15 Business Etiquettes Professionals Should Know

“A man without a smiling face must never open a shop” or so the Chinese proverb goes. Truly, smiling goes a long way to lighting up the mood for a friendlier, more understanding conversation. This is true in business as well, especially when trying to make a business partnership. However, there are more business etiquettes beyond smiling and demonstrating these will show others that your customers and your business are worth respecting.

* Introduce everyone, even when in doubt – There is a proper way to introduce people to each other. First, introduce the person who is the most senior, using their full name and their job title or responsibility. Next introduce that person to the person who has lower authority. Make sure to also mention his or her full name. To end, you may mention some details about each other as a topic of common interest. When being introduced to someone, always stand up if you are sitting.

* A firm handshake – The way businessmen shake hands more often than not sets the tone between them. Giving a good, firm handshake will set a good first impression as it may eventually end up in a successful business partnership. If you are the host or the senior member, you should be the one initiating the handshake.

* Admit if you forget their names – Forgetting the names of people you were recently introduced to is not uncommon. If it happens, admit it and ask for it again as this shows that you give them importance.

* Sitting down for a meeting – Whether the meeting is in a restaurant or in an office, in a group or a one-on-one, it is best not to pull out the chair for anyone. In a business setting, everyone should dismiss social gender rules and treat everyone equally. When seated, never cross your legs as it may be distracting and disrespectful.

* Meeting in a restaurant – Contrary to business instincts, do not use your knife to break bread. Tear it off with your bare hands as this signifies your openness to your potential business partner. When finished with the meal, never push your plate away nor stack the plates. Try not to have any left overs as well. If your guest orders appetizers or dessert, you should be ordering as well. This avoids the potential awkwardness of having other people in your party eating and you have nothing on your plate. If you are the host, you should pay for your guest unless he or she insists otherwise or is against their company’s gifting policy.

* Dress properly – The way someone dresses is a form of nonverbal communication. Dressing appropriately for a meeting shows an automatic sign of respect for either the guests or for the host. Additionally, always check the dress code for an event as some events may require either more or less formal attire.

* Keep cellphones in your pockets – Never place phones on the meeting table and don’t use them during the meeting. Only answer calls that are urgent and excuse yourself from the meeting and take your call outside so you don’t interrupt the meeting.

* “Please” and “Thank You” – These two phrases show politeness in any conversation and it is all the more important in a professional setting. Saying “please” can be used as much as needed. “Thank you”, however, should be used once or twice as saying it too many times may lower its impact. As much as possible, give thanks to everyone individually after a meeting.

* Stay sober – Businessmen have lost reputations and careers because drunken behavior. Although none of the things said or done while drunk were meant, it is a clear sign of disrespect towards either the host or guests. Don’t embarrass yourself or your business. Know your limits and control your pace.

* Be genuinely interested – Always make eye contact in a conversation and make sure to pay attention to every detail the guest says. Take the time to ask questions as this shows that you were listening and interested.

* Double check emails – Simple mistakes can be made to derail a meeting or blow a deal. You may have date and time wrong for a meeting, left out some paperwork to be signed, or worse, your emails were sent to the wrong person and may potentially endanger the company.

* Use professional photos – When using your or anyone’s photos for business matters, always use a proper headshot. Businesses would need to look credible to other businesses.

* Greet everyone anywhere – Regardless of seniority, always greet people. You may never know that he may actually be your next business partner. When people greet you, it is imperative that you greet back.

* Don’t forget to smile – Just like the Chinese proverb, smiling works wonders in any occasion, whether in a meeting, during introductions, or in a business social gathering.

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When Is a Good Time to Buy A Used Car?

Buying a car can be a tough and emotional decision. There are so many factors to consider when it comes to making such a big buying decision. When is the right time to buy a used car?

There isn’t really a particularly good or bad time to buy a used car, but there are a few factors to consider when it comes to the timing of making a big purchase.

Disposable income. Your budget is a very important factor when it comes to buying a car. Consider how much disposable income you have available. In other words, how much money do you have left after all your expenses are paid? And how much money will you have left after you buy a car? If you have a set amount available for the monthly repayments of the car, then find out how much the total value of the car will be that you can afford. Stick to that total value. Rather buy a car that is below that value than one that is above it because you could find yourself in a tight position when it comes to your monthly finances.

Current car problems. Is your current car giving you more problems than usual? Are you spending a lot of money on repairs? Could you rather allocate those funds towards a reliable car? If you find yourself having to fix engine issues every month or your car is getting old and giving you a lot of problems, then you might want to consider trading it in for another one.

Family is expanding. If you currently have a small car and you are going to have another baby, then you will need to consider looking for a car that is more spacious and suitable for a family of three or four, depending on your situation. A baby may be very small but they come with so much luggage. Consider the size of the pram and the bags that you will have with you. Will everything fit in the boot?

Maintenance plan is ending soon. If you have car that currently has a maintenance plan that is coming to an end, then you might consider selling it. You can then look for a used car that is less than 2 years old which still has a maintenance and service plan in place. This gives you the peace of mind that all your services will be covered as well as any maintenance that needs to be done. With a maintenance plan you can be assured that the original parts will be used and that no shortcuts will be taken when it comes to repairing faulty parts.

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How to Settle a Court Case

“Money makes the world spin”. It’s a phrase that we all know very well. Credit cards, alimony, child-support, mortgages, student loans, business loans,… with a current 19 Trillion debt, the United States and its citizens are buried in financial problems. But, there is one thing that most of these aforementioned debts have in common, they can usually be mitigated with “settlements” and/or negotiations. However, in this article I will focus on basic lawsuits and criminal cases.

When we hear the word, “Settlement”, images of money are immediately conjured into our minds. Most of the settlements we hear about in the media are for large sums, anywhere from $50K to millions of dollars, often involving celebrities or powerful business moguls. Many people might ask, “If a party knows they are innocent, then why would they agree to settle the case?”

People settle cases for all kinds of reasons:

1. Save on lawyer expenses
2. Avoid public attention
3. Reduce stress/Time in court
4. Reduce risks of harsher sanctions from potentially losing in a trial.

Defendants often settle criminal cases for “plea” bargains. (An admittance of guilt in exchange for a lighter punishment) for similar reasons that defendants agree to settle in civil cases.

Nobody likes being in court! It is costly, time consuming, stressful and can be somewhat intimidating. Whether you are being sued for a credit card debt or facing criminal charges, the potential of being garnished, put in jail, missing time away from work and family, the presence of armed guards, black robed judges, etc… the entire process can be a bit frightening, especially for those who do not spend much time in the courts. (Which is usually most people unless you are a legal professional, police officer, or a habitual criminal.)

When we decide to settle a case, we have to weigh our options. Defendants and Plaintiffs settle for the same reasons believe it or not. If a defendant believes he has a weak defense or is simply fed up with the court process, he is likely to settle, if a plaintiff believes he has a weak argument or he is fed up with the court process, he is likely to settle. Time is money, and people do not like to have their’s wasted!

In essence, settlements happen when people come to a conclusion after assessing in their minds a “cost-benefit-analysis”. Let us take a look at the perspective from a defendant and plaintiff’s point of view in a hypothetical discrimination case.

John sues Corporation-Z for racial discrimination. John has several witnesses who have agreed to testify. Corporation-Z learns that these witnesses with be participating. Corporation-Z believes that John has a good chance at defeating them in court. Corp-Z offers John $10,000 to settle the case out of court. If John were to win the case in court, he would probably sue for much more in damages, however, if John takes the offer, he can save himself attorney fees and months (possibly years) going to court cases.

Although Corp-Z is in a disadvantageous position, they are well-funded and will be able to drag the case on for a long time. John is a simple 9 to 5 employee with very little resources. However, John feels that he has strong evidence and is unwilling to settle for $10,000, he refuses the offer and decides to see it through to the end. Corp-Z offers another amount for $15,000, John still refuses.

Corp-Z files several continuances to drag out the case. John is getting tired.

John later finds out that several of his key witnesses have decided not to testify. John is now getting worried. Corp-Z has not yet learned that the witnesses have backed out. The next court date is in 6 weeks. John must act fast! Due to these new circumstances, his chances to win the case have gotten much lower.

At this point, John has several options:

Contact the defendant and accept their $15,000 settlement offer.
Send the defendant one last counter offer for a higher amount before agreeing to settle.
Rebuild his case, look for new evidence, take the case to trial and potentially win big or end up with nothing if he loses.

Option 1 is the safest- Defendants and Plaintiffs have the option to offer and/or withdraw settlement offers at ANY TIME. In this scenario, the defendant, Corp-Z is likely to accept to settle unless new evidence has been obtained.

Option 2 is a little risky- In this situation, John has learned that his witnesses are refusing to testify. Corp-Z has not yet found out, however, if they do find out, they are very likely to withdraw any offers to settle, as they will be likely to defeat the suit. John can attempt to negotiate one last time to get a higher amount from the defendant, but it will take some time to sort out the particulars, and time is something John doesn’t have with a looming court date. The closer the trial date gets, the more likely the defendant is to find out about the witnesses backing out.

Option 3 is highly risky- If the case goes to a trial by jury and John has other evidence besides witness testimony, the jury could still see it his way. If his witnesses are his key pieces of evidence, then he is at high risk for losing. This option would require very careful consideration. If John wins the case through jury, he will likely receive a huge pay-out, if he loses the case, he could end up losing everything or even end up being counter-sued by Corporation-Z.

Factors to consider:

Is John poor? How bad does he need money? If he loses the case, will he still be financially sound? Is he looking for justice or a pay-out? What are his goals in this lawsuit? Is he mentally and emotionally prepared to stay in court for several more months? These are questions John has to ask himself before making a decision on how to proceed.

From the Defendant’s perspective:

Corporation-Z is a business and they have a business to run. Handling these legal matters are a huge cost and burden on the operation. Negative publicity can also hurt the business extensively. Even if Corporation-Z discovers that the plaintiff, John, has lost his key witnesses, it still may be beneficial for Corporation-Z to settle. Typically, when settlements occur, non-disclosure agreements must be signed stating that the allegations against the company cannot be publicly discussed. If Corp-Z refuses to settle and defeats John, John may still end up retaining his right to discuss the trial and his allegations to public organizations causing bad press not to mention the extra legal fees it may take to try and sue John later for defamation.

In this situation, if Corp-Z discovers that John has lost his witnesses, Corp-Z can agree to settle, for the same amount previously offered or for a lower amount, (since Z now has bargaining power!) or Corp-Z can withdraw all offers and attempt to win in trial.

Corporate attorneys are famous for their slogan to, “Always settle, settle, settle”.

While Corporation-Z has a good chance at defeating John, they may end up spending triple the amount of their settlement offer attempting to defeat the suit, also, Corporation-Z isn’t fully aware if John has any other additional evidence that is not yet known. Victory is not always guaranteed. In court, just as in a boxing match, the ability to appear weak when one is strong, and the ability to appear strong when one is weak, is very crucial in the negotiation process of settling a case.


Losing a lawsuit that goes to trial can result in dire consequences.

Income garnishments
Loss of employment as a result of being garnished by multiple entities
Loss of public reputation
property being seized
injunctions being placed against yourself or your business
liens being places on your assets
Tax refunds being withheld
Negative credit score
(These are just a few examples)

Some may be tempted to file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in light of being sued for a debt, however, I wouldn’t recommend doing so unless your debts exceed $10,000. I’ll save that discussion for another article.

Timing is very critical when it comes to successfully mitigating a civil or criminal case. Let’s say you owe a credit card company $10,000. Typically, after you default on your loan for more than 90 days, the credit card company will likely sell your debt to a third party collector. A few months to a year later, you are likely to be served with a warrant stating that you are being sued for the amount by the third party debt collector who purchased the debt for pennies on the dollar.

Once the lawsuit is filed, the creditor now has the upper-hand. Since you have essentially ignored all attempts to collect, it is assumed that you are avoiding the debt and do not have the means to pay it back. A smarter decision would have been to inquire about hardship programs or attempt to settle the debt with a partial amount before you were sued. (Always get everything in writing). However, since things have escalated to a court hearing, the creditor now probably believes that they have a great chance to win the case.

When most people owe a debt, they stick their heads in the sand and do nothing. If you are sued for a credit card debt, your goal now is to re-establish your bargaining power! Even if you owe the debt, make them prove it! File an answer to the lawsuit, file a discovery request, ask for continuances! ( I can help you do these things by offering a template to follow.) Once the creditor sees that you aren’t going to be like the other 99% of people who don’t show up to court and allow for a default judgement, the creditor will be likely willing to settle the debt for a fraction of what they are suing you for.

While you are fighting the lawsuit, whether your intention is to get it dismissed through lack of evidence,lack of itemization or your goal is to settle the debt for a lesser amount, you must act swiftly! If you do intend to settle the debt, be sure to make the number attractive but not too high. If you owe $10,000, offer them 30%, because they are likely to counter back asking for 50%.

If the creditor is not willing to settle and/or you lose the case, enroll in a “slow-pay” program. That’s right! If you lose a lawsuit, you can enroll in a “slow-pay” program whereas you may only be paying $20 a month or so to the creditor. (Albeit for a very long time!). Through the slow-pay process, you can pay with a check or money order. In order for the plaintiff (or creditor) to garnish your wages, they have to get an approved garnishment order from a court. If you miss a single-payment through the slow-pay program, some jurisdictions automatically issue a garnishment order because of your lack of ability to keep your promise to pay.

Federal law protects workers from being fired if they are being garnished by a single entity. However, if two or more entities are garnishing you, federal law allows employers to fire you because of the administrative burden your garnishment orders are costing to the company you work for.

Any legal case must be taken seriously whether it be criminal or civil. Even traffic court can cost us! If you ignore a traffic ticket, don’t be surprised if you later find out that your drivers license has been revoked! Reinstating a revoked license is time consuming and can cost hundreds, even thousands, depending on the liens placed upon the license.

In many criminal cases, district attorneys will offer “plea deals”. This “deal” is basically where you agree to admit guilt in exchange for a lighter punishment. Plea deals can benefit both parties. The district attorney meets his conviction quota, you receive a lighter sentence than you would if you lost your trial, and the process of court is sped up.

Going back to the lessons we learned earlier about, “Appearing strong when you are weak, and to be weak when you are strong”, accepting plea deals is an art within itself just as accepting settlements are.


John is accused of stealing a car. John maintains that he is innocent.

John’s witnesses didn’t show up to court.

The state offers him a plea deal. Admit guilt and you will only face 6 months in jail.

John refuses! The trial continues

The state is having a hard time presenting evidence against John.

The state offers a new plea deal.

“1 month in jail with 6 months probation.”

John again refuses and demands a jury.

The jury hears John’s defense and the state’s allegations against him.

The jury decides that John is guilty! John will be sentenced to 3 years in prison.

John should have taken the plea deal!

Now, this is a worse case scenario! Just as in our lawsuit example earlier with, “Corporation-Z”, many factors come into play.

Let us replay the scenario. This time, John has several alibis and video surveillance of the vehicle being stolen that he managed to find on the internet. The video is low-quality but the suspect appears to have red-hair, John has brown hair!

John challenges the state’s claim. The state claims that John merely dyed his hair brown and his alibis are lying about where he was during the alleged carjacking!

John is confident in his defense and refuses all plea deals.

The jury finds John innocent!

Had John taken a plea deal, he would have ruined his record and served time for a crime he never committed! However, the jury could have still convicted him. No matter how confident you feel in your case, always prepare for the unexpected and don’t be afraid to appeal if necessary to buy yourself more time.

When to refuse a plea deal or when to take one, is no different than debating on whether or not to take a settlement. Many innocent men and women have taken plea deals for crimes they didn’t commit on the advice of their attorney who advised their client that the evidence is just too strong against them; even though they maintain their innocence.

Some defendants value their honor so much, that they resolve to never take a plea deal regardless of the consequences, whereas others make informed decisions in an effort to preserve themselves. In law, there is no “black or white”, “right or wrong” choice. Everything is about weighing risks vs rewards. Every situation is completely different.

Who is the judge presiding over this case? Who are the jurors? What state is this case being held in? What do the state laws say? Are you in a liberal state or a conservative state? Does your lawyer have a good reputation or a bad reputation? Are you handling this case pro-se? Do you have any experience with legal matters?

These are all questions that can drastically effect the outcome of a case, or as I call them, “The intangible factors”. In your heart, you may know that you are innocent, or feel that your case is valid, however, it isn’t always about what you “feel”, it’s about what you can convincingly present to the courts in conjunction with applicability of the law.

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Understanding UK Average Weight Legislation

Keep it legal: complying with Weights and Measures (Packaged Goods) Regulations 2006

Any business that produces pre-packaged goods or materials can opt to establish an average weight system, involving use of suitable scale equipment, capable of accurately weighing and/or recording measurements in line with the latest requirements.

Ways of packing your products

There are fundamentally two ways of weighing your pre-packaged products (that is those that are sold/sealed and are between 5 g and 25 g, or 5 ml and 25 litres, the same weight or volume as other products of the same type).

Minimum system: you may pack your products so that they contain at least the quantity displayed on the label. Each package can contain more than the label says, but not less.
Average system: You can pack your products to an average measurement that is printed on the label.

‘The average system’ applies to most goods that are pre-packed in pre-determined quantities, by weight or volume. This includes a wide range of products, including most foodstuffs and non-foodstuffs, ie: rice, pasta, tea, coffee etc.

You must check each batch that you produce to make sure a random sample is packed to meet requirements.

These are known as the ‘three packer’ rules:

These confirm that:

The contents of the packages/batch must not be less, on average, than the weight printed on the label

Only a small number can fall below a certain margin of error. This is called the ‘tolerable negative error’ (TNE)

No package can be under-weight by more than twice the TNE

Remember that if you’re calculating the TNE as a percentage of the overall quantity, you must round up the weight or volume to the nearest 0.10 of a gram or millilitre as a general rule of thumb.

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How Would You Choose a Matchless Photographer for Your Events?

The time has arrived and when you want to cherish your special moments and it is time you find the best Photographer. You know for sure that capturing milestones of life, Birthday events, new babies being welcomed in the family, Product shoot and the weddings would not do with the whole “point and shoot” does not do justice anymore hence you certainly need something much more. With the digital photography having revolutionized in the recent years it has become an easy job for any enthusiast who is unskilled to lay hands on the camera. Perhaps in addition to that individual possessing professional potential can be of great assistance to you. Here are essential tips that shall make you select the best.

• Quality control-Portfolio check

Any Photographer that you eventually select must be able to properly expose the image they click. This is because overexposed images often have white highlights that burn out while the underexposed ones have shadows with overpowering darks besides muted tones. There shall be no highlights even, that rightfully capture the attention. Another very important thing to consider is that the photographer must be able to convert photos into black and white, sepia and all the like. Your photographer must be capable of adjusting the right amount of sharpness and saturation so that either of them does not have the photos overcooked.

• Referral Check

If you are looking for a Photographer then ask your close acquaintances and friends if they know the best one around. Even though photographers might have the best photos on walls, however, you will soon know if they are experienced well charge the price that is over inflated or is mercurial. Hence, paying attention to the mouth referrals is the simplest thing you can do.

• Price checking for products and sessions

For any Industrial Product shoot affordability always tops the list besides great quality photos. Hence, you must be sure enough to check costs involved for both post-shooting of the products on display and session fees. Any professional Photographer will have a layout of costs in front of their clients so that you are not startled by hidden surprises.

• Digging deep while checking portfolios

When the online galleries of any potential Photographer, is checked, you must look past the initial photos. It is understandable that they give it their best shot hence best images first. You need to dig in a little deeper for finding that quality of photos may disintegrate. Thus, look for the one who has a wide body of experience. Also while having a look at the portfolio you must have a look at how their personal websites have been designed.

- Points to Consider

With all the points mentioned above you must always take into account the fact that a great photographer shall be able to present photos true life colors. Finally, the most important thing is the editing or post-production of the photos so that overall picture is enhanced. Hence, any photographer you select at the end must know the rules of good photography, before breaking them.

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The Mind of an Artist

Art Student, Chiamaka Okenwa, answers the question, ‘What runs through the mind of an artist before the birth of a true masterpiece?’ This is a question that plagues everyone, especially in today’s chaotic world where your identity is easily lost.

The answer to this question is what I have set out to find in my visit to ‘Identities’, an exhibition at Denk Spaces. At the entrance to the gallery was a display by the exhibiting artist Erasmus Onyishi. What had at first appeared to be a mere tangle of wires and clutter took form upon more careful observation as a colony of ants marching up the wall. This mixed media piece, Openly Closed, was perhaps what opened our minds to the existence of other forms of art apart from realism, a concept we had been more or less closed off to.

Stepping into the building, eyes began to fill with wonder. Each separate work was a colorful and vivacious expression of the same, special theme: Identity. The exhibiting artists had identified themselves through their work by their choices of color, line, texture and form, and each work appealed to all of us in different ways. One of Henry Eghosa’s expressive works, depicting a woman in the process of dressing in traditional attire seemed to whisper, our culture is our pride. Stephen Osuchukwu, in his dignified rendition of an elephant herd, drew focus to the matriarch elephant whose leadership position is almost synonymous with its identity. This female cow is the oldest and largest in the herd and is responsible for leading the elephant herd. Their survival rests on her broad shoulders. On deeper reflection we realize that, perhaps, we are a sort of matriarch when we are given leadership positions.

Obinna Makata, in his work Beauty Deeper than Cosmetics II, leads us to realize the need to maintain our own unique identities in a world where society dictates what to wear, how we should look and, ultimately, who we become. Another work of his, Of Race and Identity, tells us Africans that we do not truly conform to the label [Black], but our identities are rainbows of color, because there is a splash of something special in each and every one of us. His artful employment of Ankara emphasizes individuality. Just as each Ankara pattern derives its beauty from its unique pattern, so we derive our own from our difference in identities.

Promise O’nali, whose novel style would identify him in the farthest corners of the world, gives us another take on the term, identity. Because who are we, really? It is something to be deeply reflected upon. His works, in a cool and simple manner, induce the viewer to observe the intricacy of man’s journey through life, and the constant battle to maintain his true self.

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