Monday, December 26, 2011

Manners Monday - Top 5 Manners Makeover Tips for 2012

It happens the same time every year, the last week of December arrives and looming thoughts of how we are going to approach the next 365 days begins to consume our minds.  How can we initiate a better exercise regimen to take off those extra ten pounds?  How do we alleviate ourselves of that unwanted debt to put money aside for our future?  How can we administrate our time more effectively so that we’re not so stressed and overwhelmed day in and day out? These and other weighty questions take up residence in our brain as we prepare to usher in 2012. 

Resolutions, as they are popularly known, are a great inspiration for lighting a fire under our behinds and starting the New Year off on the right foot.  While we know how important it is to take stock of our health and finances (and certainly our stress!), we of course believe there is always extra room for improvement in the manners department.  So while you’re on the treadmill dreaming up ways to save money and manage your time, we encourage you to test out our top 5 Manners Makeover tips over the course of the next twelve months. We promise, you’ll be happy you did!

#1 Be mindful of your digital footprint.  Over the last year, we witnessed many a celebrity who had fallen from grace because of a very unfortunate electronic posting via Twitter or other form of new technology. As we have been conditioned to be conscious of our carbon footprint in the past, it’s time to get serious in the New Year about our digital footprint.  Make sure to think twice before typing your deepest darkest thoughts or posting a questionable photo. If you feel like sharing, better to do it in person. You’ll be less likely to regret it in the morning.

#2 Don’t look a gift horse in the mouthIn an age where celebrity is king and privilege is the norm, in the New Year, it is much more becoming to be gracious and humble than entitled.  If an act of kindness is extended, a gift is given or an offer is presented, don’t blow the gesture by acting foolishly.  Instead, show your appreciation by being respectful, grateful and enthusiastic.  This is guaranteed to bring more rewards in the future.

#3 Brush up on current events.  We are heading into a big year, election year.  Although, we do not want to jam our political positions down anyone’s throat, it is important to keep abreast of what is happening in the world, not only to be able to make interesting party conversation, but also to be more mindful so that we don’t just roll thoughts off the cuff and get ourselves into trouble.  In the New Year, it is much better to engage in intelligent dialogue than to speak without consideration.

#4 Resolve to be more tolerant We are living in a globalized society where it is more necessary now than ever to show tolerance in our daily interactions whether they be in the workplace, our neighborhoods or our communities at large.  In the New Year, we are guaranteed to experience a more peaceful existence if we take the time to be more understanding of others regardless if their opinions, beliefs or backgrounds are similar to our own.  After all, it is our differences and uniqueness that truly make us interesting.

#5 Favor quality over quantityThe British royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton was the epitome of elegance and class and truly set a benchmark for America and the rest of the world.  With all the power at their disposal, it continues to be their grace, humility and charity that shines through. In the New Year, rather than emulate the latest reality television star, it may be wise to be more selective with our role models.  The days of mindless mass consumption have faded, it’s time to put our energies towards more meaningful pursuits. 

Now that we've shared with you our top 5 manners makeover tips for 2012, we want to remind you that there are certain manners that shall forever remain timeless and should never be made over.  (1) Treat others the way you would like to be treated. (2) Send a handwritten thank you note for any act of kindness or for a gift. (3) Offer to lend a helping hand to those who are ill or in need of assistance. (4) Never show up to someone’s home empty-handed. (5) Remember the magic words and you'll always be in good standing: please, thank you, you’re welcome, excuse me and I’m sorry.

Happy New Year!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Manners Monday - Best & Worst Manners Moments of 2011

As we wind down 2011 and prepare to usher in a new year, we have been busy meticulously compiling our best and worst manners moments of the last twelve months. As with previous years, unfortunately we have seen a tipping of the scales toward the ill-mannered with an abundance of this year’s entries falling onto our worst category.  There have been several recurring themes whether it be a philandering politician, a volatile celebrity, a cantankerous sports figure or the omnipotent press. 

Are we surprised by all of this bad behavior?  Not really.  As our world has become smaller and more complex, our propensity for validation, instant gratification and notoriety has increased.  What is truly astonishing is how these public figures continuously believe that their actions and words will have no effect on those around them.  Equally amazing is the entitlement issue these figures seem to have, once they are in a position of power, that there will be no real repercussions for their transgressions. 

It’s not that we expect them to live under the constant scrutiny of a microscope with no room for error for this is virtually impossible.  What we do expect from these figures, however, is some modicum of decorum, a bit of common sense and hopefully a little truthfulness and respect to boot.  We would appreciate a public figure to act like one and to temper their personal desires, to refrain from sharing their innermost thoughts and perhaps remain a tad humble in the process.  Is this too much to ask for?  Apparently so, based on this year’s list of offenders. While we have a great deal of members on our worst list, there are still many notable figures who made our best list and are worthy of a most honorable mention.  Here they are in no particular order below.

WORST The womanizing politicians who were living a little too footloose and fancy free. An ashamed Anthony Weiner and Arnold Schwarzenegger may have been apologetic for their inappropriate behavior, but it wasn’t enough to erase the memory of their sexual indiscretions. Herman Cain, who appeared less apologetic and almost defiant in defending his own sexual allegations, has also suffered the consequences of a political career turned sour due to a lack of self-control.

BEST “The Good Wives” for maintaining grace in the face of humiliation. The shame that Maria Shriver and Huma Abedin, two high-ranking professionals in their own right, had to endure was astounding.  Rather than bash their philandering husbands in public, the amazingly strong women kept their personal lives private and conducted themselves with unwavering poise and dignity.

WORST Brett Ratner for looking a gift horse in the mouth.  After being hand-delivered a rare opportunity to direct the 2012 Oscars (because the Academy was looking for a younger hipper director to draw in younger hipper audiences), an arrogant, Brett Ratner, lost all sense of self-censorship spewing anti-gay remarks and flaunting his sexual prowess. The Academy, who was not humored, politely asked him to step down and replaced him with a more seasoned Brian Grazer.  Eddie Murphy, who was hand-selected by Brett Ratner also makes our worst list for not following through on his commitment.  Although, Brett Ratner would no longer be directing, Eddie Murphy should have retained his position as host.  After suffering a bumpy career, the hosting gig might’ve been just the right anecdote to resuscitate his career. 

BEST Billy Crystal for stepping up and restoring civility and class as the replacement host of the 84th Academy Awards ceremony.  With his congenial charm and approachable smile, he will entertain us with his quit wit and humorous banter.  Billy Crystal has been an Oscar host favorite reporting for duty eight times in the past (this will be his ninth).  He is best known for his pre-recorded film montages that poke fun at the year’s top nominated films. This should be familiar territory for him and a very welcome reception from audiences around the world.

WORST Madonna for insulting a thoughtful fan who presented her with a bouquet of Hydrangeas.  Apparently, the pop superstar absolutely loathes the beautiful flower and made this known at a press conference at the Venice Film Festival earlier this year.  The unfortunate incident was caught on camera and circulated the web like wildfire.  As they say, there is no such thing as bad publicity and perhaps this unscripted performance lead to her upcoming gig as the Super Bowl XLVI Halftime performer this year in Indianapolis. Better make sure they don’t accidentally line the stage with the flowers!

BEST Celebrities who are able to transform themselves for the better. Lady Gaga has done a 180 appearing in less outrageous attire and blossoming into an elegant songstress and entertainer this year. Acting as both producer and director of “A Very Gaga Thanksgiving” for ABC, Lady Gaga came across as a poised, patriotic performer who seamlessly mixed solid singing performances with cooking segments and even a moving interview with Katie Couric.  The pop icon has taken charity to a new level introducing the Born This Way Foundation she started with her mother dedicated to empowering youth and inspiring bravery. 

WORST Entitled adult celebrities who act like children.  Charlie Sheen takes the cake in this category for publicly biting the hand that feeds him. The blatantly disrespectful, anti-Semitic remarks spewed towards showrunner, Chuck Lorre, were the last straw in a line of acts that ended his long-standing role on the hit show “Two and a Half Men.”  This category wouldn’t be complete without a nod to Chris Brown for punching his fist through a window at a Good Morning America appearance, Patti LaBelle for giving new meaning to a “new attitude” as she yelled and threw water at a innocent toddler who was in her way, Snooki for spacing out and crashing into a police car in Italy and let’s not forget Miss Lindsay Lohan for her court-ordered stints at the morgue and continuing her downward spiral by agreeing to pose for Playboy.  Donald Trump for questioning the authenticity of President Obama's birth certificate. It takes a lot of chutzpah to stand on a soap box and make it your mission to bring down the President of the United States over a piece of paper.

WORST Celebs who think airline rules are only for civilians.  This summer Girard Depardieu apparently couldn’t hold it in any longer.  When the crew of the Air France airline told him to stay in his seat until takeoff, the legendary French actor had other plans and, to the astonishment of everyone, decided to perform the act right in the middle of the cabin!  More recently, American actor Alec Baldwin was booted off an American Airlines flight for refusing to turn off his iPad while he was in the middle of playing a popular electronic game “Words with Friends.”  The actor felt it was not necessary to turn off the machine since the aircraft was not in flight. Not only did he act belligerent, but he then buried himself even further in turmoil by tweeting about the incident and badmouthing American Airlines in the Twitterverse for all the world to see!  

BEST Celebrities Kate Winslet and George Clooney are at the top of our list for heroic acts of bravery and maintaining a positive image in the public eye.  Kate Winslet, who was houseguesting at Sir Richard Branson’s Caribbean home when a fire broke out, ceremoniously carried and rescued his 90 year old mother out of the flames and away to safety. George Clooney deserves a spot on our list. Whether he’s stepping out on the red carpet here in Tinseltown or volunteering his time to a third-world country in need, the debonair actor consistently keeps his squeaky clean, all around good guy persona intact.  His run of good films this year with “The Ides of March” and “The Descendants” certainly helps. Aussie gentleman, Hugh Jackman, receives a well-deserved nod this year.  His “Back on Broadway” show is a massive hit and he helped raise $1 million for Broadway Cares. He is consistently gracious and kind towards all those he comes in contact with and his talent is equally matched by his good nature. 

WORST  Over-the-top weddings. The nuptials of Kim Kardashian and her bridegroom Kris Humphries served as nothing more than a colossal distraction and resulted in a huge downfall tarnishing both of their careers and portraying them in a very unflattering way.  With questions over whether to return the hundreds of gifts, the engagement ring or the money to produce the event, the 72 day marriage that abruptly ended after Kris was caught receiving lap dances from two different girls, damaged more than just their egos.

BEST Betrothed couples who behave like nobles.  Kate Middleton and Prince William displayed impeccable elegance and refinement at this year’s most important royal wedding.  Benevolent, charitable, presentable, almost perfect, the enviable Prince and Princess of Wales are certainly role models worth emulating. 

WORST Sports figures and sports fans that lose their cool.  Whether it’s two NFL coaches letting their emotions get the best of them when going in for a congratulatory handshake at the end of a game or an aggressive player shoving and then stomping on an opposing team members arm in the heat of the moment, or a crowd of fans at a NASCAR race in Florida booing First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden who were there to support a charitable cause dedicated to the hiring of veterans just because they didn’t agree with their political party, the sports world has become a den of incivility. The horrific displays of poor sportsmanship by coaches, players and fans has reached epic proportions.  Our worst list must also mention sports legends who turn their backs on those in need. Joe Paterno’s prolific career at Penn State will forever be marred by the stain of lies and betrayal towards the children and families who trusted him.

WORST Media empires that break the rules and cross the line.  Rupert Murdoch’s, precious News Corp threatened dismantling over a wire-tapping scandal that involved reporters of its’ British tabloid paper, News of the World.  The serious allegations involved hacking into the cellphones of various celebrities, politicians, crime and military victims all to obtain exclusive stories ahead of the competition. The illegal conduct resulted in the closing of its doors after 168 years as Britain’s biggest selling newspaper. 

WORST Twitter etiquette blunders.  The Twitter master himself, Ashton Kutcher, suffered the wrath of his own demise and not for cheating on wife, Demi Moore, but for his ignorance in defending Joe Paterno in the Penn State sexual abuse scandal.  Without having all the facts, he flippantly typed his support for the coach which led to a watershed of backlash from followers everywhere.  Gilbert Gottfried also learned the hard way that what you say, even if it is only 140 characters, matters.  The comedian who has been doing commercials for AFLAC for over a decade was fired after tweeting a bunch of jokes over Twitter about the Japanese earthquake. 

Wow, this year certainly provided us with good fodder for our best and worst list. Anyone else you’d like to add?  Please share with us. We’d love to hear from you!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Manners Monday – “Thoughtful Tipping at Holiday Time”

The holidays are in full swing! You can feel the hustle and bustle everywhere. The smell of pine and peppermint fills the air.  The jam packed schedules are often joyful and relentless. The laundry list of gifts brings both cheer and tugs at our purse strings.  We may not necessarily look forward to being with our crazy families, but we always relish in a brief respite from work and daily schedules making this a truly wonderful time of the year. 

Along with humongous gift lists and homemade holiday dishes, comes the annual conundrum of holiday tipping. The questions of how to show one’s appreciation to those whom have made a significant contribution to our lives all year long can be debilitating for some. The pressure to tip and keep up with the Jones’ when you are having trouble paying your mortgage is dangerous territory.  Exactly what to tip or how much to tip is often a slippery slope, especially when the recipients are counting on your generosity even during these unsettling economic times. 

Whether we are flush with cash or have tightened our belts this season, we still have to take a moment to think of others to show them how much we care.  After all, it is the relationship–building with that person that truly makes the difference.  Here is our take on thoughtful tipping at holiday time that will hopefully bring heartfelt thanks to all of the recipients on your list.

It’s Your Message that Matters.  We know the tip speaks for itself, but how about taking a moment to jot a few thoughts down on paper expressing how much you appreciate that special person for helping to make your life a little easier, prettier, smoother, etc., you get the drift.  There is nothing like receiving a holiday card with a genuine note of thanks along with your tip.  If finances are tighter this year, a warm and honest card will help to smooth things over.  There is no need to make mention of your personal situation.  Keep it upbeat and positive.

Honor the Recipient.  Typically a cash tip is expected for the holidays, especially in the case of a special nanny or babysitter who has taken amazing care of your little ones, a doorman in your building who is exceptionally pleasant and helpful or a private care giver who has tended to a sick relative day in and day out without complaint.  You rely on these individuals for your everyday existence and to offer them a batch of homemade cookies (although tasty) may be sending a message that you do not value their services as much as they thought you did.  Err on the side of generous (if you can) and honor your recipient in the way you think they will feel most appreciated.  [For a reference on how much to give, please refer to the holiday tipping chart below.]

Research the Alternatives.  For some recipients, a large cash tip is not an option, but you still want to convey your appreciation, this is where your creativity will hopefully kick in.  There are countless gift cards that make the perfect gifts when cash feels a bit cold or inappropriate.  With hundreds of gift cards to choose from, put yourself in the recipient’s shoes and imagine what they would enjoy most.  A Starbucks gift card might be just the perfect display of gratitude for a dog walker who can’t live without his morning double shot of espresso with a side of foam and an American Express gift card is ideal for a teacher who may wish to purchase some extra supplies for the classroom and treat herself to a manicure. 
When Your Tip is a Gift.  Sometimes a gift is the ideal tip at holiday time.  A nice bottle of Pinot from a local wine shop or a beautiful silver bowl filled with nuts and dried fruits are wonderful gestures of thanks.  If purse strings are more stringent than usual, then a jar of homemade jam or a tin of pumpkin bars expertly wrapped with ribbon offers a perfect opportunity for closet chefs and bakers to flaunt their finest talents. If you have children, a small gift specifically from them, such as a winter scarf or a cozy bathrobe, is an added touch that goes a long way for a special nanny or babysitter.

Cash is Still King. If at all possible, it is customary to tip those who have delivered goods or provided a regular service to us all year long.  When it comes to tipping, the more significant tip should be given to the person you interact with most frequently, regardless of seniority. Here are our guidelines below.
Service Provider
Suggested Cash Tip
Building Staff
$20-$100 (depends on how often you call upon their services)
Dog Walker, Pet Sitter
One Week’s Service
$25 to $200 (varies in metropolitan areas)
Full-Time Babysitter or Nanny
One to Two Week’s Pay (plus small gift from children)
Cost of One Visit
Hair Stylist/Barber
Equivalent of One Service
One Week’s Pay
Cost of One Session
Massage Therapist
Cost of One Session
Newspaper Carrier
Daily Deliveries $25 / Weekends Only $10 to $15
Personal Trainer
Cost of One Session or One Week’s Visit
A small gift or gift card of less than $20
Private Home Nurse or Caregiver
One week’s Pay (check with agency to make sure it is accepted)
Gift Card ($25 to $50 is an acceptable range)
Trash Collectors
$10 to $20 each (check with your local city)

Do not fret if you cannot distribute your tips in time for the holidays. Sometimes the funds just aren't there. If that's the case, send handwritten holiday cards to those on your list and let them know they'll be receiving something special for the New Year!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Manners Monday – “Taking the Stress out of Holiday Shopping on Black Friday, Cyber Monday & Beyond”

Now that the last bit of turkey leftovers has finally settled in our bellies and the guilt of the extra five pounds that we gained from that second helping of stuffing and sweet potatoes has set in, we are more than ready to take our minds off of ourselves and all of the food we have consumed and channel our energies into others by tackling our holiday gift list. 

Back in the day, before the invention of smartphones and the web, life was a bit slower and the shopping experience was certainly more civilized as patrons took to the streets with their handwritten lists and mapped out their routes to make the best use of their time.  With a multitude of shopping bags in hand, they retired to their homes exhausted and content at a day well-spent.  Things have changed over the years and not necessarily for the better.  Nowadays, it’s a dog-eat-dog world where shoppers everywhere are stressed to the gills and fighting one another for the latest Xbox like it was the last morsel left on earth.  

Personally, I love the idea of holiday shopping.  The hustle and bustle of the crowds doesn’t deter me.  I thrive on the holiday music and the smell of spiced cider in the air.  I’m invigorated by the cooler weather and the shorter days of winter.  I also enjoy the in-person shopping ritual.  I like to use all of my senses as I make my purchases.  For me there is something about being able to see and feel the items that I am buying that heightens the ceremony of it all and makes me feel more invested in the purchase.  

As I’m writing this, I know I am in the minority.  There are many that would rather cut off their right arm than deal with the throngs of people and be forced to wait patiently in line.  They may care less about seeing a product firsthand and more about crossing off the person on their list and that’s perfectly fine.  To each his own as the expression goes and thank goodness for Cyber Monday so that this group of purchasers may take advantage of the special savings online without having to fight off the masses.  For the rest of us who’ve made it through Black Friday unscathed and will continue to brave the shopping malls on foot through December, here are a few guidelines that will hopefully make it a little easier.

Fuel Your Body Before Heading Out.  Shopping on an empty stomach is a recipe for disaster. If you are hungry, you cannot possibly be patient about anything.  Before leaving the house, eat something substantial or at least pack a few satisfying snacks that will keep you satiated until you can take an official break for a proper meal.  Remember to also keep hydrated. Keep a large bottle of water handy to swig through the aisles so you avoid getting parched.

Allow Ample Time for Parking.  How many times have we spotted the perfect parking space, only to be swooped upon by another driver who acted like they own the parking lot and claimed the space first!  Knowing that the stores will be quite busy this time of year, make sure you allow ample time for parking and never fight over a space.  If you meet a parking hog, just move along and find another parking spot.  It is not worth the mental and physical energy you will have to expend to convince the irrational driver otherwise.  At all costs, never park in a handicap space. Not only is it a federal offense and you will pay a hefty fine, but I would be more worried about the karma!

Keep a Close Eye on Cart Items.  We’re all used to watching our purses and wallets while shopping, but at this time of year, we have to keep a close watch on the items we put into our cart as well.  Never turn your back on your cart or you might find yourself the victim of aisle theft with one less Xbox game console for your kiddies.
Avoid Confrontation at All Costs. Speaking of Xboxes, the mother in Los Angeles who pulled out the pepper spray on Black Friday to gain a lead on her competition at Walmart crossed lines that may actually result in criminal charges.  When you set out on your course to shop for the holidays, be mindful, stay focused and by all means stay as far away from those irrational shoppers who seem to be out with a vengeance.  Do not raise your voice in a verbal argument or lash out with physical retaliation and if you see a crazy person running down the aisles with pepper spray, part like the red sea and get the you-know-what outta there!

Wait Patiently in Line.  If you are not prepared to stand in line patiently, don’t bother heading to the stores during the holiday season.  No one enjoys waiting, but complaining, pushing and crowding a line certainly does not make the experience any easier.  Never try and force your way into the line ahead of others.  People find this particularly offensive and it is sure to set off a firestorm of rebellion amongst the crowd.  If you are holding a place for someone else, explain this to the people behind you.  If someone is holding a place for you, it is courteous to thank the people behind when you arrive. When you finally get to the front of the line, do not engage in a lengthy discussion as this is both burdensome to the attendant and inconsiderate of those waiting behind you.  Sometimes, it is a simple courtesy to let another patron go ahead of you especially if your cart is filled to the brim and they only have a few items to purchase.

In the Season of Giving, Give Others the Benefit of the Doubt.  With emotions already running on overdrive at this time of year, we are more inclined to accuse others of a wrong-doing.  There may be more than one occasion when another shopper will bump into you without notice or a cashier will shortchange you without paying attention or tend to another patron when you were their first.  Rather than respond defensively with disagreeable words or actions, take the high road and act as if the gesture was purely an accident.  If you are bothered in any way, you may always call attention to the incident by quietly making clear that you assumed it was unintentional.  Find restraint within and do everything in your power to avoid a full blown altercation. 

A Final Note for Shoppers.  The great news about Cyber Monday and online shopping is that you don’t have to be on your best behavior in the privacy of your own home.  There is no one looking over your shoulders minding your P’s & Q’s. You can wear your pajamas, stuff yourself with food and chain yourself to the computer screen all day if you wish.  Happy holiday shopping!

What’s the worst behavior you’ve encountered while holiday shopping? Share your stories.  We’d love to hear form you!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

"Manners Monday" - Toast Your Host on Thanksgiving Day

Whether hosting your own Thanksgiving feast or guesting a Thanksgiving with relatives or friends, everyone can agree it takes a tremendous amount of effort to pull it all together.  As Thanksgiving has become quite the coveted holiday, hosts begin formulating their invitations weeks, months and, in some cases, years in advance to get a jump start on their competitors.  Other more casual feasts may be thrown together on a last minute whim, but that does not make their affair any less significant. 

Regardless of the number of attendees in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, hosts both grand and low-key are busy mapping out their marketing lists, figuring out when to thaw the turkey, counting the number of green beans they’ll use to make their green bean casseroles and belaboring what outfit they’ll wear to bring the festivities all together.  They may painstakingly figure out every detail of the event making sure the hors d'oeuvres are set just so, the candles are strategically lit and the perfect mood music is playing softly in the background. 
With hosting comes the great responsibility of taking care of your mixture of guests.  Oftentimes they will be called upon to strike a delicate balance between elegant host and marriage family child counselor making sure everyone is getting along and having a nice time.  They must be able to put out fires in the kitchen with the same effortlessness that they put out firestorms in the living room.  They must be armed with the resourcefulness to remove a red wine stain on the rug with the same proficiency that they are able to remove an inebriated relative away from the cocktails.  Basically, they must be infallible and able to meet any challenge with grace, ingenuity and composure.

Such skillfulness and dexterity is more than deserving of a proper toast on this special day of thanks.  So how do we honor our illustrious hosts with the most?  We do so by toasting them at the beginning of the meal when everyone’s attention is focused and excited about the eating extravaganza ready to take place.  To ensure that you sound your most eloquent in front of family and friends, here are a few tips for both toasting your host and receiving a toast if you are the host on Thanksgiving Day. 

Proposing a Toast to the Host

  • Although typically a host would make the first toast, before the Thanksgiving meal, it is nice for a designated individual at the table to invite everyone attending to raise their glass to toast their host. 
  • Begin by obtaining everyone’s attention in the room by using a projecting voice and repeating the words, “I would like to propose a toast.”  If you must, you may pick up a clean knife from the table and use it to gently tap the side of your glass as a way to alert people that you are going to begin your toast. 
  • Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on what we are thankful for, for the incredible food we are lucky to have on our tables and for the graciousness and generosity of our host. When preparing your toast, be sincere and speak from the heart.  Keep your toast simple and to the point, about a minute in length. 
  • Remember to stand, make good eye contact with the host and end the toast with an endearing phrase such as “Cheers, Here, Here or Here’s to You" along with your host’s name.  Conclude by inviting everyone in unison to raise their glasses together.

The Host as Recipient of the Toast
  • Most importantly, the host never raises their glass along with others when they are being toasted. One never toasts to oneself. 
  • When being honored, the elegant host simply stays seated and with a warm and generous smile, graciously says, “thank you” to their guests.
  • Once the toast is completed and the attention is diverted, the host may take a sip of their beverage.

Final Toasting Tip for All
Contrary to popular belief, it is not necessary to clink glasses when toasting and there is quite a history as to how the ritual of clinking glasses originated. As society has evolved so have the theories that have gone along with it.  The first, and most popular, is that the clinking glasses was performed to ensure the safety of the drinks and make sure no poison was exchanged. The gesture was also made, some thought, to create a noise to scare off evil spirits. Other theorists believed the clinking was added to create an audible sound to satisfy the final sixth sense of hearing.  Today the clinking of glasses is simply a gesture we perform as an expression of goodwill towards others. We generally toast on special occasions, for weddings or other significant events.  The most popular toast is to good health.

Any time honored Thanksgiving toasting tips you would like to add? Share with us, we'd love to hear from you!  Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

“Manners Monday” – Means of Communication or Weapon of Mass Destruction – Twitter Etiquette Rules

I first heard of Twitter back in January of 2008.  A gentleman I was working with on marketing my business alerted me to the tool and explained it as a distilled form of communication, namely 140 characters that basically answered the question in real time, “What are you doing now?”  For months, users would post such mundane musings as what cereal they were eating for breakfast to where they were heading off for their next yoga class.  Since this was an election year, I also remember hearing the word used heavily around President Obama’s campaign.  While other more senior candidates were busy communicating the old-fashioned way, a younger Obama and his social media savvy staff used the new tool to reach their constituents and encourage a national dialogue in a way that had never been achieved before.  Twitter may have even helped to secure the election for our President and today this is still a very big part of his presence. 

Nowadays, Twitter is everywhere.  Politicians, athletes and celebrities all use it to spread their messages, tout their achievements and increase their platform.  Twitter has had an increasingly powerful impact on the corporate world where major brands hire social media staff to tweet hourly messages about exciting products and services or other relevant information.  Twitter has also taken on the responsibility of being the first line of communication during natural disasters.  We witnessed this up-close and personal back in March with the tsunami in Japan.

I personally got into the Twitter game about two and a half years ago posting tweets with basic etiquette tips every now and again, but it wasn’t until this year that I realized the magnitude and gravity of this powerful tool.  Today, I have two Twitter handles, @90210manners for the majority of my posts on a variety of etiquette topics and @redcarpetmanner for more celebrity driven etiquette posts and try to post topical items on both.  To help streamline and organize my posts, I often turn to Hootsuite, a tool that also allows me to schedule my posts when I’m crunched for time, but want to appear current.  For me, Twitter has taken over as my preferred method of social media interaction much more so than Facebook. I suppose I find it easier to communicate using the condensed language. 

As I’ve grown to feel more comfortable using Twitter, I have become acutely aware of the positive aspects, as well as the negative pitfalls.  I’ve heard the countless news stories and witnessed the careless tweets that brought upon the demise of various politicians, athletes and celebrities.  Not to mention, the innumerable thoughtless tweets that are posted daily that result in irreparable repercussions.  It is for this very reason that we find it critically important to review the rules of etiquette surrounding Twitter so that we use it wisely as a means of communication and not abuse like a weapon of mass destruction.  Here are our top etiquette tips to consider!

Stay out of the kitchen, if you can’t take the tweet.  If you have made a career of living in the public eye and taken to tweeting to share your most intimate and inane thoughts, then you are also opening yourself up to tweets of equal criticism and backlash. Case in point – when Kim Kardashian announced her divorce from Kris Humphries after a mere 72 days, she set off a firestorm of tweets chastising her for not returning the engagement ring and the wedding gifts.   Whether you are living under the scrutiny of the public eye with millions of followers or the master of your own domain with 5,000 followers, you have to be willing to play the game and take the heat.  Tip: Take the high road and only engage in positive commentary on Twitter.  Avoid responding to angry or upsetting tweets.

Check yourself, before you wreck yourself.  Ashton Kutcher, the poster man for Twitter himself, took a major tumble this past weekend learning a very important lesson the hard way.  Before doing his due diligence, Ashton Kutcher irresponsibly launched an opinionated Twitter comment about the firing of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno that landed him in some pretty hot water.  The result was apparently so shaming that Mr. Kutcher vowed to leave the tweeting to his staff until further notice.  When you have that much influence, it is imperative that you think before you tweet, lest you say the wrong thing and suffer the turbulent consequences. Tip: Do your homework and make sure you know all the facts before dispensing your opinion for all the world to see.

Think before you tweet your own horn.  It’s hard not to be boastful, especially when we want to share an achievement of some sort, but the delivery of the message must be carefully thought through so that it doesn’t come across as arrogant. A perfect example of this was Alaskan Republican Senate candidate, Joe Miller, who took to Twitter to jab his opponent by suggesting that he was already taking measurements for the drapes and purchasing furniture for the office. When blasted for his insensitive comments, he blamed it on a volunteer claiming they were responsible for the tweets.  Little did he know, his opponent, Lisa Murkowski, would have the last laugh as she later went on to win the election and chastised him for his inflated self-confidence. Tip: Be humble and gracious.  If you are lucky enough to share an achievement, be sure to thank those who helped you get there.

A tweet paints a thousand words.  Just ask past Representative Anthony Weiner, who in a fleeting state of narcissism, decided to take a vulgar picture of himself to send to a female college student as a flirtatious introduction. When word got out, he was confronted and denied the allegation.  After a series of facts were uncovered, Representative Weiner admitted his fault and wound up suffering the wrath of the people and the state of New York.  The result of this one casual photo led to the removal of his position in office and branded him a disgrace.  Tip: Everything on Twitter is permanent and can be traced.  Stay away from tweeting photos that present a negative image.
Tweet this, not that.  There are good tweets and bad tweets.  Good tweets are full of valuable information that enlighten, inform, entertain and educate. Bad tweets are filled with gossip, slander and vulgar information. Twitter, when used properly, is a tremendous springboard for making announcements as Billy Crystal did when he humbly proclaimed that he would be taking over the hosting duties for Brett Ratner who recently stepped down from the post due to his poor behavior.  Twitter moves people into action as thousands rallied to help the victims of hurricanes Katrina and Irene, as well as the tsunami victims in Japan.  Tip: Use common sense and look before you tweet.  Take a moment and think to yourself, “Do I really want/need to share this thought with the world or am I about to jump off a bridge?”  A quick soul searching should provide you with the right answer.

Tweet responsibly! 

Twitter celebrated its fifth anniversary earlier this year.  Here is a list of 30 famous first tweets  Have any unique Twitter tips you would like to add? Share with us, we’d love to hear from you!