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Embarrassment: An Etiquette No-No

I'm going to discuss a subject I believe we can all probably improve on - using embarrassment to try to persuade others to perform or meet our objectives.

I work with teenagers, and oftentimes, when I ask them questions about their lives, they share things about school, family, and relationships.  One issue they share with me a little too often, meaning it's happening a little too often, is adults using "embarrassment" in order to get teens to do things, behave better, study harder, perform at higher levels of achievement, etc.

Recently a teen shared a situation that happened in her math class. She said that her teacher called on a young lady to answer a question.  When she didn't know the answer, the teacher reportedly became frustrated and asked the student to stand up and explain why she didn't know the answer.  The teacher said she was going to write a three-page essay explaining why she didn't know the answer and then informed her that she needed her mom's phone number so she could call and discuss this with her. She capped off the lecture with, "It looks like you need to go back to middle school."

Perhaps some of these details would be reported differently from a different witness to the event.  I don't know, because I wasn't there myself.  However, here's what I do know.

It is NEVER productive to humiliate and embarrass others when trying to inspire them to perform better.

If showing good manners means that we act and speak in a way that shows value to others, then embarrassing them would be the complete opposite of that goal.

Once we engage in this type of behavior, we lose the respect of those around us.  Without respect, we can't motivate others, people don't care whether they please us or not, and we can't inspire people to want to change.  We cripple our ability to lead others to succeed when we don't have their respect and admiration.

We all have wonderful memories of teachers, youth leaders, and adult friends who truly inspired us, made us want to work harder, study more, and achieve greater things.  What was so special about them?  For me, they were the teachers, leaders, and parents that I knew cared about me and want me to achieve, learn and grow.  They bent over backwards to help me succeed.

Whether we're teaching, parenting, or working in any position of leadership, we must ask ourselves why we're here.

Do we really care and want to help, inspire, motivate, and change? 

 If so, remember to always use respect and honor to those around us.  We'll never receive what we're not willing to give.

Monica

Helping Our Children to Politely Receive Compliments

We all can struggle at times when we receive a compliment from someone. Often, it can make us feel awkward because we’re not sure the best way to respond.  If it’s difficult for us, then we must assume it also can be difficult for our children.

The best way to respond to a compliment, is simply, “Thank you.”  However, we want to show our sincere gratitude as we say, “thank you” and we can do this by looking the person in the eye, and with true sincerity, express our gratitude.

With our children, it is a great idea to role play a few example situations.  For instance, let’s say someone at church says to our daughter, “That is such a lovely dress you have on today.  You look beautiful.”  Our child would hopefully look up and make eye contact and then say something like, “Thank you so much.  My grandma bought it for me.”

On another occasion, a neighbor could come up to our son and say something like, “Wow, you really are fast on your bike.”  Hopefully, our son would stop, look up at the neighbor making eye contact while smiling and say something like, “Well thank you so much for noticing.  I’ve been practicing a lot and trying to get faster.”

Today, it seems very  impressive when any child or young person simply makes eye contact and speaks directly and purposefully with adults.  Too often, children and young people look down at the ground when an adult tries to speak to them and mumbles responses that are sometimes difficult to understand.

Parents, as you role play some scenarios with your children, they will increase in their confidence and be able to handle compliments from others with kindness and gratitude.  Practice makes perfect.  

Have a great month!

Monica Irvine

Business Telephone Etiquette

All businesses hopefully realize that the way in which they answer the telephone and communicate with their customers on the telephone is their most important asset.

How often have we as consumers decided in less then 10 seconds whether or not we were going to do business with a company or someone depending on how they answered the phone?  It's so important.

The best way for me to discuss these skills in this particular platform is to list them out.  However, if you're interested in a much more detailed approach, please see my professional services page on my website.

📱 Answer the phone by the third ring, expressing a welcome, identifying the company and then yourself.

📱 Remember that customers can hear your mood and appreciation for the call by your voice, tone, speed of speech, and energy level.  Smile--they can hear it your voice.

📱 Try to make sure there's no background noise or distractions while speaking to the customer.  You really can't multi-task well when you're talking on the phone to a customer.

📱 The person who initiates the call is the person who should initiate the end of the call.

📱  Before discussing personal matters with a customer, verify that now is a good time for them to discuss such matters.

📱 Never get too personal with a customer unless the customer is the one to initiate such comments or questions.

📱 Never place a caller on hold without getting their permission to do so first, and never leave them on hold for more than 30 seconds without coming back to inform them of progress or possible further wait.

📱  Always reply with a yes or no or perhaps a "let me check to see if he's available" before asking the caller for their name after they have asked to speak to someone.

📱 Ask the caller for their name and number before transferring them to another department or person in case the call is accidentally lost.  Inform them of who and where you're transferring them to and why are doing so.  Give the name and direct number to the caller in case the call is accidentally lost.

📱 Give needed information to the second customer service rep so the caller doesn't have to repeat information already given.

📱 Show customer appreciation for their call by thanking them, asking them if there's anymore you can help them with, and wishing them a wonderful day.

The are just a few etiquette skills that go a long way in ensuring that our customers feel our appreciation for them and our commitment to excellence.

Warmly

Monica Irvine


True Test of a Lady

Since we focused on gentlemen in the last post, I figured it was only fair to focus on ladies this month.

One of my favorite groups of people to teach is teenagers.  They actually are usually the most reactive and most receptive to etiquette training.  They're on the brink of their careers, their lives, and most of them are eager to learn how to make the most of their future.  The trick is helping them to believe in what will truly make a difference in their future happiness and success.

Of course, proper etiquette, in my opinion, is absolutely key in this process.  Most girls and women I teach would love to be considered a true lady.

Here's a list of skills that are key in being a lady that everyone respects and admires:

► A lady is gracious at all times.  This means we show gratitude for all things, refraining from complaining and being negative.

►A lady is kind.  We strive to look for opportunities to serve and help others, always doing so with a cheerful attitude.

►A lady never gossips and refrains from speaking unkindly of others.  If what you're going to say to someone will cause that person to think less of the person you're speaking about, then don't say it.

► A lady keeps confidences.  She knows it's important to protect the confidences that others have entrusted to her, never sharing without one's permission.

► A lady dresses as a lady.  She always wants the attention to be on those she's with; therefore, she never dresses in a way that causes the attention of others to be on her.

► A lady knows when to speak and when not to.  As ladies, we pay close attention to conversation, being careful not to speak too long, too loud, or about topics that aren't relevant to the conversation.

► A lady is well educated.  All ladies should cherish learning and strive to be "lifelong" learners, never tiring of self improvement.

► A lady is a benefit to her society.  Ladies know that contributing to their society in even the smallest way is her duty and her honor.

► A lady accepts all.  Ladies know that every life deserves love, honor, and respect; therefore, she exemplifies one that looks upon the heart of a person, rather than skin, religion, or any other physical or social difference.

May we all strive to live up to the definition of a lady.  What a different world this would be.

All the best!

Monica Irvine

True Test of a Gentleman

Men, this one is for you.  Can you pass the gentleman test?

If your wife, co-workers, or children were asked if you were someone they would consider to be a gentleman, would they say yes?  Does it matter?

Statistics show that men who have more "gentleman" attributes get more respect from their peers, receive pay raises at a faster pace, and overall report to have healthier and happier relationships.  It matters.

See how you do with the following questions:

⇒Do I open the door for all ladies and my peers?

⇒Do I avoid speaking of offensive topics in the presence of ladies?

⇒Am I careful to never engage in any behavior that could be misconstrued as inappropriate?

⇒Do I always pay for the meals of those whom I invite to lunch or dinner?

⇒Do I dress in a way that shows I have respect for myself and others?

⇒Do I stand when a lady approaches or leaves my table?

⇒Do I only extend my hand to a lady once she extends her hand first during an introduction?

⇒Do I refrain from giving physical affection to ladies I'm in a casual relationship with unless I have their permission?

⇒Do I help all ladies in my presence with their coats, umbrellas, or any other item they need assistance with?

⇒Do I refrain from ever borrowing money from a lady?

⇒Do I keep my word, always returning items on time and always completing tasks when I have committed to completing them?

⇒Do I keep myself clean, always being mindful of my breath, body odor, and overall hygiene?

⇒Am I comfortable with making and keeping eye contact in all my conversations?

⇒Am I confident, kind and honest?

⇒Do I have polite table manners  Do I use them at all times?

If you answered yes to most of those questions, then you're a great example of a gentleman, and I'm sure you feel the benefits of being such in your life.

If you couldn't answer yes to many of those questions, may I suggest you call me?  We'll work on it!

Monica Irvine

Professional Etiquette

Today, more companies are looking to etiquette experts to help transform their employees to the needed professionals they must be to compete in this global market.  So, here's a preview of what professional etiquette is.

Here are some things to consider.

Have a positive tone and voice when answering the phone is crucial.

It's the first image your customers have of your company.  Are you friendly?  Do you act like you are interested in why they've called?  Do you make them want to do business with you?  These are just a few questions going through a customer's mind when interacting with someone on the phone at a business.

It is also important to never place callers on hold without their permission and never for more than 30 seconds without giving them the option of calling back later or leaving a message.

Be positive at work.

No one likes to work with others who complain and are often negative, as it's very unproductive and tends to bring the entire atmosphere of the workplace down.  If you have an official complaint, then administer the complaint through the proper channels.  Besides that, be cheerful, positive, and productive at work.

It's very unprofessional to gossip, but especially at work.

Gossiping is a very destructive force that literally leads to drops in production, declining company moral, and even a loss of overall profit.  Be professional at all times.  Look for the positive in those you work with, work well as a team to reach optimal performance, and keep unproductive conversation at bay.

Take responsibility for your actions.

A professional knows that some days we succeed and some days we fail, but those who really succeed are those that learn from their failures and move on.  Sometimes we spend more time trying to cover our mistakes than the time it would take to take responsibility for our mistakes and then move forward to do more wonderful things.  Take ownership and move forward.

Give 100%.

Sometimes employees lose interest in an assignment or project and start slacking on their work ethics.  Give 100% every time, every project, and every day, and you'll always end up ahead by giving your all.

Help others succeed.

The real test of a great leader is how many great leaders you helped build.  Some people think that as long as they look out for themselves, they'll always end up on top.  This isn't true.  They may have some success with this as their motto; however, long-term success comes form helping others succeed and, in turn, helping ourselves.  Be on the winning team.

Show integrity, honesty, character, and moral conviction every day, and you'll have a recipe for success.

To your best,

Monica Irvine

Give Your Children the Gift of the Pen

If you’re like me, you get really excited when you open the mailbox and find a personal letter, card or note addressed to you.  Because it doesn’t happen often, it’s a real thrill.  

When I was a girl, I exchanged letters on fun stationary to my cousin, grandmothers and a few friends.  I still have most of these treasured letters and the memories of this activity are among my fondest from my childhood.  Parents, it is such a gift to encourage our children to write letters and cards.  Why?  Because, it’s a small way that we can help our children to serve and to give to others.

Children need to have many opportunities to experience the joy that comes from giving and spending a few moments of their day, writing notes of encouragement, notes of congratulations, or perhaps notes of apology or sympathy.  Our children are eager to please and teaching them while they are young, the value of sacrificing a few moments of their time, to think of others and ensure that their friends and family feel their love and concern for them, is a gift that will bless them for their entire lives.

Some of the notes and cards that have meant the most to me over the years, have come during times of struggle and need.  I remember my son’s friend and his mother, bringing us a note of sympathy when our dog died. This kind act endeared us to this family forever.  I remember another time with a lady at my church, wrote a note to me, thanking me for a Sunday School lesson that I had taught and expressing what that lesson had meant to her.  I was so touched and of course felt reassurance in my own feelings of inadequacy with my assignment.

I hope we can all take the time to put pen to the paper and express our feelings towards and for our loved ones.

Very best,
Monica Irvine

To see the Etiquette Factory's Stationary for Kids, click HERE


Social Media Etiquette

When Emily Post was writing her manner's book, social media didn't exist.  With each decade comes new discoveries and new habits formed by society.  With this usually comes the need to set some guidelines and rules of conduct surrounding these new gadgets and such.

Social media is definitely in it's infancy, although it has grown by leaps and bounds in just the past two to three years.  Now people say "post it to Facebook," "pin it," "text it," etc.

Let's discuss a few etiquette considerations we might want to consider when using social media:

1.  Don't be a me, myself and I poster.  This means that every post on Facebook should not be about you and what you're doing, what you're wearing, what you're thinking, etc.  Post things about others, great news about family, or cool community events to go to -- just anything other than all about you.

2.  Never, never, never post pictures of others without their permission unless you are certain they would absolutely love the picture.  Often I see people post pictures they're in and they look great, but the other people in the picture have their eyes closed or have a funny face, etc.  Everyone should look great in the picture if you're going to post it for the whole world to see.

3.  Don't invite people to join too many "causes."  It's important to pick and choose the causes you want to invite your friends to support so you don't wear them out with silly or repetitive invitations.

4.  Don't use foul language on social media.  Yes, this is a FREE country, and yes, we have freedom of speech in this country, but it's not polite to just assume that we have no obligation to protect children or others from obscene posts when they haven't asked to see them.

5.  Never post really bad news like a family death or family tragedy on a social media site until you are sure that all appropriate phone calls have been made first.  It is really hurtful to find out through social media that a close family member or friend has passed away and no one took the time to call to let you know personally.

6.  Remember that everything we post is permanent.  Even if you delete it later, you can never be certain that it's deleted everywhere.  Think before you hit that post button, "is what I'm about to post going to cause hurt, misunderstanding, or anger to others?"  If so, wait one hour, and if you still want to post, then be prepared for consequences if you proceed.

Social media is a wonderful way for friends and family to stay connected.  Be sure you're sensitive to others when sharing information, remembering that we should be ladies and gentlemen at all times, even on Facebook.

Monica

Hosting Dinner Parties

We're going to continue on the topic of being a great host with the focus on dinner parties.

Let me start by helping you relax.  You don't have to be Betty Crocker or Martha Stewart to host a dinner party.  You don't have to have fine china or sterling silver salt-n-pepper shakers.  Really!

What you do need to host a dinner party is motivation, some creativity (not much),
 and a desire to help your guests feel valued.

I always appreciate and notice when a host has taken the time to think through the evening.  A great host always knows how many people his/her home can comfortably handle.  He/she also knows her friends and family well enough to invite those who he/she thinks will enjoy each other and have a lot to talk about.

A host is always aware of ambiance.  

Sometimes you may need to rearrange furniture to help traffic flow.  Sometimes you need candles, fun lights, or extra decor.  Sometimes just finding the right music is all it takes to set the mood of the party.  A good host knows how to balance this.

A great host oftentimes will have a fun appetizer or hors d'oeuvres ready when the guests begin to arrive to make sure no one starves while waiting on dinner to be served.  It also can become a conversational piece.  

Having a variety of drinks ready once the guests arrive show that when a guest has something in their hand, they are more relaxed.

Whether serving a sit-down dinner or a buffet-style dinner, the trick to success at the table is simple but really tasty.  

A dinner party is usually not the time to try out a new recipe that you're unfamiliar with

New recipes have a way of surprising us, and usually a host doesn't like surprises.  Choose items you know you're great a preparing so your stress level is as low as possible.  Items you can prepare ahead of time and hold warmth, flavor, and texture for longer periods are usually ideal.  It's nice if the host doesn't have to spend the whole evening in the kitchen.

The host is always keenly aware of conversation throughout the party.  

He/she knows when the subject needs to be changed or when it's time to ask someone else a question so conversations are not hogged by only a few.  A great host takes a peek in the powder room throughout the evening to make sure things are order.

As you smile, greet, and speak to every guest individually, you're sure to have a successful evening. Regardless if the meat was cooked to perfection or the cake was moist enough, people want to feel valued, and they can see and feel that through the efforts that a host makes.

Don't be intimidated in hosting a dinner party.  Just have fun and be yourself!

Monica Irvine

Encouraging our Children to Give the Gift of the Pen

Hello friends,


I want to take a moment to talk about the lost art of writing and sending letters, notes or cards.  I have been so very touched in my life when someone has taken the time to pen a letter or a note to me.  I have shed tears when opening an envelope only to find someone has written a note to thank me for a Sunday school lesson, or to share their concern over me being a new "empty nester" or the time someone dropped offed a sympathy card when we lost our dog.  These kind acts have been so warmly received and bonded me to these individuals for life.

Today, we are quick to send a text or email, which is appreciated as well, but I fear we are not putting enough effort into taking the time to personally pen a letter or note.  Parents, I want us to teach our children this valuable skill.  It is such an act of charity, when we take time out of our life, to do and give something that someone else will cherish.

When I was a child, as many of you, I loved all my different kinds of stationery sets and I loved writing and sending letters to my grandmothers, cousin Tracy and my friends that lived in my old hometown.  Finding letters addressed to me in the mailbox was a cherished memory.

I am excited to announce that The Etiquette Factory is now carrying adorable sets of stationery just for kids.  We have a beautiful stationery gift set that is available now, and starting next week, we will be carrying individual stationery sets.  Whether you purchase from us or from someone else, or decide to create your own, I hope you will encourage your children to find the joy in writing letters. I'm so excited for our efforts to bring back the art of writing to send love to those around us!

Blessings to you and your family.  Spring is coming!!

To see our new product, click here.

Very best,
Monica Irvine

President/The Etiquette Factory

It's the Small Things That Count

HELLO FRIENDS!

I'm going to start a series on being a host that I hope you'll enjoy.

This month we're going to begin with house guests.  If you're like me, I love having company... well, most of the time.  I love when friends and family come to visit, and I love to do things that show how much I enjoy and appreciate their visit.

One way you can do this is by putting forth a little effort in furnishing the guest room with some fun accommodations for your guests.  Even if your "guest room" is your child's room, with the right extras, you can make any guest feel like they're on vacation and well cared for.

For those who don't have an official guest room, making a guest basket is a really fun idea.

My children have helped me create our guest basket, which has heightened their excitement when guests visit, as they're excited for them to see our special basket.

Below you'll see a list of suggestions for your guest room or guest basket.  Please don't feel like you have to provide all of these suggestions, but hopefully you'll see a few that you like.  Your guest basket is not for your guests to take home with them, but it remains in your guest room while they're visiting.  Each time guests visit, just simply freshen it up with fresh snacks, etc.

Guest Room/ Guest Basket suggestions

  • Extra blanket, good reading light, clock radio, wastebasket
  • Coat hangers, safety pins, luggage rack
  • Lotion, bath salts, shampoo/conditioner, fresh soaps
  • Toothpaste, new toothbrush, fresh towels, fresh cloths
  • Magazines, short books, suntan lotion, snacks, sweets
  • Calendar, vase of flowers, lint roller, extra pillow
  • Headache medicine, stomach ache medicine, notepad, pens
Once again, just have fun with preparing your guest basket.

I don't purchase these things all at once.  When I'm out, I just keep my guest basket in the back of my mind in case I see a great deal on something.

Letting our children help prepare for guests teaches them a really valuable lesson.  The lesson is "it's the small things that count."  What a great opportunity to help your children experience the joy of giving and helping others to feel valued.

Have fun!

Monica Irvine

Top 10 Mistakes in Dining Etiquette

It's been a while since we've talked dining etiquette, and this is definitely a subject that needs refining from time to time.  More and more I go to business luncheons and dinners and I am usually in awe of the lack of skills at the dinner table.

I'm not stating this to sound judgmental but to encourage all of  us to pay attention to our table manners, because others really do notice, and it sends a message of how much we value the dining experience of those around us.

Here are a few things to remember:

1.  Your napkin should remain on your lap until everyone is exiting the table.  If you must exit first or during the meal for any reason place your napkin on your chair, and then upon return, back on your lap.

2.  It's not polite to heap your plate full of food.  You should never have food stacked on top of each other.  You also don't want to fill your plate so full that you can't see the rim of the plate.  Think conservative, especially if you're at a business or professional luncheon or dinner.

3.  Never place your fingers in your mouth for any reason -- not to clean your fingers, not to remove food from your teeth, and not to get the last taste of sauce from your hands.

4.  It's polite to only cut one to two bites of food at a time, placing your utensils down in between every one to two bites.

5.  Never push your plate away after you're finished eating to signal that you're finished.  Simply place your utensils side by side at five o'clock with the handles of the utensils slightly off the plate.

6.  Never stack plates in order to help clean up the mess when at a restaurant or formal dinner.  Only do this when you're at home or when you have been asked to do so by the host.

7.  Never reach across anyone to get something at the table.  A simple "please pass the ..." is all you need to do.

8.  Do your best to keep conversation at the dinner table light, refraining from speaking of too serious of topics or topics that aren't appropriate, such as gross things vulgar things, sad things or political or religious debates.

9.  Always find ways to sincerely compliment the cook or host.

10.  Never announce any dislikes while at the table.  Simply say "no thank you" if you would not care for something.  Hopefully your host knows her manners and will never ask "why not?"

These are just a few common mistakes we tend to make while dining with others.  Having proper table manners is a great indication of our education level, our ability to show self control, and our sincere interest in the dining experience of those we're dining with.

Happy dining!

Monica


It's Not Our Job to Correct Others

Believe it or not, it's not our job to correct others.  Really!

For some reason, many of us believe that we have an obligation to set the record straight or correct others when we believe they are mistaken with their information, opinion or overall approach to things.

How many times have we all been guilty of saying something like, "That's not how you do it,"  Why are you doing it that way" or Well, that's not true," etc.?

The truth is, it's really rude when we correct others unless we are their actual parents.

Let me make a few clarifications.  Standing up for what we believe is right or stopping a wrong from being committed towards another human being is, of course, expected of us all.  This is very different than going around to our family and friends being the "accuracy police" on everything they do, say and believe.

I recently spent time with a few friends, and after some time went by and a few disagreements occurred, I realized that what was causing contention was the need for a couple of friends to point out every time they disagreed with what was being said.  There is a time and place for making our opinions known, but during friendly, casual conversation is not one of those times.

Pointing out other's faults is the quickest way to becoming
 the person everyone wants to avoid.


It's also not polite to point out everything your spouse does that you don't like or disagree with.  This wears a marriage down and contributes to resentment and bitterness.  Yes, there are occasions where it is necessary to express disappointment in certain behavior, but these times should be the exception not the norm.

What if, instead of pointing out all the things that those around you did wrong, you recognized them for the things they did right?  (Of course this is only your opinion.)

Usually most people respond better to compliments
rather than complaints and negative comments.


If you really want to arrive to be gentlemen and ladies, then it is important to avoid being someone that others try to avoid.  Pointing out others' faults is the quickest way to becoming the person everyone wants to avoid.  Instead, compliment and praise.  If you feel you really can't do this, then choose to not say anything at all.  

Choosing to speak should be carefully evaluated with
thought going into what our purpose is, what you think the
outcome will be if you speak, and if it's worth it.


May we all strive to have relationships that bring great joy to us and others.