Nancy MitchellNancy R. Mitchell is an established protocol and etiquette consultant and advisor with more than 30 years of experience in the field. Currently, she is an adjunct faculty member at George Washington University, where she developed and teaches protocol courses to Event Management Certificate Program students in the School of Business and Public Management, and at Stratford University, Falls Church, VA. She serves also as protocol and special events consultant to the Library of Congress, the world’s largest library and cultural center. For 23 years, Mitchell was Director of Special Events and Public Programs at the Library of Congress where she and her staff were responsible for planning and managing over 400 events each year. She coordinated the institution’s major special events, visits of heads of state and other foreign dignitaries, fundraising galas, conferences and meetings. As the Library’s chief protocol advisor, she served as liaison to the White House, U.S Department of State, the Congress, the Supreme Court and other government agencies, foreign embassies, academia and corporations. Mitchell owns The Etiquette Advocate, Inc., a firm providing etiquette and protocol training to corporations, universities, embassies, government agencies, non-profit organizations and individuals. She is the etiquette consultant to Engaged! magazine, has been featured on Good Morning America, Fox 5 News, WTOP Radio and National Public Radio, and is quoted on matters of etiquette and protocol by the New York Times, Washington Business Journal, and the Washington Post. She is a co-owner of the firm, Protocol Partners-Washington Center for Protocol, Inc., and is a member of the Protocol and Diplomacy International Protocol Officers Association and the Women Business Owners of Montgomery Country (MD).
Host: When is it necessary or appropriate to give a gift to a coworker and what gifts are appropriate?
Nancy Mitchell: Again it depends on the relationship you have with that coworker. If it is the end of the year and everyone is giving gifts to everyone else find out what your company policy is if you are new to that organization and if you are to the policy, you will be more comfortable if you are doing what other people are doing. If there is someone on the staff or one or two people you have a special relationship with you go to lunch. You know them outside the office then clearly your gift to them is going to be a little bit different to some colleague who is a casual acquaintance.
You are not required to give to everyone you work with. Some offices in order to get over that hurdle if you will of giving so many gifts to so many people have come up with at the end of the year, sometimes there is a gift bag, a grab bag, a secret center, there are collections for an office party, or the money that is collected for what would be an office party is then donated to a local charity or to an international organization in lieu of a party. There are ways that offices have handled this situation where it may not be necessary for you to give to colleagues. But if you are closely related to them, they have a loss, they have a wedding, they have something special in their life, or promotion, or retirement, you need to ask yourself that question, how am I related to that person? And do I want to give a personalized gift and then make your decision.