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Don't Embarrass Our Children

Hello Parents! I want to talk about how we interact with our children this month.  I know we’ve touched on this subject before, but I feel that we can’t speak of it enough.  As I have been visiting the malls, restaurants and busy areas this Holiday season, I have heard many comments that sting my heart.  So here we go.

I was standing speaking to a lady as her children were standing behind her.  The children became a little noisy (I thought perfectly acceptable since the mom and I had been yapping for sometime), but the mom turned to her children and said in a very frustrated tone, “Why are you all so rude?  Can I not have one conversation without my children acting like wild animals?”  Her children just looked down, obviously humiliated, and then she turned to finish the conversation with me.  She then said to me, “My children sometimes have manners but you would never know it today.  They embarrass me quite often.”  I told her I was impressed that her children stood quietly as long as they did and quickly told her I must hurry off.  We then went our separate ways.  Now before you say, “What’s the big deal?” let me plead my case.  It is never, never, never OK to embarrass or humiliate our children, especially in front of others.  I know we’ve spoken about not correcting our children in front of others, but that also means we never speak anything but praises about our children to others when our children are present.

This world we and our children live in today is not always the nicest place with the nicest people.  I know that our children are faced almost every day with ugliness, rudeness, teasing, bullying, and many more unpleasant things.  It is our obligation and pleasure to everyday think of how we can “build up” our children.  One way we do this is always speaking kindly of them to others.  Now I don’t mean that you’re going to go around “bragging all day” about all your child’s accomplishments but YES, let your children hear you praise them.  NEVER tell others when your children our present of how you are disappointed or frustrated with them.  These conversations should be private between you and your children in the spirit of correction with love.  Remember, it’s OK to correct, but it must be done in private.

I’ve heard moms say in front of their children things like:

“Oh, he’s not my smartest child.” or
“I do wish she didn’t have her grandmother’s nose.”  or
“He’s not very athletic but we’re hoping he excels in music.”  or
“She can be very manipulative, but we’re really watching her these days.”

Please stop!!!!  Please don’t ever speak unkindly or announce your children’s faults in the presence of your children.  Children want others to believe that they are perfect in the eyes of their parents.  They know they’re not really perfect and they know that you know they’re not, but it is a betrayal if a parent announces these hurtful comments in front of their children.

We have to guard our children’s hearts as if they are the most special, the most fragile, and the most lovely thing about our children.  Please be so careful with your words.  I am guilty of this blunder myself as I’m sure we all are.  Let’s just be more careful and strive to find and announce all our children’s strengths, so that they know we love them and that we are so proud of them.  This gives them the confidence they need to face the world.    As we strive to build them up, they will strive to continue to please us.  It’s the true nature of parent/children relationships.

Have a great month!
Monica Irvine
a.k.a. Mary Manners

Holiday Party Etiquette

It’s time to review some basic etiquette skills for the sake of your reputation and professional future.  Trust me when I say I have experience with this (not providing any further details).  As we go over party etiquette, please think of how you can apply these skills to both your company holiday parties as well as family “get-to-gathers.”  Obviously, there would be some adjustment and some irrelevant information for one or the other, but generally, the same principles apply.  Here we go:

  • Everything in moderation--Remember, a lady and a gentleman, never draw attention to themselves.  This would include overindulging in our dress, eating, drinking, dancing, flirting or any other behavior that we can become the “center of attention.”  Think “CLASS,” think “HONOR,” think “DO I WANT TO BE THE STORY TOMORROW?”  With these things in mind, I think you’ll be fine.
  • Dress appropriate for the occasion.  The way we dress sends a message to those in attendance; how we feel about the occasion and how we value our time there.  Consider what message you want to send to your family, co-workers or even your boss.
  • Never ask if you can bring someone to the party unless the host included “...and guest,” on the invitation or personally told you to please feel free to bring along a friend with you.  This is a big NO, NO!!!!
  • Make sure we honor the host by being on time and leaving on time.  First rule of etiquette...BE ON TIME!
  • Be sure to thank the host who coordinated the party.  For family gatherings, it is very polite to take a gift to the host:  a plant, a book, a candle, a cookbook, etc.  Just something small, but something that shows the host you were thinking of them and appreciate their generosity in hosting the event.
  • If you’re the host, a few things to remember to make your guest feel comfortable are:
  1. Send invitations at least 3 weeks ahead of time (6 weeks if going to “out of town” guest)
  2. Include directions in the invitation
  3. Include the “dress” if a company gathering
  4. Inform guest if it is OK to bring a guest
  5. Be aware of community events that might affect attendance (LIKE THE TENNESSEE/FLORIDA GAME---HELLO!!!)
  6. It is the host’s responsibility to make sure that all your guest makes it home safely.  Meaning, if a guest has had too much alcohol to drink, make arrangements to get them home
  • Remember CONVERSATION ETIQUETTE.  OK People, now listen.  I’m not sure why this is an issue that we must discuss on a regular basis, but...I feel obligated for the sake of all our sensitive ears.  A few things to remember when speaking to others, especially at holiday functions (remember, The Happy Times), are:
  1. Keep the conversation positive
  2. No, they don’t want to hear about your latest Hernia
  3. Don’t speak unkindly of others, ESPECIALLY YOUR FAMILY (ETIQUETTE RULE BREAKER NUMBER 336)
  4. Don’t tell a story that last longer than 5 minutes---Period!
  5. Yes, it’s OK to tell a few things about your children’s accomplishments this year, however, this should only take a couple of minutes.  You’re family is not writing an essay on the life and success of your little 2 year old Brewster.
  6. Ask questions.  Great conversation happens when both parties make inquiries about the other person.  This shows your care and concern for those you speak with.  It sends the message, “I am interested in you and your life.”
  • Be gracious.  Please no foul language, no vulgar or racist jokes (it’s not funny), no human noises (I’m talking to you DAD), no teasing others.  Teasing is actually a big deal.  You know that uncle who always wanted to know how many boys you kissed this past year.  UGH!!!  This is not cool, and more importantly, not polite.
  • Never say or do anything that would embarrass another person at the party.
  • Compliment others
  • And finally, Remember...what’s happening today, is what’s happening tomorrow on FACEBOOK.  Beware!!

Have a great Thanksgiving.  I love this country.  I love my family.  I love being an American.  I love our American history.  Learn about it and you will  better enjoy this sacred holiday for our country.

Monica Irvine
a.k.a. Mary Manners

True Etiquette/Being Positive

What a beautiful month we have to look forward to.  I love this time of year and yes, I even love football.  When I look around and see the beauty of fall, feel the crispness in the air, and hear the geese beginning their journey south, I’m reminded of how blessed we are to live in this great country.    I love the seasons, the beauty of the earth and the goodness of people.  Well, I know it sounds like I’m being all happy and joyful right now and actually, there’s a reason for this behavior. 

Did you know that it is polite to be positive, which means it is impolite to be negative.  

Well....it is!

Sometimes, I want to shout at the top of my lungs to certain people to, “Stop Complaining!!!!!” 

Yes, I know things are hard and difficult and uncertain right now and I’m feeling those things too, but how in the world does it help any of us to go around complaining, whining and fussing about all the gloom and doom in the world?  It helps nothing. 

I know that there are people who suffer at a level that I cannot even relate to and never will.  My heart hurts knowing others have to suffer so.  However, I know that in order to help uplift each other and support each other, we have got to become more positive. 

We Americans, forget too easily the blessings we enjoy.  We are becoming so hard and cynical towards our elected officials, our way of life, our future.  Yes, of course we’ve got problems, some very big ones, but let’s stop complaining and let’s become a part of the solution. 

Ladies and gentleman are:
  1. people who look for the positive in all things
  2. people who see adversity and know that this is a time to triumph
  3. people who refuse to give up, complain or fail
  4. people who are more concerned with their neighbors’ troubles, than their own
  5. people who smile regardless of their day, so that they can help others to feel safe and comforted
  6. people who look at troubled times as an opportunity to show compassion
  7. people who ask themselves, “What can I do to change this situation?” and then do it
  8. people who ask themselves, “What can’t I  change in this situation?” and then forget it
  9. people who know that greatness comes from trying
  10. people who know that a positive attitude can not only change your day, but the day of everyone around you

May we all strive to be more positive and more cheerful.  Remember, true etiquette comes when our focus is on lifting those around us. 

Happy thoughts,
Monica Irvine
a.k.a. Mary Manners

What is Manners

Hello.  Welcome to The Etiquette Factory, a blog written for the purpose of helping you teach your children great manners to ensure your child’s future success.

Why Etiquette?  I bet if we asked our children if they can remember a time when they felt embarrassed, they could probably remember more than once.

Next, if we asked them how did the people around them respond, we would get answers like; laughed at, pointed at, ridiculed but hopefully some support as well.

Making people feel comfortable is a big reason we use good manners.

Another great reason for learning good manners is that it shows you are concerned about other people and you care about their feelings.  Remember when you tripped and fell while walking down the hall at school (some of us do)?   If those around us had been taught in the “art of etiquette”, they would have known that the appropriate response was to bend down and offer help.
Next, they might have said something like, “I’m sorry you fell, you should have seen the skid marks I left the last time I fell”. 

They would have know that proper etiquette means helping others feel comfortable and by doing, feelings of empathy, personal characteristics such as integrity and sincerity begin to grow and expand into feelings of self worth and self confidence.


I promise you, that as we train our children in the art of etiquette, we will see qualities like; integrity, empathy, compassion, sincerity and self worth accumulate into their character, which will help them on the road to a successful life both personally and professionally.

Join me, as we discuss lessons on etiquette and great ideas to reinforce these lessons in your home without “nagging” on our children.  Games, role playing and kind discussion are at the heart of teaching.


Have a great week,
Monica Irvine
a.k.a. Mary Manners


Proper Behavior as a School Parent

Proper Etiquette While Being a School Parent

Attention Parents of School Children; this is for us.  Thanks to many teachers from Local Schools, we now have a great list of etiquette reminders, so that when engaging, helping and visiting our children’s schools, we can be sure that we are a blessing and a help to our children’s teachers instead of the opposite.  Need I say more?  So, here we go.

  1. Please, when writing your child’s teacher a note, let’s not write on the wrapper of a Subway bag.  This does not show proper thought and preparation to discuss the matter at hand.
  2. Oh my!  Please let’s not send handfuls of quarters delivered by sticky “paws” to pay for the field trip costing $10.75.  Let’s be more considerate of our teacher’s time.
  3. Please send in the exact amount needed for a field trip or item.  The school or teacher does not keep change on hand so please do not send in a $20.00 bill if the needed amount is different than that.
  4. Let’s not send blank checks with your child to your school.  We should all know the name of our child’s school (well maybe in a perfect world), so just go ahead and fill out the check completely.
  5. It’s not polite to open the classroom door and quietly creep across the room to give wee Mary Margaret Cindy Lu a hug and positive vibes to help her throughout the day.  This inevitably disturbs the rest of the classroom and causes the teacher to develop a nervous tic.
  6. The day of a field trip is very hectic.  Let’s not “hang out” in our child’s classroom the hour before the field trip as this causes even more chaos in the classroom.  Just simply wait in the car or the lobby.
  7. It’s not polite to bring fast food to school for lunch for your child.  It’s against the nutrition policy for most schools and is not thoughtful for the other students having to, I mean getting to, eat school lunch.
  8. Teacher’s time is so valuable, as is all of our time.  Let’s not grab our teacher for just a “quick minute,” but instead, schedule a teacher conference.
  9. Please don’t walk your child to the classroom if late.  Just simply let your child check into the office and then walk themselves to their classroom.  The less disruption to the class, the better.
  10. Sometimes things happen and we are late picking up our child from school.  Hopefully, it’s a rare occasion.  However, it we are late, it is polite to apologize to the teacher that has to stay late too and miss working time in the classroom.  Remember, proper etiquette means we strive to always be on time.  Usually when we are late, we cause interruption in someone else’s schedule.  Just be considerate of this.
  11. Be very cautious when you are in the hallways at your child’s school and speak in soft hushed tones.  If you need to take a phone call, step outside.
  12. Let’s remember, a lady never dresses in a way that brings attention to herself.  If we are true ladies, we want the attention to be on those around us.  With this in mind, let’s be mindful of the way in which we dress when attending our child’s school.  Tennis outfits, immodest attire and other clothing that is not appropriate for a school setting, should not be worn inside the school. 
  13. Today, teachers are feeling more pressure than ever, yet teachers are often not enjoying the benefits of being duly compensated.  So, let’s make every effort to show our gratitude to our teachers by saying, “Thank you” often and helping our teachers as often as we can.
  14. A great way to support our teachers is to make sure we are fully engaged in our children’s education.  This means we need to know what’s going on and what they’re studying.  We need to work with our children in the academic subjects that need improvement.  We need to help our children become responsible in keeping up with their assignments, goals and projects.
  15. Finally, let’s be polite, courteous and gracious at all times with our teachers.  Yes, there may be occasions when we disagree with a grade, an assignment, or perhaps a disciplinarian action, however we can show respect and integrity when we approach our teachers assuming each other’s intentions are always with the student’s best interest at heart.

Let’s have a great school year and let’s use our manners in and out of our schools.

Have a great month,
Monica Irvine, a.k.a. Mary Manners

Unwanted Physical Contact

Let’s get on to our subject this month.  The topic comes as a result of an experience I had a month ago.  I was in Cincinnati speaking to a group of about 500 teenagers (because I’m on a mission).  After I spoke, I had 4 teenage girls come up to be separately and asked me the same question.  I was really surprised that four different girls would have the same question.  That’s when I knew we had a problem and it’s was time to solve it. 

The question was, “What do I do when a boy or man tries to hug me and I don’t want to be hugged?”  These four girls all had personal experiences where a man or boy tried to show physical affection to them in the form of a hug.  Interestingly, all four girls each admitted that they didn’t think the show of affection was of any inappropriate nature.  They just simply did not feel comfortable with it.  So, let’s learn the etiquette rule. 

It is not polite for a gentleman to show physical affection to a lady without permission or without it being requested in casual relationships.

What does this mean?  It means that men, young or old, should never approach a lady and offer physical contact without the lady initiating the contact.  For instance, when a gentleman and a lady meet for the first time, it is the ladies’ decision whether to extend her hand and shake hands with the gentleman.  If the lady does not extend her hand, then the gentleman simply stands with his hands to his side and nods his head while he verbalizes the introduction.

This also means that gentlemen never just go up and hug a lady, young or old.  Realizing that most hugs are just friendly ways to show our affection and admiration for others, it is simply not appropriate for a man or boy to initiate this behavior. 

One of the girls I previously spoke about, told me that her preacher often hugged members of the congregation, and that when he approached her, she was embarrassed to tell him that she wasn’t comfortable with hugs, especially when everyone else seemed OK with it. 

Think about the deli-ma that we place young girls and women in.  All our lives as women, we are encouraged to be polite, to not hurt other’s feelings, to be sensitive to others.  Yet, we’re expected to know how to handle it when we’re placed in an uncomfortable situation, and not be rude.  What are we supposed to do?

We can start by teaching our boys and reminding our gentlemen of this etiquette rule.  I realize that they’re probably aren’t many men or young teens who wish to cause young ladies discomfort.  It’s usually just a man’s way of being friendly.  I have recently had to have this same conversation with my own teenage son. 

I was so glad that these young girls brought up this deli-ma to give us a chance to talk about it and make sure that we are  all sensitive to it.  Physical affection is meant to shared between more intimate relationships.  I’m not saying it’s rude to hug others.  I personally love hugs.  However, we have to make sure that we recognize that although we may be comfortable with an in-particular behavior, that doesn’t mean everyone else is and if we’re trying to have proper etiquette, then are focus is always on helping others to feel comfortable.

If you’re wondering what my advice to the young ladies was, I told them that the next time a gentleman tried to hug them unannounced or unwelcomed, to simply turn, pop up a “high five” and say, “You know, a ‘high-five’ is good enough for me.”  Hopefully, they’ll get the message.
Have a great month.  Don’t you be hugging people who don’t want your ‘stinkin’ hugs.

Very best,
Monica Irvine
a.k.a.  Mary Manners

Teaching Respect for Nature

Hello My Army of Parents,

Spring is in the air and there is no better time to help our children see and recognize the beauty of the earth and what's around them, so that they can learn how to show respect for their surroundings.  This is a very important etiquette skill and one that benefits all of society.  When Spring comes, we are reminded of the little things that the Lord has created in order for us to enjoy and have beauty around us.  We see the delicacy of the flowers, the beautiful fresh green that is only seen in the Spring.  We hear the chirping of baby birds and the buzzing of bees.  It's really amazing.

As we point out the miracles around us, we help our children recognize this beauty as gifts, as special things that should be admired and appreciated.   Hear is an example of a conversation with a young child.

"Wow.  Stand still for a moment.  Close your eyes.  What do you hear?  Do you hear happy sounds or sad sounds?  Yes, they sound very happy.  Now open your eyes.  What do you see?  What colors do you see?  What shapes do you see?  Have you ever seen a picture with so many colors as what your eyes see at this very moment?  How happy it makes me to see such beauty.  How happy it makes me feel when things are fresh, new, clean and vibrant.  Sometimes, we can be careless with the beauty of the earth.  Sometimes, we aren't careful with where we put our trash, or where we step or what we leave behind.  If everyone was careless, what would this world look like?  Think for a moment, what if we walked out of our house one morning and our yard was covered in trash?  How would it make us feel?  Yes, angry. Sad. Confused. Frustrated.  We would wonder, who would do such a thing?  Who would be so inconsiderate as to place trash on our yard.  It's our yard.  We love our yard.  We want it to be nice, so that we can run and play in our yard.  We want it to be clean, so it's attractive and a place we can enjoy.  Every place on this earth is someone's yard, someone's street, someone's sidewalk, someone's flower bed.  We must be considerate of the earth, so that we all might enjoy it.  Let's try harder to be careful that we leave the earth just like we find it.  Let's help to beautify our surroundings to show our gratitude for nature and all its splendor."

As parents, never miss an opportunity to point out the wonders of nature.  

Stop and admire the sunset, the rainbow, the storm cloud.  As we continually show our admiration and love for nature, our children will develop this same appreciation.  This increases our love for the earth which is what encourages respect, care and responsibility. 

It's hard to expect our children to behave with respect towards anything that they have not developed a love for.

Have a beautiful week,
Monica Irvine, a.k.a. Mary Manners

Correcting with Respect

This month, I would like to discuss the etiquette skill of correcting our children.  What?  You didn’t know there was an etiquette skill involved in this?  Well, there is.  Let’s review our definition of proper etiquette for those new readers who may be joining us.  Proper etiquette is defined as, “helping those around us to feel more valued and more comfortable.”  With this definition in mind, it is important that we not only apply it to those outside of our families, but that we apply it with our most treasured relationships, our families.  As we do so, it will help us establish more loving relationships, including the relationships we have with our children.  Now before I go on, I do not wish to address the controversial topic of discipline.  That is a subject I leave to the judgment, wisdom and love of parents.  However, I do wish to discuss how we approach and carryout whatever discipline we choose to use.

If you remember, we have discussed before that it is not polite to correct others in front of others.  This means that we never “call out” someone in public, or in front of others, because this might embarrass or belittle them.  If a correction is in need, we simply wait for the opportunity when we can pull the person aside and in private, politely give the correction.  This same principle applies to our children. WE NEVER WANT TO EMBARRASS OUR CHILDREN.  Now hold on.  Breathe.....Let’s discuss the solution to this dilemma.  Do our children sometimes need correcting when we are in public?  Do chickens lay eggs?  Of course they do.  Sometimes those little angels of ours are worse than a tic on a hound, however, we must do our best to show complete respect and honor to our children.  Please, please don’t ever yell, spank, criticize, etc. your children in the presence of others, even their siblings.  This means that you have to separate yourself and your child and administer the correction in private.  Sometimes, due to the safety of your other children, you cannot separate yourself at the time.  In that case, you will simply have to pull your child to the side and quietly acknowledge that the correction will happen at a later time.

I know I’m suggesting something that will be difficult at times.  I had all boys in my home, so trust me when I say that this takes great self control and patience.  I can promise you however, that as we make an effort to show respect to our children by striving to protect their dignity, our children’s love and respect for us will increase as well.  As our children realize that correcting them comes from love and devotion, instead of anger and frustration, they will learn to honor our words and our actions.  No, of course it doesn’t mean they will always love or enjoy being corrected, but they will know that we correct because we love them. 

As we consider ways that we can show our children love and respect, I think it will help to simply consider how we would want someone to correct us.  Just because they’re children, doesn’t mean that we have a license to embarrass or humiliate them, regardless of their behavior.  It’s the principle of two wrongs, don’t make a right.  I think this is a topic worth spending some time pondering and considering.  Some day, our children will ponder our parenting when they are making decisions for their own children.  I hope we leave them a legacy of trust, honor, love and encouragement as we help shape their precious lives.

Have a great month.
Monica Irvine
a.k.a. Mary Manners

Taking Advantage: A Form of Dishonesty

This is a subject that gets me a little "hot under the collar," if you know what I mean: taking advantage of others.  As I hope we understand by now, true etiquette means being considerate of others. 

Taking advantage of someone else is the most impolite behavior one can demonstrate. 

As I've stated before, I think it is so important that we are very detail oriented when trying to teach our children important principles.  For instance, when trying to teach our children to be honest, it's important that we use many examples, so that our children understand that dishonesty is more that not telling a lie. 

Taking advantage of another person, or a situation is a form of dishonestly.  

Let's make sure our children understand the different "looks" of dishonesty, so that they can pride themselves in striving to be honest and polite in every way.

So often, we get upset with our children, because they do not react or behave in a certain way. We assume that if we’ve told them to be polite, that they know what’s not polite. However, I’ve learned that if we want a certain behavior, it’s helpful to make sure we have given our children the tools, the words, the understanding, so they know exactly what is expected of them and why it is to their advantage when they meet those expectations.

“Taking advantage,” a form of dishonesty, can be demonstrated in many different circumstances. I will mention a few examples.

When we take advantage of someone due to their lack of knowledge, lack of intelligence, lack of understanding, or lack of means (abilities), we are in the wrong.

When we take advantage of someone due to their weakened emotional state, extreme compassion or any other condition that makes them vulnerable (weak) in making a logical and sensible decision, we are in the wrong. For instance, asking our grandma, who has a very difficult time telling her grandchildren “No,” to buy us an expensive item (even though we know she does not have a lot of money), is taking advantage of her. Likewise, when someone gives us too much back in “change” after a transaction, failing to give the money back or to inform the person of their error is taking advantage of their lack of knowledge or awareness. Once again, this type of behavior is impolite and shows poor character.

Yet another example occurs when we do not disclose all relevant information that someone would need to make a proper decision. An example of this would be failing to give our parents all the details of a planned “outing” with friends. This is taking advantage and is a form of dishonesty.

This can be a very informative and interesting discussion with your children. Most children think that being dishonest is telling a lie. However, as we age and mature, hopefully, we understand that dishonestly can be exhibited in many forms.

Discuss with your children using many examples of different forms of dishonesty such as taking advantage of others, withholding information, being secretive, avoiding responsibilities, etc. Allow your children to discuss and understand why these behaviors are examples of dishonesty and the opposite of proper manners.

Love those children by teaching them correct principles. Have a great month.

Very best,
Monica Irvine
President/The Etiquette Factory

Etiquette Factory Educator

Hello Friends,
Welcome back.  It's been such an exciting month at The Etiquette Factory, it's hard for me not to talk about what's been happening.  January launched our Etiquette Educator's Opportunity.  What's this?  Well, it's an exciting new opportunity for anyone who has an interest in children, teaching and making great money.  The field of Etiquette Educators is growing everyday.  Our whole world is seeing the need to have proper manners training at the forefront of a proper education.

You can join us today and become the first Etiquette Factory Educator in your area.  You will soon become your communities leading resource in manners training.  You can teach in so many different arenas, like; daycares, pre-schools, summer camps, girl scout troops, church youth groups, adult social clubs, and the list goes on and on.  Find out today if becoming an Etiquette Factory Educator is right for you.  Go to: www.TheEtiquetteFactory.com/educators.  You will be thrilled by the opportunities.

Have a great week,
Monica Irvine, a.k.a. Mary Manners

Etiquette In Conversation

Hello Friends,

Christmas and the Holidays sure put everything else on hold.  I love to put life aside for one month and focus on family, friends and the gift of Christmas.  On to etiquette.

With all the parties, celebrations and such through the holidays, I was reminded more than once on the need to understand etiquette while in conversation.  There are actually many etiquette rules to consider, but let's just focus on one today; "Balance in Conversation."  This seems to be one that many people find the most annoying, so let's make sure we understand it.

It is polite to simply takes turns when speaking to others.  I'm not saying to walk around with a stop watch in your pocket, announcing when someone's turn is up, but I am saying that we should be aware of how long we speak.  For instance, if we speak for about 5 minutes about our vacation we took last week, it's time to end our summary and ask the person we're with if they've been on any fun trips lately.

Let's make sure we aren't conversations "hoggers."  This makes others more likely to run when they see us coming, and hit "silent" when they see our number on their telephone.

Enjoy your conversations by taking turns.

Yours truly,
Mary Manners