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.

Halloween Traditions

Happy November, everyone! Can you believe I just said that? It seems like it was just May, and now we’ve officially passed by Halloween. Speaking of which, this post will be a little less on the etiquette side (though I’ll throw some in for good measure) and a little more on the traditions side of things. Also, I may step on some toes, and I apologize in advance if that’s the case.

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Truck-or-treat versus trick-or-treat. Sigh. I miss the good ol’ days. In all honesty, my trick-or-treating days were pretty light, considering my family lived in the boonies. However, we would make our way to town each All Hallow’s Eve to do door-to-door trick-or-treating. We never quite knew what to expect, and some of the houses were elaborately decorated.

This year I shared a similar experience with my kids. For the past month a house about a block from ours has had a four year-old stalker. Each night around 7:30 or 8:00, we would load up in my car, and we’d take a drive one block over to see a certain house. Now, even on an average day of the year this house is beautiful. Two stories with a second story screened porch. However, for the past month it’s also sported eyes on the windows, a 20’ tall Grim Reamer (as my daughter called it), a spider and a myriad of other Halloween decorations. It’s no surprise that the first house the kids wanted to visit was this one.

The surprise came later when very few of the homes had their porch light one. Even worse? Only about 2/3 of the ones that did were actually participating in Halloween. Listen. I get it. You’re not obligated to hand out candy to the princesses, ghosts and witches that come up to your home. However, Halloween etiquette does dictate that you kindly turn off your porch light. It’s one night a year. It won’t hurt anything.

Now here is where my theory goes a little further in two ways. First, trunk-or-treat takes out so much of the fun of trick-or-treating. The excited nervousness just isn’t there when you simply walk from car to car with your bag out. That’s not to say I wish that trunk-or-treats would go away completely. I fully respect that many religious groups disagree with Halloween. Can I share something with you, though? By trunk-or-treating, you’re still participating, no matter how much you try to church it up. My greatest wish regarding trunk-or-treats is simply that they wouldn’t be on Halloween night. #bringbackHalloween.

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“Trunk-or-treats are safer,” you might say. Well, that brings me to my next theory. I’m not quite sure which one is the chicken and which one is the egg, so bear with me for a bit. Trick-or-treating allows you to *gasp* get out in your own neighborhood. Thus, you meet your neighbors. If a house looks truly sketchy, don’t go to it. It’s likely their porch light isn’t one anyhow because they don’t want to the cops to notice their drug deals. However, last night we met some of the kindest people on our candy quest. We admired their homes in a way we never had before, we complimented their decorations and, in true Southern form, I thanked them for giving of their time to hand out candy. Yes, the kids thanked them for the candy, too.

Of course we still examined the candy once we were home, but I truly felt the people handing out candy enjoyed seeing the kids. Most were older folks who probably don’t get as many visitors as they once did. It’s a win-win.

Halloween is my favorite holiday for so many reasons. It, in my opinion, kicks off the holiday season. There’s so much unknown and excitement about it. It also is the best excuse to go around to your neighbors and have them come to you. I hope you’ll join me next year in bringing back an old fashioned Halloween. I’d love to hear your thoughts, even if they disagree with mine! Thank you for reading!

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!