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Down to Business: Vintage Advice for the Working Girl

In a spirit of getting back to business after a weekend of fun, Monday morning seems like a fitting time to chat about the workplace. Whether “going to work” takes you to an office, a hospital, a factory, a store, a classroom, or your very own kitchen, many tidbits of advice from days of yore boil down to plain, old-fashioned common sense. When it comes to the work world, women may have “come a long way, baby” in many ways. However, along with those gains has too often come a loss of something precious: a sense of a woman’s natural grace, dignity, and femininity.

It doesn’t have to be this way. An earnest quest for the corner office needn’t mean completely abandoning our Sparkling Vintage selves. A solid work ethic doesn’t depend on acting crass, rude, or pushy. We can be savvy businesswomen without losing our charm. In fact, a gracious manner simply makes¬† good business sense, helping us build better business relationships and please bosses and customers alike. Try it and see!

Here are a few handy tips from 1913 for getting along in business as a woman, taken from Good Form and Social Ethics by Fannie Dickerson Chase.

“When starting out to earn your own living, don’t think you know it all; there are a few who know very nearly as much as you do.

When you enter an office or business house for the first time, do exactly as you are told; use your eyes to see what is to be done.

Be on time–if you lose an arm to do it; get to business on time above all else; don’t be two minutes late.

If you promise to do a thing at a certain time, do it; do as you promise. Thousands of dollars have been lost because someone failed to do as he agreed.

Don’t have friends constantly calling you on the telephone; the instrument was put into the office for business, not for visiting.

Don’t think that because your employer is sitting at his desk and apparently doing nothing, he wants you to talk to him; sometimes his mind is on a weighty problem, and he doesn’t need your help in planning it out.

Be pleasant as soon as you step inside the office; nobody wants to know about your troubles. Your time is not your own; it belongs to your employer, and he doesn’t hire you to look gloomy.

From the time you enter the office until you leave it, attend solely to your duty. When you have finished attending to your duties, leave the office. The habit of lingering after business hours to chat with the young men in the office is a bad one.”

You see? Every one of these suggestions applies just as well to today’s workplace as it did in 1913.

Next week we’ll look at some more Sparkling Vintage tips for getting down to business.

 

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