Genre: Business Etiquette
Author: Barbara Pachter
Title: The Essentials of Business Etiquette (Buy the Book)
In her book The Essentials of Business Etiquette, Barbara Pachter shares some of her favorite blog posts, current writings, and new essential tips focused on equipping business men and women with the tools necessary to make a positive change in the way they present themselves in the workplace. For the past 25 years, Pachter coached and presented seminars for some of the world’s leading companies and has written nine books on business etiquette and communication.
The current business environment is cutthroat and ever evolving. To achieve success, one must set themselves apart from the crowd by projecting a competent, credible, and approachable image. Many skilled employees, managers, and executives are ignorant of the career restraining behavior they exhibit on a day-to-day basis.
Regardless of how proficient an employee is in his or her field of work, not knowing how to effectively communicate, dress professionally, and politely navigate a meal with a client can have detrimental effects on the level of success one can attain.
Throughout her book, Pachter provides readers with the skills necessary to, as she says it, “greet, eat, and tweet your way to success.”
This brief will present you with the skills necessary to:
- Professionally and pleasantly greet and connect with others.
- Manage a professional image through wardrobe choices, body language and verbal communication.
- Demonstrate proper business meal and company event etiquette.
- Properly utilize popular modes of communication such as email, phone, text message, and social media.
- Gracefully advance in your career with a competitive edge by actively searching for new opportunities and exhibiting competence in interviews.
“Your career is what you make of it.” How many times have you heard that phrase? Although the statement requires almost no effort to speak, it is a far more difficult reality to implement unless you intentionally cultivate the skills to do so. Although most elements of good business etiquette are not taught in school, becoming proficient in this craft will give a competitive edge in a sometimes ruthless business market.
In many cases, competent managers and executives are oblivious to their self-inflicted, career-limiting behavior. After all, it is easy to not know your own actions when you have been repeating them for years. If you learn how to establish relationships easily, dress professionally, eat politely and communicate effectively, you will watch your career soar.
SECTION 1- GREET
Merely meeting job requirements in the current competitive business environment is no longer sufficient. Employees desiring success must strive to be set apart from the average employee–in a good way. This means projecting a polished, professional image.
The way in which you connect with people, the manners you exhibit, and what you wear are all key determinants of your success. In the midst of juggling countless projects and meetings, these skills are easily lost in the shuffle. However, without these etiquette skills you may lose business, the respect of your coworkers, and promotions.
Although rarely listed on job descriptions, establishing rapport is an important component of most peoples’ profession. Connecting with others is a vital skill because people want to do business with those they know, like, and trust.
In the business world, multiple occasions necessitate introductions. In many instances, this task will fall to you. An introduction is the first step to establishing a relationship with another person, and the manner of execution may lead people to believe you are personable and polished or cold and dismissive.
Simply put, names matter. The way in which people address you and what you call yourself has the power to confer or take away dignity. When introducing yourself, you should use your full name. Not only will using this tactic evade confusion with someone in the office with the same first name, but it will also give you standing. Just as importantly, know what name people prefer. Pay attention to the name people use when they introduce themselves and what they write on their nametag.
Shortening someone’s name without his or her stamp of approval could be considered inconsiderate or inappropriate.
The host or person in charge of the event should initiate the introductions. Always announce the name of the person of highest rank first in a formal introduction. If it is difficult to quickly determine who is more important, mention first the name of the person you would like to flatter. Add a short blurb about each person in the introduction to generate conversation.
If you forget your colleague’s name, as many do, briefly admit that you forgot his or her name devoid of an excessive apology. Everyone forgets a name occasionally, and a great tip for gracefully moving through an uncomfortable experience such as this is “knowing your line.” This approach suggests knowing what to say in advance so that you are not at a loss for words if the situation arises.
The handshake is the business greeting in the United States. If you want co-workers and clients to take you seriously, you must shake hands, and shake hands correctly, with the person you are greeting. Whether we do it consciously or not, we all make assumptions about people based on the quality of their handshake.
When being greeted, establish your presence and show respect to the other person by standing.
The person of higher ranking should initiate the handshake, but if he or she fails to do so, the person of lower ranking should extend his or her hand without missing a beat. First, extend your hand with the thumb up and touch thumb joint to thumb joint with the other person’s hand. Next, put your thumb down and wrap your fingers around the other person’s palm firmly, but not too firm. Face the person and make eye contact, pumping hands a maximum of
THE ART OF BUSINESS CONVERSATION
Do not let the fear of an uncomfortable conversation deter you from talking to strangers at a work event. Sticking to a small, familiar group of people, is a missed opportunity to make new connections. Some tips for meeting new people at an event include approaching someone standing alone, talking to people while in line for food or drink, saying hello to people when you first sit down, or joining larger clusters of people that are likely in the midst of a generalized conversation.
If initiating conversation with a stranger stresses you out, try pretending you are the host of the event so that the focus is on making other people feel comfortable. The golden rule of making conversation is to listen.
Even if you were not born with the gift of gab, it is possible to appear outgoing and interesting with a little extra preparation. For instance, if you know you are meeting with a specific person, look them up on LinkedIn to find out his or her background and achievements and nonchalantly ask him or her for further details in the conversation.
If not fortunate enough to know the person ahead of time, arm yourself for conversation by brushing up on current events, learning up-to-date information about your line of work by reading professional journals, and simply observing the world around you. Remember to always stick to safe topics and always stay away from sex, politics, and religion. Differing opinions can drastically change how people perceive you and can elicit competition and pettiness within the office.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SHOWING GRATITUDE
Although it is very impactful, it is all too easy to forget the simple nicety of saying “Thank you” in the hustle and bustle of today’s working world. When you convey thanks, you are acknowledging the thoughtfulness, helpfulness, and kindness shown to you by another person.
Always express thanks when someone goes above and beyond for you, as well as in the closing of emails. Keep in mind, however, it is possible to say, “Thank you” too often. Say it only when it is necessary so that the repetition does not dilute the impact.
Sending a well-written thank you note after a significant occasion is a thoughtful form of showing gratitude to the host.
First, decide whether a quick and informal email or a personal handwritten thank you note is more appropriate for the circumstance. Although you may have heard, “It is the thought that counts,” never dismiss the quality of a thank you note.
Sloppy errors or an unsigned note may change a person’s opinion of your professionalism and attention to detail. Send a separate note to every individual who deserves thanks. Ideally, each note is sent within 24 hours of the event,
MANAGING A PROFESSIONAL IMAGE
“You must realize that if you aren’t managing your own professional image, someone else is.” – Professor Laura Morgan Roberts, Harvard Business School
Everyone is always projecting an image. It is true that you have no control over how others see you, but you do have power over what you are sending out. If you project a confident, credible, and composed image, people will respond as if you are those things.
The image you project comprises verbal and nonverbal communications and the ability to establish rapport. Verbal communication is the actual diction you use, while nonverbal communication is a combination of body language, dress, and voice.
What does your posture say about you? Radiate confidence in meetings by aligning your legs with your shoulders and distributing weight equally on both legs. Keep your chin up, shoulders back, and hands placed by your sides. Women have a tendency to appear submissive by oftentimes crossing their legs, distributing their weight on one hip, and folding their hands in conversation.
On the same note, men can appear passive when they put their feet together and sway back and forth.
Hands do a lot of talking as well, but what are they saying? Invading someone else’s space with your hands, pointing directly at people instead of with an open palm, and placing your hands on your hips can make you appear arrogant or aggressive. Crossing your arms can make you seem closed or defensive, while clasped hands indicate humility or deference.
In addition to managing posture and hand gestures, monitor your standard facial expression. Pay attention to unsolicited comments from friends and colleagues. For example, do people often ask if you are upset when you are not? If so, your typical facial expression may communicate dissatisfaction.
MAKING PROFESSIONAL WARDROBE CHOICES
Clothing is a central element of nonverbal communication. Personal style choices play a vital role in the initial and lasting impression made on other people. First, consider whether the clothing complies with company dress code, if it is appropriate for your job, if it is suitable for the event or activity you are attending, and if it sends a professional image. The bottom line is that if you are unsure of the appropriateness of your wardrobe, choose something else.
Use the FACS acronym below for more detailed assistance when choosing an outfit:
- Fit – People can spend a fortune on an item, but if it is too big or too small, it will not look good. Men should purchase jackets that are large enough to fully button and leave an appropriate additional amount of room. Sleeves should reach the base of their hands and just show a bit of the cuff. Shirt collars should button comfortably without pinching or leaving gaps. Pants should break at the shoe. Women should make sure their clothing fits without bulging and emphasizing the buttocks or chest. Sexy is not a corporate look and is an unnecessary distraction. Skirts should fall no higher than the top or slightly above the top of knees. Just as importantly as fitting properly, clothes must appear clean and pressed.
- Accessories – Choose high quality accessories that will complete an outfit without overpowering it. A general guideline is one ring per hand and one bracelet per arm. Coordinating accessories with an outfit shows attention to detail.
- Color – Darker colors generally convey a stronger impression than lighter ones. Lighter colors are appropriate in warmer climates, but remember, you want to be remembered for what you said, not what you wore. Some bright clothing is “loud” and can overpower your words.
- Style – Employees should strive for their style to be classified at the same level of professionalism, or one step above the level, of the people with whom they are working. When dressing for a promotion, analyze and mirror the clothing choices of the individual who currently holds your next level position or of higher- level professionals in your organization.
Men and women should also be mindful of the shoes they choose to sport. Good quality leather is the most professional look. Men should wear black shoes with gray, navy, and black pants and wear brown shoes with tan, brown, and beige pants. Sock color should match pants or shoes. For women, 2 1/2”-3 1/2” heels are part of the corporate uniform and should match hemline or skin color.
Common grooming mistakes have just as much power as wardrobe faux pas to distract people from your abilities. Practice good daily hygiene to avoid someone helplessly focusing on your bad breath or mangy hair. Tattoos are becoming increasingly popular in the corporate sphere but before getting one, consider the ability to conceal it easily when working around clients.
What you say and how you say it can considerably affect peoples’ perspective of you. For example, many men and women do not speak loudly enough. By speaking softly, they convey a lack of confidence and, in turn, make it easier for others to ignore their comments. Instead of seeming diffident, add power to your presence by increasing your volume.
Many workers unknowingly use self-discounting language and believe they are instead being polite.
Using self-discounting language such as, “Sorry to bother you” or “I was just wondering if perhaps…” can diminish your personal stature as well as minimize what you are trying to say. “I am sorry” is sometimes a necessary phrase when claiming ownership of an error.
However, this phrase is commonly abused. Repeating the phrase at inappropriate times detracts from your personal image and becomes a form of putting yourself down. Instead, consider using the phrase, “You are correct. There were mistakes made. It will not happen again.”
In addition to self-discounting phrases, eliminate the use of the phrase “I think.” Saying, “I think,” conveys lack of assurance in the statement you are making. Instead, state the information or use the phrase “I suggest” or “I recommend” to appear more confident without coming off as overly authoritative. Furthermore, using nonstandard words such as “youse,” “didya,” and “gonna” may invite others to make negative assumptions about your level of intelligence.
SECTION 2 – EAT
You may need to eat when you are at a business event, but you are not there for the food. You are there for business. Knowing how to mingle with others and navigate a meal properly allows you to concentrate on the guests.
Instead of nervously Googling under the table which glass to drink out of, remember the correct placement of plates, glasses, and utensils, with the mnemonic BMW. It stands for bread, meal, and water. This will remind you that your bread and butter plate sits on the left, the meal is in the middle, and the water glass is on your right.
It is also important to learn which utensils to use. Each course should have its own utensil and you should navigate your meal from the outside in. The largest fork is generally the entree fork and the largest spoon is generally the soupspoon. Utensils above the plate are for dessert. If you are unsure of which utensil to use, follow your host’s lead.
Knowing what not to do with utensils is just important as knowing what to do with them. A few specific examples of actions to avoid include waving your hands around while holding a utensil and speaking, pushing food onto your fork with your finger, and making a fist around your fork when cutting your meat.
DINNER IN THREE ACTS
Simplify navigating your way through a business dinner with potential clients by putting the dinner in the context of a three-act play. During the first act of the play, you arrive at the restaurant. Greet and shake hands with the other people in your group. Put your napkin in your lap when you sit down and quickly decide what to order to avoid looking indecisive.
A rule of thumb for business occasions is order what you know how to eat, what you like to eat, and what is easy to eat. Order something in the mid-price range so that it does not appear that you are taking advantage of the host. If you have food allergies or other dietary restrictions, check out the menu in advance or call ahead of time to avoid looking finicky.
Business talk can occur after the order is taken and before the food is served.
During the second act, your main course is served. Make only pleasant comments about your food and do not send food back unless it really is inedible. This will not only disrupt the flow of dinner, but it is as much of an insult to the host as it is to the restaurant. During this time, talk about topics other than work.
In the third act, coffee and dessert is generally served and this is an appropriate time to wrap up any loose ends about business. Shake hands and thank everyone for a pleasant evening. Follow up promptly with any business related promises you made to people.
DEMONSTRATING COMMON NICETIES
“A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person.” –Dave Barry, Pulitzer Prize winning author, columnist, and comedian
Many people, including company executives, believe that the way someone interacts with his or her waiter speaks directly to that individual’s character. Greet your waiter, say “thank you” when the waiter brings you your food, and be polite and personable throughout the meal even if a problem occurs. No matter how terrible your experience is, it is unacceptable to punish the waiter by not tipping. If there is a serious issue, consider tipping 10% instead of the expected 20%.
Although seemingly immature, not extending an invitation to someone for an event you are hosting has the potential to harm your relationship with that individual. Peoples’ emotions are fragile and it is important to refer to Kindergarten rules when constructing the guest list.
If you invite most of the people in a group, it is necessary to invite everyone from the group. It is acceptable to invite just one or two people, as long as they do not make up the majority of the group. Otherwise, exclusivity may create unnecessary drama within the office.
When going out to a social dinner with friends from work, the bill can become another touchy issue you must confront.
If you plan to split the check, pay attention to what you order in comparison to your co-workers. If you ordered more expensive items than the rest of the group, offer to pay more to compensate. Keep in mind that suggesting separate checks is not always the best solution to paying the bill of an unbalanced meal.
It can make the meal seem more like a business arrangement than going out to dinner with friends. If the other person’s share is significantly larger, but they have not made any
APPROPRIATE COMPANY EVENT BEHAVIOR
Employees should enjoy company events without making career-ending mistakes. Always RSVP promptly, and if you cannot attend the event, provide a good reason. You are expected to participate. Although it is intended for entertainment, it is still a business activity.
Like any other work function, dress appropriately for the occasion and prepare your significant other by letting him or her know what to expect. Use this social opportunity to meet and make upbeat conversation with people you do not know. Do not get drunk and risk doing something outrageous. When you leave, make sure you express gratitude to the party organizers and follow up with a thank you note.
SECTION 3 – TWEET
As technology continues to advance, the ways in which people communicate in the work place are changing rapidly. It remains important to know how to communicate politely and effectively. In doing so, you want to ensure you are always professional, pay close attention to detail, and adapt to your customers’, clients’, colleagues’, and boss’s preferred style of communication.
EFFECTIVELY UTILIZING A TELEPHONE
Using the phone as a means of communication has many perks including immediate feedback, the capability of using vocal expression to enhance your message, and the ability to have detailed conversation. However, there are many important points to remember to ensure you are using this mode of communication courteously and effectively.
At the beginning of any phone conversation, whether you are initiating or receiving the call, greet the person on the other line and state your full name. If the person fails to answer the call, leave a voicemail briefly stating your name, why you are calling, and a phone number where they can reach you. People will be more willing to listen to your voicemail if you leave messages that are clear and succinct.
Additionally, have a professional message on your voicemail to avoid losing credibility. Many people think that they are saving time by not listening to their voice messages and immediately returning the person’s call instead. However, you should listen to any voicemail left by clients, customers, or your boss.
During a conference call, immediately let the people on the other end know exactly who is on the call or in the room with you. To make sure your opinion is heard on a teleconference, arrive prepared, speak loudly and early on in the conversation, learn to interrupt politely, and arrange for a strong facilitator if you can.
People these days have the habit of attaching themselves to their phones.
However, it is never appropriate to answer the phone in the middle of a meeting with someone else. Even placing your phone on the table when meeting with someone seems like you are ready to drop the conversation and connect with others. If you are expecting an important call, like one from your boss overseas, you should inform the person that you are meeting with ahead of time. If you forget, briefly explain the situation before taking the call.
Texting can serve as an unobtrusive way to contact someone and a quick way to exchange information. However, choose your content carefully. For example, it is not appropriate to quit your job or give negative feedback via text.
Additionally, when using abbreviations, make sure it is okay to communicate that informally and that the recipient will understand the abbreviations used. Also, keep in mind that text messages lack the tone in voice present in verbal messages. They often seem harsher than intended, so always re-read messages before sending.
A GUIDE TO SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media demonstrates its impact as an invaluable tool to connect with customers through revolutions, political elections, and marketing efforts. Know what competitors and clients are doing to establish relationships and stay one-step ahead of the game. If you decide to use a social media outlet, have a strategy for what you are posting.
Provide information that your audience wants to read and that is relevant to your strategy. The Big Three social media sites are among the first places your current and future clients, customers, coworkers, business colleagues, and potential employers will look you up.
The first site of the Big Three is the social media site exclusively for business professionals: LinkedIn. For the most notable impression, your profile should be 100% complete with a business appropriate picture. Include current contact information for people looking to conduct business with you.
To build credibility, list any awards and honors you have received associated with your field and have some recommendations on your profile. Build your network by joining groups that are suitable for your field and maintain relationships by congratulating contacts at significant points in their career and endorsing them for their work.
The second site of the Big Three is Twitter. Twitter allows you to engage with people you do not know through information snippets of 140 characters or less. Twitter is a powerful business tool if used correctly. For instance, hashtags allow people to browse comments on a specific topic. Reporters often reference comments made on Twitter. CEOs may appear more accessible when they tweet and make powerful statements.
Facebook is the final site of the Big Three. Friends and family favor this platform as means of connecting with one another. Although this site is used primarily for social friends, be wary of what you choose to upload. Make a conscious decision about who you will friend on your page, including your boss. If you do not want to accept a request from an associate, consider explaining that you use Facebook exclusively for family and social friends and request to connect via LinkedIn instead.
There are many costly mistakes often committed through social media. Avoid criticizing your employer, posting offensive photos and videos, putting people down, and cursing. Control personal privacy settings and make sure you do not post things publicly that you intended to post privately. Keep in mind that even private posts do not always stay private when people who received the information share it with others.
Email is one of the most important forms of communication used in the business world. However, people continue to make embarrassing mistakes and misuse the mode of communication. With some small additional measures, you can properly create and send a professional message free of silly blunders.
Consider including the email address last to avoid accidentally sending an incomplete message and double- check that you have selected the right recipient before clicking “send”. Also think twice before choosing “reply all”. Most people do not appreciate colleagues cluttering their inboxes with messages they do not need to receive. Furthermore, people are more likely to read emails with a subject line that indicates the sender is addressing their business concerns or issues.
In addition to avoiding common email slip-ups, make an effort to appear respectful and polite in communications.
To set a pleasant tone, use a salutation and closing. When addressing someone you have not met, write to Ms. or Mr. “Last name.” After corresponding through several messages, if the other person signs his or her first name, this is your signal to respond using the first name. Use a signature block to provide the message’s recipient with reachable contact information via a phone number and physical address.
The appearance of a message is just as important as the content. Make the message easy to read and visually appealing. For example, use bullets to set off points you really want to emphasize. Black ink, 10-12 point font, and Times New Roman is generally appropriate and an accepted style to write in for business related emails.
As with verbal communication, eliminate any self-discounting words such as kinda, just, actually, perhaps, I wonder, and I hope. Make direct statements and ask direct questions. Although the workplace is becoming more casual than ever, avoid using laid-back colloquial expressions like “Hey” or “Yo” as a salutation. Using an excessive amount of exclamation points may also appear immature. Instead, limit yourself to one.
Pay special attention to your message when writing to an international audience. To eliminate opportunity for confusion, remove all buzzwords, jargon, or colloquialisms in addition to spelling out all dates. Understand how cultural differences influence writing.
High context cultures (Japanese, Arab, or Chinese) generally want to forge a relationship before conducting business and can appear very personal in their writings. Low context cultures (German, American, or Scandinavian) are more straightforward and to the point. Remember that you should adjust to the style of your audience.
Lastly, always make sure you proofread every message. Use the Always-look-for-one concept, which suggests that when you are proofreading your writings, keep reviewing your document until you find at least one error or are sure your work is error-free. Try reading your message syllable by syllable and have someone else proof your writing. Even more importantly, double-check your numbers. Misplacing commas and periods can literally be very costly.
SECTION 4 – CAREER
The current business environment is constantly evolving. Because of these progressing dynamics, there are always new skills to be learned by the employee who takes an active and passionate role in their personal career development. The skills discussed in this section will give you a competitive edge along with the poise and self- assurance that enable you to advance to the next step in your career.
Do not let a discouraging job market or circumstances deter you from searching for work. Keep in mind that potential hires who are polished, persistent, and prepared have an advantage. Although the process may seem daunting, there are several measures you can take to ensure that you have a competitive advantage.
The best way to prepare for a job search is to update your resume regularly.
If necessary, tailor separate resumes to specific jobs for which you are applying. Typographical mistakes in resumes or cover letters lead recruiters to believe you do not pay attention to details. Have a friend proofread to make sure you do not make this critical mistake.
It is easy to avoid looking, but if you are persistent and stay focused you will increase your chances of finding the best fit for you. Treat the process of finding a job like a job. Each week, set a number of contacts to make and activities to complete and work toward that goal for a short period every day.
Use a multi-pronged approach. In addition to using social media, utilize various job sites, want-ads, job fairs, and even try tapping into the career center at your alma mater. Be open to all options and never eliminate yourself from a potential job opening because you do not think you meet all of the requirements.
Recruiters may still consider you a good fit for the position.
Emphasize what you have done instead of apologizing for inexperience. Do not let temporary or part-time positions discourage you. Instead, remember that these opportunities provide valuable experience and have the potential to turn into a
THE ETIQUETTE FOR LEAVING A JOB
Moving on from a former position is very common in today’s work place, but can sometimes be an emotional process. There are various measures you can take to ensure you are leaving on the best terms possible. Aside from your boss, politely and respectfully tell or email employees, colleagues, clients, and customers about your choice.
Make a special effort to thank the people who have gone out of their way for you in some form or fashion throughout your time with the company. No matter what your experience was, do not burn bridges by telling your boss or other employees off. It can only hurt you in the future. Lastly, make the transition easy for your replacement by leaving detailed notes and introducing her to key people who he or she will be interacting with.
Your resume may have gotten you through the doors for the interview, but how you handle yourself in the interview will determine if you get the job or not. What you wear is part of the first impression you make on other people. In order to look the part, choose something that you like to wear and that fits. Uncomfortable clothes increase your apprehension.
Because recruiters often schedule interviews on short notice, you should always have your interview clothes clean, pressed, and on hand. If the recruiter described what to wear, follow those guidelines. If you were not given instructions, consider the company culture and level of
Even though the company may not require you to wear one on a daily basis, you still want to consider wearing a suit to the interview.
To alleviate the jitters associated with interviewing, think of positive, specific experiences that demonstrate your competency in advance of your meeting and use these stories when answering questions. Do adequate research on the company by visiting the website or by talking to people who work there. Knowing points about the company shows interest and may provide some insightful suggestions on how to conduct yourself and what attributes about yourself to emphasize in the interview process.
A simple action that conveys confidence and professionalism is shaking hands properly with everyone in the room at the beginning of the interview and at the end. Throughout the meeting, interviewees should speak enthusiastically and engage interviewers. Even if the job is not your first choice, it should come across as if you are excited and interested in both the position and company. Ask each question clearly and concisely. If you act confident, others will perceive you that way no matter what you are really feeling.
To show further interest, arrive prepared with a set of questions about the position and company that you will ask at the end of the interview. Additionally, set yourself apart from the competition by showing gratitude and sending thank you notes. A separate emailed thank you note to each individual interviewer is appropriate in most situations. Most importantly, take every interview as an opportunity to learn and improve for the future.
The real success of familiarizing yourself with the ins and outs of business etiquette comes only with the implementation of these suggestions. Do not disregard any topic without first evaluating what kind of a positive impact it might have on your work skills. Although you will likely forget some guidelines and tricks of the trade, do not be discouraged.
The expertise of etiquette does not come in one effortless swoop. Continue to review the specifics of etiquette training and polish your conduct in the workplace. When you rid yourself of self-inflicting behavior, you face unlimited success.
Britt always taught us Titans that Wisdom is Cheap, and principal can find treasure troves of the good stuff in books. We hope only will also express their thanks to the Titans if the book review brought wisdom into their lives.
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