Monday, September 26, 2016

Manners Monday - 5 Ways Millennials are Missing Out on Manners

Last weekend, I sat by the pool perusing the September issue of Departures magazine and was pleasantly surprised to read the editor's note declaring that the current state of affairs can basically be summed up in three little words, “I dare you.”  It seems everywhere we turn - from politics to business to culture - buttons are being pushed and boundaries are being broken. Society is practically begging us to go against the grain and rewarding those who do so with the biggest bang. If you've been following the Trump headlines, you know exactly what I mean. 

I have been touting my tagline "Dare to be polite" for years and the mantra has been gaining traction. I coined the term, not as an invitation to shock or seek attention but rather to provoke, particularly the younger set, to act with grace, thoughtfulness, and good intention.  

With Millennials growing up in one of the most challenging economic environments to date, now more than ever, it's time to incorporate these skills. A quick Google search reveals how they are missing out on a multitude of areas from everyday courtesies to meaningful connections. If the nation's largest living generation cares to significantly increase their chances of success, they must give more prominence to their manners.  Come on, I dare you! 

1. Common Courtesies. Named the "Me Me Me Generation" by Time Magazine, Millennials are great at the larger notion of being a good citizen, but when it comes to smaller courtesies, they are sorely lacking. What they fail to realize is that it's the little things that matter.  Simple acts of kindness such as smiling, opening doors, offering a seat, politely asking for something, and using the Magic Words are a gracious way to endear themselves to others.  

2. Committed Relationships. Millennials are terrific at collaborating and cooperating on a public scale, especially with brands, but they are the poster children for keeping things casual when it comes to committed relationships. They wrongly assume a meaningful exchange can be conducted on a tiny smartphone. On the contrary, taking the time to pick up the phone rather than texting to arrange a date, greeting a companion at the door, and pulling out a chair at dinner is not only a sign of respect, it sends a clear message you are present and interested.  

3. Dining Skills. When Millennials dine out, they tend to seek the exotic and experiential. However, to save money at home, they have shunned the napkin in favor of a more economic paper towel. Profiled as the "cheapest generation" by the Atlantic, this swap has resulted in an overall deficit of napkin etiquette. A napkin has a multitude of practical uses.  When laid on our laps it protects our clothing from getting soiled. It makes a terrific blast shield to capture a cough or sneeze. And, of course, it keeps our mouths and hands clean. Millennials may not be aware that a napkin also gives us hints as to what is happening at the table. When placed on the seat of the chair, we know someone is excusing themselves during the meal and when laid on the left side of the place setting, we receive a silent signal that the meal has ended.  

4. Professional Dress.  Millennials are famous for their relaxed attitude when it comes to suiting up.  What they fail to realize is that proper attire may be the key to clinching that coveted side hustle. Whether seeking an extra gig as a yoga teacher, life coach or freelance writer, there will be an initial interview that will set the tone going forward. Dressing appropriately along with standing, sitting and walking with good posture not only makes clothing fit better, but it provides an instant air of confidence and extra edge to those entering our highly competitive job market. 

5. Face-to-Face Conversation: Millennials are super at socializing, mostly on social media, but it's no secret they are suffering a loss when it comes to interpersonal exchanges. Because the majority of their communication is electronic, they neglect to notice certain non-verbal cues from eye contact and facial expressions to body language and personal space.  And this is only half of the equation.  Their verbal communication could use a bit of polish too. Practicing how to actively listen or learning when to self-censor is a good thing. Not everyone is the star of their own reality show and these skills are essential to making them more likable, maybe even charming.  

Know a Millennial who could use a little smoothing around the edges?  I'll be shooting a manners segment with Awkwafina, star of #TAWK with Awkwafina, this Friday. Stay tuned... 

Monday, September 5, 2016

Manners Monday - Old Adage of No White after Labor Day No Longer Holds Water

The old adage of 'no white after Labor Day' no longer holds water.  Fashionistas and trendsetters in the know don't fall prey to such archaic beliefs.  They beat to their own drum turning a cheek to the majority and shunning convention.  Coco Chanel, one of the greatest fashion icons of all time, balked at the notion of banning white after Labor Day and made it a permanent staple in her wardrobe. 

Historically, white garments were associated with a look of leisure reserved mainly for the privileged.  They were a status symbol for the fortunate souls who were able to change their clothing with the season.  Many of the well-to-do adorned themselves in white linen pant suits, light cotton shirts, and white Panama hats as they escaped their sweltering city dwellings for more appealing climates.  When they returned from their vacations, they would deposit their summer duds and circulate a wardrobe that consisted of darker, heavier material.

Nowadays, we hold a different perspective.  Rather than scramble through the closet searching for white dresses, white pant suits, white flowing tops, any significant white piece of clothing to get our hands on as a last ditch effort to make sure it is worn before the clock strikes midnight, we may regard the cleansing of our white clothing almost as a symbolic ritual.  It is a purging of sorts that helps transition both mentally and physically from the light and carefree days of summer into the more industrious and diligent days that make up the fall season. 

But white is, in fact, embraced and acceptable any time of the year.  You'd be hard pressed to find a closest that doesn't contain a white button down men's dress shirt or a woman's white button down blouse.  These are one of the few essentials of every wardrobe paired beautifully with a pair of dark denim jeans and a blazer for a more casual look or worn with a tailored pant or skirt suit for a formal business meeting. It is one of the top items female executives will wear for their press photo presenting a no-nonsense look with a sense of approachability. White sneakers are also all the rage making their debut years ago by famous entertainers and athletes and still a mainstay in fashion, particularly the white leather variety which may be worn in summer or winter.  And, let's not forget winter white with its slightly creamier shade of white and heavier fabric which is very much on-trend in the winter months.  The fashion magazines sing its praises and dedicate pages of styles after Labor Day to the cozy look.  

So while we pay tribute to the laborers who toiled away in the trenches and stood on the picket lines fighting for their rights, step out this Labor Day with confidence wearing your white. Confidence is, after all, the number one accessory that is appreciated any time of the year.  

And for all you wine and champagne lovers like myself, I raise my glass to you! Just a couple more whites that are savored and welcome all year long.