Reader Q&A – Wrong Number

Dear Etiquette By Emily – I have a question regarding receiving a call from a wrong number. I usually just hang up after I say, “wrong number.” My wife, though, said that it’s rude to do that. I guess part of my question is, what else is there to say? What else should I do?

A – Thank you for reaching out! While I don’t think your wife is expecting you to have a full-blown conversation with a stranger on the phone, I do think a little more dialogue would be appropriate. Instead of simply hanging up, saying, “No, I’m sorry. This is the wrong number,” and THEN giving them a chance to say something such as a goodbye or an apology would be more tactful.

Also, if you are the one who dials someone incorrectly, it is always appropriate to give a generic apology and to say goodbye. Kindness goes both ways, and it goes a long way, too!

Your Best vs. The Best

When I was younger, I strove to be the best in everything I did. I’m a classic Type A personality, which shouldn’t be a surprise to any reader. However, while it did drive me to become better at things I was decently good at, it also drove me to not attempt things if I wasn’t sure I had the potential to be the best.

I receive questions from readers asking if they should host an event, such as Thanksgiving, when they don’t have place settings for 20. Without a doubt, the answer is a resounding YES. You aren’t expected to have a full staff on hand and enough china to fill the White House. You aren’t any less of an entertainer than someone who has those resources.

Sure, there are certain areas, such as being welcoming or having a clean bathroom, that we should strive to attain. Don’t become deterred by not being the best that you give up and forget to be your best. This is an area I still struggle with daily. So much, in fact, that sometimes it hits me in the face.

My desire for perfection doesn’t exempt my kids. I probably have much higher expectations for them than are realistic. They humble me daily. My daughter understands the value of being her best instead of THE best. This allows her to “rejoice with those who rejoice.” At the end of last semester, her school had an awards ceremony for the students. One of her very best friends received the Student of the Month award. When she got home, I questioned her on what she could have done better. I thought that if she didn’t get it, she wasn’t going something “right.” I was so wrong, though.

I had the opportunity to speak with her teacher who commended her on being one of the only students not upset that she didn’t receive the award. Her teacher said she was elated for her friend and cheered her on as she went to receive the award. I have so much to learn from her.

I regret not attempting something for fear of failure. However, I would regret more not sharing this with my readers. I certainly don’t want to ever give the impression that your best is anything less than what is needed.

I wonder if the fall from etiquette stems with people and families feeling inadequate. We can only see others from the outside, and, even then, we only see the parts they want us to see. Life will not always be perfect. Even when we get glimpses of perfection, that perfection will elude us soon.

I enjoy hosting events. Others may not. Both are completely fine. Enjoy the parts of life that you love and give yourself grace for the rest.

Why It’s Important to Accept a Compliment

What is your initial response to someone giving you a sincere compliment? Do you say “thank you” or brush it off? An area of etiquette that many people struggle with is correctly responding to compliments. They have given me every excuse in the book – they feel that saying “thank you” makes them seem egotistical, they disagree with the person, they think the person may be teasing them, etc. The list goes on and on and on.

A little secret to etiquette is to focus more on the other person than yourself. You don’t have to justify why you’re dressed up or wearing make up. You don’t need to give a 20-minute monologue on where you found the top and the spectacular deal you got. Don’t fret over the fact you’re not where you want to be. You just need to say thanks. Genuine thanks.

We’re taught to keep to ourselves and to look out for ourselves. However, I truly believe that we are meant to be with others. We are meant to have relationships of all kinds and learning how to correctly interact with others is a key part of that relationship flourishing.

I encourage you to accept the compliment when someone steps out on a limb to give one instead of dismissing it, essentially dismissing their opinion and thought. It isn’t always easy to get out of your comfort zone and say something kind to a stranger. You are who you’re meant to be.

Etiquette In a World That Glorifies Mediocrity

I’ve hesitated on how/if to write this post. However, after numerous emails from people who are mainly put out with friends and family who seem to promote tardiness and flaunt disrespect, I’ve decided it’s time to go ahead and lay it all out there.

Today’s world seems to glorify mediocrity.

You’ve seen the memes that say, “I respect parents who have it all together. But parents who stumble in to drop their kids off at school, looking like they just got attacked by a flock of angry birds? Those are my people.” This post is not intended to shame anyone who is doing their best in the season they’re in. I’ve been there. I’ll soon be there again after baby #3’s arrival. (Side note….we need to pick a name…) There are seasons, sometimes ones that last for years, where we have to give ourselves lots and lots of grace. Perfection isn’t attainable all of the time. Nor is it wrong to show our realness and our flaws. But by promoting that it’s not only acceptable but desirable to be someone who isn’t considerate of other people’s time by being late consistently – where does this come from? Why do we accept the status quo and try play up the “cuteness” factor of not having it all together?

After truly thinking and praying on this subject, I think at the core, the real issue is that we have a culture who glorifies busyness. If you seem like you have it all together, you must not be doing enough. You must not be a parent who lets their kids be involved or you would be late to everything. You must be a subpar employee or you wouldn’t be able to leave to make your kid’s soccer practice on time. It’s almost as if someone decided that if they can’t be perfect all of the time, they’re going to do a 180 and be imperfect all of the time. We incorrectly associate busyness as progress. It is not.

If you bring Brookshire’s chicken to a potluck at church instead of fixing homemade, that is wonderful. If you deliberately show up 20 minutes late with wet hair and nothing in hand, I do think it may be time to step back and reexamine your priorities. We cannot do it all; why, though, are we allowing this to keep us from doing anything?

I’ve said it over and over, but it bears saying again. Etiquette is about respect of others and respect for ourselves. We should each respect our self enough to choose to be our best self – it will be unique for each person. We know, though, deep down, if we’re doing enough to just get by or if we’re choosing to prioritize ourselves and others. It is a subtle difference, but it’s enough to get recognized by others. Trust me when I say that people are drawn in by and attracted to this trait. It’s 100% okay to not be the best. Why, though, would you not want to be your best you?

 

 

Reader Question: How Do I Get My Kids To Behave At Restaurants?

In 2017 at Commander’s Palace

The most commonly asked question I get from parents is “how do I make my kids behave at a restaurant?” There isn’t a magic pill. This takes consistency and lots of grace. When I first started taking my kids out to eat. I made up my mind to be prepared mentally and emotionally to leave at any point where my kids disrupted another diner. Of course, I always make sure to not put my kids in situations that are selfish, such as having them out too late. Last year at ages 3 and 5 we were able to enjoy a very nice, long meal at Commander’s Palace with my mom. My daughter understood that eating there was very special and a treat. This is not to toot my own horn. This is simply what has worked for us and for others. I promise you, it has not been easy from the beginning. When they aren’t accustomed to something like eating at a restaurant, they won’t inherently know how to behave. It has taken consistency in my expectations and sticking to my guns if something happened. Thankfully, it hasn’t in years. Enjoying a meal out is not a right that we are given, so having respect and courtesy for others is important. Here are a few tips that have worked over the years:

(1) Let them know your expectations upfront. I would always let my kids know what the plan was and what was expected of them. We didn’t eat in front of the tv every night and then magically expect them to know how to act at a table. I would go over basic table etiquette with them so they would become more comfortable using it, such as using a spoon or fork instead of their hands.
(2) Be consistent. Just like in a restaurant, we don’t allow yelling or crying at the table. If they’re frustrated, they may tell us why. We also have them place their napkins on their laps. By practicing at home, it is a more natural transition for them to use these techniques in public.
(3) Be realistic. Don’t expect your 18-month old baby to be okay sitting still and quiet for three hours at a fancy restaurant. For your first time out, ask for a to-go box at the start, if that makes you more comfortable. If your child is old enough to talk, point out all of the fun colors and build up this experience for them. Once you consistently see the results you want, you can incorporate something new, like dining in the evening.
BONUS TIP: Be prepared. This is especially necessary if you’re going out to eat during a busy time. Take a board book, colors or silent toy to keep your child occupied. Also, it’s okay for those who are little (think under four-years old) to have a snack brought from home if things are too busy, such as puffs. If you bring something for them to eat, have everything you need. Don’t ask for the restaurant to provide anything.