Offensive Clients: How to Deal

Offensive Clients:  How to Deal When Your Client Suggests Your Bag Is Too Expensive | CorporetteHow do you deal with men at work making derisive comments about the expense of your bags, shoes, and clothes?  I’ve been thinking about this one ever since she sent it in. Reader O wonders…

After a recent exchange, I’ve been thinking about my preferred strategy for handling inappropriate/sexist comments from male colleagues/clients: making a joke that disarms the offender while sending a message about boundaries and respect. What are your thoughts on this strategy? Here’s my recent example:
Greeting the team pre-meeting, client looks at my shoulder and says “remind me when we’re done – I have a great Louis Vuitton story for you!! Don’t let me forget!!” Post-meeting (where per the usual I am the only woman in the room), client remembers & proceeds to tell this great “story” to me. And the team. “I’d never been in the store before and went to find a purse for my wife. I’m looking at this bag and can’t find the price anywhere, I finally find it – $2500! For a purse! I guess we know where those legal fees are going.” Another male team member seems particularly amused.
Me, looking at their wrists: “So, I see that you’re both wearing Rolexes. This is my Rolex.”

Like I said, I’ve been thinking about this since Reader O sent it in, and I can’t quite pin down my thoughts.  We’ve talked about sexist clients and sexist coworkers, but I’m not sure the advice there totally applies here.  Here’s what I know: I’m pissed on Reader O’s behalf.  But I’m also not sure she handled it well, considering this was a client.  More specifically:

[Read more…]

How to Respond to a Good Bonus

How to Respond to a Big Bonus | CorporetteHow do you respond to a generous year-end bonus? Here’s Reader C’s question:

I am a young lawyer, and have worked at my current firm for 1.5 years. This year, I got a generous bonus. I’d like to know what the etiquette is for responding to the bonus. Is a thank you note for the 5 partners appropriate? an in person thank you? or nothing? The envelope the check is in says “Merry Christmas -The Partners”. It is a small firm (10 lawyers, 5 partners) and I have a good relationship with the partners but would feel a bit awkward going into their offices and closing the door, just to say thank you. What about a small gift from the senior partner and his wife, (think chocolate)?

I looked in the archives for an answer to my question, but wasn’t able to find anything on point and would really like to hear any tips on this!

You and me both! I still remember the big BigLaw bonuses before the recession, and I will always remember getting my biggest bonus (back in January 2008).  We all knew the number before our individual reviews — bonuses were lockstep with class year, and a memo had been circulated to say my firm was matching the going market rates.  Still, when my reviewer said, in a very cursory manner, “Your bonus is $80,000 this year,” and I tried to graciously say “thank you,” it was followed by an awkward, cringe-worthy pause from both of us.  It just felt SO little-girl/feminine and not at all what a Captain of Industry would say. I imagined men saying something like, “Well yes, I earned it!” or “Wonderful, I can make the next payment on the yacht!” or perhaps, “Bully, let’s all go play golf!” But not “thank you.” [Read more…]

How to Throw a Dinner Party… for Work Purposes

How to Throw a Dinner Party... And Invite Your Boss | CorporetteWhat are the rules regarding dinner parties — and do they change if you’re inviting a boss or an existing or potential client? Reader M wonders…

Idea for a post/thread during the holiday season: what is the modern-day dinner party, and how can it positively/negatively affect your career? I’ve had a couple situations where I’ve thrown dinner parties for older colleagues or bosses, and I’m afraid that I don’t really know the all the “rules.” Is there still a stand-around cocktail and appetizer time when your party is work-related? Do I need to have all the food done by the time guests arrive, or can I still continue to cook a bit? What do I need to wear – jeans and a sweater, or do I need to upgrade to business casual? I’m specifically talking about smallish (6-12 people) dinner parties where a boss, partner, or existing/potential client is on the invite list.

I’d love to discuss the best way to do this for working women who don’t necessarily have a ton of time to cook or clean, and how I can portray myself, my home, and my family in a positive and professional way (that still stays true to who I am).

Wow. We’ve talked about what to wear to your boss’s holiday party, as well as what to talk about at parties, but we’ve never talked about throwing your own dinner party for your boss and clients.  I can honestly say that I have NO idea on the rules here, and am fascinated to hear what the readers say. Having lived in small NYC apartments for the majority of my adult life — and being, personally, about as far from Martha Stewart as you can get in the kitchen — I can say that on the rare occasions I’ve thrown a dinner party, it’s been with friends close enough that we could all laugh about it when the kitchen catches fire and we order pizza (should it happen, which, knock on wood, it hasn’t… so far).  Having to cook for a boss or a client sounds like my own private version of hell.  (Weirdly enough, though, we have thought about having my husband’s boss over for dinner with her husband, but just the four of us.  I can’t find the right words to explain why this is so different in my mind than the prospect of inviting my own boss over, for a dinner party, but it really is — something about not wanting my boss to see me as just a good little wifey, perhaps?)  [Read more…]

How to Button Your Cardigans

How to Button Your Cardigans | CorporetteHow do YOU button your cardigans?  I was surprised that I had such a strong opinion when I saw reader S’s email:

I love regular crewneck cardigans and have them in several colors and brands, but I’m always debating whether I should be buttoning up just the 2nd and third buttons, only the top one, or everything but the top two buttons. Is there a look that looks more professional? Is there a style that’s most flattering to certain body types?

Interesting.  We’ve talked about the six cardigans everyone should own, but we haven’t actually talked about how to button them.  Maybe I’m alone here, but I HATE the top-button-only look for the office.  It reminds me of secretaries and housewives from the 1950s (kind of like the picture above, from Peggy Sue Got Married), even when Michelle Obama does it.  Imogen over at Inside Out Style notes that the top-buttoned look flatters smaller busts, which I suppose I can see — but then I would just suggest that almost all of the buttons should be buttoned then, not just the top few.  (I always leave the bottom button unbuttoned, so I say “almost all”).  For my $.02, when I’ve buttoned my cardigans (which is probably only about 40% of the time) I’ve always buttoned my cardigans like this: [Read more…]

How to Respond to Work-Related Praise

How to Take a Compliment Gracefully | CorporetteHow do you respond when someone praises your work — without sounding like an entitled braggart (and without undermining yourself)? Reader T has a great question about compliments at work.

My question for you is, how do you respond to a co-worker (sometimes a supervisor) telling you they’ve heard great comments/feedback about your work? I’m confused as to whether this is a compliment you simply say thank you to, or is there more we should add? (i.e. I appreciate the opportunity to learn) It’s not a direct compliment, yet somehow is one. I often feel the need to justify the passed-along compliment with an explanation, yet sometimes I inadvertently undermine my own efforts and achievements.

First, that absolutely is praise, so congrats to Reader T.  I’m curious to hear what the readers say about whether you can undermine yourself with your response to praise. For my own $.02 — particularly as someone with an overactive imposter syndrome — I’ve definitely been tempted to respond with things like, “It was a team effort!” or “___ really helped by supervising me,” or “I was really lucky to find the answer so quickly!”

Maybe it’s a facet of age or experience (or just writing and reading about this stuff), but I’m pretty sure that my more recent response to any work-related praise has been (and will be) more along the following lines: Thanks. I’m glad you’re hearing good things. It was a fun project and I’m happy to get started on a new one. All said with a smile but not necessarily exclamation points. I feel like these responses don’t undermine your work by attributing luck or someone else.  Maybe it’s just me, but none of these responses really smack of WHY YES I AM A GENIUS HOW NICE OF YOU TO NOTICE.

I’m curious, readers — do you inadvertently undermine your own efforts and achievements, either by being overly humble or letting your imposter complex take over?  Do you notice other people doing it?

Pictured: Thank You, originally uploaded to Flickr by HelloJenuine (also available for sale at Etsy).

Cosmetic Surgery and the Office

breast reduction coworkers.indexedHow do you deal with cosmetic surgery (breast reduction, breast enlargement, nose jobs, etc) at the office?  What do you tell coworkers? Reader D wonders…

I have a question about dealing with a very sensitive issue at work. I will be having breast reduction surgery at the end of the summer and don’t know how to deal with questions from my coworkers. I will be out of the office for a week and will look noticeably different when I return. The surgery itself doesn’t concern me, I’m actually very excited about it, but the thought of answering all those prying questions, or just dealing with people’s observations, is making me very anxious. I would love to hear people’s thoughts on this one.

Congrats on your upcoming surgery, D — may it be everything you want it to be, both in terms of pain reduction, lifestyle, and appearance.  As a fellow, ahem, curvy girl myself, I feel your pain.  I’m curious to hear what readers say about this one, but a few thoughts:

  • Grow a thick skin regarding your coworkers.  (Put another way: F’em.)   [Read more…]