Workplace etiquette: Mind your manners!

August 26, 2008

Here are certain guidelines to follow in a working environment.

How to welcome newcomers

  • Newcomers should be welcomed by their seniors and colleagues.
  • They should be briefed about their jobs and company practices.
  • Staff at any level should be introduced to any newcomers they encounter.
  • Courtesies should be extended to everyone you meet, irrespective of whether it’s the receptionist or the CEO.
  • Avoid asking personal questions regarding the newcomer’s educational qualifications/ parentage/ marital status/ age/ income etc.
  • Our names are an important symbol of our identity. Do not mispronounce, misspell or mix-up anybody’s name.’
  • Using someone’s first name usually implies that you are superior to him, decidedly equal or friends. Therefore, it is best to start off formally. Use their surnames, preceded by Mr, Mrs or Ms. He/ she can then easily suggest that you use a first name.

How to show courtesy towards colleagues

  • Greet everyone you encounter cheerfully and with a smile on your way into the office. On your way out, remember to thank the receptionist / office boys etc.
  • Good bosses, employees and colleagues don’t forget their manners. Remember ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.
  • Always show your appreciation with a smile.
  • Small talk and light chitter chatter at work is essential; it expresses friendliness without demanding attention. Whether you talk about the traffic or the weather, the vital message is that you are all part of the same team.
  • Be polite to hired help like peons, drivers, delivery boys etc.
  • Do not talk loudly when you talk over the phone or to your colleagues. Talk in a soft and clear voice.
  • Take instructions with grace and give instructions gracefully.
  • On occasions like birthdays, staff members should receive a personal gift, good wishes and words of appreciation from the boss and colleagues.
  • Always be considerate. The last person to leave the office should not have to switch off all the lights, air conditioners and computers. For example, when a photocopier runs out, whoever used the last sheet of paper should refill it.
  • When you are going to get yourself a cup of tea, coffee or a cold beverage, offer to bring one for your co-workers as well.

How to make yourself likeable and pleasant to work with

  • Don’t be a whiner who is always complaining and miserable with his/ her lot in life.
  • Never use words like ‘can’t’ and ‘won’t’, nor phrases like ‘I’m busy’ and ‘that’s not my job’.
  • Do not criticise anyone — that’s not your job. And if you get criticised, be professional about it. Do not take it personally.
  • Keep personal conversations down to a minimum and keep out of earshot of others.
  • It is shabby to look through people’s computers, emails or letters — and don’t ever make the mistake of sneaking into people’s personal property like handbags or wallets. Be responsible for your own property and valuables. If you lose your expensive items, everybody else becomes a suspect and nobody likes being one!
  • Never borrow anything from someone’s desk without permission and when you do always return it in good condition.
  • Do not misuse office property. Keep your workplace orderly. Do not infringe on other people’s space.
  • Be friendly with colleagues of the opposite sex but know where to draw the line. Don’t get involved needlessly in any situation which could lead to embarrassment and could potentially damage not only your reputation, but that of the organisation as well.
  • Do not get indulge in office gossip or discuss delicate topics (religion, politics, money, sex etc).
  • Do not fidget or make unnecessary sounds which can be distracting to your co-workers.
  • Maintain stringent standards of personal hygiene. Do clean up after yourself when you use the restrooms so the next person using it does not have to scrunch up his/ her nose!
  • Do not convert your desktop into a place of worship. Since you might be working with people who follow different faiths, it might be better to display a vase of flowers instead.
  • Use office privileges like sick leave etc thoughtfully so that you don’t burden your co-workers with extra work.

Business meeting etiquette

  • Be punctual. If you are late, apologise briefly but sincerely and immediately give total attention to the meeting. Those who wish to leave early should ask their seniors’ permission beforehand. Leave quietly, with an ‘excuse me’ and catch the eye of the person who is talking at that point.
  • Dress well — it gives a good impression.
  • Always remember to switch of your mobile phone.
  • If there is an established seating pattern, accept it. If you are unsure, ask.
  • Do your homework; get all your facts and figures in order. Go prepared.
  • Acknowledge any introductions or opening remarks with a brief recognition of the chair and other participants.
  • When discussions are underway it is good business etiquette to allow more senior figures to contribute first.
  • Never interrupt anyone — even if you disagree strongly. Note what has been said and return to it later with the chair’s permission.
  • When speaking, be brief and ensure that what you say is relevant.
  • It is a serious breach of business etiquette to divulge what has been discussed at any meeting with a third party — consider it confidential.
  • Thanking the person who organised the meeting is not only good etiquette; it is also a sign of respect.

Keep competition within the organisation healthy

  • A team tends to behave like a human body, accepting what is part of it and rejecting any alien tissue. People are accepted if their behaviour mirrors the group norms.
  • Faults and blunders usually take place due to lack of communication. Find out the cause of the mess-up and solve the problem so that it is not repeated.
  • Curb your annoyance and control your temper.
  • Do not strive to pull a colleague down just to get the approval of the boss. This will backfire on you in the long run.
  • Back-stabbing and petty talk is not only unpleasant, it is in poor taste.
  • A secure and efficient worker never grudges another’s success. Envy and jealousy among co- workers ruins the working environment for everyone. The following notice, seen on several office walls, gets the point across well:

‘This department requires no physical fitness programme. Everyone gets enough exercise:

  • Jumping to conclusions
  • Flying off the handle
  • Running down the boss
  • Knifing friends in the back
  • Dodging responsibility
  • Pushing their luck!’

Source: Rediff


Top moments of the Beijing Olympics

August 25, 2008

Usain Bolt breaks the 100 metres world record.

Bolt already owned the record and in front of a packed Bird’s Nest stadium he ran 9.69 seconds.

Michael Phelps roars in triumph and relief after American team mate Jason Lezak overtook France’s Alain Bernard on the final leg of the 4×100 freestyle relay.

Liu Xiang dejectedly walks away from the track as he realises he has to withdraw from the defence of his 110 metres hurdles title because of a leg injury.

Liu was the most popular sportsman in China and his grimacing departure clouded the Games for millions of home fans.

Russia‘s Yelena Isinbayeva turns the Bird’s Nest into her private theatre with a gold medal and world record-breaking pole vault performance that captivated the 91,000 crowd.

The Opening Ceremony. It emerged that some of the performance seen on television had been enhanced by computers, a child singer was replaced by a supposedly prettier face to mime to her voice and representatives of China’s ethnic minorities were no such thing.

German weightlifter Matthias Steiner kisses a picture of his late wife Susann on the gold medal podium, choking back tears over the promise he made to her that he would keep their Olympic dream.

American Matt Emmons blows a 3.3-point lead on the very last shot of a 120-shot competition to throw away the gold medal in the “marathon” event of shooting.

Rohullah Nikpai wins Afghanistan’s first Olympic medal with a bronze in the men’s 58-kg taekwondo.

Estonian Gerd Kanter celebrates his discus gold medal by sprinting down the 100 metre track at the Bird’s Nest and mimicking Bolt’s marksman routine.

Source: Rediff


Taking personal loan to finsh your outstanding Credit card bills is worth?

August 25, 2008

Credit card users, who have overspent on their card, have a new option – conversion of the outstanding into a personal loan. Banks are willing to do so because they are worried that any non-payment of dues would increase their non-performing assets, which in turn, could hurt their balance sheets quite badly.

Such an offer also implies that many customers, who were finding it difficult to pay off the amount, can use this method to ensure that they do not become defaulters.

One of the biggest benefits of this kind of conversion is that the rate of interest will be much less on personal loans. As far as credit cards go, there is huge interest burden (between 36-44 per cent per annum) that is climbing with each passing month. A personal loan comes much cheaper at 16-22 per cent, lesser by almost 40-50 per cent.

However, things are not that simple. There is an additional risk that even when the interest burden goes down, it could lead to a situation where it becomes very difficult for the consumer to manage his finances.

Regular payment: In case you opt for a personal loan, regular monthly payments have to be made and for a specific time period. While this is good because it will mean a disciplined payout, for some, the situation could worsen.

This is because while the credit card company allows a minimum payment of 5 per cent per month, in case of a personal loan the outgo could be higher, especially if one opts for a smaller tenure.

For instance, if a person has an outstanding of Rs 200,000, the monthly outgo at the rate of 5 per cent will be around Rs 10,000. In case the amount is converted to a two-year personal loan at say 18 per cent, the outgo will be around Rs 18,000. Clearly the sudden rise in the repayment amount by 40-50 per cent could lead to a situation where the budget goes completely haywire.

Also, in such situations, investments are the first one to take a hit because other expenses are more difficult to control. And if this happens, the safety net that you are creating for the future could get reduced. When faced with such a situation, it is important to select the right tenure so that the burden does not increase dramatically.

Prepayment problem: Also, many times when you go for a personal loan, the bank puts a clause where prepayment is allowed only after a certain number of months or only so many times in a year. In some cases, there is even a hefty prepayment penalty if you were to exercise this option. This is because the bank is losing out on the interest income.

Individuals facing a temporary glitch as far as their finances go, should take a step back and give the situation some serious thought. If they get a sudden cash flow, in terms of bonus or any other source, they could use that to wipe off the outstanding credit card bills.

Yes, it will mean temporary pain because of high interest rates, but it would be a better option to clear the entire loan instead of coughing out equated monthly instalments for a long time.

Continued spending: The biggest risk is that the person could actually sink further into a debt trap, if he continues to hold and spend on the card. Now that the outstanding on the credit card is converted to a loan, there is no outstanding. This could easily lure a spendthrift to use it again.

In this situation, the balance on the card will rise again leading to financial crisis as the consumer would now they have a personal loan and more credit card bills that need to be paid.

Source: Rediff


CBE Rule on Drugs, Biologics Labeling Change Finalized

August 25, 2008

The FDA is finalizing a rule telling companies when they can modify physician labeling without prior agency approval, according to a Federal Register notice.

Under the new rule, which takes effect Sept. 22, manufacturers can add or strengthen the contraindications, warnings, precautions or adverse reactions sections of labeling via a supplement called changes being effective (CBE) without prior FDA approval only when such modifications are based on newly acquired information and evidence of a causal association between the product and a safety signal is present.

The FDA proposed the rule earlier this year. The final rule incorporated only two changes — a technical correction and a clarification regarding what the FDA considers newly acquired information.

The final rule defines newly acquired information as data, analyses or other information not previously submitted to the agency, including but not limited to new clinical studies, reports of adverse events or new analyses of previously submitted data.

Such new information “must reveal risks of a different type or greater severity or frequency than previously included in submissions” and include meta-analyses, the new regulation states.

“The codified section of the January 2008 proposed rule suggested that this limitation applied only to data derived from reports of adverse events. Instead, it applies to data derived from new clinical studies, reports of adverse events and new analyses of previously submitted data,” the FDA says in the preamble to the final rule.

“If a sponsor submits data or analysis to FDA as part of a discussion of the kind of labeling change that would be appropriate and decides as a result of that discussion to prepare and submit a CBE supplement, then the supporting data or analysis will not be considered ‘previously submitted to FDA’ — even if it was not first submitted on the same day as the CBE supplement,” the agency says.

Source: FDAnews


The world’s top 10 spammers

August 22, 2008

The world’s top 10 spamming countries account for 55 per cent of the total global spam volume, says Secure Computing, a public company that provides enterprise security solution, in its Internet Threats Report.

Spam is the unwanted e-mail messages that you find in your mail box. It is primarily electronic junk mail sent to your e-mail account or even your cellphone.

Spammers are continuing to use pop culture and current events (US elections, Olympics, etc) to entice end users into responding or clicking on links whose sole purpose is to download malware.

1. United States, 16.56%

The United States is the world’s largest spammer and accounts for more than 16.5 per cent of global spam.

Spam is up 280% from last year (at this time). This year’s peak on spam volume was March 27 at 185 billion spam messages. Since March we have seen spam steadily decrease.

2. Russia, 6.71%

Over 6.7 per cent of global spam emerges from Russia, making it the world’s second largest spammer.

The Secure Research report says that there was a 45 per cent increase in the average number of porn sites found daily since January 2008.

50 pre cent of all Web sites’ content is now in non-English languages, and this too is adding to the growing spam volume.

3. Turkey, 6.51%

Turkey ranks number 3 in the world when it comes to spamming. It accounts for per cent of global spam.

Among the types of spam, male enhancement, product replica, prescription drugs, gambling, pornography, debt job offer, phishing were the major contronutors.

4. Brazil, 5.29%

Brazil, with per cent of global spam, ranks 4th in the world.

Spammers continue to use pop culture and current events like the Olympics or US elections to lure users into responding or clicking on links whose sole purpose is to download malware.

5. Italy, 4.32%

Italy, the world’s 5th largest spammer, accounts for per cent of global spam.

6. China, 3.49%

China ranks 6th among the The world’s top 10 spammers and accounts for per cent of global spam.

7. Great Britain, 3.37%

Great Britain accounts for per cent of global spam and is ranked 7th largest spammer.

8. Colombia, 3.09%

Colombia takes the 8th spot amongst the world’s biggest spammers and accounts for per cent of global spam.

9. India, 2.99%

India is one of the top 10 spammers in the world and it accounts for 2.99 per cent of global spam.

The country is the world’s 9th largest spammer, and as its Internet infrastructure improves with rising prosperity the amount of spam or unsolicited e-mails emerging from India too is likely to multiply.

10. South Korea, 2.87%

South Korea sends slightly less spam than India, but with a contribution of 2.87 per cent to global spam it is the world’s 10th largest spammer.

How to secure yourself from spam

Various methods to save yourself from incoming spam exist. These include:

  • Using spam-filtering software. Trend Micro, Symantec, Computer Associates, Sophos (Satcom), McAfee, Netscreen, Prime Infotec, GajShield Infotech and Websense provide specialised anti-spam solutions in the Indian market.
  • A spam filter is a piece of software that sorts incoming e-mail messages and blocks those that it thinks are spam. While filtering can be very useful, it’s not perfect as sometimes filters fail to identify spam-and they mistakenly block a genuine, non-spam message. Adjusting the filter settings can help minimise these risks. To prevent this one can also choose to direct spam into a special folder set aside for reviewing all messages that the software filter tags as spam.
  • Upgrading your Internet security to ensure that spammers can’t send spam via your computer.
  • Never reply to a spam message and never click on any links, especially ‘unsubscribe’ links in such messages because then you give yourself away as a real user and thus leave yourself open to be spammed even more.
  • Being aware of spam and of ways to secure yourself too helps curb the menace.
  • You should never buy anything through an unsolicited e-mail. By buying through such messages, you help keep such business economically viable.
  • Instantly delete unsolicited e-mails, for such messages can also harm your machine by spreading viruses or worms.
  • When you send e-mails to many people at the same time, use the BCC (blind copy) field so that the recipients are unable to see the other addresses. This also helps curb spamming.
  • The government too can help curb spam by enacting legislation that punishes offenders.
  • Don’t give out your e-mail ID on instant messengers, chat rooms, et cetera.

  • FDA Plans for National Joint Orthopedic Device Registry

    August 22, 2008

    The FDA is in the beginning stages of developing a program that would create a national surveillance net for orthopedic device implants.

    Through such a national registry, the FDA would explore independent public and private registries that could feed claim information into a central agency-regulated network.

    Orthopedic device manufacturers would benefit from the program because it would “offer more timely, comprehensive assessment of the ‘real world’ experience of their devices and an alternative means to conduct mandated postapproval studies,” an FDA spokesman said.

    However, some in the industry caution that a government-run registry might hold too many limitations, given budget and resource restrictions. “One of the challenges the FDA and other agencies face is being able to devote resources in a continuing way. And our view is that registries will bring up more questions than answers,” David Lewallen, chairman of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ (AAOS) American Joint Replacement Registry Oversight Board and head of the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons, said. “It wouldn’t be impossible to do it through a government-run agency, but it is a bigger challenge.”

    Another limitation is maintaining patient confidentiality. “Unless there are some safeguards in place, people would be wary of a federal-run system. It may even discourage some people from reporting adverse events,” Lewallen said.

    The FDA has issued a request for quotations to receive input from the most useful data sources that choose to be involved. Quotations should be submitted by the first of September.

    Source: FDAnews


    India’s Olympic Campaign: 3 medals for the first time ever

    August 22, 2008

    India’s fledgling Olympic campaign today received a sensational boost with unheralded grappler Sushil Kumar clinching a bronze medal and boxer Vijender Kumar today got a bronze to give the country a record three medals for the first time ever.

    After Abhinav Bindra’s gold-winning feat during the first week of the sporting extravaganza, the 25-year-old Sushil Kumar shot into fame by winning a bronze medal in the wrestling arena while Vijender has put himself on course for a silver or gold medal on a historic day for Indian sports.

    Sushil and Vijender’s heroics not only provided the late sparks to an otherwise dismal campaign but has created a record of sorts as India had never returned with three medals from the Olympics.

    India had won two Olympic medals in the 1952 Helsinki Games when the hockey team had won the gold medal and wrestler K D Jadhav had won a bronze medal, a record which had stood for 56 long years.

    While Sushil and Vijender did the country proud, there was some heartbreak for the Indians with another medal contender pugilist Jitender Kumar losing his quarter-final bout despite a valiant effort in the ring.

    After days of disappointments, it turned out to be a day to cherish for the Indians as Sushil found his way to the record books by becoming only the second wrestler in India’s Olympic history to win a bronze medal in the men’s 66 kg freestyle category.