Business Etiquette: Office Space

Business Etiquette (7)

{Chapter 5 (and final post) in a series on Business Etiquette}

If you missed the others, you can find them here:

Chapter 1: What is Business Etiquette and Why is it Important

Chapter 2: How to Navigate “Appropriate Dress”

Chapter 3: Meetings and Introductions for the Win

Chapter 4: Email Etiquette & Technology Tips

About a month ago, I was asked to speak to a group of young professionals on Business Etiquette. I am, by no means, an expert on the subject and in fact, break the rules quite often. But I do believe that soft skills can launch you forward and that business etiquette is an underrated skill. So as I thought about my years in the workplace and as I did a little bit of research, I managed to come up with a LOT of tips that I think will help both you and me. Thank you for turning in and believe me when I say, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the various topics discussed in this series! (Yes, even if you disagree.)

Office Space

That’s the topic in today’s post. And just to clarify:  I’m talking about your physical workspace here, not the movie.

I believe you have my stapler.

Just kidding, I said NOT the movie.

Ok, back to your workplace environment. You know, the place you often share with your co-workers. What could go wrong, right??

Smellsheavy cologne and/or perfume can often have the opposite effect you were going for. You definitely want to smell clean and nice, but you don’t want your scent to stay behind and linger.  Let’s talk breath. If you are talking to others (and I’m guessing you do), maybe keep some mints or gum in your desk to use after eating. I’m the first to admit, I’m a little obsessed with mints. You will find a giant jar of spearmints on my desk and I will generally have one in my mouth or be offering them to others. Let’s talk lunch and snacks.  I bet if you read the words “burnt popcorn” you can smell it right now.  Or heavy onions, sauerkraut or fish. While it’s OK to eat snacks and meals in the workplace that you crave, I would say to do your best to remember that you are still in a shared space. What can you do to minimize the smells that might be offensive to others? Let’s talk other smells in the office: Scentsy’s, essential oils, or candles. I recommend that before you start up these smells, to ask those around you “Will it bother you if I…” and follow with, “Well, please just let me know if it starts to bother you.” Those fragrances can be delightful to you but may cause a headache or an allergic reaction in a co-worker. Or there may even be a policy about them.

Also…don’t be like Ross’ co-worker here:

my sandwich

No need to cause a break-down because of a sandwich.

Offices – Even in a cubicle environment, ask if your co-worker has a minute before you go barging in or sit down to talk. Respect that they may be working on something that is best done without interruptions or that has a sensitive timeline. In fact, for a face to face meeting about something specific, it may be best to email or call ahead of time to schedule the meeting. I would say this also applies to any type of Skype/Facetime or video chat meeting. I, for one, am going to want some advance notice before your face pops up on my phone or computer screen. Do you like to listen to music while you work? Will you be watching continuing education training videos? I’ve got two words for you: Head. Phones. OK, I know that’s one word, but still. Using headphones is a way to still enjoy your tunes or complete your training course (or both at the same time!) while being courteous to those who office near you.

Speakerphone – when is it OK? This can often be used when more than one person in your office needs to be on the same call with someone at a different location. But here’s what I suggest: inform the person on the other end that they are on speaker, if you are utilizing this feature. And if there is someone else listening in on your end, inform them of that as well. If you are participating in a speakerphone conversation so you can be hands-free while taking the call, I might suggest headphones (with a microphone) again. Your closest work neighbor may not want to hear you scheduling your doctor’s appointment or discussing your child’s school performance for the full conversation.

I love Jim and Pam as much as the next guy, but in this instance, let’s maybe stay away from scenarios like this one:

the office

Poor Dwight.

As I said earlier, this is the last post in this series on Business Etiquette. And I thank you for reading along (and hopefully laughing a little).

In conclusion, it really ALL boils down to this:


Your momma didn’t raise no fool.

Be nice; go the extra mile; say thank you; be true to your word; and look people in the eyes when you meet them.

YOU have the power to make someone’s day better. Use it. 

And if you could do that….that’d be grreeat.


Business Etiquette: Email Etiquette & Technology Tips

Business Etiquette (6)

{Chapter 4 in a series on Business Etiquette}

If you’ve missed the previous posts, here they are:

Chapter 1: What is Business Etiquette & Why is it Important?

Chapter 2: How to Navigate “Appropriate Dress”

Chapter 3: Meetings & Introductions for the Win

Email Etiquette

Here’s the meme for today’s post.

stop replying all

Please, oh please, do not “reply all” unless you are instructed to or there is a purpose to it. You may need to “reply all” if this is the way a committee you are on is communicating, but you probably do not need to reply all to RSVP for lunch, especially if there are a LOT of email addresses on the distribution list. Think before replying all. (And note the settings when replying from your phone, sometimes the default setting is reply all. This can be changed.)

When writing an email, don’t use abbreviations unless it is something everyone on the email will definitely understand.

Remember when composing an email that the recipient can’t read tone of voice. Be prompt and polite. When addressing something tricky, ask a co-worker to be a second set of eyes to read the email and make sure your communication is clear and professional.  If you are heated while typing, think on the email message overnight before hitting send. A fresh perspective may help your tone.

Spell Check. Spelling matters. Pay attention to the squiggly lines that show up under words, and then right click and see what options are given. Also, double-check to see if  autocorrect changed something for you (right or wrong). We’ve all seen the autocorrect fails and don’t want to go there!

Use a professional e-mail address. No lie, we received a job application from “crazygirl420@…”. Gmail is free, guys. Whatever email you created in middle school or during a “phase” may not be the best one to use for job hunting and/or business correspondence.

Other Technology Tips

Is the technology platform you are using appropriate for the message? If you are discussing important issues, especially if giving your boss your notice, do it in person. (Yes, I had a team member *try* to quit over text once. I promptly called her and let her know, for future reference, this was not the way to quit. She was a good employee and she left with my blessing, but with the knowledge and courage to handle important conversations face to face.) As a hiring manager, I can say with confidence that face to face conversations are often considered the most respectful form of communication, although other forms of communication are often appropriate for the office.

Social Media – if your personal social media pages are public, keep them appropriate. When you are associated with an organization such as a company or nonprofit, you may be held to a higher standard. Also, complaining about your job on social media may get back to your boss. This may send mixed signals to your friends and family as well. For instance, if you complain about your job on Facebook, and then ask people to donate for a fundraiser for that same organization, that is confusing. Also, many employers check social media in their hiring process. Keeping yours appropriate keeps you from losing an opportunity. 

Chapter 5 will be the final post in the Business Etiquette series, and will cover Office Space (the physical environment you work in, not the movie.) 🙂

Have a great week y’all!

– Melissa



Business Etiquette: Meetings & Introductions for the Win

Business Etiquette (5)

{Chapter 3 in a series on Business Etiquette}

You can find Chapter 1 here and Chapter 2 here.

This post is Business Etiquette, Chapter 3: Meetings and Introductions for the Win. 

In the context of this article, I am using for the win to mean a choice or strategy that should guarantee victory.

What you need to know about meetings:

  1. Arrive on time. “If you’re not five minutes early, you’re late.”
  2. Be prepared. If an agenda and/or financial statement was sent ahead of time, read it to save time from back-tracking during the meeting. If you are giving a report, be ready. If you’re not giving a report, be ready to speak up for your department anyway.
  3. Put away your phone and silence it. If you need to keep it out, please notify the leader of the meeting why (i.e. my child’s teacher may try to get in touch with me, I am going to write up minutes from a recording of today’s meeting, I take notes on my phone, etc.) Please do not scroll social media during a meeting unless it is relevant to the topic at hand.
  4. If you are running the meeting, keep it to the time specified if at all possible. Time is a valuable commodity – respect that in others.
  5. Bonus Tip for the Win: Send an email after the meeting to recap what was discussed, list who is responsible for specific action items, and a time you will check back with them and/or the group. And then check back.

What you need to know about introductions:

  1. Introduce yourself with a strong handshake and eye contact. I can not stress the importance of this enough. There is power in a strong handshake and eye contact.  It exudes confidence. Please, oh please, do not give me the dead fish handshake. (Side note: My husband and I have three daughters, and this is an important skill he has taught each one. Our youngest is now 11 years old and my husband challenges her to introduce herself properly to at least 5 people during our church’s “meet and greet” segment. She usually earns points in some sort of made-up game for participating in this. If an 11 year old can do it…) 
  2. Introduce yourself to everyone. Title does not always give an obvious clue to who the most important person in the room is, so treat everyone like they are. By the way, this includes administrative assistants and other support staff, who generally manage the calendar of the leaders. If you do not treat them with respect or act as if they are invisible, they can make it difficult for you to get a meeting with the leader you are seeking one-on-one time with. But make them a part of the conversation and you may have found an ally. Facilities staff often make things happen and you are going to want to know the name of who to go to if you need to set up an event. They are often some of the hardest working individuals in an organization as well.
  3.  Introduce the higher-ranking person to the lower-ranking person. For example, “Mrs. CEO, I’d like to introduce you to our Marketing Intern.” If possible, add a detail of something the two have in common (i.e. You are both RedSox fans), so they can continue the conversation.
  4. Bonus Tip for the Win: Wear your professional nametag on your right lapel. For one, wearing a nametag makes it easy for the person you have met to call you by name. Wearing it on your right lapel, as etiquette suggests, is practical, too in that a person’s eyes will easily read the nametag when shaking hands.

So there you have it, Business Etiquette: Meetings & Introductions for the Win.

And when in doubt, just remember the example below from the iconic movie, The Princess Bride. 

Princess Bride

Have a great week, y’all!

– Melissa


Business Etiquette: How to Navigate “Appropriate Dress”

Business Etiquette (3)

{Chapter 2 in a series on Business Etiquette.}

If you guessed the topic of this post from the meme in Chapter 1 of this series, congratulations!

(And if you are reading this while hanging out in your own Wonder Woman costume, you are probably my new best friend.)

How to Navigate “Appropriate Dress”

Well, this can be confusing with all the terms floating around out there, like Business Formal, Boardroom Attire, Business Professional, Business Casual, Smart Casual, Business Cocktail, Casual and more. First of all, what in the heck does Smart Casual mean? And Business Cocktail?  Like that time when you are at work in a cocktail dress? (Said no one, ever.)

Honestly, if I asked five of you to describe one of these terms, like Business Casual, I am very likely to get five different answers.

And that leads us to the meme for this post:

casual friday


Since the terms mentioned above can be interpreted very differently, here’s what it boils down to:

Dressing up a little more than expected is only going to make you look good.

And it doesn’t work the other way around.

If you don’t read any other part of this post, re-read those last two lines again. And then picture me dropping the mic. Because that’s really all you need to know.

Did you re-read those lines? Ok, good.

Now, if you want a little bit more of a guide, here are some questions to consider when searching for the illusive “appropriate dress” concept:

What is the culture of the company? None of us are Mark Z, therefore, we probably can’t pull of his token gray t-shirt for high level meetings. Chances are, you do not work for Google, what with their “nap pods” and all. How would you describe the culture of your company?

What are the leaders of your organization wearing? Take your cues here. You don’t have to be their clone, but noticing how they dress is a good indicator of how you should dress. See meme above.

Where is your location geographically located? Are you located on a beach? Then it may be OK to wear flip flops to work. Otherwise, not so much. Maybe it’s OK in your work environment to wear shorts…but not cut-offs. Keep your geographic location in mind when planning appropriate work dress.

Who are you meeting with or what is on your agenda for the day? Sometimes what you wear definitely depends on what is on your agenda for the day. Are you meeting with clients? Dress up. Are you volunteering as a workplace team to clean up trash in your area of town? Dress down. Are you doing both in the same day? Keep a blazer in your car or office to help transition between the two.

Do you have a polo or t-shirt that identifies what organization you are with and is this a good place to wear it? This may be the easiest answer. If you are representing your organization at a casual event or meeting, the odds are good that this is one way you can’t go wrong.

Dress as if you care, even if you are in a casual environment.

The number one complaint from employers regarding dress is that their employees dress too casually. So take that into consideration when deciding what to wear in the business environment.

Besides, you don’t want to be on the People of Walmart website.

Or a meme in my next post. 🙂



Business Etiquette: What is it and why is it important?

Business Etiquette (2)

{Chapter 1 in a series on Business Etiquette}

I was recently asked to help facilitate a discussion on business etiquette for a local group of professionals. Not feeling 100% qualified to lead this subject, I began reflecting on my years in the workplace. I also compiled a TON of information…and memes (because, really, memes are funny and can be SO relatable) and ended up having a great time discussing this with the group. It was also a reminder that knowing the nuances of business etiquette is, actually, pretty important. And now that I have some organized thoughts on the subject, I am going to share them with you!

So..thank you for joining me in Chapter 1 of Business Etiquette: What is it and why is it important?

I’ve heard podcasts on business etiquette that covered some of the following elements: multi-generational work environments, personality influences such as Myers-Briggs types, Enneagram numbers, DISC profiles and the like. These are all definitely facts to consider (and honestly things I love talking about), but are not what I’ll be discussing in this set of blog posts. Those could be a series of their own!

To start with, we probably need a definition of Business Etiquette.

What is Business Etiquette?

The first definition I found stated that business etiquette is “the manners and etiquette expected in the workplace.” So that’s not exactly rocket science. Business etiquette means…etiquette in the business world. The second definition I found took it a little bit further and read “to act professionally and exercise proper manners when engaging with others in your profession.” I liked that one.

Now that we have defined Business Etiquette, let’s get to the Why.

Why is Business Etiquette Significant?

1. First Impressions Are Important. You only get one chance to make a first impression and first impressions may last a lifetime. Think about it. For example, if you met someone and heard their name incorrectly the first time you met them, isn’t that what sticks in your head, even though it’s not their name? That first impression, inaccurate as it may be, was lasting. Will Rogers may have said it best.

will rogers

2. Soft Skills can launch you forward. Business etiquette is a valuable skill set that can actually give you an edge over others, build a positive image, and enhance your chances of success or promotion. Employers often value soft skills because they enable people to thrive in leadership positions, teams, and in organizations as a whole. Business etiquette can be that thing that makes you stand out among your colleagues. And it’s pretty easy! #winwin.

Know you’ve heard my What and Why of Business Etiquette, here’s a meme to give you a sneak peak of what Chapter 2 of this series will be discussing. Any guesses?

(I warned you that I love memes!)


Have a great week, y’all!

– Melissa


Embrace Your Season

Do you have a favorite season? Mine is autumn. The crisp air, the flannel shirts, the bonfires, the caramel everything, the excuse for hot chocolate, and most definitely, the brilliant show our Creator puts on with the turning of the leaves. Oh, I just love it!

Have you ever noticed how we use weather-related terms to sometimes explain what is going on with us personally? For example, “a dry spell,” “being snowed under,” “on cloud nine,” or “a ray of hope”.

As I think back on my life, I can see different seasons playing out. Some were awesome, maybe described as Spring because it was a time of new beginnings and beauty. Some seasons of my life were not so awesome, probably best described as winter because they were pretty cold and dark.

As I’m having this reflective moment, I realize something important:

My prayer life is often strong during a season of waiting. 

And a second realization: God’s answer may not come in that season.

Like when I prayed in my twenties, for a husband and a family, and saw nothing on the horizon.

Like when I was concerned for my husband’s health and prayed for over six months without seeing much change.

Psalm 24:1 says, “Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart, and wait for the Lord.”

Psalm 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”

Sometimes it’s hard to trust during the waiting. But, sisters, He is so worthy of our trust!

I married a widowed, single dad in my 30’s, receiving my husband AND a family at the same time. Not how I would have planned it, but pretty stinkin’ amazing.

Oh, and after praying for my husband’s health, he was miraculously selected to be a contestant on the TV show The Biggest Loser. For real, ya’ll. Again, not how I would have planned it because, really…who can think that up? Oh my. Blown away by my God.

Here’s some truth: Whatever season you are in, God is working on your behalf. Pray. Wait. Trust. And leave the results up to Him.

“And let us not become weary of doing good, for in due season, we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

This post originally appeared on LCSisters.Tv site, a now defunct site. Check out all kinds of encouragement for women on the current Life.Church Sisters site here.






Adopt a Child Campaign


The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oklahoma offer after-school programming to at-risk students for low cost to their families. The mission of the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club is: to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.

Check out the Adopt a Child campaign at a location near you, to help impact youth!

Share or give, if you are so inclined!




Book Review · Uncategorized

Book Review: Brave Beauty

brave beauty

Brave Beauty: Finding the Fearless You is a devotional book by Lynn Cowell of the Proverbs 31 Ministries speaking and writing team. It is designed for girls ages 8 -12 and is broken into 100 “mini chapters” each with Scripture, personal anecdotes and interactive activities (journaling/quizzes) and ending with a “courageous call” or prayer to God. I am currently going through this book with my 9 year old daughter and am loving the evening talks this brings about at bedtime, about her true worth in Jesus, about what is going on with her friends or her own emotions.  She LOVES the activities that include writing or quizzes, as she showed interest in a daily diary a couple months ago on her own. All in all, each mini chapter takes less than 5 minutes to complete. I am thankful for the Brave Beauty book as it has become a nightly bridge between my daughter and her connection with God. The fact that I get to share it, too, is absolute bonus.

Being brave is a great mandate for our girls, am I right? If you’ve got daughters in the tween ages, I definitely recommend this book.

I received an advance copy of Brave Beauty in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed, however, are my own.



Book Review: the Awakening of HK Derryberry


the Awakening of HK Derryberry is an inspirational true story of an unlikely friendship between Jim Bradford, a successful business executive, and an awkward nine year old boy, HK Derryberry, with multiple disabilities. Their chance encounter turned into a lifelong friendship, spanning sixteen years. HK’s positive attitude despite his blindness, cerebral palsy, desertion by his father and meager lifestyle touched Jim as they began spending Saturday afternoons and soon, every weekend together. HK’s unique disposition began to touch even bigger circles as Jim and HK’s unusual friendship became noticed by the community around them. Read this book and you’ll be encouraged by how one blind boy awakened a world of possibilities to those around him, despite his own shortcomings.

This book was provided to me at no cost by the publisher, in exchange for an authentic review of the book.