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Modern Manners + Etiquette: Lying At Work, Handshakes + More

Friday, October 19, 2012


Pants on fire: What should you do when you suspect an employee of lying? Didi has the answers.

Do you know when you're being lied to? Does your office have hygiene etiquette guidelines in place for the upcoming cold and flu season? How's your handshake? Also, how to handle a backhanded compliment from a friend, were all questions this October at Didi Lorillard's NewportManners.com.

Dear Didi,
When going for a job interview how do I shake hands? It sounds silly, but I need to know what's the most professionally correct handshake?  A.K., West Roxbury, MA

Dear A.K..
Basically, there are three handshakes: equal, controlling and submissive. The only handshake to use is the right one. The one you're going for is the 'equal' one where both his or her hand and your hand are in the same position (although coming from opposite directions) with palms clasping in a vertical hand grip thumbs up.

When the other person turns his palm toward the floor to cover your hand with his, he's taken control. When a person's hand is palm up underneath yours, he's being submissive. A handshake shouldn't take longer than two seconds (count to yourself 'one Mississippi, two Mississippi'). If you happen to have sweaty palms, discreetly wipe them on your jacket sleeve, trouser leg, or skirt before shaking his or her hand.  ~Didi

Dear Didi,
With cold weather come colds and flu season, how do we persuade our coworkers to get on board about not spreading sickness?  G.T., Providence

Dear G.T.,
Set up hygiene etiquette guidelines. They can be as simple as putting this answer on the employee bulletin board.

*Get a flu shot.
*If you're sneezing, wheezing, blowing your nose or/and coughing you're spreading germs, so stay home.
*Don't leave used tissues lying around, dispose of them immediately. If you have a partially used tissue in your pocket or handbag, then when you hand someone change, a pen, or a key from that pocket or handbag, you're handing them your germs as well.
*Ask the Human Resources department to have hand sanitizers installed in the restrooms as well as near the elevator and main doorways. Elevator buttons and door and faucet handles are havens for cold germs and viruses.
*Wash hands frequently.

FYI: Apparently, according to one recent study, there are more cold and flu germs on the keyboard of an ATM machine than on a gas station restroom toilet seat. Please, apply a hand sanitizer after using an ATM machine.   ~Didi

Dear Didi,
How do you know when an employee is lying? What do you do about it? He's a chronic liar. It's a problem in the office. A.D., Boston, MA

Dear A.D.,
The most obvious sign is in his body language. Look where his hands are in proximity to his mouth. When he's covering his lips with his fingers, he's lying or just told a lie. Or he could be touching his nose instead of his mouth. Dealing with dishonesty is tricky. Morale in the workplace is based on honesty. Don't let him get away with it. Call him on specifics by asking, "Are you sure about that number?" "Were you really the lead negotiator on that deal?" You won't need to call him a liar. Questioning him will let him know you're on to him.

Whether an employee is exaggerating to appease a colleague, win over a customer, or cover up a failed project, lying in the workplace is rampant at every level. When lying is part of the culture of a workplace, management has to get the root of the problem. Recent company studies estimate that as many as one-third of the respondents admitted to being deceptive—with 15% admitted to outright lying in the workplace.  ~Didi

Dear Didi,
At dinner with a group of friends last night, someone whom I thought was a good friend gave me a backhanded compliment. I gotta tell you, I was shocked, humiliated, embarrassed and didn't know how to respond. I ended up mumbling something about not knowing what he was talking about. What should I have said?  A.S., Vail, CO

Dear A.S.,
No one can insult you without your permission. When you're given a compliment—backhanded or otherwise—replying with a genuine smile and the words "thank you" is the most well-mannered way to respond when in a group. Don't let a backhanded compliment put you on the defensive, unless you want to spar. Give him the benefit of the doubt by assuming he's had too much to drink or had a really bad day at the office. Whoever raises their voice first loses—and being rude in return is comparable to raising one's voice.  ~Didi

Didi Lorillard researches shifting etiquette at NewportManners.com by answering questions on relationship dilemmas, wedding etiquette, business etiquette, entertaining, dress codes and manners. Or find Didi on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Pinterest after reading her earlier GoLocal columns, some of which are listed below.



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