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    Learn to see yourself as others do and become magnetic, magnanimous, and memorable! Savvy advice, specific examples, and tactical exercises to develop your presence—in months, not years.

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    Winner in the Business-Motivational category for 2012

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    Inspired to extend a helping hand to ambitious women working in corporate America, a veteran executive offers honest, practical, slightly irreverent advice about navigating companies that are run and populated predominately by men: how to interpret their sometimes surprising behavior, avoid common mistakes, flourish with the good guys, deal with the bad guys, and nurture a wonderful, satisfying career in a non-traditional role.

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  • TABLE OF CONTENTS

    The Spirit of the Discreet Guide
    FIRST PRINCIPLES
    The Facts of Life
    In and Out of the Men’s Room
    Tuning In and Dropping Out
    Hold It Right There, Lady
    Skeptical Spectacles and a Critical-Thinking Cap
    YOUR SISTAS AND YOU
    Whose Girl Are You?
    Taking Care
    You’re Different, and That’s Only Mostly Bad
    Impressions and the Real Thing
    Sistas
    EARLY MANEUVERS
    School Days
    Your First Company
    The Cubette
    NAVIGATION TIPS
    Guiding Lights
    The Big C’s: Competition, Challenge, and Conflict
    DANGER—FALLING COCONUTS
    Sit Down and Shut Up
    How Do You Get Anything Done?
    He Doesn’t Think You’re Very Smart
    But Don’t Be Dumb
    TOUCHY SUBJECTS
    After Hours
    One-on-One: Danger Zones
    Sex At Work
    GUYS, GUYS, GUYS
    The Big Guy
    The Good Guys
    International Guys
    The Messed-Up Ones
    Bad Guys
    Super Bad Guys
    YOU’RE A BIG GIRL NOW
    Managing—Between a Rock and a Hard Place
    Work—Why You’re Paid
    THE EXECUTIVE WOMAN’S DILEMMA
    What? I Can’t Hear You
    Courage
    Common Sense
    A Powerful Combination
    THE PRIDE OF THE LIONESS
    Power and Risk
    Leadership
    THE DIAMOND

The Magic of Common Courtesy

Some social skills are simply what we in the United States call common courtesy. If we are fortunate, we are taught these conventions from a young age by our parents and our teachers. For some of us they become second nature; people who come from other cultures must actively learn American customs and consciously practice them to be perceived as well-mannered.

Do not be fooled into thinking common courtesy has no place in the corporate world. On the contrary, employees, coworkers, board members, and shareholders expect their leaders to remain well-mannered even when they are under fire, tired, or worried. I would suggest that in most cases you should follow the conventions of social skills. Behaving in ways that others would describe as rude seems unlikely to make a favorable impression.

Chauffeurs and administrative assistants have told me they could tell how senior an executive was by how polite he was. They reported that junior staffers were the ones more likely to be disrespectful. It behooves us to mimic the behavior of powerful people who treat others kindly, especially those with a lower organizational rank. The concept of noblesse oblige, the inherent responsibility of those in power to act with nobility and generosity toward those less fortunate, fits nicely into You, Not I thinking.

Employees are most likely to see their leaders at semi-social situations, those that are apparently social but in a business context. Those include the holiday party, Friday pizza parties, or summer picnics. If you are in a senior role, or aspire to one, it is important to carry yourself at ease and with grace in those situations. The spotlight is on you, but you have less control than in a formal setting, such as a presentation or a meeting. Being familiar with the conventions of good manners will greatly enhance your presence. Notice the positive impact of these small gestures of courtesy:

When you are: People feel:

polite: respected

courteous: taken seriously

gracious: comfortable

smiling: relaxed

looking at someone: visible

shaking someone’s hand: touched

taking someone’s coat: welcome

picking up what someone has dropped: important

nodding: solidarity

expressing interest: interesting

listening: honored

using good table manners: grateful 🙂

introducing someone: like someone worth knowing

giving a small gift: appreciative

saying thank you: appreciated

Excerpt from You, Not I: Exceptional Presence Through the Eyes of Others

© 2014 Jennifer K. Crittenden

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    Click here for the "Sexual Misconduct" Issue - Nov 2017.

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  • About the Author

    Raised on a farm in southern Indiana by an idealistic professor and a feminist homemaker, and after language and film studies in Europe, Jennifer was an unlikely candidate to graduate from a leading business school and enter corporate America. To her surprise, she excelled in her new world and spent the next twenty years building a scintillating career, rising from Financial Analyst to Chief Financial Officer and Corporate Secretary, working for big pharma and biotech companies in the US, Europe, and the UK.

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