01/21/2015 05:24 EST | Updated 03/23/2015 05:59 EDT

Sticky Situation: Your Boss Thinks You're Rude

Very angry manager firing one of his young employees
Very angry manager firing one of his young employees

Sticky situation:

Manners matter.

Yes, the contemporary workplace is evolving and no, your manager or human resources representative may not have had "that" talk about your rudeness or inappropriateness with you, but you could be embarrassing yourself, your superior and your entire organization.

"Says who?" you ask. Well of course this etiquette expert, but also 84 per cent of upper and middle-level managers surveyed by Kessler International.


The good news is that you can get a second chance to make a good first impression. Here are five things that you can start doing now to broadcast positively as a company ambassador and make your boss proud that you are on his team.

1) Put away the technology.

If our Prime Minister and other Heads of State can have meetings without their cell phones or digital tablets, so can you. Focus on real face time, not the Apple kind. Make eye contact, smile, nod and even take notes manually. This will keep you in active listening mode. Everyone appreciates a good listener. Even you do, right?

2) Wear appropriate clothing.

Yes it is your body, but remember that what you wear is what people first observe about you. Just like the cover of a book before its content, you may be judged by your attire before you speak. Look the part. Dress according to your job title and profession. Your clients should feel like you belong on their team. If you have worn it to the beach, the bar or have handled barbells in it, don't wear it to work, even if it is Casual Friday on a hot and humid day.

3) Respect others and their space.

Use the magic words: hello, please, thank you and I'm sorry, this last one is very powerful. Ask before taking and bring it back. Knock before entering and if you are in a cubicle environment look to check if you are welcome. Take good care of your company equipment and your office including appropriate usage of the available technology.

4) Communicate appropriately.

There are differences between writing a text to your buddy and sending an email to a client. Use a spell check software, appropriate vocabulary, punctuation and tone. Know when to call, email or text. Adapt your communication mode and message to the recipient. The way that you communicate directly impacts what you are trying to convey and reflects on your whole organization.

5) Invest in a dining etiquette tutorial.

Know how to handle your utensils, stemware and napkin without bringing undue attention to yourself. There is nothing more embarrassing for your boss than to watch you and be reminded of the famous Chez Paul Blues Brothers scene.

As you can attest, none of these guidelines are rocket science. I leave that up to Commander Hadfield. The difference between what he teaches and what I teach is that what I teach can be put into practice right away to give immediate results. Also, even an astronaut needs to know which bread plate is his or what formal attire is, when he is invited to 24 Sussex.

If you feel that your entire team needs a Softskills Master Class, write to me and I will prepare a customized etiquette activity that will empower all to broadcast positively as company ambassadors.

You have a sticky situation at work or at home? This is your forum. Write to Julie and she will reply promptly. Want more solutions to sticky situations? Go to Facebook, Twitter or order your autographed copy of Etiquette: Confidence & Credibility. Planning a conference? Julie happily travels coast to coast and beyond, to present customized activities. With Julie's help gone will be awkwardness, embarrassment and faux-pas.