Monday, May 11, 2015

Manners Monday - National Etiquette Week 2015

When people learn that I teach manners they automatically adjust their posture and start minding their P's & Q's. Instantaneously, the mood in the air changes.  All of the sudden, they become more self-conscious. They politely ask a few questions to feign interest, but for the most part, can't wait to get the hell away from me so they can be themselves without judgment or embarrassment. I get it. As a society, we're already living under a giant shaming microscope, do we really need some etiquette expert critiquing us on the minutiae of our lives?  After all, who cares if I use my salad fork for my entree?  What if I don't feel like shaking hands web-to-web?  Why do I need to hold the door open for someone walking behind me?  If I let it shut, is the door police going to give me a citation?

For this reason, I've adopted my "Off Duty" rule to preempt any uncomfortableness that may arise from those who are less than enchanted with my field of work and who could, frankly, care less. I do not walk around espousing unsolicited advice to strangers, let alone family or friends.  At the most, I may sneak out a look or glance of disapproval, but that is it. If someone reaches out with a query or quandary, I am happy to help, otherwise I try to keep my big trap shut.  

Clients, however, are fair game. They specifically seek my tips, tools and advice on a host of topics and I am more than willing to dole out information unabashedly. On that note, I present to you National Etiquette Week 2015 which begins today and runs through Friday. In honor of these five days devoted to all things manners, I have compiled a list of 20 random etiquette questions and answers to give you a bit of a jump start. Enjoy!

1. Waiting in line for your morning cup of Joe? Bring a book, take a magazine or read the paper on your smartphone. Anything to help you wait patiently for your turn.
2. Attending dinner at a friend's home?  Take your lead from your gracious host and wait for them to dictate everything that happens at the table. 
3. Schedule a lunch meeting with a prospective employer? Be prepared to pay. Arrive early and hand your credit card to the Maitre'd to make payment in advance. 
4. Seated in the aisle or window seat on an airplane? Defer to the passenger in the middle seat by letting them utilize armrests on both sides of the chair. 
5. Taking the stairs or escalator? Keep to the right to allow those in a hurry to pass quickly on the left.
6. Going out on a first date? Refrain from revealing too much, too soon. Some things are better left unsaid or at least until you are more committed.
7. Own an Apple Watch? To avoid distraction, turn it off completely when engaged in a face-to-face meeting or meal with others. 
8. Accommodating latecomers to their seat? Turn your knees in the direction they are walking which will allow them to pass more easily and find their seat. 
9. Uncomfortable making eye contact? Focus your gaze on the area between the eyebrows. It still gives the appearance of looking someone directly in the eyes.
10. Want to sound more intelligent? Strip the use of filler words from your vocabulary. The most common offenders include: like, yeah, nah, huh, um and whatever.
11. Not a natural smiler?  This is one area where you can fake it til you make it. Turn that frown upside down by practicing smiling in the mirror when you brush your teeth. 
12. Wondering whether to send a thank you note or email?  When in doubt, err on the side of formality with a proper handwritten note. It will always be appreciated.
13. If asked to pass a community basket of bread? Items are always passed to the right, however, please offer first to the person seated on your immediate left.
14. Want to make yourself appear slimmer?  Stand up tall like a palm tree, tummy tucked in, shoulders down and back. You'll feel confident and your clothes will fit better.
15. Pondering the best way to strike up a conversation?  Offer up an authentic compliment or ask a thoughtful question. Either make great ice breakers.
16. Curious how to propose a proper toast? Use the opening line, "I would like to propose a toast." Next, remember the 3 "B's." begin, be brief, and be seated.
17. Crafting a witty comeback to a lengthy heated text? Don't. Pick up the phone or have a face-to-face conversation instead. It will resolve the issue much more quickly.
18. Tempted to break out Mr. Finger in a formal restaurant? Utensils exist to aid us in bringing the food neatly into our mouths. Use both your fork and knife to help. 
19. Want to impress at the next networking event? Be the first to initiate a solid handshake with two pumps, smile and introduce yourself. 
20. Suffering from FOMO (fear of missing out)? Stop torturing yourself and lay off the social media for a while. Go offline and arrange plans with friends and family in person.