It's hard enough to maintain professionalism at the workplace, but it may be even more difficult when you work in a sexually charged environment.
And Patty Brisben, founder of Pure Romance, a company that sells intimate feminine products, told us she's "seen it all." "This is not your grandma's Tupperware party," she said. "Put together a group of enthusiastic women with sex toys and other flirty couple's products, and that's a Pure Romance party."
During these home parties, the participants discuss certain topics that may be deemed inappropriate for standard work conversation, but Brisben makes it a point to keep things professional.
We recently caught up with her for some workplace etiquette tips:
How is this environment different from any other professional one?
While the parties might be based on letting loose and encouraging women to give themselves permission to ask what they really want, it's important that our consultants always keep the parties professional. It's about having fun and bonding with your customer base, but knowing that like any client and customer relationship, boundaries do exist.
For example, in order for women to make an informed decision, we provide in-depth product information to help explain the specific purposes and unique benefits of each item. When this comes to a bedroom toy, the goofiness can escalate quickly. Despite the distraction, it's still important that the consultant find a way to get her talking points in and get her job done.
What kind of ground rules do you have?
To protect the integrity of the company, and our brand as a whole, we have both online and in-person trainings for our consultants. Our goal is to ensure our message is consistent and our customers can expect a fun, yet sophisticated party experience every time. Although each consultant can add their own spin to the actual party, rules are rules.
The easiest way to put it is, just as a teacher plans out her day's lesson before walking into the classroom, I encourage our consultants to envision the party they hope to create ahead of time, including the party environment -- classy, informative, fun, supportive, etc. It's easier to keep the experience professional by coming prepared with a game plan. That way, consultants are able to hit all their key talking points and avoid potential roadblocks.
What do you encourage to keep things professional?
It's been shown time and time again that women who work in a supportive and social environment are happier, more productive workers.
I try to encourage a strong bond of camaraderie to push our consultants to grow professionally and personally. That means that when we all come to together, we talk about more than work issues, such as our children, our parents, and our hobbies.
So the bottom line is, you can be social while maintaining professionalism. The main focus should always be on your customers and their overall experience. Let them lead the direction of the conversation toward their interests and offer your feedback and advice when solicited.
How do you deal with someone who shares too much information at these parties?
It's important to remember that you do not have to be a part of any conversation that makes you feel uncomfortable. There is always a way to excuse yourself without being rude. From experience, I've learned that people are just as receptive to you when things are said in a lighthearted tone, versus being dismissive and confrontational.
For example, if a co-worker approaches you about the intimate details of her sexual escapades, it's more than OK if you want to cut the conversation off. Rather than respond with, "Woah, TMI. I don't want to hear that." Although that's what you might be thinking, why not instead say, "Sounds like an eventful night for sure." Then excuse yourself, explaining that you're on deadline.
What is your most awkward moment on the job? How did you get over it?
Well, the first thing that comes to mind would be any time I am on a flight and the person I'm sitting next to asks me what I do. When I tell them about Pure Romance, they almost always have a shocked look on their face. I think it's for one of two reasons: They either don't know what the company is, or they have preconceived notions as to what it's about.
Our main focus is allowing women to have a safe environment to get together to learn about their bodies, ways to improve their relationship, and really giving them permission. Almost always the conversation ends with them asking me for one of my business cards.
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