain view or even outdoors is fair game for small talk such as awards and plaques which further convey valuable information about the other person you can use to help advance your goals. The weather is rich in content, as is your recent flight, traffic, directions, their gorgeous gardens ... the beautiful artwork, the new construction (!) ... Sports are also safe topics however, sports teams are only a part of it. You may notice a sports watch or anything in their office revealing an avid golfer, yachtsman, runner, etc. It is absolutely appropriate to ask questions and make comments to enhance personal knowledge and advance relationships. However, be careful with your questions and comments...(!)

It is interesting to note that in High Context Cultures such as Asia and South America, business is never discussed or conducted during the first few meetings which include primarily of the company of family and close friends. Small talk and random conversation about anything other than business is the rule as meetings are focused exclusively on evaluating others to develop the critical trust factor simply required to conduct business in High Context Cultures. 

Whereas an important characteristic of Low Context Cultures here in America for example, is the aspect of time, and, as the very American saying goes, "time is money!" Inherent in our genetic make-up is the urge to eliminate small talk and quickly get down to business at hand.

Understanding cultural nuances and the importance small talk plays in advancing personal rapport is integral to successfully competing in our global economy. Do your research and be prepared in any cultural environment where you hope to conduct future business.
Practicing engaging others will help you hone this brilliant skill, make others feel acknowledged, may even help brighten another person's day ultimately, making you feel pretty good, too! Extending a random greeting, unexpected comment or compliment prompting a reply and perhaps even leading to further dialogue is ultimately energizing for everyone.

Making something from nothing is an art and takes work ... and changing what might otherwise be a non-eventful experience standing in the elevator or waiting for your latte, has the potential to be quickly altered into a memorable event or transformed into an enchanting experience while perhaps acquiring a significant new relationship along the way! 


by Judith Bowman on 05/02/17


I love sharing the story of Judy George, former Founder, President and CEO of Domain Furniture telling her "story," of being a stay at home wife and mother of four, who wanted to work.  Her husband discouraged this asking why she wanted to work when she had everything she needed.  As Judy George recounts, she loved furniture and wanted to work with furniture.  She saw an advertisement in the local newspaper, and restructured her resume to show her abilities reflected through her life and previous involvement with schools, charities, the community. 

She tried to get an appointment with the president of the furniture company posting the advertisement however, he refused to meet with her because she did not have furniture - specific experience.   Judy George was determined to get the meeting to be considered for the position.  So, Judy George proceeded to implore and "marry the gatekeeper" to whom she had sent her resume.  Still, the president would not meet with her.   Judy George personally went to his office and sat, waiting, hoping the president would meet with her.  Still, this did not happen.  Judy George got creative.  Using her credit card, she took out a line of credit and hired a plane.  She called the gatekeeper one more time, to ask one more favor.  She asked the gatekeeper to have the president look out his window at precisely 12:00 Noon the next day and look up.  That was it.  This was her last request, final favor.  The gatekeeper acquiesced.  The company president conceded and went to his window at 12:00 Noon and looked up only to see a small plane flying overhead which then  dropped a banner that read, "PLEASE MEET WITH JUDY GEORGE."

The president was impressed with her creativity and tenacity and finally agreed to the meeting.  Judy George got hired and went on to become founder, president and CEO of Domain Furniture and presently owner of Judy George International.  The company projects revenue this year of $35 million.

The bottom line:  we don't have to take these measures, go to these lengths, expend this kind of time and expense to get noticed and obtain the much sought-after meeting with the highly desired client or perspective employer ... we just need to get out there and Network!

They say, there are only seven degrees of separation between us and any job or connection we ever endeavor to make.  Therefore, making a conscious effort to consistently expand our network of connections is key.
Social networking aside, real-time networking is about putting yourself physically out there.  ... but what to do once you are there? 
Resist the urge to "cluster" or "put in an appearance" and leave after 15 minutes. 

Networking is:  the single most effective means of meeting the greatest number of qualified individuals within the shortest amount of time while allowing you the opportunity to shake a warm hand, look into someone's eyes, get your message out there and meet others you would never normally have the opportunity to meet.

Inherent in the word itself, Networking is work, and, as with any interpersonal relationship, giving before receiving is not only gracious, but prudent. 

If "90% of success is "showing up" this places a huge emphasis on that 10% of what we do once we are there; preparation is key.  And remember, with all due respect ... no one invites us anywhere because they think we look hungry and need to be fed!  Rather, we are invited for one of two reasons:  1.  someone wants to thank us for our business/prospective business or 2. someone believes we have something to contribute   ... and it is our responsibility to contribute to the overall success of the event, while simultaneously positioning ourselves as a resource. 

Top Tips:
  • Eat something first!
  • Obtain a copy of the guest list and familiarize yourself with:
    • attendees' names... and practice pronouncing names!
    • internal company news i.e. an impending merger/acquisition, new product release, etc.
  • Wear appropriate attire (dark colors) and a jacket with large pockets (ladies) -  one for incoming and one for outgoing cards.
  • Have a "tag line" prepared specific to this group.
  • Upon arrival, go to the restrooms - freshen, pop a breath mint and wash hands thoroughly to eliminate "clammy hands," (the Kiss of Death!)
  • Name badges belong (high) on your right side out of consideration for those trying to view, learn, remember and use your name.
  • Make your entrance:  Exude positive energy! ... Remember, we as human beings are naturally drawn toward positive energy, positive people!  Let others feel your presence!
  • Hold glasses in your LEFT hand (always with a cocktail napkin!) leaving your right hand free to shake hands.
  • Approach singles, groups of 3's or more.
  • Invest 5-7 minutes per person and then move on.
  • Disengage tactfully and provide an introduction before leaving (the proverbial pass-off!)
  • Introduce yourself to senior level people you normally would not have the opportunity to meet.
  • Actively engage in artful Small Talk and conversation skill, remembering your preparation and research for each conversation launch.
  • Always ask before assuming someone wants your card, "May I offer you my card?"
    "May I ask for your card?"
  • Make personal notes about the other person to use in subsequent follow-up communication.
  • Walk whomever you are speaking with not only to the door, but outside the door as they are leaving to take advantage of "real talk" to advance the relationship; thank them for attending.
  • Send a brief email note of thanks, after having identified they are an e-culture person/company, ...  and follow-up with a personal, hand-written note the next day or within 48 hours.  Clearly, the longer you wait, the less impact the gesture holds.  This provides you with an opportunity to get yourself, your company/brand in front of your target and leave yet another Judy Jones "impression."  And, ... 'repetition is reputation!
Act as if this is your event, as if these other guests are your guests, as if you own the room.  And, rather than attending a networking event thinking "what's in it for me," remember to position yourself as a resource. 

Suddenly, you are connected!  

Commit to contributing to the overall success of this event, just as you would as a guest in another's home, to be positively perceived and well-received.  In so doing, we typically experience the greatest rewards. 

Enjoy the process of consciously expanding your network of connections and ... enjoy the journey!

The Art of the Apology

by Judith Bowman on 02/08/17

We are immersed in the most competitive business climate in history imposing unprecedented pressures at all levels that simultaneously prime us for personal altercations, business scuffles and tussles which ultimately require the proverbial … dreaded apology.

“Sorry seems to be the hardest word.” (Elton John) … Ask Donald Trump, Bill AND Hillary Clinton, Brian Williams, Lance Armstrong, Paula Dean, and Bill Cosby, to name a few.

We are not talking about apologizing for forgetting someone’s name, missing an appointment or forgetting to silence your cell phone. These thoughtless, commonplace situations require a quick apology to clear the air and get back on track. Period.

Whereas if you misappropriate corporate funds, engage in unethical or illegal activity, commit a personal slight, engage in sexual misconduct or make a denigrating remark about someone’s ethnicity, these more egregious matters evoke high emotions and call for a more robust response and strategy.

“Love means never having to say I’m sorry,” originally expressed by Jennifer Cavalieri in Love Story may have been so in Hollywood years ago however, not so in real life today, especially in business.

During our lifetime we have and will inevitably say or do something to hurt others we will later regret which may affect our reputation, our firm’s reputation and brand. One of the most difficult things for many is to admit we made a mistake and yes, apologize. Saying you’re sorry is a way to regain respect however ironically, pride, ego, fear or simply showing weakness are stumbling blocks that should never be excuses. It takes a very strong person to admit they were wrong.

Apology defined is a written or spoken expression of one's regret, remorse, or sorrow for having insulted, failed, injured, or wronged another. The very act of apologizing is humbling and about refinement of character. Apologizing is a show of respect and good manners. Apologizing is cleansing and the right thing to do. Apologies are almost universally respected.

There is a right and wrong way to apologize. Saying, “I’m sorry you feel that way” suggests they are the one with the problem. The right way is to accept responsibility for your actions and express your regret for the damage done. People are by nature forgiving. When they believe you are sincere, you will most likely be forgiven; an insincere apology will likely exacerbate the situation.

The Perfect Apology:
  • Apologize face-to-face … the sooner the better. Show remorse, humility; own it.
  • Ask forgiveness. State what you will do going forward.
  • Write a personal note; email, text or even a phone call is not as effective.
  • Allow time to heal and regain their trust.
  • Say, “I’m sorry I made you feel that way because of my words/behavior.”
Sincerity is absolutely essential, regardless of how egregious the transgression. A sincere apology goes a long way toward repairing damage, healing and restoring your own reputation/brand. Moreover, if you truly possess and thereby genuinely convey sincere remorse, this will come across and others will respect you - for the admission, for trying to right the wrong and coming forward with the shield of truth.

Holiday Tipping

by Judith Bowman on 12/15/16

Literally translated, "T.I.P." means "To Insure Promptness." 


The holidays are an ideal time to say "thank you" ... in the ways that matter, to those who have helped us through the year.  While holiday tipping for regular service providers is very personal and certainly not mandatory, there are general guidelines: 


Regular service providers on whom we have come to trust and rely such as our hair stylist, manicurist or masseuse, babysitter, animal sitter, newspaper delivery person, UPS person, housekeeper, etc., those who help make our lives easier and brighten our day, and deserve to be acknowledged.  Rule:  the holiday tip should be one week's compensation for that service provider.  For example, if you pay your housecleaner $60 per week, write another check for $60 for their holiday bonus. 


While some may consider this over the top, there are many who "tip" much more than these basic guidelines.  Babysitters and concierges, for example, are tipped as much as $100 to $500 or more, during the holidays.  Remember, we trust these individuals, we rely on them, they take care of us/our children, they give us peace of mind, and make our lives easier, better.


Hair stylist, Manicurist, Masseuse - write another check for the same amount or, 20% of your regular hair treatment x 2.

Day care provider - follow the same guidelines, however, this is very personal and, subjective.

Dog walker - follow same guidelines, however, this again, is very personal

Newspaper delivery person - $10 to $20

Postal delivery person:  $10 to $20.  It is actually illegal to tip the postal carrier any more than $20.

House cleaner - write another check for the same amount.

Valet - $20 - $30

Secretary/Admin - write another check for one week's salary. 


*Please note: the Holiday Bonus is an entirely separate issue. 


Not to forget: 

Day to day regular service providers who i.e. drive you to work every day, make your coffee, pump your gas, the doorman in your building, etc. 


*Money need not always be the form of the holiday "tip."   While monetary gifts and gift cards are more common during the Holidays, some may not be able to tip or, prefer to gift something other than money.     


Options:  making something - your specialty craft of expertise, a special framed photo, baked goods, etc.  A 'thank you' gesture of gratitude during the Holidays in any form is appreciated.  People like to feel appreciated and acknowledged and 'The Holidays' is the perfect time to do so!


What ever gesture you chose, it truly is the thought and gesture, that count! 


*A personal thank you note should always accompany the tip. 


Even if your card has a pre-written message, write your own note of thanks.


*Black ink is used for strictly professional correspondence.  Blue ink reflects warmth.  Consider festive holiday colors i.e. red, green or gold is elegant!


by Judith Bowman on 12/13/16

It doesn’t get any hotter or more contested than the dialogue between President Obama and President-Elect Trump. Yet, after the most contentious campaign in history, the people of this Democratic Republic have spoken, and as a result, our world leaders have chosen … to show respect, civility and professionalism to our country and the world. In a most cordial, peaceful transfer of power meeting at the White House, together they set a world-class example by which we should all abide.

Americans need to come together and rebuild - our spirit, our core which frankly, needed nurturing long before this impassioned e-lection. The people of this great Republic have always shown unity, strength and resolve in the face of greatest adversity to keep America strong. This very challenging time in our country’s history presents a great opportunity to come together again, to heal, and set an example for our children and the world.

There are only two emotions in the world: love and fear. All positive emotions come from love, all negative emotions from fear.” Elizabeth Kubler Ros. People fear that which they do not know. The violence that has erupted from protestors this week is driven by ignorance and fear … fear of the unknown.

Change is imminent and change is good. However, change can be daunting because it represents the unknown. That said, Trump is the voice for the majority of Americans who clearly want change. We need to acknowledge the fear and strive to come together to heal knowing peace, prosperity and justice will prevail.

Donald Trump is going to be our next president, like it or not. It’s okay to raise our voices but not to indulge in hatred and destruction. Hatred is a negative emotion lead by fear which is destructive. In the name of the greatest Democracy, Americans have a right to protest, but rioters are not expressing “Freedom of Speech.” Anarchy is un-American, unacceptable and will not remedy anything. It is not okay to loot, riot, smash storefronts and cars, spit and beat people up …for expressing their preferences? No.

This is a pivotal time in American history. Our new President-Elect has a tough long road ahead with unprecedented business issues and challenges looming domestically and internationally and he needs our prayers and support. Being destructive and negative breed’s destruction and negativity. Being derisive will not advance us as a country but only retard progress and there is much work to do.

World Peace begins at home and starts with a basic show of respect and civility toward each other - especially our new President-Elect. We need to reunite and support our new President-Elect who, by the way, won.

In his victory speech he said, “to those who have chosen not to support me, I reach out to you and ask for your help so that we can work together and unify our great country.” It’s time to take responsibility and come together. It’s time to show respect for our new President-Elect who is going to be our 45th president. There is a code of respectability that accompanies any president-elect at this time which needs to be honored. As President Obama has said, it’s important "we can come together to face the challenges America faces.” And, as Hillary Clinton told her backers: "We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead."

So let’s give this President-Elect a chance to make America love again, make America respected, make America great and strong again. He cannot do it alone. Help our new President-Elect unite America so this great country can flourish; “United we stand; divided we fall.”


Judith Bowman Executive Director National Civility Foundation

Character, Integrity at Work

by Judith Bowman on 11/01/16

There are metrics for measuring goals, P&L statements to show bottom-line profits and trophies to reflect triumph however, there is not a gauge to measure character and integrity - central to creating a successful business with loyal employees while enjoying a respected reputation.  These traits are felt rather than spoken.

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” says author and poet Maya Angelou.

Others intuit honesty, integrity, truthfulness and feel the way they are regarded.  Success is not determined by where we end up, it’s about the journey … and failure does not diminish effectiveness, it builds character.

Companies who enjoy robust reputations and possess impressive bottom lines are typically those whose leaders display strong work ethics.  Leading with integrity, character and humor to help deflect tense situations, creates a positive work environment, builds trust and establishes open dialogue and effective communication.   Aside from Ronald Reagan … Arthur T. Demoulas and Dan Amos come to mind. Market Basket’s CEO Arthur T. Demoulas’s thoughtful, caring ways together with his moral fiber, strong character, personal ethics and unwavering integrity inspired 25,000 steadfast loyal employees who risked their jobs and engaged in an innately-born open revolution to support him.  His personal characteristics form the foundation of Mr. Demoulas’s $4.6 billion company.

Strong leaders exhibit sound moral principles.  Character, integrity and faith speak to the core of Dan Amos, CEO of Aflac, who has landed on Fortune’s Most Admired Companies, 100 Best Companies to Work For list and World’s Most Ethical Companies to name a few.  These are soft measures acknowledging Amos’s character, integrity and faith for which he is renowned.  His philosophy:  “Treat others the way they would like to be treated, not the way You want to be treated...”  it’s about them.”  It is said that failure is a stepping stone to success.  “If you’re not failing you’re not taking enough risk therefore, don’t limit the failures.” 

When workers feel their leader is invested in them and has their best interest at heart they will give 1000% and will do whatever it takes to help in the quest to ‘reach the unreachable star.’  True leaders have the ability to motivate employees to want to be a part of something greater than themselves and inspire them to rise to the occasion, especially in the face of adversity.  Effective leaders inspire trust and others have an innate sense of who they are and work to the best of their ability to make it all come together.  Acknowledgment through caring and accolades reflect the moral fiber and character of leadership. 
Leading with character and integrity inspires company loyalty which breeds dedication, assures reputation and success.   “Walk the talk” and don’t be afraid to stand alone when it is right. Take the right moral ground.

Whether you're looking for a job or working toward a promotion, while technical skills are negotiable, character counts and integrity and work ethic is non-negotiable.

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