Insight on Commitment

This morning I read an inspirational message from “Daily Insights” by Zig Ziglar and Dr. Ike Reighard.

Love doesn’t happen because we use flowery words or express good intentions.
It becomes real in our difficult choices every day.”

What a powerful thought!  Love requires commitment, which is fulfilled by the big and small choices we make every moment of every day.  What a powerful reminder!

We could easily take the word “love” and replace it with others that are equally dependent on commitment.  Read the quotation several times, each time replacing “love” with one of the following:  friendship, relationship, growth, happiness, honesty, integrity, respect, success, faith, teaching, helping, world-class service, implementation, and victory.

Which one struck a chord within you?

Mind Your P’s and Q’s

The ABC’s of Professionalism

There are several stories about how the English expression, “mind your P’s and Q’s” came to be. One such theory says that 17th Century barkeepers kept track of their patrons’ consumption and would instruct them to “mind their pints and quarts.” Centuries later my Grandma used the same expression with her young grandchildren. It never dawned on me that she was concerned about my drinking habits. From the perspective of a six-year old, I assumed she was talking about my manners.

It’s a curious thing that we have so many words for this antiquated expression.  Thankfully we’re still concerned about subject, whatever one chooses to call it.

Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter which fork you use.” — Emily Post (1872-1960)

Politeness is to human nature what warmth is to wax.” — Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

“Nothing is less important than which fork you use. Etiquette is the science of living. It embraces everything. It is ethics. It is honor.” — Emily Post (1872-1960)

“Life is not so short but that there is always time for courtesy — Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Civility costs nothing and buys everything.” — Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762)

“Without an acquaintance with the rules of propriety, it is impossible for the character to be established.” — Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC), The Confucian Analects

“Observe decorum, and it will open a path to morality.” — Mason Cooley (1927-2002)

The fact that mankind has adopted codes of behavior has been constant throughout recorded history. What have changed are the specific rules and their relative importance. The character of George Washington was strongly influenced by “110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.” Here are a few samples:

#15 — Keep your nails clean and short, also your hands and teeth clean yet without showing any great concern for them.

#19 — Let your countenance be pleasant but in serious matters somewhat grave.

#22 — Shew not yourself glad at the misfortune of another though he were your enemy.

#108 — When you speak of God, or His attributes, let it be seriously and with reverence. Honor and obey your natural parents although they be poor.

#110 — Labour to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.

— Catherine Millard, “Rewriting of America’s History” pp.59-60

Those with adult children know first-hand how technology and generational attitudes affect changes in the current code. Certain “P’s and Q’s” of one generation might be “don’t know and don’t care” to a younger demographic. They are busy with other priorities. I don’t have access to President Washington’s entire list, but it’s a certain bet that it does not include the proper way to “de-friend” someone from one’s cellular favorites.

Cell phones and email are among the top disruptive technologies of the last 15 years. Appropriate behaviors are still being defined and learned.  For fun, I visited some Web sites that addressed cell phone etiquette of which I chose five for comparison. The authors agreed that ringers should be off in places like theaters, cell phones and driving don’t mix, and talking louder on a cell phone is unnecessary and rude. Four of the five complained about personalized ring tones. After that, they were all over the map, indicating we don’t yet have a common baseline for cell phone etiquette.

One way to learn about manners is to Google “pet peeves”. There are pet peeve lists about cell phone usage, driving, recruiting, baseball, the workplace, the bathroom, and even pet pet peeves. Those gripes which enough people share will eventually spawn new or revised rules of etiquette.  However, these lists also contain some pretty petty pet peeves. (Maybe alliteration is on yours.)

Bad manners (good manners, too) affect everyone.

“Whoever one is, and wherever one is, one is always in the wrong if one is rude.” — Maurice Baring (1874–1945)

Treat everyone with politeness, even those who are rude to you – not because they are nice, but because you are.” — Author Unknown

There’s an interesting three-way relationship among respect, manners, and morals in the following quotation:

“To have respect for ourselves guides our morals; and to have a deference for others governs our manners.” — Lawrence Sterne (1713-1768)

The subtle but important meaning is an inferred relationship between morals and manners. Without this connection, manners would merely be arbitrary conventions. Good manners come in two forms: acts of kindness and omissions of kindness (things one refrains from doing or saying.) In most cases these are small, simple matters requiring little knowledge and effort.

“Good manners are made up of petty sacrifices.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

“Good manners: The noise you don’t make when you’re eating soup.” — Bennett Cerf (1898-1971)

Like all character issues, minding one’s P’s and Q’s produces tangible social and professional benefits.  In fact, the return often far exceeds the investment.

“Politeness and consideration for others is like investing pennies and getting dollars back.” — Thomas Sowell (1930- ), Creators Syndicate

“Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot.” — Clarence Thomas (1948- )

“Outcomes rarely turn on grand gestures or the art of the deal, but on whether you’ve sent someone a thank-you note.” — Bernie Brillstein (1931-2008), “The Little Stuff Matters Most”

P’s and Q’s can help produce “peace and quiet” in a fast-paced, stressful world for you and those whom you meet.

“Good manners and soft words have brought many a difficult thing to pass.” — Sir John Vanbrugh (1664?-1726)

God bless,

— CC

[ O=Optimism | Index | R=Responsibility ]

© Copyright November 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
Read more “Clancy’s Quotes” at: ClancyCross.WordPress.com

“That’s Entertainment!”

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Series: The ABC’s of Professionalism

Business entertainment is largely about expanding the business playing field. Meeting clients in venues outside company walls allows business to be conducted informally and in more subtle ways. For the most part, entertaining clients is about showing appreciation for past business deals with the hope of maintaining and expanding the relationship. However, as long as the intentions are made clear in advance, it is appropriate to make product announcements, present company news or engage in business discussions. “Can we discuss this over lunch?”

“A dinner lubricates business.” — Lord William Stowell

When entertaining prospects and recruits, business discussions are the norm. An entertainment venue is chosen to create an environment where the parties can get to know each other and determine if there is a mutual fit. A job applicant can decide if he would enjoy working for or with this person. On the other side of the table, the recruiter has the opportunity to look beyond the résumé. To ensure team chemistry, the recruit will need to fit into the company culture. (Note: We’re not talking about attributes like ethnicity or gender.) For example, the way a person plays golf helps reveal aspects of his character. The shine on a person’s professional image will be enhanced or tarnished depending on his conduct on a golf course.

“If there is any larceny in a man, golf will bring it out.” — Paul Gallico

“Eighteen holes of match or medal play will teach you more about your foe than will 18 years of dealing with him across a desk.” — Grantland Rice

A professional does not let his guard down, even when the entertainment is purely personal. You never know who is watching or listening. Oh, how many times I’ve heard someone say, “Pardon me, but I couldn’t help noticing …” Professionals never takes a timeout from professional behavior, even in seemingly insignificant situations.

“You can tell a lot about a fellow’s character by his way of eating jellybeans.” — Ronald Reagan, source: Observer, March 29 1981

Professionalism means having an attitude of respect for yourself and others — it does not mean being stiff and boring. One of the reasons for business entertainment is to have fun and be a professional simultaneously.

“If a man insisted always on being serious, and never allowed himself a bit of fun and relaxation, he would go mad or become unstable without knowing it.” — Herodotus (484 BC – 430 BC), The Histories of Herodotus

“Enjoy present pleasures in such a way as not to injure future ones.” — Seneca (5 BC – 65 AD)

When entertainment and business are combined, a meal is usually part of the package.

“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” — James Beard

What a person remembers about a business meal is a testimony to the professionalism of his fellow diners. Few people will notice or remember who used the wrong fork. But, certain errors have the potential to become indelibly etched onto their memories.

1. Talking with food in your mouth (“Close your mouth, Michael; we are not a codfish.” — Mary Poppins)

2. Coughing or sneezing across the table (“Exposing others to your germs is the ultimate discourtesy” — Peter Post)

3. Not washing your hands after using the restroom (“the single most important thing anybody can do … to safeguard themselves against unnecessary infection is washing your hands.” — Dr. Philip Tierno)

4. Double dipping and touching other people’s food (“That’s like putting your whole mouth right in the dip!” — episode of Seinfeld)

5. Eating like a glutton (“Gluttony is not a secret vice.” — Orson Welles)

So, allow others to enjoy their food, your company, the ambience, and the conversation instead of tolerating your disgusting table manners.

“Good company and good discourse are the very sinews of virtue.” — Izaak Walton (1593 – 1683), The Compleat Angler, 1653

“A smiling face is half the meal.” — Latvian Proverb

Whether you are the client or the vendor, the prospect or the company, or just along for the ride, there are three things to keep in mind about business entertainment. Certainly, enjoy yourself within the bounds of professionalism. And of course, use the opportunity to accomplish your business purposes. But, above all, be good company.

“People may not remember what you did or said, but they will remember how you made them feel.” — Attributed to Maya Angelou

“Your skills can get you in the door; your people skills are what can seal the deal.” — Source: http://www.EmilyPost.com

God bless,

— CC

[ D=Dress | Index | F=Finish ]

© Copyright August 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
Read more “Clancy’s Quotes” at: ClancyCross.WordPress.com