Business Etiquette/Business Etiquette


I attend a weekly morning meeting with my VP. The meeting starts at 8 am.  My VP arrives in the office 5 - 10 minutes before the meeting. I asked the VP prior to leaving for the meeting, was an update on a project expected at this meeting. My concern was that an issue had come up, handled by the manager and the VP,but I had not had any feedback or update on their findings.  Well, I had not even finished my question and the VP turned and stormed off to the meeting. I go on to the meeting. Yes,a SR VP asked for status on the project, to which my VP had an extensive response. After the meeting, my VP asked my manager what was wrong with me and why was I not being supportive and I need to apologize. I am a professional who consistently exceeds on my reviews. Do I contact HR ?  Do I have HR present to "apologize" and mediate a discussion on the VP expectations that I am failing to meet?  Thanks for your advice.

Hi, Peggy.

Thank you for writing to me. I appreciate that you have been through a harrowing experience. Part of it is that it seems like there is a communication breakdown between you and the VP, which needs to be addressed.

My advice would be to first, keep a diary of all of the specifics associated with this communication snag. Be sure to include dates, times, and everything you can recall about the various conversations. Detail the original issue, the fact that it was handled by the manager and the VP, the fact that you had not received any feedback on the outcome by such and such a date, etcetera. Write down the exact language you used--how you phrased your question to the VP and your VP's response (i.e. "storming off to the meeting").

Type up your diary, but not on your office computer. Be meticulous and be honest about the conversational exchanges between you and your VP. With this "ammo," first request to see the VP privately. Apologize, but also tell him or her that you are confused about his or her reaction and don't understand what you did wrong. As far as you understand it, you were simply trying to learn the outcome before someone in the meeting might ask you about it. You are a good team player and you love working at the company. You are apologizing for the confusion, but you also want to clear the air so that you can continue to work smoothly with each other. Use neutral language and be level-headed and polite during this meeting. Tone conquers all!

If the apology goes well, then do not bring this issue to HR. Unfortunately, it will go on your record, quite possibly as a bad mark.

Also, do not bring out your diary during your talk with the VP. Save it, for if you need to see HR.

If your discussion with the VP goes smoothy, just do your best to forget about the situation. It's important to forgive and forget to keep working relations happy.

However, if you try to talk it out with your VP and the conversation is awkward or unsatisfying, then I would consider bringing it to HR. In that case you would bring in your diary and read your notes from it. HR may ask you to commit the experience to paper and your notes will come in handy.

Bear in mind, though, that no one likes a tattletale, and that while HR may help you win the battle, now there is sort of a war and you may lose the war. As a general rule, it's best to not involve HR except as a last resort. The fact that the VP and the manager are in collusion won't help your case either.

Good luck ironing out the situation.

I hope this helps.


Vicky Oliver
301 Smart Answers to Tough Business Etiquette Questions

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Vicky Oliver


I am an expert on traditional American business etiquette, including dining rules and regulations for the 21st century, making a good first impression (and how to fix a bad one), meeting etiquette, conversational tips, and dressing for success. I also have written about new media etiquette--how to use LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to enhance your professional reputation. I am not an expert on wedding etiquette or international business etiquette.


I am the author of 301 Smart Answers to Tough Business Etiquette Questions (Skyhorse, 2010) and 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions (Sourcebooks, 2005). I have received over 301 media mentions on topics pertaining to business etiquette, job interviewing, and style on a budget.

Brown University Club in New York; Trinity Alumni & Alumnae Association

The Investment Professional Magazine; Crain's New York; The Charlotte Weekly;;; The Review Mom; Personal Finance

Brown University, B.A., English Honors; double major in Political Science

Awards and Honors
How-To Winner, Paris Book Festival; How-To Runner-Up, London Book Festival; Eric Hoffer Award First Runner-Up in Business;"Best Business: Career Book of 2010" in the National Best Books Awards.

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