Who needs to be reminded of soft skills?

In my sessions of grooming and hygiene, social etiquette and interpersonal communication skills, I stand in front of my audience and think, 'Am I really getting paid for this?'

Just when I begin to question myself, someone will pick-up their spoon and obnoxiously start stirring their tea or coffee, another will walk in to the session half an hour late (my biggest pet peeve) and my personal favorite, the one individual that was coughing/sneezing into their hands, not a handkerchief, will extend that very hand to greet the late comer. Yuck - talk about gross and unhygienic. That's when the aha moment hits, 'of course that's why I'm here!'

We all walk around thinking that we have no etiquette issues, me included, but is that really so? Ever think, my manager doesn't even understand that he/she needs to chew with their mouth closed, what are they doing telling me what to do? Or ever run into a colleague just a few hours into the work day, say 11 - 11:30 a.m. and are assaulted by their body odor? How about the peer that comes into work looking like they either just got out of bed or the one that thinks that work is actually a fashion show!? Yeah, you know the type, the former coming in untidy clothes, hair haphazardly combed, lucky if they've briefly glanced in the mirror and the latter did nothing but self admiration and went overboard with self love to outshine the rest with clothes fit for a wedding and make-up night club ready. If you're shaking your head no, then guess what…you're one of them!

All of these skills are so basic that we learned them when we were 4 or 5 years old, but some how as we got older we shed them. I mean do you really need to be reminded that you are going to work, dress in your business formals or casuals, brush your teeth, spray deodorant and don't spread germs? Unfortunately the answer is 'yes.'

So, who needs to be reminded of these skills? The new guy who just came out of college and needs to understand that he/she is in the next phase of their life? Or is it the guy who has been settled into their position of years and knows the in's and out's of the firm?

Surprisingly it's everyone from the office boy that serves the coffee to the managing director that's being served.

How do we improve ourselves? By attending one such seminar, two or maybe three? Yeah, that could definitely get you started. If not on yourself then at least you'll start recognizing the faux pas. Once that happens it's easier to not make the same mistakes. Another is to observe how other's are reacting to your during various times of the day. For instance, at 9 a.m. they are a foot away from you, by 12 p.m., 3 feet away and by the end of the day, they'd rather just call or e-mail. That's generally a good hint that something is not as it should be.

However, the one technique I find to be most effective is imitation. Ever come across an individual and think, 'man that guy's got it together, even the different tie's he wears make sense,' or 'she always looks as fresh at 6 p.m. as she does at 9 a.m.?' That's the person you want to imitate. Don't have one to mimic in your circle, look to celebs, they pay thousands to be a certain way, why not try to pick up tips for free. From the moment understanding dawns we start imitating others to make ourselves be understood, be faster or better, then why not give it a try in this aspect too?

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