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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Fabulous Woman - Mika Brzezinski

by Judith Bowman on 11/17/15

Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe" and founder of the
“Know Your Value” movement for women, is the mother of two teen girls, Emili, 19, and Carlie, 17. She is self-described as “a woman who has had a lot of privilege. I came from a prestigious family, and despite the difficulty I gave my parents, somehow they got me educated, cultured and socialized … and it was still hard for me … there were still bumps along the way.”

Read more bout Fabulous Woman, Mika Brzezinski

Fabulous Woman, Lauren Baker

by Judith Bowman on 10/08/15

A graduate of Northwestern University, MBA from Kellogg where she met her husband, this mother of three (two boys and a girl) is a former advertising executive, an avid gymnast, kick-boxer instructor!... and married to the most popular governor in the country. 

Programming the Subconscious Mind

by Judith Bowman on 09/01/15

The quote, "I think therefore I am" prompted me to think further about our ability to actually program our subconscious to redirect our destiny.

We can actually program the subconscious mind to tell ourselves we "are."  When we consciously tell the subconscious mind that we feel a certain way, we program our subconscious mind to respond in kind. Anything we want to attract is the result of what we put into our subconscious mind. Once programmed, the subconscious mind responds to whatever is planted; a change in feeling is a change in destiny!

Program What We Want to Attract

If we program negativity or worry, a negative feeling will be created and we experience the destiny of being unhappy, sad, etc., and this will beget negativity and worry. When we consciously shift away from negative thoughts and program the subconscious mind with positives ... e.g.  the "I am's" (I am content, I am healthy, I am Fabulous! etc.) our wish will become reality. Because our subconscious mind represents what we ask for, what we want to attract into our life is fundamental.

The subconscious mind rules our life.  97 % of everything we do is as a result of the subconscious mind. Moreover, the subconscious mind is impersonal and does not distinguish between what we are feeling versus what is actually happening in our life.  Plant the seed, instill the positive thought and ASSUME the positive feeling to be yours.

The subconscious mind is most comfortable in the unconscious state e.g. just as we are about to go into sleep state. Therefore, just as you are getting drowsy, consciously prepare your mind for the next eight (sleeping) hours of marinade. Instructions are sealed when we sleep. We have the power to not only shape and influence, but compose our instructions. Consider how you want to prepare yourself for having your instructions sealed.

Achieving Goals
To achieve your goals ask yourself the question:  How would I feel were my wishes and dreams  realized? Then assume this state. Live the feeling of being the one you want to be - of a wish fulfilled in all aspects of your life.

In Conclusion
Every feeling we have makes a subconscious impression on our body, and our awareness.  Therefore, persist with the feeling assumption, and as this is persisted, it shall be instilled.  We do possess the power to change and re-direct our destiny.

Confidence! Set Yourself Apart

by Judith Bowman on 07/23/15

Confidence is that quality that sets people apart… it's difficult to define but easy to detect. Read our latest newsletter to help you learn more about this important attribute. *Also, read our newest feature, Fabulous Women. Our first article explores the life of Massachusetts Lt. Governor Karyn Polito.

Sports talk breaks the ice in business

by Judith Bowman on 06/21/15

Sports is THE single biggest, universally accepted topic when it comes to making “small talk” at work. 

Remember, “small talk” is a really inappropriate expression for something that should be called the complete opposite:  “big talk” … “really important talk” because … it’s the ice breaker.  It’s what helps break the ice to help place others at ease, to build trust and grow relationships.  

Sports bring people, companies, nations together.  People unite, become allies and break barriers when talking about virtually any sport … and there is power in being united.  Sports transcends color, religion, ethnicity, socio-economic background, industry, age, rank status. 

The emotions sports topics evoke are intoxicating and allow us to temporarily “unplug” while at the same time, connect to an altogether different world, with virtually anyone. 

Whether we are welcoming a first time visitor at work or bumping into a little-known co-worker at the water cooler, sports topics present the opportunity to make people feel at ease, connected and advance relationships. 

It pays to have a grasp of the basics:
  • Make appoint of knowing how i.e. the Red Sox are doing.
  • Stay up to speed on “Deflategate” and whether it will ultimately tarnish Tom Brady’s legacy.
  • There’s 2026 World Cup soccer and FIFA scandal:  the world’s most popular game is at the heart of one of the most egregious scandals in sports history.
  • Triple Crown Winner American Pharoah (born in Kentucky) has an Egyptian owner, a Mexican Jockey and an American trainer (born in Arizona).  Last Winner:  Affirmed, 37 years ago (1978,) Seattle Slew, 1977, and the great Secretariat before him 1993.
  • NBA finals – the Golden state warriors vs the Cleveland cavaliers. LeBron James played the best in his career history  and played his heart out - with a split skull glued together until he could get stitches.  Stephen Curry, MVP prevailed and out-shined.
It may be “just a game” but it can also be big business. 

Business deals are conducted at the game, on the golf course and especially sitting in a front row seat anywhere.  Sports topics may technically be non-business related however, are prime time ice-breaking material rich in opportunity to adroitly break unspoken barriers, connect people, advance relationships and business!

The Presentation

by Judith Bowman on 05/10/15

Presenters are performers however, … “you are only as good as your last performance!”

Without rolling out the red carpet or engaging in theatrics here are some nuances so subtle, your audience may not be able to articulate why you were so engaging, only that you were.

Preparation: The challenge every time for presenters is to connect with each audience and share information as if it were being said for the first time. Write, practice, review and rehearse – just like great athletes, dancers, musicians, until you own it.

Attire – what you wear and how you look speaks volumes about you before you utter one word. (55% is visual (Ref. Mehrabian Rule) Dressing professionally for a business presentation is the Easy A; professional attire is “never wrong.”

Arrive early and participate in room preparation:

* check lighting, air conditioning, microphone and ensure all tech equipment works; failed mechanics suggest a failed presentation.

* have a glass of water (versus a Styrofoam cup) – Note: soda gives you gurgles, coffee gives you bad breath.

* identify the clock and be mindful of time; remove your watch (place on podium.) Remember the infamous Bush/Clinton presidential debate when George H.W. was caught checking his watch. … few remember what was said however, nearly everyone remembers President Bush looking at his watch (inference: time to go, … yet?)

Position yourself at the door to personally meet, greet and thank guests for coming.

Stand in the back of the room as your bio is read and walk enthusiastically, purposefully onto the stage; extend a prearranged handshake with your introducer.

Studies show the first 60 to 180 seconds is dominated by the visual aspect. You may have begun speaking, however, your audience is not really listening yet; they are still in high visual mode. Stand with both hands at sides, have a pleasant facial expression, pause, and let them look! You: look out at your audience start from the back of the room and endeavor to make eye contact with each person. By the end of your presentation every participant should feel “looked at,” acknowledged.

Begin “Welcome” remarks to include perfunctory “thank you’s;” look at each as you acknowledge; don’t rush this.

The Stage itself is a barrier. Dismount the stage to eliminate the barrier and better connect.

Position yourself to the left of your visual aids (as audience views you.) We read from left to right. You want the focus to be you, not your support material.

Refer to slides selectively; do not read word for word (insulting.)

*Rule: No more than three bullets per slide; less is more.


- commands attention

- allows time to articulate next thought.

Pacing - and selective gesturing helps alleviate nervousness; over-gesturing will kill your presentation.

Point - with two fingers – the index and third fingers. (Avoid the admonishing index finger.. never use the third finger!) Obama uses thumb over fist and open palm.

Concluding: - honor allotted time. Return to focal point of stage, make eye contact with audience, restate your purpose, capsulize your message. Extend “thank you’s,” once again. Bow, graciously accept applause.

Let your audience hear your conviction, feel your passion and purpose and connect.

Handling an Irate Client

by Judith Bowman on 03/25/15

Coming face-to-face, tête-à-tête with an irate client can be daunting, yet this potentially volatile situation presents an opportunity to distinguish yourself at your highest skill set.  

An irate client is essentially saying, “give me attention!”  Therefore, we say, “give it to them!” Kill them with kindness.

Immediately establish yourself as the consummate professional, in Control of the situation. Exude calm and confidence through voice and body language as you endeavor to establish Trust.  



  • Greet from a standing position.  You do not want to be in the position of sitting while they stand essentially looking down on you.

    Ref:  peace talks in 1953 with North Koreans:  The North Koreans, who are a shorter people, strategically positioned North Americans on a lower level in a sloping amphitheater in North Korea.  North Koreans sat on a higher level and whenever North Americans would address North Koreans they would look up to them.  Whenever North Koreans would address Americans they would look down on them, so to speak.  Physical positioning is important and subliminally powerful.
  • Encourage them to sit.  Sit after they are seated and sit the way they do.  Become chameleon-like, in order to adapt and subtly let them know you are “with them”… you are relating to them.
  • Listen with your eyes (and ears.)  Be an active listener.
  • Validate them and say “I understand.”
  • Show sympathy for their frustration.  Say, “I am sorry you are experiencing this situation.”
  • Empathize.  Even though this may have never happened to you, say you have experienced the same type of thing; share a story to show you relate.
  • Thank them for bringing this to your attention.
  • Summarize what you have heard and play it back to them.

You are sincere and respectful.

Try to maintain a sense of humor (it’s the American way!) and keep things in perspective. Think:  John F. Kennedy. As President, JFK was renowned for his ability to diffuse tense situations especially with the clamming press with whom he endeared himself by his skillful use of humor.

Give a realistic estimate of when you will respond (should research be required.)  Bring them to agreement; honor promised time frame ... you building Trust.

Offer a genuine apology, “I am sorry you are experiencing this situation.” 

If you have a solution, offer this.



  • lower yourself or your standards.
  • return rudeness or vulgarity.
  • argue. Be the better person.
  • accept verbal abuse. 


If you are unable to satisfactorily remedy the situation, bring in a superior. 

Thank them for the opportunity to try to correct the situation.  End on a positive note.  You, your company will be remembered positively.

Examples of Civility - “Dissing”Benjamin Netanyahu

by Judith Bowman on 03/17/15

There is a world crisis looming.  Israel is a crucial US ally strategically and morally.  Why is this administration so passive? 

Israel is facing the single biggest threat to their nation since the Holocost, as the nuclear arms race against Iran escalates…  and our President who, himself, has breached the imperatives of protocol more than any other president, stands  on a point of protocol?

At stake: 

-          Iran hates Israel and seeks to annihilate them. 

-          Netanyahu has appealed to law makers in Congress to circumvent White House diplomacy and either block or broaden terms of any deal with Iran.

Netanyahu was invited by Congress - a branch of government, well within its prerogative,  especially on a matter of this scale.  The invitation had bipartisan support because members of both sides of the aisle recognize the fundamental threat to world peace a nuclear armed Iran would pose.  Netanyahu saw this as an opportunity for his country and embraced it.

In dissing him, President Obama said he was being sensitive to political implications with Israel’s upcoming election which, most respectfully, Mr. President, has nothing to do with the big picture.  Obama seems not to like Netanyahu - and clearly, Netanyahu feels this. 

We can debate the technicalities however, the bottom line:  Netanyahu was invited and he accepted.  As such, we have (host country) responsibilities.  This White House’s behavior was  rude and has shown complete disrespect toward this World Leader, our long-time ally and, disrespected the friendship.

Protocol Abandoned

Ø      The President blatantly demonstrates his contempt for the Prime Minister which in itself, is protolically inappropriate.

Ø      Protocol suggests meeting “level to level;” this White House not only did not meet with Mr. Netanyahu, President Obama did not even shake his hand while he was here. 

Ø      Prez was “too busy” to watch his congressional address (says he was “briefed”)

Ø      Joe Biden, the VP, whose job it is to preside over Congress wasn’t even there … he was “traveling.”

Ø      Nancy Pelosi said publicly she was almost “in tears!”

Ø      50 other congressmen didn’t show up.


House Speaker John Boehner thoughtfully gifted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a bust of Winston Churchill.  The gift was chosen because, like Winston Churchill (who addressed our Congress three times) Netanyahu is the only foreign leader to have addressed Congress. 

As the Israeli Prime Minister has said, “President Obama’s posture here does not block Iran’s path to the bomb, it paves Iran’s path to the bomb.”

Why does our president look the other way?   (BTW – Obama is Muslim … does he carry those anti-Semitic thoughts?) 

“Do Unto Others”
We have two more years of Obama and going forward, what do you suppose will happen when John Kerry or our next Secretary of State calls upon Israel for their support?  Mr. Obama’s conduct is not only inappropriate, unbecoming and embarrassing, but damaging to foreign relations with Israel.

Mr. President, please be reminded from the book, “Art of War” an immensely influential ancient Chinese book on military strategy, also known as Sun Tzu, “Keep friends close and your enemies closer.” And, if nothing else, Mr. President, from the Godfather, please remember, “It’s not personal, It’s business!”

Questioning the Status Quo

by Judith Bowman on 02/22/15

The recent sports illustrated cover which leaves little to the imagination, is a classic example of an ambitious business decision gone awry. 

Admittedly, we have become a society of extremes – X-treme rides in Las Vegas have been trumped by more X-treme thrills in China and Dubai… X-treme sex at the movies and online is beyond X-plicit.  X- treme fashion, music, reality shows, cars and more.    However, going too far has its own set of rules and there comes a point where the “wow” factor subsides and the thrill-effect backfires.   

The iconic sports magazine, in its ambition to be more suggestive and sell more magazines, has only been successful in being too provocative and reaching a new low to the point where women – and men - around the country are talking derisively and some groups are urging retailers not to openly display the magazine.  The National Center on Sexual Exploitation says, the magazine has migrated into the “adult magazine” classification.  If this cover was on Penthouse or Hustler whose reputation is aligned with nudity and pornography, we would not be having this conversation.  However, because SI has the reputation for being a coveted journal of respected sports coverage for the past 50 years and our children read this magazine, we expect more. 

The SI brand has always been synonymous with promoting athleticism and featuring role models both male and female. When SI first ran the Swim Suit edition, it was considered a bit avant garde and even titillating for a sports magazine however, consumers bought the magazine which encouraged the publication to continue the Special Edition.  Sales escalated and the Swim Suit edition became a much anticipated issue, not to mention a coveted, even prestigious “get” by models.  By choosing to exploit nudity and thereby denigrate women, the magazine has made a bad business decision.

Bad business decisions happen all the time.  Management makes mistakes; companies are not omniscient.  Most of us are hard-wired at work to “go along to get along.”  We are encouraged not to upset the status quo and not question the boss.  Heck, its’ even one of Washington’s Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior:  “When your Superiors talk to any Body hearken not neither Speak nor Laugh.”

That said, when controversial issues arise in your own companies be a voice.  Express your opinion.  You were hired for a reason.  What your company was saying essentially when they hired you was, “I like what I see, I want to see more.”  Know that your opinion matters.   It takes courage to be that person to speak up and risk upsetting the status quo.

As always, it’s not what you say but how you say it.  Say it respectfully, with confidence and conviction.

Although none of us had a say in whether or not this cover should run, we do have a say now.  Express your opinion at the cash register and speak to their bottom line.  Also, e-mail your opinion to:

Integrity in Sports

by Judith Bowman on 01/31/15

The New England Patriots have been so unusually good for so long that it seems fans are bored and the competition is jealous!  What happened to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty?   Behavior as of late, is reminiscent of the Salem witch trials…  And it seems the vulturous press would rather sell gossip and  exploit minutia than focus on ‘just another Superbowl’  … adding the suffix “gate” – implying scandal or at least, underhandedness (no pun intended) has been a nice touch!  All this is not very golden rule type behavior, something upon which even sports etiquette is based.   Moreover, the upshot of this debacle threatens to cut at the core of fundamental qualities of integrity and trust - upon which personal, business and sports relationships should be based.  Tom Brady has denied any knowledge of impropriety and I believe him.       

…  even if air pressure was altered, this clearly did not affect Brady’s performance as Patriots scored 28 points during the second half with a fully inflated ball (which was also heavier because it was drenched)  versus 17 points with a less inflated ball.  Velocity is also reduced with an under-inflated (heavy, wet) ball  … so much for the integrity of the ball … 

Brady’s integrity: 

The New England Patriots are a true Dynasty Team.  Tom Brady could be The best quarterback of all time and Bill Belichek one of the best coaches.  Tom Brady and The New England Patriots are professional, world-class athletes who have earned titles and trophies not by individual accomplishment, but by shared achievement.  They have played and won consistently, as true Gentlemen Warriors.  Individually and collectively, they have demonstrated that treating others with respect is contagious and key to winning.

Tom Brady is a star athlete and a leader who works for his wins, studies and prepares.   His confidence and sense of authority come from exhaustive preparation.  He is known to watch every frame of every defensive play of the season at least once and memorize every twitch and tic of every cornerback and safety.  He gets briefed and briefs himself on strengths and weaknesses of his opponents including their habits, tendencies and vulnerabilities.  Teammates admire his presence and personality, his work ethic, selflessness, humility and show of respect toward everyone.   

Let not hearsay, innuendo and viscous rumors tarnish the hard-fought, well-earned reputation of one of the greatest quarterbacks in history.   

Tom Brady doesn't need to cheat to win.


by Judith Bowman on 01/19/15

Important information is conveyed and critical first impressions are made shaking hands. Handshaking is the most common form of greeting in the world today.

Origin: Think - kings and castles - whenever two knights would approach each other on horseback they would hold up their right arm as a gesture of peace and thus evolved the art of Handshaking as we know it today.

Some common handshakes and their conventional significance:

Fingertip Holder - prefers to keep others at a distance.

Bone-Crusher – betrays anxiety.

Political Handshake – (Hand over forearm) – not considered the most professional handshake; used with those you know well.

Sympathy Shake - “I am sorry for your loss.”

On-and-On – “Help!... where do I go from here?”

Dominant –(Ladies – do not enable this handshake!) Swing their right hand upright to the vertical position and with a gentle, yet firm squeeze, make good eye contact to be “well met.”

The “Clammy Handshake!” –the “kiss of death!” - betrays anxiety.

The Correct Handshake

Shake hands like you mean it, like you want to be positively remembered.

Connect “V” to “V” (thumb and index fingers) of our right hand with the “V” of the other person’s right hand. Pump one to two times; make eye contact.

*The Number One Rule regarding shaking hands: whenever you shake hands, always STAND as a sign of respect.

In different parts of the world there are different types of handshakes. It is appropriate and gracious to greet others in the form of cultural greeting to which they are accustomed.


- Shake hands with sun glasses/gloves on or even desks (barriers!) You want nothing to interfere with forging the relationship.

- ignore persons with an illness or disability. A disabled individual will usually offer you their left hand in reverse.

*Consider looking at the other person for one to two extra seconds (not 8 or 10!) as you shake hands. President Clinton is renowned for this and in so doing, makes others feel acknowledged, special.

Be at the ready for whatever type of handshake is offered. Keep a sparkle in your eye, beam your infectious smile and make those you meet feel acknowledged and you will “be a person well-met.” You will be remembered and stand apart in all positive ways.

No one is ever too old or too young to start shaking hands, and fabulous professionals should lead by example.

Sharing too much Personal Information at Work

by Judith Bowman on 12/25/14

… the “Self” You Show to Whom?”

We spend more time with co-workers than members of our own family, therefore, it seems natural to tell them things about our personal life which also makes work more interesting and enjoyable.  While sharing some personal information is crucial to forging relationships, sharing too much personal information at work may damage your reputation and could kill your career.      


-           share personal problems! 

-           share information which reveals your weaknesses, particularly if you are in a management position or vying for a promotion requiring solid credentials, good judgment and people skills.

-          discuss your abusive husband, difficult divorce your depression issues.

 …  bragging about your drunken binges, problems with your kids and financial woes are also taboo; turn to friends and family for support. 

… and if you are looking for a new job, tell no one at work! 

Entrusting co-workers with very personal information places an unfair burden on them – you never know who you can really trust and for some, repeating information is just part of their nature; they’re not being malicious. 

Sharing news about a i.e. wedding, engagement, new grandchild, etc., are natural topics to share but sharing your pregnancy news for example, might not be a smart career move as there are many work-related ramifications.  

The office grapevine:  feeds information we would not otherwise know and is a necessary evil.  Paradoxically, people are naturally drawn toward negative aspects of other people’s lives and seem to feed on other people’s misfortune … “better them than I” attitude!   Hence the office grapevine exists.  A few rules:


-          listen to everything and verify information before passing it along

-          pass along only true information that won’t hurt others

-          Use the grapevine to take positive action or make decisions.  You can start posturing for the position you heard will open soon or looking for another job because you understand the company is being sold.  

And we all know those people who spread negative information in the most compassionate way…. i.e. ‘isn’t is a shame about poor Kim who’s been on for ten years and never had a date… I wish I could introduce her to someone.’  This amounts to little more than office gossip with a twist of   passive/aggressive behavior.

Maintain a level of professionalism and a few layers of privacy at work… they don’t need to know everything about you!  Less information is sometimes more. 

Remember: “If you want no one to know, tell no one!”  


by Judith Bowman on 12/09/14

Getting through "the most wonderful time of the year" with our values and budgets  intact can be daunting.   Here's how to be remembered and save money at the same time.

Government agencies have stipulations and companies have compliance issues.  Knowing just how much you should or even can spend can be tricky.   What to gift a new client versus a long-term client and whether or not to even gift a certain client comes into play.  Being "gift-savvy" is an art!

Purpose of Gifting:  Remember, the purpose of gifting and sending cards during the holidays, socially or in business, is to thank individuals for tangible and intangible gifts which includes:
  1. their friendship 
  2. their business
You have the relationship.  Their gift of friendship is a gift!  Now, nurture it.  

Even if no business has been conducted during the past year, regardless of the reason, holiday time is the ideal time to continue to invest in and cultivate the relationship.  Play "up," assume the sale and, at the very least, send a card. Actually, not doing so, may even compromise your future relationship.   

Holiday card tip:

Personalize the card.  Write their name and sign yours - even if the card is engraved with your name/company name.  Use blue ink, green, red or gold  (festive!) (Note:  black ink is reserved for strictly business correspondence/contracts)  Also, even if you write only a line or two – write something, i.e. "Dear Jack, wishing you and Judy (name of spouse) a wonderful Holiday season!  Enjoy your Disney Vacation (specific vacation destination) with Jack and Judy Jr. (name of kids.) Thank you for your friendship and support.  Happy Holidays!  Dan"

Top Gift Tip:

Whatever you gift, even a bottle of wine, remember, "the presentation" is everything!  Wrap it, box it, monogram it, … (private label it!) but do not simply hand over an item. In other countries, things like certain colors are symbolic and even unlucky i.e. white in china is the symbol of death and bows are considered unlucky, etc.   

Top Gift ideas:
  • Consider gifting something symbolic of your company (not necessarily logo gifts,) city, country/ culture i.e.  Boston is known for the Boston Symphony, New England Patriots.  Hence, gifting someone from another city or country a CD of the Boston symphony or a pendant of the New England Patriots would be appropriate.
  • For "the Presentation" consider personalizing a CD case … depending on your budget… invest in a quality case i.e. leather, pewter, silver, etc. which they will always have, and think of you.
  • Frame the pendant, send a hat they will wear or have something personalized by a player – so many great charity events to find these items.   
Note: Our issue with gifting logo gifts is the individual will tend to think of the company, when, unless you are the company and/or this is your intention, you want them to think of You.  

Instead, consider something they will use every day with thoughts of you i.e. a letter opener, a  personalized pen or notebook, etc.   
  • Compose a poem/limerick.  Inscribe in script (?) on parchment paper and frame it…. "The presentation!"
  • Chronicle highlights of their accomplishments in a book or journal.
  • Frame a photograph.
  • Potpourri, a dried herb wreath, bake cookies … "present" them in a festive tin with a ribbon and, as always, with the personal note acknowledging their friendship/support.
  • Give the gift of time. Offer a lunch date. 
  • Donate to a charity in their name. 
  • Give fair trade items such as tea, coffee, or chocolate.
  • Create a memory by going to a ball game, dinner, concert.  
Note: Although holiday gift cards are by far and away the most popular gift at holiday time, the issue we have with gift cards is they place a dollar amount on the thought/gesture.
  • eBooks, e-cards, … e-anything is "fine" however, there is nothing which will replace a gift one can hold,  unwrap, regard, display, use.  
Acknowledge the thought/gesture:

Take a photo of the flowers, the vase, the letter opener and send to the gift or with a note.  Then, write a real "thank you" note (so few people do these days, it is easier than ever to get noticed.  

Enjoy the process!

Making Small Talk

by Judith Bowman on 11/29/14

Small talk, especially with those you don't know or just met is challenging for most and, there’s nothing "small" about it!  Initiating conversation is a skill which needs to be practiced and honed in order to help place others at ease.  Making small talk presents us with an opportunity to practice our all important people skills and stand apart.

Rather than let conversation take its natural course and go with the flow, initiate small talk and topics.  Questions beginning with Who, What, When, Where, Why and How work! Ask "open-ended" questions (those that do not end in a "yes" or "no" answer) and make it all about THEM. Get personal. Remember: People love to talk about… themselves!

In fact, be prepared to walk away from any given conversation and even the event itself, sharing very little about yourself. Actually, this would signal a job "well-done!" Those with whom you have spoken will doubt be of the mindset, i.e., “I just had the best conversation with Judy Jones,” when in fact, there was no conversation, there was a monologue. They were taking about themselves!

Whether during a job interview, a networking event, before/after a business meeting, whenever you have a one-on-one conversational opportunity, embrace it.  Try to glean (more) personal information while sharing personal information (not too much!) about yourself.  Doing so will  help advance trust and grow the relationship.  

  • "What do you do for a living?" may be a common question however, still implies, "How much $$ do you make?")

    Rather, consider saying:   "What business are you in?" or "What is your professional field?" This is less threatening and does not suggest your curiosity regarding their income bracket.

"How is business?" is tricky as they may not want to talk about work. They may have a sick child at home or prefer to chat about their vacation.

Rather, ask, "How are things?" (Asking how things are:
    • leaves the direction/the conversation "open-ended"

    • allows them to take the lead by delving into their personal life or business news.

    • or, they may choose to keep the topic generic and respond, i.e. "Things are fine! Thank you for asking."

      This leaves the field open for you to take the lead and share something about yourself or your business which may inspire them to offer something in kind to help you better connect.)

Initiating small talk: 
  • takes the pressure off us to speak (first).

  • lets us hear the other person speak (first) and obtain important information (we can hear nervousness, arrogance, grammar, pace, etc.  

Remember to become chameleon-like, adapt to them, their words, their pace, to relate and connect.   


by Judith Bowman on 11/25/14

Many go to considerable lengths to gather on this special Day and remember, 90% of success is showing up!  That places a huge emphasis on that 10% of what we do once we're there!   What we do and say is important, and hosts and guests have a responsibility to help ensure a memorable Day.  

Hosts: time to dust off your good china, crystal, bring out the festive table linen, candles.  Pre-select appropriate background music.  Dress up your home, your table and yourself.  Serving guests on paper plates and plastic forks is not "entertaining."  This may be easier however, given the time and effort others have invested to be with you, this is not only bad form, it is actually quite rude.  What are you saving this for if not now, with close friends and family?  The host sets the tone.  Be festive and dress UP for the Holidays!  

Teach children what is expected of them.  Teach your children now how to shake hands (eye-contact!),use names, answer questions with more than a “yes” or "no" answer, how to hold a fork and knife and review basic table manners (American and Continental.)  Children watch how you interact (or not);  lead by example.  

Host Responsibilities: 
  • greet guests at the door.  Offer to take coats or, coach children (as junior hosts) to do so (great life training!)

  • provide guests' initial refreshment.  Thereafter, tell them to help themselves.

  • have a designated area for coats and purses.

  • consider a designated play area and even a children's dining table.  Have high and low-tech toys and games available.

  • facilitate conversation.  Provide introductions, monitor alcohol consumption, music, replenishing food, etc.

  • have a scented candle burning in restrooms; light table candles and others as you deem appropriate.

  • have ice, soda, water, mixers, coasters and festive cocktail napkins out.

  • flowers are festive, as well as a great hostess gift.  
At the Table:

Sitting and Seating:  The host is seated at the head of the table.  You honour the most important person (governed by age/gender) by seating them to the right of the host. Couples should be separated unless newly married or newly engaged. 
  • Grace and an optional informal toast should be offered at the beginning of the feast.   
Rule:  "one should not even take a sip of water until after grace is said." For those who do not say grace: bow respectfully, while grace is being said.     
  • No one should begin eating until everyone is seated and served.

  • host signals when to begin by picking up their utensils and saying something like "Happy Thanksgiving!"  "Enjoy!"  Bon appetite!; be inclusive

  • make eye-contact with everyone at your table.

  • children can help (learn how to) set and clear the table;  
  • never arrive empty handed.  Bring not only your signature dish (or whatever you were asked) but something for your host i.e. a candle, hand towels, egg nog, wine, flowers, etc.

  • circulate and contribute.  Resist the urge to hide in the kitchen or plant yourself in front of the T.V.  although having the Macy's Day Parade/football game on is more than fine on Thanksgiving Day. Suggestion:  have photos – new and very old, your wedding album or vacation photos out for viewing, cards or a game out to play is a good fallback.

  • offer to help clean up.  Thanksgiving is probably one of the few times hosts may graciously accept. 
Thank your host for inviting you and hosts, walk guests to door (outside the door to their car if possible!) and thank them for coming.  Guests remember to write a thank you note.

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