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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