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Bad Behavior Can Hurt You and Your Brand


Summer is a great time to kick back and relax around southwest Florida, but remember to keep your behavior in check. Here’s an example of what can happen if you get a little too relaxed.

A few years ago, a new woman in town was invited to serve on a board of directors for a charity I also serve on. I hadn’t met her and, like many on this board, I was eager to have her insights and perspective added to our group. She came from a prominent company and we were all sure she’d have a lot to contribute. We were right! She was smart, witty, objective, polished and a great listener.

At the end of our first long meeting, we continued on to happy hour. There, things took a turn for the worse. Our new colleague ordered a strong cocktail and a new person emerged. She was loud, obnoxious, and inappropriate. She gossiped, told a crude joke and shared too much private information. We were astonished. What had happened?

Well, it certainly had something to do with the cocktails. And I’m sure the casual environment didn’t help either. After that first meeting, no one on the committee trusted her. Her image, and you could say her brand, were tattered in just one instance. Don’t let this happen to you!

As a reminder:

• Don’t drink too much—limit yourself to one or two cocktails.
• Remember that when you’re with colleagues, you’re still “at work,” even if you’re in a bar.
• Feel free to branch into more personal topics, like asking about someone’s hobbies or kids, but don’t stray too far.
• Watch what you say, especially about other people.

Good manners matter in the office and when we’re out having a good time.

Suzanne Willis is the founder of Willis Consulting & Communications in Naples, which specializes in contemporary business, social and children’s etiquette.

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