Stop Apologizing

Etiquette

It’s no secret that half of the workforce is female. It’s also not a secret that a majority of those working females are also mothers. This summer, I chose to work remotely so that my children could spend time with their grandfather and attend awesome summer camps that were out of the state. I am a firm believer of taking my children outside of their comfort zone. At the ripe ages of 6 and 8, we left Atlanta for 5 weeks. I rented an office in Beaufort, SC where my father lives, and let my boys have the best summer of the lives. I only missed two days of work and had the most productive five weeks in nearly 6 years.

Typically, I tend to go out of my way for the professional and philanthropic relationships I have in my life. My personality type lends itself to advocating for others and causes in need. Because I wasn’t in proximity, I was unable to fill the gaps placed upon me by these relationships. They were not expectations that were discussed with me, just the assumption that I would be able to handle a task, or make a meeting, or help them with an initiative that is totally outside of my scope of responsibility and wouldn’t have normally made my priority list. Because of the distance between South Carolina and Atlanta I found myself apologizing for expectations that other people had placed upon me. I found myself feeling guilty for not being able to rise above for a friend, colleague, or a cause. I also found myself saying ‘I’m sorry” a lot for things that pale in comparison to what I am responsible for – raising my children, spending time with my family, and running my business. I stopped apologizing.

If you come to a crossroads when someone or a cause makes you feel guilty for choosing your family or your business, never apologize. Instead, state your priorities and thank them for their understanding.

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Dress: Jaycie Dress from M.M. LaFleur

Don’t Let Poor Body Language Speak for You.

Etiquette

While we love a woman who is articulate, sharp and assertive, we hate to see them fall victim to poor body language. Whether you are the Head Honcho or trying to land that first career defining role, what you say is just as important as what you DON’T say. Below are a few pointers to keep in mind when trying to become an employee, or trying to manage a team of them.

Positioning Yourself in a Conversation While Standing:

It is important to let your audience know you are interested in what they have to say. Squaring your feet, torso and chest with a supervisor or person in charge is a great way to non-verbally assign respect to that person’s position. Make sure to keep your feet close together as a wider stance could signal a desire for domination or automatically jumping on “offense”.

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Crossing Your Arms:

If you pay attention throughout the day of how you stand or sit, you may find that you cross your arms simply because it’s comfortable. While this may be an easy way to give your shoulders a break, it can be a sign of a “standoff-ish” attitude and make you seem unapproachable. As a leader, you want your team to be comfortable engaging with you. This increases company morale, and can lead to some excellent team conversations.

You might think you’re presenting confidently like this:

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But most people are going to see or feel this:

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Opening your hands during a conversation:

Many of us speak with our hands. It is important to be mindful of how aggressively you are using your hands when speaking to or presenting to an audience. Keeping your hands between waist and chest height is a good rule of thumb to begin. Next, extend your arms with palms up and fingers open to show a sign of welcomed input and engagement. Closed fists and flailing arms can be intimidating and distracting.

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Present with Pride:

While many of us are able to identify the obvious “do’s and don’t’s” (chewing gum, tapping fingers, shaking legs etc), we often fall short on how we present when we think people are not watching. Standing in a room full of people, it is often easy to let our posture relax. This can be one of the worst mistakes you make in theses social situations. Whether you like it or not, someone is always watching. So if you’re the CEO or the new hire, make sure you present with shoulders back, a level chin and confident presence. Make the middle point in a room your lowest point of vision. If no one is engaging with you, start to move around the room; do not stand and start to sway as this will make you look like you are lacking confidence or you are anxious. Simply put, present like the boss is watching. You got this!

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