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Business Trends – April 6, 2010

What’s Your Beef? Personal calls on the company cell phone.

My company provides a cell phone and says it understands if an occasional call is personal (calling home to say I’ll be late, for instance). But I find myself using it more and more as my primary phone and have cancelled my personal cell phone contract. Have I crossed the line?
Did you really need to ask? Of course you did. You should explain to your boss that it’s really inconvenient to carry two cell phones and ask (without telling him you already got rid of yours) if there is a way to share the cost of the one the company provides you. If he says no, he’s a jerk, but don’t make a fuss. Just get another phone.
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My boss has a Mainland trip scheduled and has asked me to go along. We (he male, me female) work closely and well together but this is making me nervous. What should I do beyond insisting, obviously, on separate hotel rooms?
Don’t go near the bar when you’re with him. Don’t go to his room for a drink, or invite him to yours. Meet him for breakfast and have dinner alone, or with one of your contacts. It all boils down to staying away from situations where temptation or misconception might rear its ugly head.
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In Hawaii, we share. People bring food, flowers and whateva’ to the office all the time. I recently went to work for a Mainland-based company with a very Mainland-style business environment. I’m trying to be my local-style self, but I sense it’s not going over very well. Should I continue to try to convince my coworkers and bosses to relax and be a little bit more aloha style, or am I doing myself serious harm?
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. In this case you’re the odd man out, and you should probably play their game if you don’t want people to think you’re a slow learner, which might hurt your chances for advancement. It’s always better to adapt to the culture rather than trying to make others adapt to you. Isn’t that why haoles often get into trouble? In this situation, the shoe’s on the other foot.
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I’m on a committee that is supposed to choose the music that will play when phone callers are put on hold. What should I recommend?
Silence? Nah, that won’t work. It makes people nervous. The problem with hold music is that unless it’s really bland, it’s liable to irritate someone. The noisier and more strident it is, the more it irritates. Soft, level-volume, elevator music is best, unless you want to make people mad enough to hang up.
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Dear Readers: This column is the last by the Corner Office Curmudgeon. He (or was it actually a woman?) has returned to retired life and will curmudge no more. Thank you for reading these columns. – Steve Petranik

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