Archive for March, 2012
Monday, March 19th, 2012
I had the pleasure of appearing on a San Francisco radio show, called The David Lazarus Show. The focus was the demise of etiquette, manners, and civility. With only a few days’ notice and knowing this was a live, listener call-in show, I thought long and hard on this subject, more than ever before.
I came up with eight observations on where words such as politeness, courtesy, respect, consideration, goodness, civility have gone—along with all other words describing appropriate behavior—and how necessary these are in our daily lives. All require a little homework.
Perhaps you will think some of what I have to written is provocative and you will have thoughts of your own to share. Please see the bottom of this newsletter for details on how you can share your thoughts with others and me on this most important subject (Advanced Etiquette Blog).
1. We live in a world of ever-growing diversity.
Result: We live among strangers .
No longer do we live in neighborhoods where everyone knows one-another, or work in congenial work environments where people contribute to each others’ well-being and respect each other.
Homework: Introduce yourself to your neighbors and co-workers. Get to know them better. You will no longer be strangers, and you will build your own community of friends in your neighborhood and workplace.
2. We are led to believe anything goes, anything is possible, and we are free to be whomever we want.
Result: We look out for Number 1 and live in a world of selfishness.
With this attitude, we may not care who we hurt and who we step on to get what we want. Courtesy, consideration, politeness, and civility cannot be shown only when convenient and aligned with our ultimate goals and plans.
Homework: Remind yourself of the golden and platinum rules: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you; and Do unto others as they would like to be treated.
3 We believe more is better.
Result: We spend more time under stress.
Today it is harder to be content with who we are and what we have. We are expected to make more money, have more possessions, acquire bigger houses, and set strategic goals for greater power and position.
Homework: Think about what is really important in your life. One way may be to write in your calendar specific dates and times to spend time with your spouse, children, family, and friends. Block out vacation time and personal time, too, and never postpone or cancel these appointments. Treat everyone as though they were your most valued clients—including yourself.
4. Many people don’t know how to play the game.
Result: We live in a world of “lost identity.”
Many kids and adults are unaware of how to behave in certain situations. We have fewer role models about whom a we can say, “I want to be just like him or her when I grow up.”
Homework: Build your own identity of good behavior. 1. Make a written list of all the good qualities you would like to possess. 2. Compare this list against the best characteristics of one or more people you admire in life. 3. Watch and analyze how you and your ideal are examples for how to handle various situations in a positive and good manner.
5. We live in a world where there is a greater lack of self-esteem and self-confidence, in both young people and adults.
Result: We see increased rates in negative behavior, such as violence, rage, murders, suicides, and other behaviors.
We do not practice the skills that help us develop as good human beings. It is important for young people and adults to have the guidance and coaching on how to display good reasoning skills and respect for others when in a conflict situation.
Homework: Think within yourself the next time you are confronted with a situation that makes your blood boil. Be sensitive to how you act and how it affects others in a positive or negative, productive or non-productive way.
6. We have access to fewer role-models, figureheads, wise elders, and teachers.
Result: We do not have guidance on how to develop and act.
Homework: Write down the qualities you admire in a friend, family member, or co-worker. These will become part of what I call “The Civility P.L.E.D.G.E.”©*, where you make an active choice to develop those qualities in yourself. (*= People Leading Everyone to Do Good Everywhere)
7. Parents have trouble handling the complexities of parenting in the 21st century. Result: Parents always do the best they can. Yet in today’s complex world, sometimes the best is still not enough. Many kids are still not receiving proper instruction, mentoring, and tutoring in the many aspects of life, such as respecting and displaying courtesy and politeness to others, and table manners. Homework: If you are a parent or a teacher—the two most crucial influences in child development—by default. Take time to talk and spend time with your child/teen regularly.
8. People require and expect less from others.
Result: People do their own thing and are not expected to do much of anything.
Every home and business environment have their own inherent guidelines to appropriate behavior, yet much is not reinforced in our daily lives.
Homework: Be an example first. Teach our children and reinforce good behaviors in all we do. Do not have an attitude of “Do as I say, not as I do.”
Conclusion: It all starts with you and me. On any given day, we cannot be responsible for everyone’s actions. We can only take responsibility for our own actions. Set a good example. Take the time and care to mentor, coach, and tutor those who are your responsibility, including children, students, and staff members under your care.
Question: What other items do you have to add to this list? Do let us hear from you by locating this article at www.AdvancedEtiquette.com/blog. You may also reach us at www.AdvancedEtiquette.com. If you enjoyed this article and want more, subscribe to our “Etiquette Tip of the Month” newsletter—at no charge—filled with great monthly tips on all sorts of topics from international business and social etiquette and protocol to everyday life subjects. It will be great to have you as a member of our happy family of subscribers at www.AdvancedEtiquette.com/subscribe.
Thursday, March 8th, 2012
Some years ago my husband Ron attended a backyard barbeque. A neighbor seated at a nearby picnic table was enjoying the meal of ratatouille prepared on a grill. (Until the recent animated movie by the same name was released, most people would not know that ratatouille is a delectable combination of tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, onion, and herbs de Provence.)
Soon a woman joined the man’s table and began the conversation by saying, “Oh, isn’t this ratatouille delicious?” The man agreed with much enthusiasm, as he continued to stuff his face. The woman then added, “I especially like the eggplant.
Suddenly, the man came to a screeching halt to ask, “Eggplant, where’s the eggplant?” The woman replied politely, “Oh, they are the little white squares with the purple skin.” The man ceased all further eating and said, “Oh, I hate eggplant!” And with that, he pushed his plate away and didn’t eat another bite of that delicious dish.
Now, I ask you, does that make sense? Ron certainly didn’t think so, which is why he came home to tell me all about it.
We all have preconceived notions about what we like and don’t like. A regular question I get in my seminars is, “What should I do if I’m served something I don’t like? Do I have to eat it?
Think back to a time you were three, four, and five years old. Do you remember a food that made you scream to high heaven that you would never eat again in your entire life because you hated it so much?
For me it was canned peas. I gagged and choked on every bite my parents forced me to eat. I warned them I would die if forced to eat another pea. Then years later I tried fresh peas and peas from a frozen package. I discovered peas weren’t so bad. In fact, I now count peas among my favorite vegetables. I still avoid canned peas, however.
Etiquette dictates you must taste at least one bite of all foods served to you. To do otherwise would be rude, particularly if you are a guest at someone else’s table. Don’t insult your host further by saying you don’t like it or by drawing attention to the situation.
Keep an open mind and try bites of all foods you are served. Unless the food item is against your religion, you are allergic to it, or it’s poisonous. Try it… you may like it!
It is said that, prior to the age of seven, children develop eating habits for life. If you are a parent, get beyond your own food preferences. Encourage your children to try new and different foods. Even if at first you must “make” your child taste something, I promise, over time your child will develop a palate more accepting of new and different foods.
As a bonus, your child will also learn to have more awareness of the many cultures in which foods were created. In our global economy, native and foreign food items and other products reach us wherever we are. We must keep an open mind towards them. And as it becomes easier to travel the world, those who embrace, adapt to, and enjoy the cuisines of the world will become the true cosmopolitans of the 21st century.
Besides, when dining with others for business or social reasons, isn’t it always all about whether you like the food and are willing to eat it?… NOT! Your focus should be on the friendship and rapport you are building with your friends, family, or business associates.
Thursday, March 1st, 2012
“Branding” is used to describe almost everything these days: products, businesses — even humans. This month’s tip is all about building your own etiquette brand. How do you think people are describing you? Will it be good or bad? Are you doing the right thing? Why or why not? The following will set you on the right path to success:
1. People will care about you if you care about them. I hear this comment all the time: Why should I care about my boss, co-worker, sibling, relative, or friend, when she or he doesn’t seem to care about me? What other people do or say to you has nothing to do with what you do or say unto them! This is not, as the Bible suggests, an eye for an eye. Don’t lower yourself. Treat everyone with the same level of courtesy, kindness, honesty, respect, and consideration.
2. Be clear about your brand and make decisions based on it. When planning my etiquette brand, I consciously thought about the kinds of people I like to hang out with: People who are fun, yet are equally nice in their overall behavior toward others and me. I realized there are certain types of people who just aren’t my cup to tea: those who use profanity and those who drain my positive energy. Truly, these are good people, yet how they have chosen to live their lives is not the same as how I am choosing to live mine. So when it comes to etiquette, work at attracting and sustaining friendships among people who display the same good qualities you aspire to possess.
3. Excel in what you know best and then work on what needs improving. In “Soar with Your Strengths,” by Donald Clifton and Paula Nelson, the authors discuss an approach to succeeding in every aspect in life. Rather than concentrating on fixing our weaknesses, we should be focusing on enhancing and soaring with our strengths. In time, the weaknesses are out-shadowed by our strengths, leaving the diminished weaknesses easier to manage. For example: When parents see their child achieving “A” grades in every subject but one, they often choose to divert all their resources and energy to helping their child bring up their grade in the weaker subject. Instead, had the parent put all their resources into developing their child’s interests in the “A” subjects they like.
4. Being different is fine. Students often tell me they are afraid of standing out at an event due to acting correctly, such as wearing a name badge differently and using a fork in their left hands. The people you call friends will like you, despite your being a little different and more correct. Branding often means standing out from the crowd. When it comes to etiquette, standing out may mean you are doing the right things at the right time and in the right way.
5. Be real in all you do. I once tried using minor swear words in my speech, just to blend in and be more “real.” I quickly discovered this was not me. Not only did I feel awkward, I sensed people were truly miffed at hearing such words out of my mouth, even though other people say them regularly. I thought this was a harmless way of wanting to be more like others. Wrong! I was not striving toward the highest and best standards at all times. Being real also means not doing certain things for the wrong reasons, such as giving someone a gift or writing a thank-you note just because you want that person to think favorably of you (also known as kissing up). For the best results physically, mentally, and spiritually, show etiquette without any expectation of gain or reward.
6. Etiquette is a lifetime of practice, practice, practice. It’s like being a broken record.* You have to do it repeatedly: displaying, showing, and reminding yourself and others of the correct and appropriate behavior. This is how we will all help to change the world in which we live.
7. Be proud without being a braggart. Do you know people who are always telling you about the great things they do for others? While it’s great to be proud of your accomplishments, it’s also good etiquette not to brag about it. Instead of tooting your own horn, the goal of etiquette branding is having others talking positively about you. Etiquette is all about doing things silently and without anyone noticing. Do the right thing without any pre-meditated strategy in mind.
8. Don’t give up It is said, “The road to success is never finished.” Building an etiquette brand is not easy, nor is it something you can stop working on at any point. It’s not something you turn on and off at will. It must be a way of life in all you do at home, at work and out in life. We all get weary from time to time, and ask ourselves, “Why am I doing this… especially when the other person doesn’t appreciate anything I do or say? When this happens, call me for some consoling, and remember Tip Number 1. Be strong in knowing you have chosen the best path to living the best life possible, one step at a time.
BONUS: William Arruda, the personal branding guru, says, “All strong brands exhibit the three Cs of brand communications: Clarity, Consistency, and Constancy.” For another perspective on branding your business, see an article by Arruda, “Top Ten Willisms” [hyperlinked] … also at http://www.thepersonalbrandingblog.com/author/william-arruda/. It was the inspiration for this article.
*For those of you too young to know what a broken record means, it is a term from when phonograph records were the only way to hear recorded music, speech and sounds. It is a flat round disc with groves that held the sounds we played on a phonograph. When a grove got scratched it would cause the playing needle to fall into the same grove over and over again, thus playing the same sound over and over and over again… hence the term known as playing a broken record.
Question of the month: What is your etiquette brand? What stories do you have to share about the times you showed your etiquette brand or had people touting it back to you?