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Teaching Our Children to be Reliable


Parents, this might sting a little.  The fact is, it’s very difficult to teach our children how to be reliable and the importance that this valuable life skill is if we ourselves are not reliable.  I know that you and I already know this, however allow me to ask you a few questions. 

If I were to ask your children today, “When your mom/dad tells you that they are going to do something with you, what’s the chances of that happening? For instance, if your mom/dad tells you that you all are going to do something fun, later today or perhaps on Saturday, will you go?  How likely is it that something will come up and prevent you all from keeping that commitment?”  

A few more questions: do you often tell a friend or associate that you will call them soon or email them soon and then you never do?  Have you committed to helping a friend move, meeting your mom for lunch or a myriad of other obligations that for one reason or another, have been forgotten or not followed through with?

I know we want to raise children who keep their commitments and know that when they give their word to others, it means something.  Parents, this will rarely happen if our children do not watch you and I be commitment keepers.  They must learn to trust and understand that trust comes through keeping our word.

May I suggest that we each ponder if there is room in our lives for improvement in this area.  If we identify that there is room, commit today to not only yourself, but to your family that from this day forward, you are going to do better.  It’s difficult to make changes when we do not tell anyone else about our commitment.  We each need accountability.

If you’re not sure that you will be able to follow through with something, do not commit.  If you do however, make sure that your priority each day is to keep the commitments you have already made to others.  If and when things come up, important things that prevent you from keeping your previous commitments, be completely honest and inform the individual counting on you promptly, so that they may make necessary changes.

May we do what we say so that our children can follow our example.

Very best,

Monica Irvine

We Just Need to Be Kinder


I want to talk about a simple topic, but one I think we struggle with at times, especially inside the walls of our own homes.  It's kindness.

If I were to ask your spouse, companion or kids if you were kind, what would they say?

I think we would all admit that oftentimes, it's easier to be more kind to total strangers than to those we live with, but just because it might be easier doesn't mean that it's okay.

We have to put forth every
 effort to just be kind.

How do we do this?  Here are some great suggestions, but as you might imagine, there are endless opportunities.

Speak softly.  The more gentle and kind your tone of voice, the more likely those around you will listen.

Say "good morning" when you wake up and "hello" when you get home.  Remember that greetings are a polite way to address anyone when you first see them that day or after an absence.

Serve.  Small acts of unexpected services goes a long way in showing your love to others, especially your family.  Take a piece of cake home to your spouse, give your son a back rub, ask your daughter if you could help her do her nails--anything to show others you're thinking of them and enjoy making them happy.

Say "thank you" all the time.  "Thank you for doing the dishes."  "Thank you for watching what I wanted to watch." "Thank you for always being there."

Compliment more than complain.  Compliments go much further in creating love in a home rather than complaining.  I know it can be frustrating when you feel things aren't being done like they need to be done, or assignments or obligations are forgotten about, but complaining usually doesn't motivate people to act.  Most of us are inspired when our hearts are turned to someone in a positive way.  We want to please them.  We want to receive their praise.

Smile.  Let's be honest, how much fun is it to be around someone who's always frowning?  It no.  Just smile.  I'm not saying you have to show all your teeth all day every day, but there's a way to have a pleasant look on your face, and there's a way to have a scowl on your face.  Choose the smile.

Do it because you want to, not so you can get something in return.  If you're choosing to serve, to help, to compliment, etc. in order to get something in return, you're doing it for the wrong reasons. Just do it because doing so makes you happy.  If no one notices, if no one says thank you, just be happy because you're living and loving the way you should and there's nothing that can satisfy you as much as being happy with yourself.

Have a great month and remember to be kind!

Monica Irvine

How Do We Teach Our Children to Have Moral Courage?

Can we teach courage?  Can we help our children to develop moral courage, the courage to stand up in the face of adversity, staying true to both themselves and the things that they hold dear and true?  As we look around, it’s easy to see that our society is struggling to not only identify moral conviction, but to also identify when and the best way to stand up and be a voice for good, a voice against oppression of the weak, and a  voice of strength for all that is right.

I believe that we absolutely can teach moral courage to our children who will need it to be engraved upon their hearts and minds in order to leave this world better than they found it.  We start, like with all things, when they are very young.  We start by helping our children to notice injustices, those in need and those who need an advocate.  It’s more than just noticing, but it realizing that we as individuals have enormous power to cause change.  Unless we believe that one can make a difference, than we might shrink at the opportunity to do so.

A great way to start is to continually find and read about and discuss others from the past who have done just that.  There are so many books to read to our children, but why not be more purposeful in the books that we choose, starting when they are very young.  Look for books about common people who have demonstrated great courage, moral conviction and impeccable character and because of these qualities have made a huge difference in individual lives.  We never want to underestimate the importance of the single individual.  

Another wonderful thing we can do to teach courage to our children is to help them overcome things that they are afraid of.  Teaching our children to do hard things is imperative to their success.  Such things might be: going over to another child on the playground and introducing themselves and inviting them to play, role playing with our children what to do when they see another child being teased or bullied so  they are prepared to defend those who need defending, teaching our children to speak for themselves at a very early age by refraining from speaking for our children, and many other things.

Finally, it is important to help our children to identify their own strengths, talents and abilities that God has given them.  As they identify their unique abilities, as parents, it is our duty to help them to understand that the reason God has blessed each of us with these talents is to bless the lives of God’s other children.  When our children better comprehend that they have the power to do great good on this earth, it unlocks the doors of compassion, service and advocacy.

Courage is to act, even when we are afraid, but it takes practice.  Start today.


Just Because You Can Doesn't Mean You Should

I would like to speak about a topic that I'm rather sensitive about as I see our society getting farther and farther away from this etiquette consideration.

It's polite to be aware of who is within our earshot when speaking about certain topics or using particular language.  

Something that has most definitely changed in recent decades is the manner that women and men will speak in the presence of those of the opposite sex.

Today it seems like there are little boundaries about conversation.

Let me give you a few things to consider.

Gentlemen, its not polite for you to speak about vulgar topics, use foul language, or speak about gross or inappropriate things when you're in the presence or earshot of ladies.

Recently I was stuck on a crowded bus with two gentlemen standing right in front of me wearing prestigious suits and holding professional briefcases.  They appeared to be quite the gentlemen.  Then they started speaking.

They began a discussion with me standing right in front of them, that was anything but appropriate.  I thought to myself, "I wonder why they think it's okay to speak like that in front of me?"  It was obvious--they didn't respect me or themselves enough to watch their tongue in front of a lady.  Let me remind you something about manners.

Manners are not lists of dos and don'ts.  They're an outward expression that shows how you feel about yourself and those around you.  That's why it matters.

Ladies, it not polite to speak negatively about men, use foul or inappropriate language, or speak of feminine health issues in the presence of gentlemen, especially those you don't have a close personal relationship with.

As ladies you want to seek helping those around you feel comfortable, and as you speak in a way that is ind, generous, and gracious, others will be more comfortable in your presence.

Both ladies and gentlemen should be careful to keep their conversation positive, upbeat, and cheerful when speaking at the dinner table.  You want to be a source of strength, encouragement, and positive energy to others, and the way you use your tongue will most definitely be a source of strength or a source of weakness to yourself and others.

Do your best to be aware of those around you when it comes to your language and speech.  

Yes, this is a free country, and yes, you may say whatever you want to.  Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

Restraint and respect are two traits that every gentleman and lady has.  Do you?

Monica Irvine

I Wish We Would Notice More

A lady and a gentleman notice.  What kinds of things do we notice?  Well, perhaps we might notice:
  • A little old lady or man standing behind us in the post office line, struggling to stand in the long line.  Wonder if we could change places with them?
  • A mother with three kids trying to carry luggage and kids and stuff, getting on an airplane.  Wonder if we could help carry some of that?
  • A homeless man or lady, regardless of whose fault it is that they’re homeless, who is standing outside a store on a hot day. Wonder if we could buy a cold bottle of water and give it to him or her?
  • A person walking towards us with their heads down, looking a bit unhappy or concerned over something.  Wonder if we could make eye contact, smile and say, “Hello there.  I hope you have a good day”?
  • The clerk at Walmart that looks tired and faking a smile.  Wonder if we could start a conversation with them, helping them to know that people really do care?
  • Our own child, making comments like, “Mom I wish you could play with me” or “Dad, do you think you will have time to play after your important work.”  Wonder if we could recognize the unspoken feelings of loneliness and need for attention?
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s is so very easy to get caught up in our own needs, responsibilities and obligations.  But, here’s the deal.  If we’re too busy to do the most important things, than we’re too busy.  

If we’re too busy to stop and serve others, then we’re too busy.  

Surely we can all see that at the end of the day, and even at the end of our life, all that will really matter is who we have helped.

Have a great month.
Monica Irvine 

Dear President Trump,

I implore you, please remember who you are.

You are a representative of the United States of America, a country that was built on principles of integrity, honor and protecting human rights.  As our leader, when others interact with you, they must be reminded of these principles, as it reminds them of the greatness and goodness of this country.

Of course you must represent strength, as this characteristic gives confidence to both Americans and the world, however you must continue to show your strength by showing humility.  Humility means that you are teachable, that you listen, that you are willing to admit when you have been mistaken.  When someone says, "I was wrong" or "I'm sorry" or "I spoke too soon," that is someone who others can trust, because they know that this person is not above being wrong, which means their desire to be honest, outweighs their concern with being weak and human, which we all are.  There is nothing that shows greater strength, than someone who can admit their follies.

To be honorable, means to be true to the principles of goodness, fairness, kindness, forgiveness, and honesty.  As Americans, we want so desperately, and need so fervently, for our President to be someone that we can all point to with admiration and gratitude for their goodness, so that our children will know that the goodness of this country, is based on the goodness of its people.  Yes, of course even the President cannot be perfect, but he can be perfect in trying his very best to be honorable in all things, in all places--with his speech and with his actions.  Surely, we deserve this kind of President.  Surely this country deserves nothing less.

America was defined from it's beginning as a country striving to understand and protect the rights of all human beings.  The rights that both you, Mr President, and I have to pursue happiness, worship according to the dictates of our own hearts, and determine our own course and future, must be protected at any cost.  Unless you and I believe with our whole heart that every human being deserves these rights, than we cannot govern and protect this country and its principles in an honorable way.

Mr President, please please be more kind.  Please please be more considerate.  Please please show more restraint.  Please please spend some time on your knees every day, seeking the wisdom of God as you make your decisions.  You do not  have all the answers, but he does.  We need divine guidance to govern this country successfully.  This guidance and counsel is available to anyone, who is willing to seek it and obey it.

What will it take?  What will have to happen to help you to understand, the mantle in which you bear, is the mantle of a people desperate for a righteous leader?

Very best,
Monica Irvine
American--wanting to be proud



Speak to Your Children with Love

Parents, we must stop speaking to our children behind clinched teeth and with with angry eyes and cuttingly sharp voices.

I have seen time and time again, and it seems more often these days, parents speaking and handling their children with such contempt and hostility and impatience that it breaks my heart in two.

When we continue to interact and speak with out children without love patience and sincerity, we are contributing to them growing up as angry, unhappy children who will bear the scars of emotional damage.

We may not think of ourselves as child abusers, but I assure you, if we are continuing to break our children's spirits, we are indeed child abusers.  We have only a small amount of time where we have the opportunity to be our children's heroes.  When they are young, they are so impressionable and want so desperately to please us and to be loved and cherished as we all do.

Children will react and exemplify the behavior they learn from their parents and caregivers, every single time.

I worked in a preschool during college, and while there I learned an invaluable lesson.  I had some children in my class who were aggressive, who were often angry, and who struggled to have healthy relationships with other children.

In contrast, I had many children who were kind, gently, happy and content with most situations.

As I met and got to know the parents of all the children, it soon became evident where the children learned their behaviors.  (Please know that I am not speaking about children who suffer with real behavior issues, cognitive disabilities, social disabilities, and the like.)  What I witnessed was the parents who were most often aggressively pulling on their children, impatiently removing or putting on coats, threatening to discipline once home, etc. were the ones who had the most aggressive children.

Then I noticed the parents who came in smiling, hugging and being gentle with their children, both with their words and tone, as well as physically, were the parents with the most gentle children.  The softer the parents spoke and behaved, the more kind were the children.

You may argue against this idea.  You many want to discuss all the variables that can lead to children's behavior and personality, and I know you would have many valuable points and truths.
I also know there are exceptions.  However, regardless of all that, if we want gentle, kind children, they MUST see it and feel it from us.

Please let's speak with kindness, handle with gentleness and be much more patient with these beautiful souls entrusted to us.

Love Much,

Monica Irvine

5 Etiquette Skills Not to Forget to Teach Our Children

Why couldn't someone come up with a list that includes every single thing we must teach our children before they turn 18?  Then we could just check them off as we went.  Are you laughing yet?  Nope, it doesn't really work like that.

There are many etiquette skills we sometimes just don't think to teach our children until we're in the moment and realize "Oops, I don't think we've talked about that."

Here are just a few of those:
  • It's never polite for your children to go to school, church, etc. with invitations to a birthday party or event unless they are inviting every single child in the school, church, etc.  What a heartbreak when one child sees other children receiving invitations, only to be passed by and left without one.  Unless you're inviting everyone, only mail or email invitations.
  • Have you taught your children what to do when the American flag is brought into a room or when the national anthem is played?  Too often I see these events happening and children are simply at a loss as to appropriate behavior.  Teach your children to stand when the flag is raised or brought into a room and to face the flag while standing when the national anthem is played.  Teach them that it's rude to talk or make noise when this is going on.  Although it's not necessary, you may place your hand over your heart during the national anthem.  Always be at attention.  To learn more considerations towards our flag, visit www.usa-flag-site.org
  • It's not polite to double dip.  If you take a bite of a chip, then it would be rude to take the half-eaten chip and re-dip it into a bowl of dip.  Maybe you do this in your own home, but you don't do this when eating in a public or with a group.
  • It's not polite to touch other people's babies or pets without their permission.  Many parents are very concerned about germs when it comes to their small children, so you should never assume it's alright to touch a child without the parent's permission.  With pets, its more of a safety issue to our own children, but regardless, you should always have permission.
  • It's not polite to walk through other people's yards, regardless of how careful you walk, without the property owner's permission.  This is more about respect than just about damaging someone's property.  Of course it's usually not damaging to someone's yard for someone to walk across it, but it's not polite to ever assume that the property owner doesn't mind.
It's polite when we keep our commitments.  If your children commit to being home at a certain time, then that's the time they should arrive.  If your child commits to cleaning his room, then a clean room should be had.

Helping your children learn to keep their commitments is one of the first steps to helping them become trustworthy, dependable adults, and what a gift that is.

All the Best,

Monica Irvine

Restroom Etiquette


It’s Time to Talk About It

Typically, ladies and gentlemen do not draw attention to anything that is gross, unappealing or the least bit offensive.  However, if we do not talk about this, I’m afraid the violation of this important etiquette rule will continue to cause distress to so many.

Here’s the etiquette rule:  It is polite for all ladies and gentlemen to leave the restroom clean and tidy.  

Recently, I was traveling on an airplane and excused myself to the restroom.  Upon opening the door,  I was met with such a scene that I can only presume you can imagine the scene, after I express that I was not able to bring myself to enter the facility.  The floor, the seat of the toilet was simply disgusting.

What is this?  Why?  How does it happen?  I really do not want anyone to answer these questions, but what I hope is that you and I make sure that we teach our children that it is our responsibility and duty to show respect to those who come after us, and leave restrooms clean and sanitary.  It really is all about respect.  It’s about whether or not we value others and other’s experiences.

Parents, please teach your sons and your daughters to be careful in a restroom.  And, if there is a mistake made, to clean it up.  Let’s teach them to pay attention, and to not be distracted when visiting the restroom.  Let’s explain why it is polite to be aware of how we use this facility with others in mind.  It’s not too much to ask.  Children are very capable of understanding and following this protocol.  The real question is, are adults?

Have a great month!

Monica Irvine

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.