by Meredith Borgioli
Ovation Team Member (and now Business Etiquette Expert!) Meredith Borgioli knows that when it comes to investing in professional skills- whether it's relationship building skills, presentation skills, or beyond- using those skills means that you invest in others, as well. Today, Meredith shares how she used her business skills in her personal life to invest in an important relationship- and may have saved a friendship in the process.
Recently, I seized the opportunity to be trained as a Business Etiquette Expert. I thought it would be a great skill to have; a good investment in my career in presentation skills training and consulting and in helping to run a small business I’m a part of. I was fascinated by what I learned that week – the dining etiquette help, social media considerations, the intricacies of international business, I could go on... But what really struck me were the core principles of what was behind Business Etiquette, and how you could really solve any social business problems or issues by using those principles of: Consideration, Respect and Honesty.
Now, I’m the sort of person who loves to be busy. The more I can pack into a day, the better. You can sleep when you die, right? Well, that week of training was jam packed, even more than I was anticipating. But I absolutely love to soak up any knowledge, so I was happy to let everyday life take a backseat and just focus on one thing, for once – this training. I felt like I had accomplished a lot that week, learned a new skill, and met some great people. When I returned back home, of course I was faced with a huge to-do list, but I was used to that.
However, there was not enough time to do everything I needed to do. I knew one of my best friends was in a show that weekend. I really only had one performance that I could make, and I was just too overwhelmed with catching up on everyday life to make it. Good friends understand, right?
A few days later I received an email that made me stop everything. My friend expressed how hurt she was that I didn’t make the show, knowing that it meant a lot to her. Now, I could have immediately been defensive about it. Responded that I had a lot on my plate, I was gone for a week and had to catch up on so many things – family, work, school, home ownership, etc, etc. But I took a step back and remembered this business etiquette training from the week that I had been so focused on. And I was grateful that these business problem solving skills were so fresh in my mind. Because what I did immediately was think of things from her point of view.
Then, I thought of how well I knew her. I should have known she would react that way, and it was my responsibility as a good friend to do everything possible to prevent her from feeling disappointed in me. I was so grateful that she was honest with me, so I had to address the situation immediately and with the utmost sincerity myself. I immediately called her and thanked her for her honesty and for giving me the opportunity to fix the situation. That’s what good friends do – they respect the friendship most of all. And of course I apologized and acknowledged her feelings and promised that I would give them greater respect and consideration from now on. Because that’s what you do to strengthen a relationship.
We talk so much in our presentation skills workshop about practicing the skills you learn that day in your everyday life: Practice good eye contact to relate to people, talk TO them instead of AT them. If you want people to do something with the knowledge you’re giving them, you need to get them to FEEL something about that knowledge – affect their attitudes. I was so happy to put relationship building skills that I had invested my time learning into practice in my personal life. I feel this knowledge and these skills will help me in so many ways – professionally, socially and personally. It goes to show you never know how you’re going to apply something new you've learned. Investing my time and energy into any education I can get my hands on is always something I’m excited to do and ultimately grateful for.