What the #@$%! Happened to Our Manners at Work?
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What the #@$%! Happened to Our Manners at Work?

Because of pandemic rust, a generational shift or something else, the working world is getting ruder, many say.

By CALLUM BORCHERS
Mon, Sep 12, 2022 10:20amGrey Clock 4 min

Workers, where are your bleeping manners?

You’re cursing more and handshaking less, quitting on shorter notice and waiting longer to answer emails and texts.

At least, that’s how it feels to the self-appointed etiquette police among your co-workers and business associates. Politeness is tough to measure, and, sure, certain norms are overdue for updates. Still, I keep hearing from business people who swear (as in attest, not cuss) that the working world is getting ruder.

Hiring managers lament that job candidates skip cover letters whenever possible, seldom follow up on interviews with thank-you notes and can’t be counted on to show up once they’ve accepted offers.

Job seekers, for their part, complain that computers screen those cover letters, anyway, and that too few recruiters are considerate enough to send rejection letters, leaving hopefuls to wonder for weeks about where they stand with potential employers.

Many workers, particularly younger ones, claim they aren’t interested in bonding with colleagues and act accordingly. Happy hour? Hard pass. That’s not so much about being cold or uncivil, these people say, as it is about maintaining a private life away from work.

Others’ interpersonal skills are rusty or underdeveloped, owing to limited opportunities to practice during much of the past couple of years.

One glimmer of hope, or a sign of self-awareness: LinkedIn reports August enrollment in its two most popular business etiquette courses was up 127% year over year.

Those mourning the supposed decline of business etiquette blame the pandemic, a tight labor market, Gen Z and the internet.

“In the last three or four years, it has become much, much worse,” says Steve Landrum, a sales executive who lives near Atlanta.

His No. 1 gripe is “ghosting” from potential clients, which he says is more common now than at any time in his 30-year career. Like a dating-app match who suddenly stops answering messages after flirting, some sales leads show initial interest only to cut off communication without explanation.

When that happens, Mr. Landrum sends a short “breakup” email—“I’m going to assume that you’ve gone in a different direction,” he writes—if only for his own sense of closure. He tells me those who aren’t courteous harm their own reputations, though he concedes that bad form doesn’t dog people as it once did.

The bigger shift in recent years might be that rudeness has become less costly.

Left your job abruptly? In this economy, there’s bound to be another one around the corner—for now, anyway—and companies aren’t checking references as often as they used to.

Underdressed for the big meeting? Let she who is without stretchy Zoom pants cast the first stone.

Ignored that question a co-worker asked you on Slack? In a hybrid workplace, you might never cross paths with the co-worker and have to suffer the awkward consequences. Or if you do, you can claim having turned off notifications accidentally.

Just don’t try that excuse on Phoenix Normand, chief of staff at a tech company in California.

“Waiting all day to return a Slack inquiry is pretty much the most disrespectful thing you can do,” he says.

A close second: mucking up written communications with wayward punctuation, misspellings, abbreviations and emojis. If Mr. Normand sees a “your” that should be “you’re,” he’s gonna be, like, WTF? Amirite?

“The English language is being butchered to the point where it’s almost embarrassing,” he says.

He adds that workers often don’t realize their informality can land poorly, at least if someone like the 53-year-old Mr. Normand is on the receiving end. A recipient might conclude that the writer doesn’t know basic grammar and syntax or take offence. A sloppy email can inadvertently suggest that the person in the “to” field isn’t worth the time it takes to proofread.

Toni Purvis, founder of the School of Disruptive Etiquette in Washington, D.C., recommends erring on the side of formality in writing. It can be safer, she says, to buck traditional notions of “professional” appearance because many companies have come to realize that rules governing attire, hair, tattoos and other aspects of personal style can marginaliae certain workers.

Still, it remains important to consider how others perceive the way you present yourself, she adds.

For instance, the red suit that Ms. Purvis wore on her first day as an intern at an investment bank in the aughts sent the wrong message. In an industry with its own dull palette—banker grey—it looked as though she was trying to be the centre of attention, she says.

The outfit was a hand-me-down, and Ms. Purvis was oblivious to the unofficial dress code because she was the first person in her family or circle of friends to enter the corporate world. Her school aims to help others who don’t grow up learning etiquette by osmosis avoid missteps.

Daniel Post Senning, author and spokesman at the Emily Post Institute, notes that many traditional standards can be traced to wealthy, white society in the Northeast. He agrees with Ms. Purvis that contemporary etiquette is evolving to be more inclusive.

“Being true to who you are and where you came from is an important part of being honest,” he says.

That doesn’t mean authenticity always goes over well.

Cole Wiser, the creative director at a marketing agency in Dallas, says addressing a client as “y’all” once prompted a private scolding by a manager who thought the term was too informal. Ever since, Mr. Wiser says, he’s been self-conscious about a contraction that’s just part of how he talks.

When he slipped a “y’all” into a video call with a client recently, he asked his LinkedIn network to weigh in. The advice ranged from use it to don’t use it, to use it only with fellow Texans. “Read the room” was a popular tip.

The mixed feedback wasn’t especially helpful, but he posted thank-yous, anyway. It seemed like the proper thing to do.

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: September 8, 2022.



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New York Watch Auctions Record Uptick in Sales in the Face of Market Slowdown
By LAURIE KAHLE
Mon, Jun 24, 2024 4 min

Luxury watch collectors showed ongoing strong demand for Patek Philippe, growing interest in modern watches and a preference for larger case sizes and leather straps at the June watch sales in New York, according to an analysis of the major auctions.

Independent and neo-vintage categories, meanwhile, experienced declines in total sales and average prices, said the report from  EveryWatch, a global online platform for watch information. Overall, the New York auctions achieved total sales of US$52.27 million, a 9.87% increase from the previous year, on the sale of 470 lots, reflecting a 37% increase in volume. Unsold rates ticked down a few points to 5.31%, according to the platform’s analysis.

EveryWatch gathered data from official auction results for sales held in New York from June 5 to 10 at Christie’s, Phillips, and Sotheby’s. Limited to watch sales exclusively, each auction’s data was reviewed and compiled for several categories, including total lots, sales and sold rates, highest prices achieved, performance against estimates, sales trends in case materials and sizes as well as dial colors, and more. The resulting analysis provides a detailed overview of market trends and performance.

The Charles Frodsham Pocket watch sold at Phillips for $433,400.

“We still see a strong thirst for rare, interesting, and exceptional watches, modern and vintage alike, despite a little slow down in the market overall,” says Paul Altieri, founder and CEO of the California-based pre-owned online watch dealer BobsWatches.com, in an email. “The results show that there is still a lot of money floating around out there in the economy looking for quality assets.”

Patek Philippe came out on top with more than US$17.68 million on the sale of 122 lots. It also claimed the top lot: Sylvester Stallone’s Patek Philippe GrandMaster Chime 6300G-010, still in the sealed factory packaging, which sold at Sotheby’s for US$5.4 million, much to the dismay of the brand’s president, Thierry Stern . The London-based industry news website WatchPro estimates the flip made the actor as much as US$2 million in just a few years.

At Christie’s, the top lot was a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM56-02 AO Tourbillon Sapphire
Richard Mille

“As we have seen before and again in the recent Sotheby’s sale, provenance can really drive prices higher than market value with regards to the Sylvester Stallone Panerai watches and his standard Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1a offered,” Altieri says.

Patek Philippe claimed half of the top 10 lots, while Rolex and Richard Mille claimed two each, and Philippe Dufour claimed the No. 3 slot with a 1999 Duality, which sold at Phillips for about US$2.1 million.

“In-line with EveryWatch’s observation of the market’s strong preference for strap watches, the top lot of our auction was a Philippe Dufour Duality,” says Paul Boutros, Phillips’ deputy chairman and head of watches, Americas, in an email. “The only known example with two dials and hand sets, and presented on a leather strap, it achieved a result of over US$2 million—well above its high estimate of US$1.6 million.”

In all, four watches surpassed the US$1 million mark, down from seven in 2023. At Christie’s, the top lot was a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM56-02 AO Tourbillon Sapphire, the most expensive watch sold at Christie’s in New York. That sale also saw a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM52-01 CA-FQ Tourbillon Skull Model go for US$1.26 million to an online buyer.

Rolex expert Altieri was surprised one of the brand’s timepieces did not crack the US$1 million threshold but notes that a rare Rolex Daytona 6239 in yellow gold with a “Paul Newman John Player Special” dial came close at US$952,500 in the Phillips sale.

The Crown did rank second in terms of brand clout, achieving sales of US$8.95 million with 110 lots. However, both Patek Philippe and Rolex experienced a sales decline by 8.55% and 2.46%, respectively. The independent brand Richard Mille, with US$6.71 million in sales, marked a 912% increase from the previous year with 15 lots, up from 5 lots in 2023.

The results underscored recent reports of prices falling on the secondary market for specific coveted models from Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Audemars Piguet. The summary points out that five top models produced high sales but with a fall in average prices.

The Rolex Daytona topped the list with 42 appearances, averaging US$132,053, a 41% average price decrease. Patek Philippe’s Nautilus, with two of the top five watches, made 26 appearances with an average price of US$111,198, a 26% average price decrease. Patek Philippe’s Perpetual Calendar followed with 23 appearances and a US$231,877 average price, signifying a fall of 43%, and Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak had 22 appearances and an average price of US$105,673, a 10% decrease. The Rolex Day Date is the only watch in the top five that tracks an increase in average price, which at US$72,459 clocked a 92% increase over last year.

In terms of categories, modern watches (2005 and newer) led the market with US$30 million in total sales from 226 lots, representing a 53.54% increase in sales and a 3.78% increase in average sales price over 2023. Vintage watches (pre-1985) logged a modest 6.22% increase in total sales and an 89.89% increase in total lots to 169.

However, the average price was down across vintage, independent, and neo-vintage (1990-2005) watches. Independent brands saw sales fall 24.10% to US$8.47 million and average prices falling 42.17%, while neo-vintage watches experienced the largest decline in sales and lots, with total sales falling 44.7% to US$8.25 million, and average sales price falling 35.73% to US$111,000.

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