HR Manager’s bookshelf
Communication, etiquette and tips from around the world

By Ray Brillinger
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 11/13/2001

Our books in this issue are full of information and quick tips on that most universal of all subjects: communication. They cover many different facets, from improving your awareness and skills in handling interactions, to effectively supervising and coaching others.

A related theme is etiquette — the ground rules for making a favourable impression in all kinds of business situations, at home and abroad. HR professionals may find these books valuable in improving their own abilities in navigating in business, social and cross-cultural situations, or as educational resources to help managers and employees improve in these areas.

Power Suit, Power Lunch, Power Failure
By Lewena Bayer and Karen Mallett, 77 pages (2000), Great Plains Publications,

The authors operate a Winnipeg-based business-training service and dub themselves “the etiquette ladies.” Their regular column appears on the Web at

Manners in the new millennium are explored in this little book, touching on creating positive first impressions, the art of schmoozing, co-worker and gender relations in the office and professional presence including grooming and dress. There’s also a section on technology etiquette covering, e-mail, telephone, cell phones and pagers.

A second book in this “In Good Company” series is

P’s & Q’s for Profit

(77 pages, 2001, Great Plains). It probes verbal and conversational skills, written communications and guidelines for meetings, including negotiations, presentations and even advice on washroom etiquette. Specific sections are devoted to interview etiquette and situations that mix business and pleasure.

Both books are amusing and practical in tone, full of pointers and checklists. Every now and then there’s a short quiz to assist readers in self-assessment on the topic at hand.

Secrets of Face-to-Face Communication
By Peter Urs Bender and Robert A. Tracz, 232 pages (2000), Stoddart. Distributed by General Distribution, (416) 213-1919 or

Here you’ll find, arranged alphabetically for easy access, short (two pages or so) topical discussions on everything from active listening and apologizing to understanding body and facial language, getting better at small talk and using visual words.

Along the way, Canadian authors Bender and Tracz offer guidance and anecdotes on:

•giving organized and intelligent answers when asked a question;

•conveying attention and interest;

•using closed and open questions effectively;

•receiving criticism;

•clarifying objectives in communicating;

•recognizing personal and interpersonal communication roadblocks; and

•getting comfortable with different ways of saying “No.”

There’s also a brief introduction to behavioural styles — Amiable, Analytical, Driver and Expressive — along with suggestions for communicating with each type, and the potential for toxic relationships among the different possible combinations of styles.

Readers will also find advice for dealing with a variety of difficult individuals: bulldozers, complainers, know-it-alls, negative people, procrastinators, sharpshooters, silent partners and volcanoes.

This quick reference book could be a useful self-help resource for raising awareness and motivation to try new approaches in dealing with people.

The 21st Century Supervisor
By Brad Humphrey and Jeff Stokes, 332 pages (2000), Jossey-Bass Pfeiffer. At bookstores or available from Wiley Canada, 1-800-567-4797,

Ask employees what makes the difference between an effective and a less effective supervisor or manager, and most will likely answer “Communication.”

While most business books on leadership aim at senior management levels, The 21st Century Supervisor takes a comprehensive look at the roles and skills of front-line leaders. Traditional hands-on monitoring of employees has given way to a different role emphasizing people skills, decision-making and analysis.

Sections cover:

•People skills: communication, coaching and team skills;

•Technical skills: business analysis, computers and continuous improvement; and

•Administrative skills: project management, planning, writing and resource management.

Written in a clear, logical style with examples and workbook elements for entering personal experiences and ideas, this book can serve as a resource for independent study or in training workshops. The closing chapters take readers through a series of testimonials from supervisors who have reinvented their roles and skills, and a roadmap to help the individual supervisor understand the necessary changes.

Coaching to Maximize Performance
By Jack Cullen and Len D’Innocenzo, 110 pages (1999), Velocity Business Publishing, 1-888-805-8600,

“Don’t just manage — coach!” is the theme of this guidebook for supervisors and managers who want to be more effective in creating a motivational environment, developing people, setting goals, communicating expectations and confronting poor performers constructively.

Examples, checklists and step-by-step approaches give the book a pragmatic, down-to-earth tone. Coaching is characterized by establishing credibility, planning for success, leading by example and tailoring one’s management approach to the developmental level of the employee.

This is one of many titles in the “Agile Manager Series.” Others include books on giving presentations, leadership, delegating work, performance appraisal, influencing people, customer-focused selling, getting organized and understanding financial statements.

The Global Etiquette Guide to Asia
By Dean Foster, 341 pages (2000), Wiley, 1-800-567-4797,

Business travel, placing and managing expatriates, acquisitions and partnerships with companies in other countries are all situations that challenge us, or our colleagues, to learn about and prepare to operate in a different cultural environment. This book offers a wealth of information and perspective on culture, interpersonal relating, work and society and even orientation toward time in Asian countries.

Eighteen chapters describe cultural norms and practices in countries stretching from Japan to Israel, Thailand to Jordan, Sri Lanka to Kuwait. The Pacific Rim, East and Central Asia, South Asia, Australia and New Zealand and Gulf States are all covered.

Readers will find in-depth guidance on:

•language and vocabulary;

•greetings and introductions;

•communication styles;

•gestures and facial expressions;

•eye contact;

•protocol in public;


•dining and drinking;

•acting as a guest as host; and

•gift giving.

Business readers will find additional value in discussions about hierarchy, rules, risk-taking, the degree of formality, management styles, focus on process versus results, meetings and presentations, negotiation styles and written correspondence.

Another title in the Global Etiquette series (also by Dean Foster, 2000, Wiley) covers Europe with a similar format and level of detail. It shares the banner: “Everything you need to know for business and travel success.”

Ray Brillinger is a senior consultant with the IBM Consulting Group. He provides change management, business transformation and organization effectiveness services to client organizations. He can be reached at (905) 316-4646 or

Add Comment

  • *
  • *
  • *
  • *