The driver of tomorrow is not thinking Green...

The driver of tomorrow is not thinking Green...
He's thinking Classic. (click on photo)


Sep 29, 2011

Art of Manliness: Gentlemen at the Office

The rules of business etiquette are very similar to the rules of social etiquette.

But there is a difference between the two sets of manners.

In the social sphere, the assumption is that you and your associates are equals, with some allowances made for age and sex.

The business world, on the other hand, is a hierarchy. Whether you work at a traditional, highly-stratified corporation, or a modern and casual upstart, whether the hierarchy is spelled out, or entirely unspoken, one exists. Just step on some toes and see what happens. Business etiquette dictates that employees defer to employers, sellers defer to buyers, and seekers defer to sought-afters.

This difference in the dynamic of social and business relations accounts for things like the fact that when you make introductions outside of work, you always introduce the man to the woman, while in the business world, you make introductions based on rank and importance, regardless of gender. So if you’re introducing a male CEO and a female employee, you would say, “Mr. Robert BigCheese, I would like to introduce Mrs. Samantha Underling from accounting,” rather than the other way around. (Note: if Mr. Graham was meeting a client (of either sex) as opposed to an underling, the client’s name would go first; remember, the seller defers to the buyer.)

This is also why your boss can call you by your first name, but you shouldn’t reciprocate, unless he or she has specifically invited you to drop the Mr. or Mrs.

Another difference between the rules that dictate etiquette in the social and business worlds is that in the social sphere, etiquette doesn’t necessarily have to be efficient or practical; in fact, this can be part of its charm. But in the workplace, tradition matters less and getting the job done matters more.

So for example, while in a social situation you would want to stand when a woman entered the room, at work you should rise from your desk when receiving visitors of either sex, and you shouldn’t stand up every time a female secretary or assistant walks in and out of your office.

Those caveats aside, the rules of business etiquette and social etiquette are not so different; it’s all about acting with integrity, knowing the appropriate behavior for a particular situation, behaving in ways that show respect, and treating others as you’d like to be treated.

While certain areas of business etiquette deserve their own posts, today we will outline some general dos and don’ts for being a gentleman at the office.

The Dos

Dress with respect. Be clean and presentable each and every day. Follow the office dress code at a minimum—and don’t be the guy who constantly toes the line. Of course it’s fine to dress a cut above everyone else, but just a cut. Dressing up far beyond the standard sported by everyone else will come off as putting on airs.

On another style note, while you might take off your jacket and roll up your sleeves during the day, when there are visitors present in the office or you’re receiving callers, put your jacket back on and present a professional appearance that reflects well on your company.

Come to work with teeth brushed and body washed. Your co-workers are stuck with you in a small space for eight or more hours a day. Don’t make them avoid your cubicle like the plague as they gather to discuss whether presenting you with a gift basket of soap and chewing gum would send too overt a message.

Keep things pleasant with your co-workers. Unlike friends, if things get awkward with your co-workers, you cannot choose to stop seeing them. No, cause an uncomfortable rift with a co-worker, and you’ll have to look at their contemptible face each and every day for months, and maybe years. So keep your relations with them pleasant. This means not delving too much into your private life, avoiding discussion of topics like religion and politics, and typically choosing to ignore annoying habits, rather than calling attention to them (although every man has his breaking point).

When it comes to dating at work, don’t risk it unless she’s someone you truly connect with. And if you do pursue something with a co-worker, review your company’s policy on such relationships and let HR know what’s going on.

Keep company secrets, secret. Our Wiki-leaks-loving generation tends to scoff at the notion of keeping anything secret. And yes, your company’s secrets may seem so boring or unimportant as to not even be worth the effort of keeping them under wraps. But no matter—they’re still nobody’s business. Even if the spilling of secrets doesn’t cause actual harm to your company, doing so will still make you look careless.

So keep your files tucked away when receiving visitors, guard your end of the phone conversation when a visitor is standing nearby, and if outsiders ask you questions that might reveal company secrets, simply give intentionally vague answers–never volunteer any information they could not have otherwise been gleaned from the news. If information is truly confidential, don’t send it over email. There’s no such thing as a “private” email; they can be monitored by your company, and sometimes retrieved long after they’ve been “deleted.”

Finally, don’t volunteer more information than necessary: “Dan is not in today,” not “Dan’s not here. He’s meeting with the head of mergers at Dyna Corp.”

Work with your boss—not against him. Keep him informed. Let him know when you’ve made a mistake so he doesn’t paint himself into a corner out of ignorance. Back him up–if you have concerns about something, let him know in private instead of airing your grievances at an open meeting.

When you use the last of something, replace it. Whether it’s the last paper in the copy machine or the last cup of joe in the coffee maker, don’t just walk away—replace the paper and make another pot. Ditto for copy machine paper jams—don’t whistle as you slowly slink off. Fix it.

Treat your underlings with kindness and respect. They keep the office running. And you never know if that lowly clerk will one day be your boss.

Respect the chain of command. Both up and down. Don’t step on anybody’s toes. Don’t go over your boss’s head without permission.

Hold the door for people approaching the elevator. Don’t hide in the corner while secretly wishing for the doors to close as quickly as possible.

If you’re using speaker phone, let the person(s) you’re speaking with know who else is on the call with you before you begin the conversation. That way, they will not be confused when another person’s voice suddenly pops in later on.

Bring donuts or bagels to a meeting every once in a blue moon. This is not expected of you. But if you do it, you’ll be a hero.

The Don’ts

Pass the buck. Generally, making excuses reflects more poorly on your character than admitting the mistake would have on your competence. If you blame an underling, you reveal yourself to be a mediocre leader, for you should have seen to it that the job got done correctly. If you blame an equal, you simply look like a whiner and run the risk of souring your relationship with someone with whom you’ll likely have to continue to work. And if you blame a higher-up…well common sense dictates that it’s not a good idea to anger the people who hold your job in their hands.

Come late to meetings. Your late arrival is disruptive and may prolong the meeting if they have to wait to get started until you get there or if they have to catch you up on what has already been discussed.

Linger at someone’s desk.
Nothing wrong with stopping by to say hello to your cubicle buddy. But, if after some brief chit-chat, your co-worker shows signs of trying to get back to work, move on!

Eat other people’s food. The crime that launched a thousand passive-aggressive notes.

Eavesdrop on co-workers’ private phone calls. Now obviously if someone is having a conversation a cubicle over, it’s impossible not to hear what they’re saying. But you can certainly pretend like you don’t hear. In other words, if Bob just got off the phone from having an argument with his teenage son, don’t saunter over and ask, “What’s the problem with young Johnny, Bob?” If your co-worker wants to bring up the topic with you, then let him initiate that conversation. Otherwise, consider what you heard to be off-limits.

Listen to radio/music/Youtube videos without headphones. Not everyone shares your affinity for Enya.

Let your personal life get in the way of your business life. Always maintain a business-like attitude. This doesn’t mean being cold or aloof from others. What it means is that your personal life should very rarely interfere with getting work done. Not that you can’t leave early because your kid got sick, but that you don’t come in late because you got plastered the night before, you don’t ask the boss for a raise because you just had a baby, and you don’t spend half your time at work arguing with your ex-wife about alimony payments.

Come back and visit your old office. And now we return to the point made at the beginning of the article: the business world is different from the social world. In the social sphere, when you make close relationships, the expectation is that those relationships will last no matter where life takes you. At the office, you might develop relationships that feel very close with your co-workers, but once you move on, those relationships typically do too. When you leave a company to take another job elsewhere, don’t come back to your old workplace expecting to be heralded as a long lost friend. People will find the situation a little awkward and you a good deal lame.

Sep 22, 2011

My question for President OBama

My husband and I have 5 kids together, ages 17 - 9, of which I am the sole support since my husbands industry crashed with the economy and work is not yet to be found. The State actually told me in regards to child support from my children's biological father, they wanted to create a "win-win" situation by reducing his support to basically nothing. This is suppose to not overwhelm him and give him incentive to pay something, while day in and day out, I strive to continue to provide a home and basic necessities to our children. That State told me to go to my residence State and apply for assistance for our children. Really? This is the answer? How does this possibly help our bankrupt states & country, by removing the responsibility from the citizens for their children and making it the government's responsibility to provide?

Despite this, I work very hard to find every opportunity for growth and education, around some of the failings of our own education system, for all of our children so they can grow to look beyond their own selves, to a world in which they are set to live in. We live in this place of market, market, market - we've lost the ability to provide for ourselves, produce our own food, make our own items, who sews clothes anymore?, build our own homes - and so any necessity - or any extra opportunity costs money. Driving to work costs money. Travel and commuting has become such a way of life, community is lost. Millions of people are out of work, who are skilled, who have something to offer others and yet, instead of banding together to bring our wares to the table to create community provision, we sit in our homes, wondering how we are going to purchase the next dozen eggs or put gas in our car to make it to work.

My question is not what are you directly going to do for our country. Presidents are simply human beings who are able to figure out how to get themselves elected to the head of this country. My question is where is our country going? We cannot possibly continue to spend the money we are spending. Our governments cannot possibly afford to continue providing for everyone who doesn't. There are many who choose not to, who look for handouts. We give to them and penalize those that do, that get up every day and continue to work, continue to try and educate the next generation, even though that education has a cost that may be overwhelming. Our focus as a nation in many areas has turned to MONEY. Therefore, money/economy must be created. Yet we lose our manual ability to care for ourselves and become completely reliant upon the government, who in turn, becomes bankrupt as population explodes.

There is something to be said about being able to pay your doctor bill with a chicken and working it out in the neighborhood.

What is the government going to do to unite us as the United States of America, instead of the division that is driving us apart and weakening us?

When Your Child Won't Listen - Lorri Craig

Well, I know it's a shocker, because we seem to have this family thing all figures out (NOT!) but this is an all too often problem in our household of 5 kids. From 9 to 17 and sometimes the 42 & 43 year old kids don't listen either, our kids have selective memory, selective priorities. Just last night I was venting to Ryan, "Why is it I have to ask 4 or 5 times before you do it? JUST DO IT!" To which he responded "You don't have to ask 4 or 5 times, just twice" Obviously the logic portion of his brain is still not developed and it's a good thing he said that from the other room. He's only 10 and already exhibiting his 15 year old sister's teenage feedback. I tensely responded, teeth clenched "I should only have to ask ONCE and out of the love of you heart, you should do it!". It's not as if brushing your teeth & getting ready for bed is a surprise every night of your life.

Anyway, talking with Matt this morning on the phone, I'm in the office, he's at home with our 2 youngest, he interrupts to admonish one of them for a pretty serious non listening offense. Are we normal? Does this happen in other homes? Did my parents generation and their parents generation have it figured out with corporal punishment? Sometimes, I see the advantage. Yet, having children who (please don't tell them this) are at times smarter than our aging & haggard brains, corporal punishment has been semi useless so we've changed tactics. And changed again. To just everyday parental frustration, followed by "one day they'll be gone and I'll wish for this moment back so try and enjoy important is it really... " and a million other musings. That's just me. Matt just gets by it & moves on, not lingering on the possible negative after effects into their adulthood like I stew over.

So this brings me to the article I'm sharing this morning. I LOVE her point that CHILDREN ARE NOT LITTLE ADULTS! THEY ARE KIDS! Hello!!!! I also liked her point about dealing with it calmly, quickly, efficiently and move by. One day, they will be gone so try to enjoy them through the frustration. And the strong ones? They want to not only lead their own lives, parents, teachers, friends, any human in their vicinity - they want to lead the world. Someone has to.

Most parents would agree, a child who won’t listen can be incredibly frustrating, particularly when you are trying to teach them right from wrong. How can they learn to behave if they won’t listen?

When parents complain to me that their children ‘never listen’, my usual response is a slightly cheeky, ‘Well then, stop talking so much.’ Having someone lecture at you can be very annoying, whether you are a child or an adult, so kids learn to turn off their ears and brains in response, or, worse, they defiantly rebel.

Why Questions

In amongst the lecturing, the frustrated parent commonly asks, ‘Why?’ “Why did you throw that rock?” “Why did you put peas up your nose?” “Why did you jump up and down on the bed until it broke?” “Don’t just shrug. Look at me! Why aren’t you listening to me?!”

I have a why question. Why do so many adults feel compelled to ask children why questions? Be honest, when was the last time you knew the answer to your own why questions after doing something silly? “Why did you have that extra drink last night?” “Why did you buy those expensive shoes that hurt?” The only honest answer would be, “Well, it seemed a good idea at the time,” or, “Because I wanted to,” or, “I don’t know.” Unfortunately, such honest responses are not likely to appease an angry parent in full-on lecturing mode.

Children Are Not Little Adults

Tom Phelan, author of ‘123 Magic’, stressed that children should not be treated as ‘little adults’; because they are not: they’re kids. A young child is not likely to have great philosophical realisations about good versus evil by being talked at and reasoned with. What they are more likely to do is stop listening and think about something more pleasant, like that new toy they want for Christmas.

They might, if well trained in escape tactics, appease you with an eyes-down, submissive nod, perhaps accompanied by a mumbled apology, and of course, when prompted, promise to never do it again. But more often than not, unless they have an unusually strong urge to please you, they won’t really mean any of it. They are simply trying to cope in that moment. After all, they’re kids.

Lecturing and reasoning with your child as if he is a little adult on your level reduces your power and status in the child’s view. At times the lecturing might create a quietly angry child who will retaliate later, or take their anger out on a younger child. At other times the lectured child might react angrily towards you. They are only responding as they feel a little adult should.

The Angrier You Get…

As a parent it can feel really frustrating to hear your little darling argue back disrespectfully rather than offering the meek apology you’re hoping for. This frustration might lead to an increase the loudness and tone your voice. Then, because your child tends to mimic you, and because you are giving them focused attention for their retaliation, and because your anger has, in their world, given them more justification for being angry, the child gets angrier at you. Then you get angrier in response, and so it goes on. This is called escalation, and it is very common in families.

Be a Calm Assertive Pack Leader

I believe one of the greatest contemporary human psychology experts is dog behaviour expert, Cesar Millan, star of TV’s ‘The Dog Whisperer’. Millan does not believe in reasoning with canines. Instead he stresses to his adult human clients that they can train their out-of-control dogs by becoming strong ‘pack leaders’, and exuding ‘calm, assertive energy’. If a pack leader is calm, confident and assertive, his pack will feel confident that he is looking after them and protecting them from harm, so they feel relaxed, secure and well-adjusted. The pack doesn’t have to challenge the pack-leader’s authority and they don’t feel threatened by the outside world, as long as the pack leader stays relaxed.

‘Calm, assertive energy’ is Milan’s constant mantra; a mantra that I have been encouraging parents of humans to take on for many years.

If you believe that you, as a parent or parents, should own the role of leader in your family [solo as a single parent, or in partnership with another parent in two parent families], and you can get into the calm, assertive mode of a good pack leader and set clear limits for your children, they will automatically feel calmer and more secure, and be much easier to manage.

Millan teaches that a pack leader in the dog world does not talk in response to their charge lings’ misdemeanours. Nor does he react aggressively. He simply corrects the unwanted behaviour, calmly and assertively, then lets the issue go. He doesn’t harp on and on, he doesn’t try to reason, he doesn’t get angry, and he and definitely doesn’t give the unwanted behaviour too much attention. Dogs are so smart.

Human are also social pack animals, and human children thrive on solid adult leadership, and clear boundaries and consequences delivered in a calm, assertive manner. It helps them feel like the world is predictable and simple, and this helps them feel secure. The internalisation and development of adult values comes later.

Calm Clear Consequences

So, when your child is doing something wrong, try not to lecture, or ask why, or get angry in response. Instead, focus on exuding calm assertive energy, and quickly and firmly correct the behaviour, then get back to life. Mild misbehaviour can be corrected by a firm look, or a calm assertive, ‘Hey, that’s enough’, with a moderate to deep voice. More serious misdemeanours can be corrected with clear simple consequences. Thomas Phelan talks about using counting with simple time out consequences his 123 MAGIC series of books and videos. I will talk more about the Phelan system, along with ways to deal with the more out of control child, in separate training articles and video blogs.

It is important to always stay aware of your own emotional response and avoid reverting to anger or fearful submission. Assertive parenting is neither. Assertive parenting is relaxed but strong posture, calm body language, moderate voice tone and loudness, and clear, calm eye-contact. It is brief and to-the-point and very matter-of fact. It is the language expression of a powerful leader who knows she is in charge, so doesn’t have to try too hard.

So, in a nutshell, the keys to managing your child’s behaviour are:

*Remember your child is a child, not an adult
*Project calm and assertive leader energy
*Do not lecture or try to reason with your child
*Don’t ask ‘Why?’ questions
*Do not get angry or argue
*Do not give your child too much attention for not listening or misbehaving
*Stick to clear consistent consequences

And, most importantly, try to lighten up and have some fun with your children. They aren’t children for long, and one day you’ll wish you had.

Good luck with this challenge. I welcome any feedback, questions, or ideas.

Lorri Craig,

Please leave questions or comments in the COMMENTS box below, or email me at I will try to respond as quickly as possible. For more parenting tips, and for links to Tom Phelan’s brilliant parent training DVDs, check out my parenting site

Sep 16, 2011

I Hate You - Don't let it pass

What should a parent do when a young child says, “I hate you?” I’m Dr. James Dobson with My Family Talk.

Some givers of parental advice recommend that parents ignore these kinds of violent outbursts and expressions of hostility for a mother or father. I disagree. Even though it is true that most youngsters do have strong feelings, and it’s not unusual for them to verbalize their anger. Still, we need to teach children how to handle those emotions more appropriately. If a child screamed his hatred at me for the first time, I would wait until his passions had cooled and then I’d convey a message that would go something like this: “I know you were very upset earlier today, and I think we should talk about what you were feeling. All children get angry at their parents now and then, especially when they think they’ve been treated unfairly. But, that doesn’t excuse you from saying, ‘I hate you.’? You see, when people love each other as you and I do, they shouldn’t want to hurt each other. What you said hurt me; just as it would hurt you if I said something like that. Now you can tell me what angers you and I’ll listen carefully. And if I’m wrong, I’ll do my best to change the things that you don’t like. But, I can’t permit you to call me names or speak disrespectfully to me in that manner. Now is there anything you need to say to me? If not, then put your arms around my neck because I love you.”

See, once this boundary has been established, I would then expect the child to live within it. With My Family Talk, I’m Dr. James Dobson.

Sep 15, 2011

Will, Grace, Love, Mercy. No, not a new comedy.

The Will of God took His only Son to a place where even Mercy could not be found. But Love retrieved Him from the enemy's lair, simply for Grace to exist for us.

Sep 8, 2011

Marriage Marathon

Don't forget to sync your heart monitors, adjust your speed, match your timing and keep each other in sight. If one jets ahead or one lags behind, drop a leg and pick up a cheering arm.

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