Business Etiquette Advice

Business etiquette advice for the professional woman.

Long Flights: How to Look Professional But Be Comfortable

dressing for long flightYou want to look professional during a long flight with colleagues, but you’re understandably not too eager to wear a suit for several hours of waking, sleeping, and eating. So, with your trusty flight outfit of a fleece + yoga pants staying in the closet at home, what can you choose that will be comfortable but still appropriate if you end up sitting next to your boss? We’ve talked about traveling internationally in comfort and style, what to pack for an extended business trip, and traveling with coworkers, but not this exactly. Reader N wonders:

Could you do a post on comfortable, but professional attire for international or long flights? I have an upcoming business trip where my boss and two colleagues will be on a long flight with me. I want to look presentable but still be comfortable for the long flight. Thanks!

I can see this being a concern not only in this situation (traveling directly with coworkers) but in a situation I’ve been in, where there’s a conference that almost everyone in your industry attends, so even if you’re not traveling with direct coworkers, you end up seeing a million colleagues all over the airport, on flights, and via other travel hubs. A lot of sites have comfy-looking, wrinkle-free travel clothes (we just featured a washable top from Chadwicks’s line on CorporetteMoms’ Washable Wednesday) — but what is the chic alternative to the flowy pants-with-matching-loose-jacket look?  A few thoughts:

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Lunch with Partners: Who Picks up the Tab?

picking up the tab at lunchIf you’re out to lunch with partners, should you EVER pick up the tab? Oh, and also: you’re the youngest person present and the only woman. We’ve talked about summer associates paying for lunch, but Reader B has a slightly different situation.  Here’s her question:

I work in a small firm (12 attorneys) with a pretty casual atmosphere. There are 5 or so partners (“the guys”) and I am asked off and on to go to lunch with them; I am usually the only associate/only female asked to go. The guys are all about my dad’s age and can be somewhat old fashioned about manners with women. Most often we all just split the check, but from time to time one of the guys picks it up for the group. The lunches are casual and inexpensive. I am capable and fine with picking up the check for the group once in a while, but I’m not sure if that would come across awkwardly. What would you/the Corporette readers do? I think these lunches are good face time with the partners and are generally fun, I don’t want to be perceived as dead weight because I never reciprocate picking up the group check, but I also don’t want to create an awkward situation.

Here’s my $.02: there is no way these guys are going to let her pick up the tab because she’s the “kid” of the group — I don’t think it has anything to do with her being female. That isn’t to say Reader B shouldn’t try it, once — if she suggested the restaurant, or if she’s just had a nice bonus check, or if she’s celebrating something big (her first hearing or something) — go ahead, offer to pay in that magnaminous-I’m having such a great time and I want to treat you guys!-way — not an it’s-my-turn-dear-god-someone-help-me-figure-out-tip-math serious way. [Read more…]

What to Do When Your Boss Tells You to Smile

bitchfaceThere has been a LOT in the news lately about “bitchface” (when your resting face looks slightly angry/bitchy). A lot of women have poked fun at the problem, such as the Smile, Bitch! Training Camp or this great cartoon, but the policing of women’s facial expressions is also starting (finally!) to be more understood as a form of harassment — often on the street, as in one of the catcalls men feel entitled to make to women. But reader F has a different problem: her coworkers and superiors are the ones telling her to smile. Here’s her question:

I’m hoping you or the Corporette community could give me some advice. I am a recent university graduate who’s accepted a public sector position. I have my own office but we keep our doors open, and anyone who walks by can see my face as I work. A number of my coworkers and superiors have stopped while walking by to tell me that I look “too serious” or “angry” while I’m working. I do furrow my eyebrows when I concentrate, and often am reading very tiny print, which makes me squint a bit.

It seems silly to put mental energy into holding my face into a more pleasing expression while I work, but the comments are getting on my nerves and I’m unsure if there is any ‘talk.’ I haven’t found a good response to the comments yet. Do you have any ideas of something appropriately light-hearted I could reply that wouldn’t be rude if said to a superior?

MAN. Welcome to the club, Reader F! I also “suffer” from resting bitchface, and I can’t wait to hear what the readers say here. A few thoughts for you: [Read more…]

Summer Associate Series: Business Lunch Etiquette

The Best Business Lunch Etiquette Tips for Interns | CorporetteThis week, in our Summer Associate Series*: what are some of the best business lunch etiquette tips that interns should know about — for business lunches, office cocktail parties, and more?  Readers already working: what are the biggest dining etiquette tips you wish interns and SAs knew? Which are the biggest blunders you see (from both the guys and the gals)? Summer associates and interns: what are your biggest areas of confusion?

(*Name aside, we hope this series will be helpful to ANY intern, whether you’re a law student or another woman interning in a conservative office for the summer.) Check out our previous post on general summer associate style, what to wear for the creative summer associate events, and general business etiquette tips.

Here are some of the best dining etiquette questions we’ve covered in the past — readers, what have we missed?

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Summer Associate Series: Business Etiquette for Interns (and other Newbies)

Business Etiquette Tips for Summer Associates, Interns, and Other Newbies | CorporetteThis week, in our Summer Associate Series*: what are some of the business etiquette tips that summer associates and interns should know? Etiquette can often be one of the hardest things for schools and mentors to impart — but of course it matters, and business etiquette is something we’ve talked about a LOT through the years.  Readers already working: what are the biggest business etiquette tips you wish interns and SAs knew? Which are the biggest blunders you see (from both the guys and the gals)?  Summer associates and interns: what are your biggest areas of confusion? 

(*Name aside, we hope this series will be helpful to ANY intern, whether you’re a law student or another woman interning in a conservative office for the summer.)  Check out our previous posts on general summer associate style and what to wear for the creative summer associate events.  (Stay tuned next week when we specifically talk about dining etiquette.)  

Readers, what are some of the etiquette issues you’re seeing at your offices this summer?  (Fun question: do you chalk it up to “newbies!” or “generational divide”?)

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Happy Administrative Professionals Week!

Gifts for Administrative Professionals | CorporetteAlthough Wednesday is officially Administrative Professionals Day, it’s been spreading into a weeklong affair for a few years now.  Readers, what are you getting your administrative professionals to celebrate?  Some past reading for you: we’ve taken polls on administrative professionals day gifts before, talked about how and what to delegate to your assistant, and swapped stories of amazing assistants (Pictured: It’s Your Day Bouquet® Thank You, available at 1-800-Flowers for $39-$49.)

For my $.02: in my BigLaw experience, this day and week paled in comparison to the year-end assistant’s gift, and a card + flowers presentation from the numerous people sharing a secretary was more than fine.  As we noted in our last poll, the vast majority of people gave less than $50.  Don’t discount the floral/balloon display as part of the gift, though — I’ve always thought that part of this holiday is about broadcasting to the world (and your higher ups) that YES, you remembered the holiday, and YES, you are capable of ordering flowers for your assistant without his or her assistance.

Readers, how much are you spending on your administrative assistant or secretary this week (cash plus gift)? What gift are you getting him or her?  In general, what kind of things do you delegate to your assistant?