You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Archive for June, 2010

It is impolite to use your cell phone when in the company of others, unless they are partner to the conversation, i.e.,  you are calling for dinner reservations for those in your company at the time.  In today’s business climate, people inappropriately use their cell phones in airport seating areas, restaurants, bars, commuter trains, and even in line at the bank .

There is rarely such an urgency to take or make a call that cannot wait until more private circumstances permit.   Turn off your ringer when dining or meeting with someone.  No matter if it’s a friend, client, or family member…vibration works fine…at which time you may subtly glance down to see if the call is urgent.  At that time, excuse yourself and take your phone to a private area to make your call.

Here are some great tips on Cell Phone Etiquette from my friend Diane Gottsman of The Protocol School of  Texas:


  • Do avoid checking your cell phone or smart device during a business meeting. Admittedly, the urge to check the time on your phone, leads to checking your emails and text messages, which leads to answering correspondence while sitting in an important meeting with your client of boss.
  • Do notify the presenter before the meeting begins if you’re expecting an urgent call. By doing so, he/she won’t be offended (they still will feel the sting!) if you have to excuse yourself to take a call. Sit in the back so you can exit discreetly.
  • Do turn your cell phone on silent whenever possible before entering a presentation or meeting. The vibrate setting is still disturbing when your phone is on a conference table, in your bag, or on the floor but at least shows you were attempting to show good manners.
  • Do carefully select a discreet ring tone and set your ringer volume on the lowest setting possible. Save the latest Lady Gaga for your personal time.
  • Do remember to include an email signature for all email messages you send/reply to via phone. The email signature that you’ve set up on your computer will likely not carry over. You may also wish to remove the “sent from my iPhone” or similar message that is automatically included at the end of emails you send from your cell phone.


  • Don’t text or email during a business meeting or presentation. If you must email, wait for a scheduled break in the agenda and step outside to send your quick communication.
  • Don’t update social networks during a business meeting. Although Facebook, Twitter, and other networks/apps may be tempting (especially during longer presentations) practice good cell phone etiquette by just saying “no.” Unless you’ve been designated to LIVE tweet from a conference, keep your hands off your cell phone.
  • Don’t bring personal cell phone calls into the office when returning from your lunch break. End the call before you enter the building whenever possible or you’ll risk your colleagues catching the end of an otherwise private conversation.
  • Don’t deck out your cell phone in bling or otherwise tacky skins or cases. Your phone is an extension of your personal brand. Hot pink, diamond-encrusted phone accessories can take away from an otherwise professional appearance. Choose a sleek and understated cover instead.
  • Don’t assume clients or coworkers text. Email or telephone is more professional and appropriate for office communication unless you know for certain that texting is the preferred method of choice.
  • Don’t send out mass text messages or photos to your entire contact list. Not everyone will be interested in your latest vacation photo or the picture of your best friend’s new baby girl.

When writing a sympathy note, the most thoughtful way is to say what you truly feel.  A brief and heart-felt line or two expressing the genuine feeling you had for the deceased is always appreciated by those who are mourning their loss.  Try not to dwell on the details of an illness or the manner of death.  Other common but well-intended mistakes,  are saying such things as the loss is a “blessing in disguise” or “they’re in a better place now”.  This is little comfort to the emptiness the family is experiencing.  Always ask if there is anything you can do to help.  Often, just bringing a casserole or providing a dinner now and then in the first few weeks or months can be a huge help to the family.

R.S.V.P. is an abbreviation for the French phrase “respondez s’il vous plait”, which translated, means “Respond if you please”, or more loosly, “Please respond”.  One should respond to an invitation, whether it is by snail mail, electronic, or telephone – as soon as possible.  More formal invitations will sometimes have a deadline for responding so that the host can provide caterers and other vendors with head-count information.


Even a casual invitation – or a request of a friend or business associate – should be replied to promptly when possible.  To RSVP  is the polite and respectful way of “answering” your neighbor, friend, or host in the most timely manner so they can move forward with their plans.

If the invitation is formal, as in a wedding or reception event, usually a self-addressed and stamped envelope with the details will be provided for one to return with great ease, albeit replacing a once beautiful tradition of handwriting one’s reply.  Other less formal invitations and requests may come electronically…and may also be answered in the same manner. Following up with a phone call to an electronic reply is always a good idea just to make sure your recipient received the information.

With travels and the busy schedules of so many, emails get lost, forgotten, or missed so it is always a good idea to follow up if one hasn’t received a reply when needed.