All Eyes on ME!

Eye contact is a small gesture, easily forgotten, but makes a powerful impression. Especially in the business world, making eye contact with co-workers and clients establishes a powerful business persona. The simple act of making eye contact with someone shows that you are interested in what they have to say, that you are paying attention, and have stellar self-confidence.

Believe it or not, eye contact is a method of communication. Different forms of eye contact send different messages so it is very important to know how to make the right one:

*Make eye contact when you are introduced to someone or when someone is talking to you, especially when you are in a one-on-one situation.

*Remember to make eye contact when you say good-bye to someone, it will make a long lasting impression.

*How long to look: Initially, you should look into the other person’s eyes for about 4-5 seconds. During the conversation you should be making eye contact about 80-90% of the time. Briefly glance away for a few seconds every now and then; you don’t want the other person to get creeped out by your constant stare.

*Blink normally and make normal movements by shifting and nodding your head. You don’t want to make it look like you are trying to stare the other person down; you want it to be as natural as possible.

*Try to copy/read the facial expressions of the other person. For example, if they are smiling, you should smile too.

*I know looking someone straight in the eye can be nerve-racking but try not to look over the other persons shoulder when you get nervous or uncomfortable. Why? Because it’s awkward! And can be distracting to the other person.

Eye contact can make or break an interview or first time introduction. It’s simple and sometimes hard to remember because you are so busy worrying about other things such as posture, handshakes, and your please/thank you’s (see previous posts). But whether or not you want to hear it, eye contact is one of the most important body language cues you can send another person. It sends the ultimate message: I am confident, watch out.

Now, go practice your ‘lipstick confidence’!

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Overcoming Obstacles: Real Life Lipstick Confidence

This week I am doing something a little different because I came across a really awesome article in The Wall Street Journal that I would like to share with you all.

In 1992, Jill Chalsty launched a program called Overcoming Obstacles for middle and high school students. Overcoming Obstacles is a life-skills program in which students learn concepts and skills such as confidence, responsibility, respect, teamwork, stress management, problem solving, etc. With the high school students they also focus on college and careers (they learn about scholarships/loans, prepare resumes, and practice interviewing skills). Lastly, the program also stresses community service, guiding the students through the process of starting a community project using knowledge they have gained in the classroom. The program has been used by 2.5 million students in New York, Charleston, Jersey City, and Los Angeles.

Previously, school districts who have participated in the program had to pay from their own funds. The curriculum includes 80 lesson plans, 500 activities, and 180 hours of instruction. But Mrs. Chalsty and her husband have decided that with recent budget cuts faced by many school districts it is time to make the program FREE. Therefore, they launched a $10 million “gifting initiative” in order to do so. The Chalsty’s kicked off the fundraiser by donating $500,000 of their own money.

I think that this program is a great idea and something that all middle and high school students need. Many school programs quickly breeze over bullying, time management, and study skills but very few focus on other life skills such as confidence, style tips, and common etiquette. Overcoming Obstacles seems to cover it all and perhaps if I had gone through this program myself I wouldn’t be so nervous about entering into the real world. I really hope more schools start to adopt this program.

Check out the Overcoming Obstacles website here.

Mrs. Chalsty is definitely a ‘lipstick confident’ woman, now go practice yours!

Surviving The Tip Conundrum

Did you ever get a bill at a restaurant, stay at a hotel, or take a taxi ride and wonder: “Wait, how much tip am I supposed to leave?” Well, you aren’t alone, it happens all the time! Being unsure about how much tip you are supposed to leave can make you feel uneasy. You are constantly worrying if you’re doing it right or if you’re offending your waiter, housekeeper, or cab driver. I think women especially suffer from this tipping conundrum. We tend to over think everything, we like to feel in control, and the confusion of what is and is not appropriate tipping can often hinder our self-esteem (at least for a few moments until you safely lock yourself away in your car, hoping your waiter won’t open your bill until you are out of the parking lot). Not knowing how to handle yourself in financial situations can make one feel inferior. I am definitely a clueless tipper (it might have something to do with my serious lack of math skills) so here are some guidelines that I found particularly helpful:

*Most importantly you must always remember that tipping is discretionary so don’t over obsess about it. If you don’t feel like a tip is appropriate or needed then don’t leave one, just be confident with your decision.

*You should always tip for good service. If you are happy with any type of service you have received, give a tip.

*If you receive poor service you should still think twice before skipping the tip. The person who is waiting on you is probably depending on that tip; you never know what personal issues/problems he or she is going through in which they need that money for. If you are really unhappy with their service, you should ask to speak to a manager and let them handle the problem and try to find it in your heart somewhere to still leave that tip (and it’s perfectly ok if you decide not to).

*Tip on the original price of your meal or service. If you have a coupon for 20% of your meal, you should still tip on what your total would have been without the discount. Your waiter didn’t go through any less trouble to get you your meal so their tip shouldn’t suffer.

*Now for the big question: how much do I tip? There are numerous predicaments that one can find themselves in where a tip is appropriate. Below I have tried to list the most common tipping instances and what standard tipping etiquette calls for in each situation:

~Holiday Tipping: At the end of the year, around the holiday season you should give an extra tip or gift to those that provide service to you all year round. Here I have found a helpful guide to help you remember who those special people are and what is appropriate to give them.

~Airport:     

-Porter: $2 a bag

-Cart driver: $2-$3 a person

-Wheelchair escort: Depends on how far they are bringing you. $5 if they bought you from the ticket counter to gate, or gate to luggage area. Include more tip if they help you out to your car. If they bring you from one terminal to another, $10-$20 depending on the distance.

~Train:

-Waiters and stewards: 15% of bill

-Porters: $1 per bag

-Sleeping car attendants: $5 per person per day

~Ground Transportation:

-Taxi, limo, shuttles, and vans: 15% of total fare (make sure tip isn’t already included), if they help you with bags then throw in a little extra

-Courtesy shuttle to a hotel: $1-$2 per bag (if they help)

~Hotel:

*Again, make sure tip isn’t already included in the price of the room.

-Valet: $1-$3 whenever they return your car to you.

-Doorman: If he/she helps you with something other than opening the door use your discretion, $1-$5.

-Bellman: $1-$2 per bag (pay him once you get to your room)

-Concierge: $5-$10 for going out their way to help your make a reservations or get tickets to a show, etc.

-Room Service: 15-20% of the bill.

-Maid service: $3-$5 per day (tip daily because the maid might be different each day).

-Spa Personnel: 18% (if not already included)

~Bed & Breakfast:

*Most B&B’s have a no-tipping policy. Most of the time, since they are family owned, the price they ask for covers everything (just ask).

*If you notice that there is a hired house staff than follow the same guidelines as above.

~Restaurants:

-Food server: 15-20%

-Buffet: Nothing unless there is some type of service involved like drinks.

-Takeout: Nothing unless you want to (up to 10%).

-Bartender: 15-20% of total bill or $1 per drink.

*Double time: This is a concept that I personally have never thought of before but I wish I had. If you spend enough time at a table where a waiter could have gotten two parties seated and served then you should tip him/her twice, it’s only fair.

~Hair salons:

-Hair stylist: 10-20% of bill

-Manicure or facial: 15% of bill

-Massage therapist: 10-15% of bill

~Roadside assistance:

-Towing service: $5-$20 depending on circumstances/distance.

-Jump start, tire change, locked out of car: $5

Of course there are many other instances where tipping may be appropriate but these general guidelines can carry over into almost any situation. A confident tipper makes for a more confident consumer and a better time had by all. Like all other etiquette situations, don’t sweat it, do what you feel is right and stick by your decision.

Now, go practice your ‘lipstick confidence’!

Pretty Please, with a Cherry on Top?

The words “please” and “thank you” are engrained in our minds as the magic words since pre-school or maybe even earlier by our parents. Then why is it that we constantly forget to say these few simple words so often? These two words can make a huge difference in someone else’s day, yet we don’t use them enough. We all have such hectic schedules, often running around from place to place, trying to get to our next destination as quickly as possible that we forget two simple manners that we have learned from day one:

*Say “please” every time you make a request for something such as, “I will have a small cappuccino, please.” The act of saying please is a recognition of the trouble that the other person is going through in order to fulfill your request. Even if it is their job to wait on you, it’s still nice to let them know you appreciate it.

*Say “thank you” every time a task or service is completed for you such as once the Starbucks employee hands you your cappuccino or someone holds the door open for you. Saying thank you applies to everyone, no one is below you.

Sometimes the simplest things make the biggest difference. Saying “please” and “thank you” shows that you have proper manners. People are naturally attracted to politeness. It shows that you are confident enough to publicly acknowledge the good of someone else. Plus, you are guaranteed to make that Starbuck’s employees day ten times better just by saying thank you. Sadly, they may even be surprised to hear it.

Now go practice your ‘lipstick confidence’ and brighten someone’s day!