Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Is it rude to keep your cell on the table at a restaurant when you are expecting a call?

Yes. When you are in the company of another person, put your cell phone away. Hide it in your lap where it is not visible. If you need to have your phone on to receive a call from the kids or the let’s say the White House, by all means keep it close by. Otherwise, put your phone on vibrate and let everything else wait!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Brother, Can You Spare a Parking Space?

Last Sunday, I drove to my local Farmer’s Market with my two girls as I do almost every Sunday. It's usually pretty crowded and parking is hard to find. I approached the parking area in front and waited for a space to open up. I sat patiently in my car with my girls hounding me, “Can’t we get out of the car mommy?” “I have a headache, I want to get out of the car!” I noticed there was a car behind me and felt relieved that at least I was first in line and the wait would soon be over.

After what felt like an eternity, a man and woman holding bags of flowers and veggies came walking down the street towards their car in the open lot. They were parked on the left and I was waiting on the right. As they began loading the bags into their car, I saw the car behind me race up in front and turn towards their space. Being a girl from NYC, I was not about to let that happen! I’m used to people double parking and getting out of their car to do an errand, but stealing another person’s space that they have been waiting patiently for is absolutely out of the question!

I tried to reason with the driver and was ignored. (See "To Dodge or Not to Dodge.") He proceeded ahead until he was halted by another defensive driver who told him that they would not move until I was able to park. Thankfully, the thief relented and we pulled into my primo parking space. After informing the security guard of the tense situation , we entered the Farmer's Market a bit tainted from the whole experience. What happened to my relaxing Sunday?

Long story short – My manners are in check most of the time...but when it comes to parking spaces and meter maids, everything seems to fly out the window. I always look for the absolute closest parking space to wherever I’m going and will usually wait until I get one. Admittedly, I am not a patient person and so waiting for anything is a painful exercise in restraint. So here are a few etiquette rules I wish I could instigate when it comes to parking and meter maids.

  • Don't steal other people’s parking spaces in parking lots, (especially when they have waited for patiently with screaming, hungry kids inside the car). This is true for metered parking as well. If you see someone double-parked and waiting for an open space, you should not steal the space from them.
  • FAIL parking meters are fair game. I can’t stand parking garages so if I can find a meter or 2-hour free street parking even better and unlike most people who wouldn’t dare to park in a space with a FAIL parking meter, when I find one I consider it my lucky day!!
  • Running a quick errand? Save yourself the quarters and take advantage of the timed parking zones (3 min., 10 min, etc.). Don't take up an hourly parking spot when there are short-term ones available for your quick errands.
  • Prepare your spare change ahead of time. If you visit the bank to deposit checks, next time ask your teller for a roll of quarters. It'll save you time to be prepared!
  • Don't abuse the system. I see people taking advantage of disabled parking spots all of the time! Those spots have been set aside for people who need them most. This is a terrible practice, not too mention really bad karma.
  • Parking attendants should be more reasonable when it comes to writing tickets. They should stop when someone approaching their car while the ticket is still being written. Why can’t they give us the benefit of the doubt? If they see us running towards our cars and risking our lives to save ourselves from having to pay a ticket then that should account for something!

Do you agree with us? Share your thoughts about parking spots and parking attendance and add a point to our list of etiquette rules. PARKING ATTENDANTS: this is an opportunity to tell your side of the story. Let your voice be heard! Post your comments and/or experiences below.

1) Send us a message on Facebook

2) Email us at protocallout@beverlyhillsmanners.com

3) Follow us on Twitter at @protocallout

4) Comment on this blog entry

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

To Dodge or Not to Dodge, That is the Question

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a dodge ball?

I was in the supermarket the other day and saw someone that I was just not in the mood to speak with. I was pretty sure that they saw me too and I wondered, Should I dodge this person or should I just be polite and greet them? I am ashamed to admit that on this day, I dodged--BIG TIME. When I saw her coming down the aisle, I ran. When I approached the checkout line, I glanced to make sure she wasn’t there. When I left the market I could see that she was in front of me so I pretended to look at my receipt and delay my leaving. When I saw that the coast was clear I walked straight to my car...AND GUESS WHAT? It turns out she was parked right next to me and looked straight at me as I drove away with my tail between my legs.

On top of that, a week ago I was on the throwing end of the dodge ball. I was getting out of my car and saw someone that I knew. I yelled out to the person to say hello. Unfortunately they were less than interested in me at the time, so they completely blew me off. And let me tell you--it didn't feel very good at all.

This question of whether or not to dodge someone is becoming a problem! Why is it so hard for us to put on a happy face and engage in simple niceties? Perhaps we have become hardened by society. Instead of being fun, spontaneity now throws our plans off schedule. Are we so important that only certain people are worthy of our time and attention? Has it become too draining to be polite?

In my classes, I teach that we should always try to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes -- we need to think about perspectives and how people feel. It seems harmless when we are dodging someone, but when we are the ones being avoided, it feels terrible!

I learned my lesson that day. We all could use "The Golden Rule" to:
  1. Treat others with decency and
  2. Acknowledge others with a friendly hello and smile.
It’s the least we can do to harmoniously co-exist in today’s busy and aggressive world.


What do you do when you see someone you’re not in the mood to speak with? Do you run, or do you meet them head on? Post your comments and/or experiences below and...

1) Send us a message on Facebook

2) Email us at protocallout@beverlyhillsmanners.com

3) Follow us on Twitter at @protocallout

4) Comment on this blog entry

Saturday, August 8, 2009

No Subject Line, No Email Etiquette

"More than 90% of Internet users between 18 and 72 said they send and receive email, making it the top online activity just ahead of search engines", according to the non-profit research group Pew Internet and American Life Project (Feb 2009).

As a user, you may be wondering what exactly the guidelines for proper email etiquette are and questioning whether this tool has actually simplified our lives or made them more complicated. We have devised a list of the top 16 rules of email etiquette we believe take into consideration OPF's (other people's feelings) as well as protect our own.

  1. Designate time each day to review emails in your inbox. Since we are inundated with email 24/7, it is important to put aside a couple of times during the day to sit down and go through them in a calm fashion. The exception: timely business emails which require your immediate attention and response.

  2. Return emails within 24-48 hours. Similar to a phone message, it is courteous to return all email communications within a one to two day time period.

  3. Check your Spam or Junk Email Folder. Unfortunately, email sometimes makes its way into these folders without any rhyme or reason. It is your duty to check them daily to make sure no emails were inadvertently misplaced. This is especially crucial if someone says they are sending something to you and you have not received it. Please remember to double-check these folders first before requesting that an email is re-sent.

  4. Return all emails in-kind. If someone is pouring their heart out to you in an email, don't respond with a brusque retort. This is the equivalent of a one word answer in conversations. Consider the sender's feelings and respond with an email that is reciprocal of the one that was received.

  5. It's okay to respond even if you can't respond. If someone sends an email that requires a response and you can't get to it right away, at least have the decency to let them know you will be addressing it shortly and will get back to them as soon as possible. This will prevent hurt feelings and any miscommunication in the future.

  6. Always include a subject line. A subject line describes the reason for the email, without it, the recipient is lost. Take the extra second and include a subject line in all communications. This allows the recipient to determine the relevance of your communication and also to categorize it and refer back to it in the future.

  7. Refrain from sending personal emails with a Request Read Receipt or Request Delivery Receipt. This is bothersome and puts the recipient on the defense. Unless you are the IRS or the CIA, your message does not require this extra measure.

  8. Remember that email addresses are private. Big corporations go to great lengths to obtain personal email addresses. Refrain from sending mass email communications with the email addresses on display for all to view. It is much more polite to send mass communications to a group email name or by Blind Copy ("bcc") to protect people's privacy.

  9. Be careful with "Reply", "Reply All" and "Forward". If you accidentally hit the wrong button, it may come back to haunt you. A few years ago, I mistakenly hit the "Reply" button when I meant to select the "Forward" button and landed in some pretty hot water. Trust me, you want to double and triple check yourself before hitting Send.

  10. Remember that email is a permanent record. Be very careful what you write in an email because everything can be used against you. These communications are forever embedded in servers. If you must vent or say something truly unpleasant, a face to face conversation is always best.

  11. Digitally file and/or back up all business emails. I recently had to access some emails from several years ago to verify a business matter in which I'd been wronged. These email documents were the proof I needed to win my case.

  12. Don't assume everyone has the same humor as you do. There is nothing more annoying than having to filter joke emails or chain letter emails when you are busy at work. Please save these communications for your most intimate friends or spare us and yourself and don't send them at all.

  13. Email thank you notes are fine, but if you truly want to make a lasting impression then a handwritten thank you note is much more impressive.

  14. Refrain from emailing in all CAPITAL LETTERS. It is the online equivalent of shouting!

  15. Review all spelling, grammar and punctuation before pressing the send button. Remember your emails are a reflection of you and you always want to make the best impression whether in person or online.

  16. End emails on a positive and upbeat note. If you're hitting writer's block and need some pointers, check out some of the most popular email closings and their meanings.

Do you have any particular pet peeves when it comes to emailing? Would you like to add an etiquette rule to our list?

1) Send us a message on Facebook

2) Email us at protocallout@beverlyhillsmanners.com

3) Follow us on Twitter at @protocallout

4) Comment on this blog entry