Magazine article Workforce

Business Meeting Etiquette: Where and When?

Magazine article Workforce

Business Meeting Etiquette: Where and When?

Article excerpt

Paula Corbin Jones says she met Governor Bill Clinton in a business suite at the Excelsior Hotel where she alleges he sexually harassed her. The room was furnished as a business suite, not as a hotel room and had no bed. As an employee, should she have agreed to meet her boss's boss in a private hotel room? Should hotel-room meetings be banned because of their potentially questionable setting?

According to Monica Ballard, president of Parallax Education, a Santa Monica, California-based firm that helps companies avoid liability in employment litigation, these are important questions. "If a boss asked me to meet him in a hotel room, that would raise my eyebrows," says Ballard. Agreeing to such a meeting could mean an uncomfortable, and potentially dangerous, situation for an employee. Ballard suggests companies educate employees about offsite business etiquette, and let subordinates, co-workers and bosses know they have choices in where and when to hold business meetings. Employees should never be made to feel uncomfortable because of a meeting's location and time, and they shouldn't be responsible for insubordination because of a refusal to meet a boss in a place they consider questionable.

For instance, Ballard says Jones might have suggested meeting Clinton over lunch in the hotel restaurant, meeting in the lobby or even in the bar-which is still a public place. …

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