When I teach dining etiquette I often tell a story that my neighbor shared with me. When she was a teenager she went to her boyfriend’s house for dinner. She picked up her bread roll, cut it in half with her knife and buttered the whole piece. Her boyfriend loudly announced that she was eating her bread wrong. My poor neighbor was mortified. She had no idea there was a right or wrong way to eat bread. Perhaps her boyfriend thought he was being helpful. But actually, he made his girlfriend feel very embarrassed. Yes, she will never eat bread that way again, but the fact she shared that story with me tells me she still feels the shame of being told she was doing something “the wrong way.”
There are so many ways we can communicate with people – email, text, social media, instant message, phone calls and mailed notes. It can be confusing knowing what medium to use for event invitations. Just recently a friend received a birthday party invitation via a group text message. She thought it was a little odd that the invitation was sent via text given how casual and limited texting can be. It spurred a discussion on what is and isn’t an appropriate medium for event invitations. Continue reading “The message determines the medium: Dos and don’ts for event invitations” »
A client hired me for coaching because he wanted to feel more comfortable and be more successful when networking. Besides feeling uncomfortable in general when mingling, he mentioned that he didn’t know how to respond when people shared something he knew nothing about. He was afraid of looking ignorant or uneducated so he would change the subject. I talked about how sharing your ignorance about a job or topic is actually a great opportunity to connect with people. Continue reading “How curiosity strengthens connections” »
“Wait, let me finish . . . what I was trying to say is interrupting other people is rude.”
When you interrupt someone it says to the person talking that what you have to say is more important than what they are sharing. It shows disregard for the person and what they are saying.
The concept of etiquette and civility has been around for a very long time. I recently finished a novel called “Rules of Civility” that included mention of George Washington’s Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation. Apparently, at age 16, young George (yes, eventual first president of the United States) copied by hand for a penmanship exercise 110 rules of civility written by French Jesuits in 1590. Those rules were then made into a book by Mr. Washington. Continue reading “What George Washington knew about etiquette” »
I first had the thought of teaching etiquette classes when I worked for Washington Mutual. My job at the time was managing sponsorships for non-profit events like breakfasts and lunches. Because the company often received a table at these events I had to fill them with willing WaMu employees. Not always an easy job. Inevitably, there would be a few people at the table who would look panicked at the multitude of utensils, plates and glasses. They weren’t sure which bread plate and glasses belonged to them at the crowded tables or which utensil to use first. I always felt badly for them. I knew if they learned a couple of etiquette tips they could feel more confident and would never be panicked again.
Have you ever made a cringe worthy mistake? One that ruins not just your day but the week or weeks following? One where you can’t stop obsessing about your failings? Yes? You’re not alone.
I made a big mistake last year. A mistake that I was so embarrassed about I couldn’t talk about it to anyone except my husband and one friend. I had a huge amount of shame around my blunder. But with time, distance and overcoming my gaffe I’m now ready to talk about it and share the lessons learned. Continue reading “How to recover from a major mistake” »
My friend got into the revolving door of his office building and was moving forward when, bam, the door suddenly stopped. He hit the glass front with his head and his glasses cut his face. What the heck just happened my friend wondered? Turns out a young man had jumped into the same compartment as my friend and caught his foot on the door causing it to stop suddenly. My friend, in a moment of frustration, sternly stated to the young man, “It’s really not that hard – one person to a compartment!” Continue reading “Going up, going down, going round & round: Elevator, escalator and revolving door etiquette” »
Illness and loss can be hard topics to discuss. Most people simply don’t know what to say or do when someone they know has been diagnosed with a serious illness or loses a spouse or child. It seems extra hard when that someone is an employee or coworker. When personal matters intertwine with work we often don’t know how to handle it. Continue reading “What not to say or do when your coworker is sick or grieving” »
My fabulous children’s manners teacher, Jan Townsend, forwarded me a Facebook post written by someone I don’t know. The author’s name is Amy and I was both excited and moved by her words. In her post she talked about teaching her daughter, who was entering middle school, about kindness. To teach the lesson, she had her daughter Breonna squeeze out a bunch of toothpaste from a tube and then instructed her to put it back in the toothpaste tube. Her daughter protested and said she couldn’t and that it wouldn’t be like it was before. Amy waited for her daughter to finish and then taught the kindness message. This is what she said to her daughter: Continue reading “A lesson from toothpaste” »