Etiquette & Engagement: Complimentary

Imagine if every person acted like a lady or gentleman…..

Engagement Tip: Ladies and gentlemen are complimentary when being served by others.

You go to a restaurant, and the server gets your order wrong. You never receive your basket of bread, and it takes half an hour to get your check. Do you complain? Most likely. You probably under-tip, and you may even feel so frustrated that you post a scathing review online. On the contrary, what if you receive stellar service? Do you go out of your way to leave a compliment? When you pay for good service, you expect good service. However, this shouldn’t preclude you from expressing your gratitude and being complimentary of others. Complimenting the people who serve you is a good way to show your appreciation and to reinforce the standards of service that you would like to see in the world. At The Ritz-Carlton, we express gratitude for each other’s service by sending our colleagues First Class cards. When employees are praised for their good work, they are inspired to keep up the good work and often try even harder. 

The motto of The Ritz-Carlton is “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.” This motto sets a tone of goodwill and grace for all.

How to Be Socially Acceptable in Other Cultures

In today’s global economy, it’s more important than ever to understand the nuances of communicating across cultures. Your gestures, words, style, and tone should adapt to local culture. The rules for basic customs—such as shaking hands, presenting your business card, and even whether to look co-workers in the eye—vary from country to country.

What is appropriate in one part of the world may be insulting in another part of the world. For example, many cultures prefer an indirect, referential style when discussing business. While business professionals in the United States tend to take a more direct approach in meetings. In Singapore, you should always present your business card with two hands, and in Dubai you should present your business card only with your right hand. Here are three books that will broaden your understanding of customs around the world and prevent you from making social faux pas as you connect with colleagues and customers globally.

Three Books About Cultural Awareness

1) “Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands” by Terri Morrison and Wayne A. Conaway

“Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands” is a Library Journal “Best Business Books” winner, with over 300,000 copies sold. Fully updated with over 60 country profiles, this comprehensive book shares proper international business protocol and informs readers “how to handle common business interactions with grace, respect and an appreciation for different cultures.” The foundation of this book began in the ‘90s when Terri Morrison created a digital database on doing business in 60 countries. For this revision, the introduction states that the authors consulted with “over sixty embassies, hundreds of representatives of private and public sectors, and many institutions of higher education.”

2) “Multicultural Manners: Essential Rules of Etiquette for the 21st Century” by Norine Dresser

This book shares examples of the right words to say and provides readers with the correct behavior to use in a wide range of cross-cultural situations. The back cover of the book states that readers will discover:

  • The dos and don’ts of successful business and social interaction with people from different cultures
  • Appropriate etiquette regarding body language, food, child rearing, clothing, word choices, colors, entertaining, romance, and gift giving
  • Detailed tips on avoiding embarrassment at work, in the classroom, in health care settings, on business trips, at meals, at weddings, at funerals, and on vacations and holidays
  • Amusing firsthand accounts of cultural gaffes that illustrate how miscues happen—and how to avoid them
  • A breakdown of customs, religions, languages, and ethnicities for seventy different countries

3) “Gestures: The Do’s and Taboos of Body Language Around the World” by Roger E. Axtell

This book claims that it could save readers from causing an international incident. The book explores the ins and outs of body language from head to toe, and tells readers the cultural significance of simple gestures such as raising your hand to signal the waiter or extending your thumb to hitchhike. You will learn what gestures from all around the world mean. You’ll also discover how to use them and when to avoid them.

Culture and The Ritz Kids® Program

One way The Ritz-Carlton introduces customers to cultural differences is through the Ritz Kids® program. The content for the Ritz Kids program is designed upon four key pillars: water, land, environmental responsibility and culture. At The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain Hotel & Spa, there’s an activity for young guests called “When Cultures Meet,” and through this activity, young guests learn about cultures that surround them, different customs, and interesting facts around the world.

Technology, media and the world economy are breaking down boundaries. The need for a better understanding of cultures is greater than ever. If you want your communications and interactions to be successful on a global level, then you must make the effort to understand the values of your customers and colleagues. 

The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center offers advisory services, courses and presentations to organizations that wish to benchmark the award-winning business practices of The Ritz-Carlton. Your organization can learn about The Ritz-Carlton methodology for customer service, employee engagement and leadership development. We also guide organizations through a multi-step process in order to achieve sustainable culture transformation. 

How to End Rudeness and Restore Civility

You’re waiting at airport security, and someone cuts to the front of the line. You’re at the movies, and the people next to you are talking loudly. You’re in a meeting, and your colleagues are working on their smartphones. I’m sure you’ve witnessed some of these scenarios, and perhaps you’ve even been the one checking your smartphone while the boss is talking.

So what’s the big deal? Shouldn’t we all have the capability of tolerating each other’s minor moments of disrespect? Absolutely. However, as you look around the world today, it sometimes seems as if inconsiderate behavior has become the norm rather than the exception.

Civility doesn’t have to fade from our experience. We all have a right to exercise courteous behavior, and with busy holiday travel and shopping around the corner, now is a great time to remember the importance of expressing graciousness. Here are four ways we can apply some of the wisdom from the past to our modern day interactions.

Words of Wisdom #1:

George Washington, the first President of the United States, advised:

“Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present.”

Application: You’re not alone. When you’re at the airport, getting on an elevator, or getting off the subway, be aware of the people around you. Try to keep lines moving forward, and consider smiling at people.

Words of Wisdom #2:

Albert Einstein, a Nobel prize winning theoretical physicist, noted:

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”

Application: You know what’s coming – put the personal computing devices (smartphones, iPads, tablets, etc.) aside. Try giving all of your focus to the people that you’re with, or if you’re walking down the street, pay attention to your surroundings. You’ll find this safer and much more friendly.

Words of Wisdom #3:

Samuel Johnson, an 18th century writer, literary critic and lexicographer, observed:

“When once the forms of civility are violated, there remains little hope of return to kindness or decency.”

Application: Media often portray our society as polarized, dramatic and sometimes downright rude. This type of content earns high ratings and attention, but it’s not appreciated when we encounter it in real life. Try to be a role model for others by conducting yourself with grace and thoughtfulness. You can disagree with someone and still be polite.

Words of Wisdom #4:

Amelia Barr, a British novelist who wrote 63 books after age 50, remarked:

“Kindness is always fashionable.”

Application: It’s been said that this is the “Age of Entitlement.” Entitlement is not necessarily a bad thing. However, individuals shouldn’t demand and expect priority treatment simply because they’re breathing. The antidote to entitlement is the Golden Rule—treating other people the way you would like to be treated.

Imagine how the niceness level of the world would improve if we each made an effort to be a little more compassionate, a little more thoughtful of our neighbor, and a little less selfish in our actions. We don’t all have to become Mother Teresa, but we can practice civility.

The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center offers advisory services, courses and presentations to organizations that wish to benchmark the award-winning business practices of The Ritz-Carlton. Your organization can learn about The Ritz-Carlton methodology for customer service, employee engagement and leadership development. We also guide organizations through a multi-step process in order to achieve sustainable culture transformation.