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15
Jun

Rudeness: Stop the Madness

Car AccidentRudeness has reached new heights. Lack of respect and courtesy has become a global problem. Who needs studies? All we have to do is leave our homes to see how rudeness has become a familiar and unwelcome part of each of our lives. It is so easy to be caught up in the fray of meanness that bombards us from every angle, and then we stupidly “do unto others.” It has spilled from our homes to our neighborhoods and into our workplace. Our manners are worse now than ever before and seem to be ramping up even as you read this…that’s the bad news.

The good news is we can stop the madness. Since yours is the only behavior you can control; let’s check our self! We may not be able to keep someone from being mean, rude, or uncivil, but our interaction or reaction to the offender may soften or eliminate future episodes. At the very least, it will keep our blood pressure from raising.  These tips can help:

  • Model civility. This helps to teach people – family and co-workers,  how you choose to be treated. Ignore your phone or computer email as you listen to another speak, follow up on promises, use eye contact and smile often, even when you pass a colleague in your organization. Even acknowledging a friendly face in the street may be just what someone needs to make their day better!
  • Be the first to apologize. Even a soft, “excuse me” after being bumped by someone, is typically responded to by the same gesture of apology. If it isn’t, you have just taught a lesson in civility!
  • Be aware of your own actions. Gestures, facial expressions, and tone of voice count for 55% of communication. Are yours misinterpreting you? Mirrors, and good friends are invaluable. Be brave enough to see and hear how you come across.
  • Take care of yourself!  Most incivility is due to the lack of patience on our part.  Studies show when we exercise, eat and sleep well, our outlook on life and our happiness level is high, which means our tolerance level is increased.

Rude behavior does not have to be the norm. It doesn’t take much to extend courtesy to others. Start somewhere, you may be surprised at how fast it catches on!

 

 

8
May

Pinocchio Never Lied, His Body Language Spoke The Truth

Etiquette PinnochioAs children we laughed each time our fairy tale friend said some intentional untruth and his nose grow a bit, didn’t we? The truth of this story is our body actually does the same thing. It calls to question that what we are saying may not be what we believe to be true, and hence “tells” on us. It’s called “body language.” Polygraph tests prove the truth of this as easily as watching a child twitch and wriggle when asked a fault-finding question.

Research shows that body language or nonverbal communication speaks louder than the words we use – which actually account for only 7 percent of communication.  Our voice, tone and rhythm account for 35 percent of what we are saying, and our body language – expression, posture, gestures which drive home points most effectively account for 58 percent. We can be perceived as confident, credible, and competent before we speak if we synchronize our body language to ‘say’ the same as our  42 percent.

What you wear, how you walk into a room, make eye contact, shake hands, smile, and even choose where you sit in a meeting all speak to your level of professionalism. It takes less than 6 seconds to make an impression upon someone who does not know you, be it positive or negative. Woefully, if the impression your body language makes is less than stellar, it will take as many as 10 positive encounters to correct that perception.

Here are three steps to making a lasting impression in business:

1.) Think before you dress! Be aware of the audience in which you’ll be seen, and dress appropriately. Especially your shoes. Is your audience conservative or trendy? Bankers or techies? In any case, your clothes should be clean, pressed and appropriate and shoes well cared for. Stand before a full-length mirror and ensure the details are tended to: Buttons and hems, zippers and tears. Does it fit well? Can you sit comfortably?

2.) Know your why. Why are you there?  Making a presentation for a sale? Networking for your business or a job? Meeting upper level executives for promotion? Be knowledgeable of who will be in the room and a little research of your audience. This called showing up, prepared.

3.) Looking well and knowing your why will prepare you, cut back on fear, and make you feel comfortable which helps with confidence. The third step to making a lasting impression is to breathe. Deeply! In through the nose, out through the mouth. Breathe three good times before you enter the room. Yes it’s simple, yet impacting. Your body will be relaxed enough for your expressions and gestures to be synergistic with your words so that you will be presenting your authentic self – and it does not get any better than that, honey! So stand straight, shoulders back, head up, put a genuine smile on your face and go for it!

Talk soon!

27
Dec

Ahh, the Holidaze! Is This the Line For Returns?

Store LineThe day after Christmas is one of the biggest days in retail for returning items that were given as gifts: wrong size, wrong color, or just plain wrong! And usually customers’ nerves can be a little jangled even before getting to the “Return and Exchanges” counter. Add to that certain sales people who can also be a little “salty.”

And because many retailers have restrictions and limitations on returns, many people are anxious to get to the store a day or two after Christmas.

Here’s what you may encounter:

  • You may have to park some distance away, or ‘stalk’ people walking away from the store for their parking space
  • You may have to stand in long lines…check that…you will have to stand in lines in the ‘Returns’ area
  • You may encounter impatient and rude people in the parking lot, in the lines or even across the counter.We all know people who thrive in chaos, can’t wait to get in it, and even possibly add to it.

For those who would rather not, you have options:

  1. “Let your fingers do the walking.” People who remember the Yellow Pages know what this means. But in our technological age we can still let our “fingers” check return policies of retailers by going to their websites. There may be easier and more effective ways to be satisfied.
  2.  Get up and out early. By being one of the first customers into the store, you may have your choice of parking and shorter lines. Most important, you will probably encounter ‘kinder, gentler’ sales associates since they should be new to their shift.
  3.  If you would like to exchange an item? Find the correct item in the store before going to the ‘Return and Exchange’ counter. If returning, have your gift receipt and item handy. No receipt? You may have to follow the store’s policy or prove the purchase to the store – the tag should still be attached. If you are returning a clothing item, it should not have been worn.
  4. Keep the item! So what if it’s another punch bowl, or leather jacket, keep it. If it’s only a matter of size but suits your taste, exchange it. Otherwise, keep the gift. After all, it is the thought that counts, right?!
  5. Re-gift the item. The key here is discretion. Make note of from whom the item is given, so that you do not give it back to that person for a birthday or Christmas present, nor to someone whom may also know the giver. But that Santa cake platter may be a perfect gift for your teacher or supervisor.

‘Tis the season to be jolly, let’s keep the ‘Grinch’ in us from rearing its ugly, green head.

Talk soon!

 

21
Dec

“Good Grief! This Dining Stuff Kills Me!”

I hear you! You received an invitation to the corporate New Year’s Eve dinner party at a swanky hotel. You know the upper-level execs will be there and you’ll have an opportunity to impress. But you are a one-knife-one-fork-one-glass kinda person. You told yourself you would take an etiquette refresher but who has time?!  Now your manners will be on display. Gulp!

Let me help:

When you sit, observe. The napkin goes in your lap; at least you know that much, you say. Most banquet servers understand the many rules of formal dining can be intimidating and help to alleviate diner stress by placing your napkin directly in front of you.  Bless their hearts!

Use the utensils furthest from your plate for the first course, and for each proceeding course pick up silverware going in closer to your plate.

The dish being served will let you now which utensil to use. But what utensils belong to you?

Here’s a Tip:

The word FORK is four letters – the word LEFT also has four letters.

The words KNIFE and SPOON have five letters – the word RIGHT also has five letters.

Your forks are always on your LEFT; your knives and spoons are on the RIGHT.  The only exception is the oyster fork – it will rest in the bowl of the soup spoon…on the right!

Dessert flatware is placed on the table horizontally at the top of your plate.

There’s so much more to the art of fine dining like proper use of the napkin, holding utensils correctly or cutting the meat dish so as not to look like a Neanderthal. I have found the most effective way to share dining skills is while you are dining. Why?  Because I can also answer questions and address issues as they arise throughout the meal, like passing items, the new table manners, bread etiquette, and when and how to leave the table. Bet you didn’t know there is an “etiquette” to bread!  Yep sure is! I’ll show you!

Hopefully you can see my quick video that includes another tip – which bread plate and glasses belong to you.

Talk soon!

 

8
Dec

It’s Not the Weather That’s ‘Frightful’; It’s Customer Service!

During the holidays customer service can be scary. We know the story: They should have hired more staff; they should have trained them better regarding the product or service, they should have empowered them to be of significant help…and they should have taught them a few soft skills. 

What can you do?

You can complain to the manager (and I have), you can tweet, or write a letter to corporate — I’ve done that too! But I always check myself prior to shopping understanding that “it’s a jungle out there” and what I may encounter may pull on everyone’s patience and self-control.  These three helps may get you through your brick and mortar shopping with your peace of mind in tact.

First, I eat before I shop, and dress comfortably but clean and cute!  Like tight shoes, being hungry while shopping can make me cranky quick! I make sure I look like a courteous shopper; replying to a greeting as I enter a store with a smile, and kindly responding  to “Can I help you?” which is usually, “Not yet, thank you” with good eye contact…and a smile.

Second, I don’t shop in “packs.” For personal reasons, I’d rather shop alone, but sometimes during the holidays I may have family, a couple friends or even kids with me. We are extra courteous of people around us, and salespeople who are leery of ‘groups.’ We keep particular eyes on our children and have briefed them beforehand about behavior in public.

 Thirdly, if I need assistance, I will look for the person who spoke to me first, if he or she is unavailable, I seek another associate. “Excuse me, will you help me find…?” or “Hi, do you have this in a size…?” I have found that my salutation to the associate will help me get the best service possible. My words are frequently seasoned with “Thank you.” Noticing their name badge and using his or her name whether they satisfy my request or suggest something similar make the experience better for us both.

We all encounter that not-so-friendly salesperson. If your kindness, and smile does not change his or her attitude take a name and note the time and location, then spend your time and money somewhere else if you can. But don’t allow someone else’s poor attitude affect yours.

Happy shopping and Merry Christmas!

 

5
Dec

Good Mourning!

Tear2Good Mourning!

We all know death is inevitable. Whether the passing of our loved one is sudden or expected, the first Thanksgiving or Christmas without a family member can be very difficult to manage. Trying to maintain a sense of joy and normalcy is a challenge. Joy has been shaken and there is now a new normal. I know because I am walking through it myself.

 

This has helped me:

 

Acknowledge grief. Cry! Alone with a book, a movie, or a trusted friend, crying is a safe release valve for expressing unspeakable pain.

 

Talk…or scream! Once more having a trusted friend to talk to is a God send. This person looked into my eyes, heard me, nodded, supplied tissues, discerned my needs, i.e., to hug or not touch, and did not speak except to encourage me to speak or scream more!

 

Sit with the memories or possessions. Having a time (or several times) of looking at pictures of my loved one; wearing or embracing and inhaling the scent from an item of her clothing, or just holding one of her favorite trinkets.

 

Honor that life. Throughout the Thanksgiving holiday festivities, we all would share comical stories, and funny idiosyncrasies of our departed. We talked about the good and great things about her, and over dinner we thanked God for giving her to us.

 

Move forward. We will not “get over” the death of a loved one, but we can move forward. We must. We will miss the joy of our present if we stay in a past we have no power to change. And if we really think about it, would our loved one want us to live like that?

 

Deep Breath…

18
Nov

Invitations and RSVPs

It’s holiday season and we are hosting and being invited to dinner parties and soirees. A few things to keep in mind as we extend and receive invitations:

As the Host:

Get those invites out as soon as possible, three to four weeks out is best. Mailing your invitations typically indicates a more formal gathering to the guest. Using email Evites is a handy tool to ensure you include everything – type of gathering, time, location, etc., and to keep up with guests’ RSVP’s.

Two weeks out, send a reminder to those who may not have responded, and to your “Maybe’s.” Consider calling or even shooting a “did you get my Evite?” text to non-respondent guests. Sometimes people don’t check email, so a gentle reminder helps.

Although preparation keeps us busy, it is most polite to acknowledge an acceptance or regret from a guest. It is honors your friendship.

As the Guest:

RSVP means ‘please respond’ (even if you cannot attend!). Whether you are invited through snail-mail, Evite, or text, acknowledge the invitation, and check your availability as soon as possible. Even if you’re not completely sure, honor your host by indicating “maybe” as a reply. But do not delay to respond yes, or no, as soon as you can!

Party-hopping is often necessary throughout the holidays. Plan well, by understanding what you are being invited to. A dinner party requires your evening; cocktails parties allow for more flexibility.

Begin enjoying the holidays with others, and celebrate old and new friendships by starting with these small courtesies.

Happy Holidays!

14
Nov

Hosting Thanksgiving

14
Nov

Handling People Inviting Themselves to the Thanksgiving Meal

14
Nov

End Time to the Thanksgiving Meal