Never mind Debrett’s, take heed of my tips…these have derived from my own years of experience on the job. No doubt there are many others to add, and once again I welcome any further suggestions.
When attending a function with your employer or representing his/her office:
- It is very important to adopt the correct persona, that of the Assistant – happy to be in the background if need be, ensuring everything is running seamlessly for the Principal, or if solo representing your office to adopt the appropriate demeanour to fit in with the occasion. Always ensure you have done some background research/homework before attending any event such as familiarising yourself with the guest list. Remember forewarned is forearmed!
Some further pointers:
- If at an evening event, don’t draw attention to yourself with provocative or revealing clothing.
- Don’t drink alcohol or very little so as to keep your faculties sharp.
- Even if you are starving, don’t muscle your way to the front of the queue at the buffet and load up your plate. The PA is there to ensure first and foremost the guests are well fed.
- Don’t socially ingratiate yourself too much, instead master the art of working a room to ensure the guests are suitably interacting and all are engaged with one another.
Remember – walls have ears! Discretion and diplomacy are key at all times:
- Don’t discuss anything from the office in public; you never know who may be listening. Although it is tempting to become a raconteur when out socially, with unusual anecdotes and stories of meeting well-known people, it is vital to remain completely confidential. It is a small world and it is easy to let something slip that may seem innocuous to you but in the wrong hands could be misconstrued with damaging consequences.
- Also, it is good to remember that it is unprofessional to be seen as gossiping and it will not gain you any respect or hold you in good stead.
Master the art of conversation – it is essential to be able to talk to anyone at any level:
- Look for commonality and ask about them as opposed to talking about yourself. People like to feel that others are interested in them. A real strength is the ability to make someone feel like they are the only other person in the room when talking to them.
- Have the same respect for the Gardener as you would for a VIP guest visiting the office.
- Depending on the situation always have a ‘starter for 6’ up your sleeve as a conversation facilitator, trying to avoid the classics of the weather and holidays. Also, it is safer to steer clear of politics and religion. If pulled into either of these topics, in a work situation best not to be too opinionated one way or the other as you are a representative of your employer and your own views may not be appropriate, but you can nevertheless be informed!
- Keep abreast of current affairs.
- Be aware of the cultural scene – i.e. what’s ‘hot’ in the theatre, art exhibitions, films, books etc.