Monday, November 17, 2014

Manners Monday – #DareToBePolite - How We Behave

Step 1/Week 3: First Impressions: How we behave.  Turn on any morning television news show and you’ll witness the barrage of stories dedicated to people’s bad behavior. It may be a fallen politician, an enraged sports figure, a bawdy celebrity or a regular Joe who committed a heinous crime.  Sure these may be extreme examples amplified in the media for pure entertainment, but oftentimes they are not.  Our public role models (save the Joe criminal) tend to disappoint.  And what about our own behavior that is not publicized for all the world to see? How do we conduct ourselves on a daily basis with our families, with our friends and when we’re out and about on our streets and in our communities? 

Each and every day we are confronted with choices that test our behavior and moral makeup.  There is always a clear right and wrong choice and the wrong choice is typically much more appealing because it feels reckless, carefree or fun.  While this may be an acceptable excuse for a two year old who is too young to know better or a reality show star who is being paid good money to behave like a two year old, there isn’t much tolerance anywhere else. 

Granted, none of us are perfect and we do slip up.  It’s hard to hold it altogether 24/7, especially in today’s frenetic society. And if children are in the mix, then all rules are pushed aside and the claws come out.  In “Terms of Endearment,” mama Shirley Maclaine could care less what the hospital staff thought of her as she cursed at the top of her lungs demanding medicine for her daughter who was experiencing pain.  Perfectly understandable.

For the next seven days we are focusing on every day behavior.  In other words, the way we go about our day when not faced with a traumatic or dire situation.  Starting with our early morning routine, from the way we greet our household when we arise to the way we treat the barista at our local Starbucks. Are we cutting in the carpool line at school drop off or giving someone the finger who just cut us off on the road?  At work, are we sending scathing emails to the entire department or stealing someone else's marked food in the kitchen?  Are we chewing out the lunch lady for giving us the wrong change? During the day, are we waiting patiently in line at the pharmacy for our prescription to be filled? Are we treating the restaurant staff with as much respect as our boss sitting across from us at the table?  In the community, are we cordial to the librarian, the policeman, and the gas station attendant? At home, after a long day, are we impatiently screaming at our kids or ignoring our significant others?  When we say goodnight, do we lovingly kiss our loved ones or grunt our way to bed?  

While most of us don't have the luxury of being followed around by our own personal reality show crew, all of us are living under a constant microscope where our every action may be taken out of context and misconstrued. There are a million ways to make a grave mistake and our actions, reactions or inaction has a domino effect on others.

How will you choose to behave over the next seven days?  Share with us what you observe in yourself and in others. Join us now! Make the vow to #daretobepolite!  

Monday, November 10, 2014

Manners Monday – #DareToBePolite - How We Sound

Step 1/Week 2: First Impressions: How we soundWe live in an incredibly social world where we are called up upon to share our thoughts and speak our mind on an endless variety of topics. When given our platform, it is always in our best interest to sound our most intelligent. This is not the time for text-speak, filler words, swearing or slang, however tempting.  This is the age of sound bites where we have to make every second count and speak articulately, audibly and with perfect elocution to make sure our message is clear.

For the next seven days, pay close attention to your verbal communication. Notice your voice. Do you speak loudly or softly? Is your speech high-pitched or low? Do you converse too quickly or slowly?  Are you a chatterbox, or is your delivery slow and methodical? Are you a close talker?  Notice your choice of words. Do you use all those three and four syllable words you learned in school and do you know their meanings?  Do you swear like a sailor?  Do you sound like a teenager sprinkling filler words throughout your sentences? Do you talk in text preferring to say,  ‘brb’ instead of ‘be right back’?  Do you have an accent, and if so, from where?  Boston, New Jersey, Louisiana, the UK? Does it make you sound smarter? Do people make fun of it? Does it help or hurt your personal or professional life?  What is the tone of your voice? Do you sound annoyed? Do you sound happy? Are you curt or do you speak at length? Do your words move people into action or do you feel like no one is listening?  Each of these questions is up for discussion in this second week of our focus. 

Let’s use this period to discover the impact we make or do not make on others. Are we effective in getting what we want at home? With our families and friends?  In the dating world and in the corporate world? How do we come across to other people? Do we sound cheery?  Do we sound critical?  While our technological communications have taken precedence, it is our interpersonal connections that still hold the most weight. In these rare instances, we must know how to speak face-to-face and tailor our tone of voice, our velocity, and our volume depending upon whom we’re speaking to or the size of our audience. 

More careful examination should be paid towards what we are saying. Are we repeatedly throwing up words out of our mouths?  Do we apply filters to prevent saying something we will most surely regret later?  How many of us actually think before we speak?  This is certainly not easy in a world where the complete opposite is heralded by society, especially in the media where shock-value is upheld. Take, for example, the latest cultural phenomenon, the Potty Mouth Princesses, who would probably have gone unnoticed if not for the F-bombs sprinkled throughout their video on feminism. How else to perk up the public’s ears? On the other end of the spectrum, are the increasingly popular TED Talks which in a distilled eighteen minutes of mindful word selection are able to educate us, enlighten us and instruct us to make our lives better.  How will you choose to use your voice over the next seven days?  Share with us what you observe in yourself and in others. Join us now! Make the vow to #daretobepolite! 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Manners Monday – Launching #daretobepolite

What’s the manner with people? Rarely does a day go by without someone doing something or saying something to upset us. It may come in the form of an insensitive comment disguised as constructive criticism. Or a rude remark designed to elevate themselves and put down another. Sometimes it’s a piece of gossip for pure entertainment purposes. Other times it’s an unfiltered observation pointing out a serious character flaw.  And oftentimes, it’s a blatant lack of respect for our time, our money or our commitment. At what point did we turn into such a nasty, negative, cutthroat, backstabbing, dishonest and competitive society?

What ever happened to polite? When passersby would greet one another with a knowing nod and smile. When sitting down to dinner meant giving your undivided attention to your dining partners. When a suitor called the object of their affection on the telephone to arrange a date. When an act of kindness was acknowledged with a handwritten thank you note.  

The #daretobepolite campaign is designed to wake up the nation and raise awareness on the importance of politesse and good manners. For the next three months, we will be challenging (daring) the public with three separate 21-day campaigns. Why 21 days each?  Because it takes 21 days to form a new habit and we want these skills to stick.  November launches the campaign with the very basics, otherwise known as first impressions, focusing on how we look, how we sound, and how we behave. December, at the height of holiday season, is devoted to the vast realm of dining and entertaining.  January, we begin the New Year by examining communication in all its forms whether spoken, written or electronically transmitted.

Now, please do not get me wrong. I do not espouse on a pedestal looking down shaming everyone else.  I turn the mirror on myself with every intention to walk the talk. I am the first to admit that I am a work in progress and that I actively practice polite.  I am in the trenches with you, so let’s take the first step together. Shall we?

Step 1/Week 1: First Impressions: How we look.  The first thing people notice is appearance. They sum us up in the first few seconds before one single syllable has been uttered from our mouths.  Everything from our posture and gait to our grooming and attire is being scrutinized.  Is our outfit too revealing or too schoolmarmish?  Are we well-kempt or disheveled?  Do we have any noticeable bad habits?  We are all very quick to judge. We can't help it, we're human. However, we’re not talking about the vacuous pursuit of vanity, rather more about taking pride in the way we look which shows respect for oneself, as well as others, and has a direct positive influence on our relationships whether dressing for a job interview, a first date or a social function. For the next seven days, we are focusing on outward appearance from our skin, hair and nails down to our clothing and accessories. We’ll dissect style guidelines, which wardrobe staples are best, and fashion faux pas to avoid along with a few tips on exercise and diet. We’d also love to hear from you.  Share with us your photos and videos, post your personal do’s and don’ts. Our polite armor sets the tone and is the foundation for virtually everything. Join us now! Make the vow to #daretobepolite!