Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 17, 2007


The following is an excerpt from my new book, "MORPHING INTO THE REAL WORLD - A Handbook for Entering the Work Force" which is a survival guide for young people as they transition into adult life. The book offers considerable advice regarding how to manage our personal and professional lives. As a part of this, I found it necessary to discuss basic common courtesy or as I refer to it as the common leveler between people.

Common Courtesy

Last week I discussed the four basic types of personalities; A, B, C and D. In addition to the different personality types, we as humans have a wide variety of interests and non-interests ("turnoffs"), as well as highs and lows. As such, it is impossible to know precisely how to properly relate to everyone in every situation all of the time. The common leveler is common courtesy. By this I most definitely am not referring to "political correctness" which is concerned with pseudo-courtesy for political purposes. Instead, common courtesy represents a genuine respect for the human spirit and how we should interact. This is much more than just saying "please" and "thank you," it's treating others as we want others to treat us.

Each day we transmit a series of messages which communicate how we regard others. This is done either verbally or through other means affecting our senses. These messages can either be perceived as positive or negative. For example, someone who dresses or smells badly is sending a message that he has no regard for the others around him, as does foul habits such as belching or flatulence. Conversely, good grooming means you care how people perceive you. Other positive messages are conveyed through such things as greetings and handshakes, punctuality, and simple manners. Common courtesy, therefore, is concerned with sending positive messages as opposed to negative. It also means our ability to practice common courtesy is a reflection of our character and how we want other people to treat us.

Introductions, Handshakes & Greetings

In Japan, an introduction in a business setting is very important. In addition to identifying yourself, it establishes your professional image, and the superior/subordinate relationship for the two parties to assume (the "pecking order"). Consequently, the Japanese practice introductions carefully, particularly how a business card is presented, as they realize its importance. In contrast, people in the western world have a much more cavalier attitude towards introductions. Nonetheless, the introduction is every bit as important and sends signals as to how we perceive each other.

A lot of people underestimate the importance of a handshake. Actually it is the single most important message we can convey in an introduction. Some people like to give a strong vice grip handshake in an attempt to intimidate you, but most handshakes today by young people are weak and flabby. Actually you need to find a good balance, not too flabby and not too strong. Further, look the other person square in the eyes when you shake hands, this conveys your sincerity in meeting the person. Do not trust anyone who simply shakes your hand but doesn't look you in the eyes; they simply do not care about you.

Shaking hands has historically been a very masculine custom, but this has changed in recent times. However, men still question the appropriateness of shaking a woman's hand. Because of this, it is the woman's responsibility to offer her hand. If she does not offer her hand, do not reach for it as she may feel uncomfortable doing so.

Upon meeting someone for the first time, be careful about using the other person's first name or nickname as this may be reserved for the person's friends and family. Use "Mister", "Ms", "Mrs" or "Miss" depending on how you were introduced and allow them to say, "Please call me Joe." But if by chance you ask, "May I call you Joe?" Don't be surprised if someone says, "No." In other words, do not risk embarrassment, let the other person make the offer to use their first name or nickname. And please, whatever you do, do not call the other person "Dude," this should have gotten out of your vernacular after graduating from High School.

It is also a good practice to memorize the other person's name, particularly when a business card is unavailable. Nothing is more embarrassing in a business relationship to both parties than to forget a name. Write it down if you cannot remember it.

It is a good practice to greet your boss and coworkers on a daily basis when reporting to work (as well as saying your farewell at the end of the day). Nobody wants to feel unwelcome or unappreciated. If they do, they will feel like outcasts and less likely to help you with something. The objective is to make people feel at home. This can be accomplished with a simple greeting such as "Good morning" or "How are you?" It is easy to detect when a greeting is sincere or routine. Your goal is to appear genuinely concerned about the person. This can be achieved by:

  • Complimenting on some personal attribute of the person (e.g., clothes, hair, car).

  • Inquiring about a person's family (e.g., birthday observed, anniversary, graduation, pets, health, etc.)

  • Asking about an event the person recently experienced (e.g., attendance at an event, a trip, participation in a volunteer organization/charity, a new job or project assignment, etc.),

  • Commenting on something newsworthy - community, sports, weather ("What did you think about...?")

Such greetings are an expression of your interest in the person. Too often greetings become routine and, as such, less credible. Try to break it up.

A good basic greeting can work wonders in building cooperation and relations between people.

Attention to Detail

Small details can have a dramatic effect in your relationship with others. For example:

  • Be observant - if there is anything constant in life, it is change. Change is always around us, but it takes a perceptive person to be able to spot the smallest of changes, whether it be a new hair style, someone losing weight, a small job well done, or whatever. When a change is observed, ask yourself why it has happened. Be inquisitive and understand the rationale for the change. This will help you adapt to the change as well as improve your interpersonal relations. For example, people are easily flattered when someone compliments them on a change. It means you are perceptive and interested in the person, both of which puts you in good standing with the other person.

It is these little observations that go a long way. As an example, perhaps the best secretary I ever met was a lady named Myrna who worked for an I.T. Director in Chicago. The first time I visited the office, Myrna warmly greeted me and asked if I wanted a cup of coffee. Saying Yes, she then asked me what I wanted in it. I said cream and sugar, which she then made for me. Months later when I returned to visit the Director, Myrna greeted me by name and presented me with a cup of coffee with cream and sugar. Frankly, I was startled she not only remembered my name but how I also liked my coffee. Later I discovered Myrna maintained a simple card file; whenever someone visited the office, Myrna would record their name and the type of coffee they liked. Sharp. Very sharp.

Next week we'll discuss "Appearances."

If you would like to discuss this with me in more depth, please do not hesitate to send me an e-mail.

OUR BRYCE'S LAW OF THE WEEK therefore is... "Our ability to practice common courtesy is a reflection of our character and how we want other people to treat us."


Friends, as mentioned, we have just published a new book entitled, "MORPHING INTO THE REAL WORLD - A Handbook for Entering the Work Force" which is a survival guide for young people as they transition into adult life. Reviewer Bill Petrey praised it by saying, "Every young person entering the workplace for the first time should be given a copy of this book." The book includes chapters to describe how a young person should organize themselves, how to adapt to the corporate culture, develop their career, and improve themselves professionally and socially. Basically, its 208 pages of good sound advice to jump start the young person into the work force. Corporate Human Resource departments will also find this book useful for setting new hires on the right track in their career. It not only reinforces the many formal rules as contained in corporate policy manuals, but also includes the subtle unwritten rules we must all observe while working with others. The book lists for $25 and can be ordered online through MBA or your local book store. Complementing the book is a one day seminar of the same name which can be purchased separately for $4,000.00 (U.S.) plus instructor travel expenses. For more information on both the book and the seminar, visit our corporate web site at:
ISBN: 978-0-9786182-5-4

LIKE TO WIN AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF MY NEW BOOK? Be the first one to e-mail me a message with your name and shipping address. In the SUBJECT or BODY of the e-mail, be sure to write "Morphing Book 091707". E-mail it to me at Only one free book per person. I'll announce the winner on next week's broadcast.

Last week's winner was:
Navdeep Saini
Little Rock, AR
Congratulations, a copy of the book is already in the mail to you.


I was surfing the television channels one night and happened upon a rerun of "Sex in the City." In this particular episode, Samantha and her boyfriend happened to be visiting a sex therapist and the conversation turned into a very graphic, yet comical, description of their sexual inadequacies. Although it was amusing, I was somewhat taken aback by the description particularly as this was prime time and just about anyone could view the episode, including children.

When I was growing up, it was considered somewhat risqué to see a Tampon ad in a magazine, but I think we've gone way beyond that with Viagra, Cialis and condom commercials on television. I don't care how you try to clinically describe it, there's something embarrassing about listening to the dangers of a four hour erection, particularly when children are in the room. And please, I am certainly not a prude when it comes to sex but it seems there is an overt attempt to promote sexuality on television, in magazines or on the Internet. You can't seem to get away from it, particularly on MTV and other programs aimed at our youth. On radio, we have the shock jocks led by Howard Stern where it seems the sky is the limit. Even Homer and Marge Simpson have been shown "getting it on."

What disturbs me is that the message to our young people seems to be, "Go for it." There is little concern about the repercussions of premature pregnancies or social disease, just get a piece of ass. More importantly, there seems to be more emphasis on simply having sex as opposed to romance; that the mystique of romance has been replaced by a simple biological function. It's a sad day in our culture when romance is supplanted by wanton sex. One could easily argue this is another sign of the moral decay in our society and perhaps is indicative of our rising divorce rate.

The courtship and budding relationship between a man and a woman is priceless. It's a matter of getting to know one and other, not simply throwing off clothes and hopping into bed. Probably every young person reading this will think I'm crazy as they all have one primary interest, which is fine. I'm just here to remind you there is much more to life than just trying to seduce the next person that comes along.

A few years ago I was on a consulting assignment in Spain. Due to the time change, I couldn't sleep so I turned on the television. I remember there was a late night show from Germany being shown which was a bawdy version of the "Wheel of Fortune" where the contestants removed their clothing after they spun the wheel. I didn't understand the German language but I had no problem grasping what was going on, particularly when the contestants finally got down to their G-strings. The next day I asked my local contact about the show; he laughed as he knew about it. I went on to ask him if there was a problem with young people watching the show.

"Why should there be?" he responded matter-of-factly, "They should already be asleep by that hour shouldn't they?"

His simple logic was right on target. The answer was twofold: parents should be aware of the programs their children watch, and the networks have a moral responsibility for not corrupting the airwaves inappropriately. It's not that the Europeans have anything against sexuality, but more importantly, they appreciate the need for romance. Whereas Americans put sex in your face, the Europeans appear to see the bigger picture.

I know what you are going to say, "Don't you know how to program your television set to block certain content?" Not really, but as I said, I don't see how you can escape from it as just about every channel makes some reference to sex, be it in a show or a commercial. If my program blocker worked correctly, I would probably end up with a blank screen.

I, for one, am most definitely going to miss romance.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.


Folks, a couple of years ago I started to include my "Pet Peeve of the Week" in these "Management Visions" podcasts. They have become so popular that I now syndicate them through the Internet and they are available for republication in other media. To this end, I have created a separate web page for my writings which you can find at Look for the section, "The Bryce is Right!" Hope you enjoy them.


I received many favorable responses to my recent "Pet Peeve" regarding "Screamers" (children in public places). However, I did have one exception that strongly disagreed with me:

An M.G. in Canada wrote:

"Nope, sorry; on this one, the Bryce is Oh so very WRONG. Children should be seen and not heard? You sound more like a grandparent and almost not like a parent at all. This is worse than your unnecessary tirade against tattoos. Haven't you heard about the day care provider that killed an infant because she was doping the kid with Tylenol so the baby wouldn't cry?

And you wish to arm the general public with knockout drops for toddlers? This article must be fishing for feedback. You must be bored. You must have had a really bad day at the DMV. You must be kidding.

An experienced parent knows that there are times when the best thing for a parent to do is just let the little bugger cry. As a parent of a two year old who occasionally throws a fit, the one thing I loathe the most are people who obviously were never any child's primary caregiver, offer me parenting advice or give me a dirty look. Especially if that advice giver is in their fifties or older. To me it's like a Boy Scout trying to instruct a Marine on how to take the fort.

You speculate that restaurant owners would clamor for your knock out drops but I'll bet most restaurant owners have kids and would be appalled at the idea of a compete stranger spraying something in their kids face.

So now Tim Bryce, because his meal was interrupted, is the only man who knows how to parent? Please!!! There is no one universally correct way to parent a child. Every generation's parents get a new interpretation from "experts" regarding spanking, duration of naps, proper diet and appropriate amount of attention. But now Mr. Bryce has all the answers, which apparently is only one answer, don't let your child bother Mr. Bryce in public. Sounds like a bad case of G.O.M.S. (Grumpy Old Man Syndrome).

Mr. Bryce, please allow me to give you your due and timely notice; for your own safety, don't ever, take it upon yourself, to physically "parent" someone else's toddler. If some strange man sprayed anything in my child's face, Brother or not, I'd be dropping that fool first and asking questions second.

And that's the way I roll…"

Many thanks for your note and take on the "Screamers" debate. Frankly, I've received quite a lot of support for the article which, of course, was written in part as tongue-in-cheek. In fact, yours was the first (and only) to refute my position. I'm sorry, letting them scream in public just doesn't hack it and is a sign of disrespect for the other patrons.

I'm just finishing my "hitch" as a parent and I cannot possibly imagine allowing my offspring to bother others.

Thanks for your comments.

Keep those cards and letters coming.

MBA is an international management consulting firm specializing in Information Resource Management. We offer training, consulting, and writing services in the areas of Enterprise Engineering, Systems Engineering, Data Base Engineering, Project Management, Methodologies and Repositories. For information, call us at 727/786-4567. For a complete listing of my essays, see the "PRIDE" Special Subject Bulletins section of our corporate web site.

Our corporate web page is at:

Management Visions is a presentation of M. Bryce & Associates, a division of M&JB Investment Company of Palm Harbor, Florida, USA. The program is produced on a weekly basis and updated on Sundays. It is available in versions for RealPlayer, Microsoft Media Player, and MP3 suitable for Podcasting. See our web site for details. You'll find our broadcast listed in several Podcast and Internet Search engines, as well as Apples' iTunes.

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Copyright © 2007 by M&JB Investment Company of Palm Harbor, Florida, USA. All rights reserved. "PRIDE" is the registered trademark of M&JB Investment Company.

This is Tim Bryce reporting.

Since 1971: "Software for the finest computer - the Mind."


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