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Hose 'em down before each staff meeting

Crazy from the heat: Career meltdown

staying cool

Ann HumphriesWith Ann Humphries, ETICON

(CNN) -- Before we get too hot under the collar about this week's topic, apologies to our Southern Hemisphere readers. We do know the whole planet isn't being steamed like clams as we are here at CNN Center in Atlanta.

Let's see. -- always right, of course -- tells us that we're headed for 90 degrees Fahrenheit, 32 Celsius. Relative humidity? Close to 80 percent. Now, this means that you put on your starchy work clothes, get all set up for work, put yourself together so that the mirror tells you you're the careerist you want to be ... and by the time you reach your car you look like something Salvador Dali might believe he'd painted in his youth.

graphic Assuming you're in the Northern Hemisphere, how are you handling the heat so far?

Not too badly now but I dread doing business in August.
Depends on what I wear, how high the temps go, whether there's rain or clouds ... or a pina colada ...
Help me. I'm melting.
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CNN: So as even our watches melt, we're turning to -- OK, oozing toward -- ETICON's Ann Humphries for a few words of cooling wisdom. Get your head out of the fridge and pay attention. After all, Humphries lives in Columbia, South Carolina, a kind of live-in Toast-R-Oven among hot Southern cities, so she knows whereof she speaks.

Ann Humphries: No easy answers on this one. It's just a chore to get to work, period.

For one thing, everybody is in slo-mo. It zaps you. To run out in your car and try to see a client at lunchtime? -- awful.

What if you could have pictures of Antarctica sent to everybody? How much would a bunch of popsicles cost? Consider having someone walk through your company's offices with ice for everyone. Most of this is psychological but might really be appreciated.

Practically speaking, you want to start with the car.

•   Remember to have it serviced so it won't overheat.

•   Then watch out for things that melt -- lipsticks, Power Bars, Chapsticks.

•   Anticipate. Leave earlier so you're cooler.

•   Don't become a hothead in traffic as the heat goes up.

•   My brother says no neckties between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Once you're at work, there are some other considerations to handle.

•   The Battle of the Thermostat. There's always someone complaining of needing a sweater, never fails. Be nice.

•   Check your equipment. How much hot air (mechanical, not yours) is your computer throwing off? How about a small electric fan to blow that air away?

•   Don't talk about chafing.

•   At the company picnic, remember what can happen to deviled eggs in the heat. Eat lighter, don't load up on heavy food. Reconsider that Speedo. It's a company outing. That tank top you love so much? Maybe not this time.

Of course, business travel gets trickier, too.

•   You know what it's like when a delay keeps you on the plane out on the runway. Carry your own water along.

•   Again the melting things -- makeup melts, your hair may melt (or seem to).

•   Go easy on the fragrances, they can turn sour in the heat.

•   If you wear sandals to work or on a trip, be careful of taking them off around others' nostrils. Common courtesy here.

graphic Put down that palm frond for a moment and share with us your thoughts on subjects you'd like us to cover in Corporate Class. Many of our best ideas have come from our readers -- one, uh, hot bunch. Just click here to use our handy submission form and talk to us ... about cold drinks, cool shade, chilly breezes.

What to wear?

•   Lighter colors, looser fits. It's a chance for people to say, "Hey, you've lost 10 pounds."

•   Lighten up uniforms with khaki. I don't know how police officers do it. Ease up on dress codes. Backless isn't OK but sleeveless is.

At your place of business, be ready for hot people. Not just your co-workers but customers and clients as well are going to be coming in hot. Have cold water for them, use fans to get the air moving.

And that's about it. Except to say don't stand there and let all the air go out and the bugs come in: On your way out, please close the door. Thank you.

Next week: Vacations -- planning and covering for them. Who's left in the lurch?

Ann Humphries, founder and president of ETICON, Inc. and a Certified Professional Consultant to Management, includes several Fortune 500 companies among her clients. She's been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Fortune and Money, and on CNN, CBS and Lifetime TV. You can contact her at



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