The Pay-It-Forward Phenomenon

In recent years, the pay-it-forward phenomenon has become a “thing.” If you haven’t been part of this chain reaction, allow me to explain it and my thoughts on it.

Usually, it takes place in a drive-thru line. Once you place your order, you pull up, fully expecting to pay. However, lo and behold, your meal has already been taken care of. So, in some point in time, someone decided the correct thing to do would be to “pay it forward” right then and there. So, instead of paying for your own meal, you then pay for the person’s meal behind you, and the story continues.

In theory, this is all well and good. However, I truly do not care for the practice. If you know me in person, I enjoy paying for people’s drinks/meals randomly behind us in the drive-thru line. However, I never realized until I heard of this practice, that I may actually be placing a burden on them. I would never, ever want to do that.

You see, many people plan their meals very carefully financially. They should not feel pressured into paying for anything other than what they originally planned to pay for. Now, you may not think this is the case, but I have, unfortunately, witnessed someone trying to guilt someone into keeping this practice going. Not okay.

Additionally, we have pulled away from a grace-filled society. I have a hard time accepting compliments, which can impact my willingness to give them. Not because I don’t think your dress is cute and not because I don’t think you have a pretty smile. It’s because, for a while, it was not a part of my norm.

We should allow ourselves to accept compliments and accept a drink at Starbucks without feeling any amount of guilt. No guilt to pass it on. No guilt that someone might think we’re better. I think some of this guilt derived from a “participation trophy” society. It is not selfish to say thank you to something and move on without trying to level the playing field, so to speak.

I know this is a topic some of you may not agree with me on, and that’s ok. We’re allowed to be different. I’m in no way saying to never pay for a drink if yours has been paid for. I’m simply saying, don’t feel obligated to, and please never make someone feel obligated to. 🙂 I’d love to hear your thoughts, regardless of whether or not they agree with mine!

As always, thank you for reading!

Election Day Etiquette, Part 1

Y’all. Today is the day. It’s the day we find out who will be our leader of the United States of America for the next four years. However, it’s also the day we find out who will serve us locally in our states and in our communities.

One of my other non-paying jobs is mayor of a medium-sized town. I have had an interest in politics since I was fairly young. Honestly, my love of politics and etiquette was established around the same time. While the two may seem to have nothing in common, I don’t just chalk it up to being a Gemini (or being more Paris than Rory….Lorelai trumps them both). They should have plenty in common, such as exhibiting respect for others, listening to listen and not just respond, being willing to help others, etc. If they don’t, well, it may be time for new leaders.

On my personal social media outlets, I do not post about politics, other than general reminders, such as where to vote if one so chooses to do so. I don’t post for whom they should vote. That’s up to them. It also is against etiquette to do so. Let me be blunt for a moment. No meme, quote or rant on Facebook will EVER change a person’s vote choice. It simply and truly will not.

It has always been considered rude to talk about politics and religion, not because we shouldn’t have deep conversations, but because more of the time these “conversations” quickly digress to arguments. The reason someone is passionately Republican may not be an issue for someone passionately Democrat. Also, there are plenty of parties out there. 🙂

More often than not, I find that people aren’t diehard for their candidate or even party. They are diehard about one or two specific issues that really hit home for them. It’s a very personal choice. Life decisions led that person to his or her choice, and one conversation is extremely unlikely to sway them from said decision. It can, however, sway them from friendships.

So, today, Election Day, I ask you – is it worth it? It being “right” more important than being kind? If so, we’ve all already lost. I would encourage you today to vote – the only avenue your voice is truly heard. However, we can all be kind to others, regardless of their political affiliation. In this era of openness and political correctness, maybe being silent isn’t such a bad thing. After all, there are surely more interesting facts about a person than for whom they are voting.

Happy Election Day. Tomorrow, regardless of the outcome, the sun will rise. I’ll see you then.

Business E-mail Etiquette

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Whew. Y’all. It’s been one long day since last Thursday. In our small town, this past weekend was THE weekend – Hopkins County Stew Festival weekend. J I truly love this event. However, it’s also quite exhausting when you think of the preparation and clean up involved in feeding THOUSANDS of people within a two-hour block of time. We did it, though!

Now it’s back to blogging. We’re continuing the business etiquette blog series today with e-mail etiquette. As prevalent of a form of communication as e-mail is, I will go over general e-mail etiquette, too, for your convenience. I can be nice like that. J

Ok, general e-mail etiquette. Unless you’re 13, full words should be used. No “u” for “you.” Got it? The exception? In a business setting. I’m such the comedian. In all honesty, you absolutely may abbreviate words in an acceptable manner. For example, my real job (you know, the one that pays me) is at a bank. I could abbreviate BSA to stand for Bank Secrecy Act, as this would mean something to the receiver of an e-mail at my work. However, BSA can also stand for Boy Scouts of America. Unless the e-mail is specifically for business purposes AND the reader will understand said abbreviation, everything should be spelled out, at least initially.

Next, an e-mail should always include a signature of some kind. Type your name. Whatever is fine. Just don’t expect the receiver to automatically recognize your e-mail address and know it’s from you.

Also, if an e-mail is a group e-mail, reply all. It’s the equivalent to talking in person in a group.

Here’s a difference for you in casual e-mail vs. business e-mail. With business e-mail, there is no need to send a reply of “Thanks.” If a person wants to make sure you received it, they should request a read receipt. Business e-mail is for efficiency and not for your typical “fluff” etiquette. Kind of an oxymoron, given today’s topic, but it still applies.

With business, e-mail is considered a correct form of communication in all but just a few areas. A handwritten thank you still trumps an e-mails thank you, even in today’s world. Also, major news (a resignation, etc.) should not be delivered via e-mail. Your day-to-day correspondence, though, is totally fair game.

Finally, no e-mail should be forwarded without the original sender’s consent except in cases that are required by company policy to be sent to a supervisor.

I’d love to answer any additional business e-mail etiquette questions you may have! Thank you for reading!

Pregnancy Announcements At Work?

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Well here’s a new one, at least for me. With the current business etiquette series I have going, I have received some messages asking specific questions. One was in regards for how to “announce” you’re pregnant to your boss. The writer then went on to say that many people at work have done “cutesy” announcements, such as bringing a box of doughnuts to work with a note that reads, “Eat up! Mommy doesn’t want to be the only one with a big tummy.” Now, if you are at a small mom and pop shop or a family business, this may go over fine. Actually, if you work at a family business and announce this was to family, things may not go over so fine after all.

Anyhow, if you work in a traditional business environment and are not related to 90% of the other employees, please, please, please refrain from making any pregnancy announcement at work. As excited as you are for this, others may not be as emotionally attached.

For those who truly do need advice on informing their boss that you are pregnant, let me make a few etiquette suggestions.

For starters, you may tell your boss at any time during your pregnancy. You may want to wait until after the first 12 weeks. That’s completely fine. You may want to tell them instantly, as you may need time off for appointments with your doctor. Completely okay, too.

You want to let them know in a one-on-one environment. This is a personal occasion, and there may be questions they will need to ask, such as your due date or if you’re having any health complications that would require FMLA (if eligible) sooner than your due date that you may not want to share with everyone in your office. Also, your company may have additional pregnancy and/or maternity leave benefits that you will need to know about.

Once they are informed, that’s it. The office does not “owe” you a shower. Another question I had while starting this series is “When can you ask your job to throw you a shower?” Specifically, you never ask anyone to throw you a shower. If they do decide to host something in your honor, the same rules apply. Handwritten thank you notes should be sent out as soon after the event as you are able to manage.

I’m not sure what’s amped up the pregnancy announcement craze, but I’m going to blame Pinterest. While announcing to your friends in a fun way is fine, albeit debated in the etiquette world, announcing to your office is strictly off limits. I hope you learned something from this post!

If you have any follow-up questions, please feel free to e-mail me or leave a comment!

Thank you for reading!

Business Interview Etiquette – Both Sides

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Thank you for reading the first post regarding business etiquette! I am unsure how many parts for this series I will do, so I’m not numbering them. However, please let me know if there’s something you feel I haven’t adequately covered!

We briefly touched on introductions yesterday. Today we’ll continue to the interview process. When you are being interviewed, you should take your cues from the person(s) interviewing you, even if you are currently employed at the business. Often times during an internal interview for a new position, a person becomes too relaxed and comfortable, failing to make a good business impression. Remember you want them to consider you for the job you want, not the job you have.

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Likewise, it is important to dress your best for an interview. Keep in mind this should be appropriate for the job. However, even for manual labor jobs, dressing up is never a bad thing. Now, there will be the rogue company who wants to appeal to millennials (yes, I know I am one…) with their “jeans every single day” attire. However, as much as we may want to dismiss the notion, you are instantly judged on your appearance. Is it fair? Not necessarily, but what is?

This is not the time to try out new fashion trends you aren’t comfortable with. Along those lines, your attire should fit, and you should be comfortable in it so you aren’t distracted from the interview itself.

The person interviewing should extend their hand first. If they don’t, after a few moments, it is ok for the person being interviewed to initiate this.

Eye contact is appropriate, but don’t stare them down. This goes for both sides of the interview.

If you are applying for a position, prepare for your interview. Have the name of the person(s) who will interview you. Know a few basic facts about the company and/or the position. You will be more convincing on why you’re the right person for the job.

Do not interrupt the other person! Again, both sides.

At the end of the interview, shake hands and thank the person for his/her time.

After an interview, send a follow up e-mail or handwritten letter thanking them for their time and the opportunity to interview. As much as this is part of etiquette, it’s also just a good business tip for leaving a good impression. You may attach your contact information to this correspondence so they may more easily reach out to you. However, that is sufficient. It can appear to be a bribe if you send anything more (candies, etc.).

Regardless of the decision made, do not take it personally, unless there was true illegal discrimination against you.

Thank you for reading! Check back tomorrow for a briefing on e-mail etiquette. In the coming days, we’ll also talk about social media etiquette in regards to business! J

I’d love to hear your thoughts!