What Would Joan Say?

21755615_mIn August, we lost a comedic icon, Joan Rivers.  For several decades, she delighted and shocked audiences with her quick wit and crass humor. On the stage, she had a ‘take-no-prisoners’ stance, while behind the scenes she loved her family and was generous philanthropically.

She once said:

”I succeeded by saying what everyone else is thinking.”

Yes, she certainly did and most of the words she said cannot be published in this article! She made fun of everyday outfits and actions that make you and me inhale a shocked or disgusted breath or mumble words of frustration under our tongues. Alas, Joan Rivers was our spokesperson, our release in a more soft-spoken society.

Well, mostly soft-spoken! Too often corporate events pose a too tempting opportunity to break free from tact and reveal either a private message of a co-worker, or worse, too much skin! So what lessons can we learn from this star of sarcasm?

  • Dress to impress; do not undress.
    There are many types of corporate events, luncheons, golf outings, holiday parties, and fundraisers. Each type of event calls for a different style of dress. But ladies, one rule holds firm: revealing too much skin never sends a positive message! Outings are a perfect opportunity to impress your boss and co-workers. Start by dressing appropriate for the event. If you are unsure of the dress code, then ask the organizers. Choose confidence or lose respect!
  • Brash, brazen and bombed is so many decades ago!
    If one message rings true in the hit show Mad Men, based on a 1960’s Madison Avenue advertising firm, it’s that alcohol played a huge role in not only making the deal, but also destroying reputations! Fast-forward to today—drinking too much at a function and flirting with your co-worker(s) is never comfortable the next day and may lead your boss to second-guess your judgment and pass you over for that promotion. Put a cap on your cocktails everyone!
  • Lose the phone. Need I say more?
    That call can wait! Answer that call or text and you instantly send the message that you are not interested in the person you’re talking to. At the very least, turn the sound off of your phone so you are not distracted.
  • Actions speak louder than words!
    You have 7 seconds to make a great first impression; don’t blow it by not making eye contact, giving a colleague a weak handshake or not dressing appropriately. Another point; watch your tone of voice. Be attentive. Ask yourself, when responding to questions, is your voice emanating enthusiasm for the subject or sound disinterested and listless? The other person might interpret your behavior and overall persona as standoffish.
  • A wallflower does not get the promotion.
    A corporate function is the perfect opportunity to grab the ear of your boss or get to know a new employee. Standing against the wall too nervous to approach others sends a message of being aloof or lacking in confidence. I recommend you engage in open-ended questions versus a yes or no answer to keep the conversation flowing. Some suggestions:Instead of asking, “Do you like to take vacations?” say, “Tell me about your favorite vacation spot.” Or instead of asking, “Are you from New England?” ask, “Where are you from?”

While we can never emulate the great Joan Rivers, her messages on appearance and proper etiquette are loud and very clear. Remember, you do not have to be in your office to represent your corporate brand. Corporate events are the perfect opportunity to dress for success and build relationships. Don’t be the brunt of the day after’s quips and jokes due to inappropriate behavior.

Rest in peace Joan.

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