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How to roll out the red carpet for visitors

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

When a VIP comes to your office, how do you dole out extra-special treatment?

Being friendly and responsive is the key to treating VIPs, says Peter Post, Emily Post's great-grandson and author of The Etiquette Advantage in Business.

Here's Post's advice on how to practice guest etiquette:

Greet VIPs by name. "There's something so powerful about using somebody's name when you greet them," says Post. "I'm always surprised when some people don't do it." Make the person feel welcome. Post even suggests standing up, in some cases.

Example: Stand up, say: "Hello, Mr. Smith. Let me tell John you're here." Go to John's door, as opposed to calling him, open it for the VIP guest, then close it behind him. These are nice, simple things you can do. And you'll be remembered.

Deliver a heads-up to the boss. Even if you wouldn't normally give your boss a five-minute warning before an appointment, this would be a time to do it. That sets the stage, says Post.

"You might give him a chance to clean his desk," says Post. "You're giving him that moment to get ready."

Shoo away distractions so you're not caught juggling when the VIP arrives. If someone comes to your desk with a problem, be honest and direct in asking her to wait.

Example: "I want to help you with that problem, but I know Mr. Smith is about to arrive and I need to give him my full attention. I'll get back to you."

Make small talk only if you observe a clear signal. "I think part of the smartness of an admin is an ability to read people," says Post. If the VIP ends up waiting a minute or two, you'll need to evaluate whether to attempt chitchat. If he whips out a newspaper, don't try to make conversation. If he sits and smiles at you, then ask about the weather.

"And, please," says Post, "converse without going into controversial topics."

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