Business Etiquette Series, Part 1

I rarely do series posts here because I tend to get a little scatterbrained. However, I really want to emphasize business etiquette, particularly as it’s the time of year the school year is winding down and many college graduates are job hunting.

Etiquette is particularly important in the business world, which is a fairly conservative environment. I hope this series will be of benefit to you! As always, please let me know if you have specific questions you’d like answered, and I’ll make sure I respond.

Just like in any other area of etiquette, understanding what is expected of you will help put you ahead in the game. I hope this series helps you grow more confident in your job/job hunting!

To begin, let’s start with a few basic business do’s and don’t’s.

Do:

(1) Offer a firm handshake accompanied by eye contact when greeting someone
(2) Dress appropriately for your job (we’ll cover more of this later)
(3) Treat the person in person with you with priority over email or the telephone
(4) Show up 5-10 minutes early for an interview or meeting
(5) Keep your resume up-to-date

Don’t:

(1) Use casual nicknames, such as sweetie, in a professional environment
(2) Carbon copy (CC) someone onto an email response without the prior consent
(3) Use your phone during meetings or business luncheons
(4) Use the title of Doctor socially unless you are a medical doctor
(5) Chew gum while with customers or during an interview

 

Do you have anything you’d like to add to the list?

 

What We Lose With Participation Trophies

While the title of this post may not seem to be strictly about etiquette, it is my belief that those with good etiquette know far more than just about utensils and stemware. They know about grace. They know about kindness. They know about humility. Each of the preceding qualities are ones I feel we are losing with the participation trophy mentality.

People of all ages need to know how to win gracefully and lose gracefully. In an “everything goes” society, it’s important to remember that not everything does. It is perfectly okay that we excel in some areas and not in others. It’s okay that we are not the best in everything we do. With participation trophies, we often feed a false sense of security and belief that everything one touches turns to gold. We are losing drive. We are losing desire. We are losing passion.

What are we teaching our kids when they still win even if they didn’t put forth any effort aside from showing up? Sheltering them from the realities of life does much greater harm than any good that may come from it.

The kids who are never lost anything don’t know how to respond with grace when they are not invited to a party.

Their identity lies in being included, and they don’t know how to react when they are not treated the same as every other person.

Now, please don’t mistake me. I will never, ever advocate for anyone being left out. What I’m saying is that we all have different strengths and weaknesses. If we fail to identify those weaknesses, how do we expect to work on the weaknesses and to grow from them? Emotionally, we are stunting ourselves. Instead of seeing a lack of invitation as a personal attack, we need to know how to move from it.

Our differences are beautiful. New Orleans is one of my favorite cities because of the uniqueness you’ll find there. They embraces their culture and the people who make up said culture instead of trying to be the same. Maybe your gift is encouraging others. If everyone expects to win, when will your gift be used?

Embracing the fear of failure and being willing to try anyway is something else I’m afraid we’re losing in the participation trophy world.

This year I wish you a lot of grace and happiness. I hope you’re willing to try. I hope you’re willing to fail. I hope you’re willing to grow.

 

Wednesday’s Child Is Full Of Woe

Does anyone remember the nursery rhyme that starts “Monday’s child is full of face?” Well, until just a couple of years ago (and I’m 31), my mom had always told me that I was born on a Tuesday. In this poem, Tuesday’s child was full of grace, which I loved. I long to have the grace of someone like Jackie Kennedy (my granny’s grace role model) or Duchess Catherine. I was always so proud of being a Tuesday’s child, especially since my brother decided to be born on Sunday, which, according to the poem, is the best day of all. Being a United Methodist, we are all about grace. So, it was a double whammy.

I’m here to tell you that 21 hours apparently does some funny things to your brain. My mom went into labor on Tuesday. I, however, did not make an appearance until Wednesday. Wednesday’s child is full of woe. Sigh. (At least I’m keeping with my day).

Here’s the version of the poem I remember from my nursey rhyme books:

Monday’s child is fair of face. Tuesday’s child is full of grace, Wednesday’s child is full of woe. Thursday’s child has far to go. Friday’s child is loving and giving. Saturday’s child works hard for a living. But the child who is born on the Sabbath day is bonnie and blithe and good and gay.

Like many things, though, the definition of woe has gotten a little changed over the years. Woe, in addition to sadness, referred to having empathy for others. My husband would say that part does fit me. Here’s what else I found interesting!

{There was considerable variation and debate about the exact attributes of each day and even over the days. Halliwell had ‘Christmas Day’ instead of the Sabbath.[1][not in citation given] Despite modern versions in which “Wednesday’s child is full of woe,” an early incarnation of this rhyme appeared in a multi-part fictional story in a chapter appearing in Harper’s Weekly on September 17, 1887, in which “Friday’s child is full of woe”, perhaps reflecting traditional superstitions associated with bad luck on Friday – as many Christians associated Friday with the Crucifixion. In addition to Wednesday’s and Friday’s children’s role reversal, the fates of Thursday’s and Saturday’s children were also exchanged and Sunday’s child is “happy and wise” instead of “blithe and good”.[4]   }

I’d also be pretty happy being “loving and giving” with the role reversal shown here. However, I will say, that, as a United Methodist, one of the holiest services, in strictly my opinion, is that of Ash Wednesday. This poem, which I randomly thought of, reminds me of that Wednesday and the preparation of our hearts. I think I’m okay being a Wednesday’s child after all.

Thank you for reading! I think nursery rhymes, which are so simple on the surface, are filled with tradition, and I’m excited to get to go over a few in the next couple of weeks! Which ones are your favorites?

Why I Blog on More Than Etiquette

I’ve head some recent emails actually thanking me for blogging on topics other than etiquette. They said they had liked my blog but were hesitant to visit at first because they were afraid it wouldn’t apply to their life.

I get it. I truly do. I was hesitant to even start a blog, but I’m so thankful I did. I had “started” blogs on and off for years. I never had much follow through. Just ideas. I didn’t know how to make etiquette applicable to a large group of people. I still don’t feel like I’m there, but I try each day to remember that etiquette IS about more than forks and knives. It’s about kindness. It’s about respect for others. It’s also about respect for oneself, which is why I’m working on a mini series on dressing well. 🙂 We are allowed to respect ourselves.

Because, to me, tradition and etiquette go together, I love writing about traditions in my blog. Etiquette is so regional that traditions play a big part in why etiquette in one area may not be the etiquette for another.

I am very grateful to you, the readers, for being so willing to read on more than just etiquette. There are plenty of etiquette blogs out there that tell you what to do. Many, though, fail on the why. So if you weren’t raised with etiquette or with a certain protocol, you may feel overwhelmed or uncertain – neither of which feeling makes you feel comfortable actually using the etiquette the sites describe. This is the area I try to differ on. I want people to know why white after Labor Day is considered a fashion faux pas. I want people to understand how they portray themselves to others will make or break them in the business world. This is important to me. Thank you for letting me be different from the rest.

Slow Living In A Fast World

I’ve kept a diary since I was in the second grade. While I’ve changed a lot during those years, something that hasn’t changed is a feeling I have a hard time describing. It’s almost as if I push simultaneously pulled in two different directions. The best way I could describe it is, when I was in high school, we had an assignment to describe what we wanted to be when we were adults and how we thought our lives would go. I ended up doing the assignment twice. In one scenario I was a career woman, with one or two kids, constantly busy and wearing suits. (Sound familiar, Garrett?) In the other scenario, I was a stay-at-home mom, living in a modest home with four kids. The common factor in both? I was equally as happy in one as I was in the other. I blame my constant back and forth on being a Gemini (I kid….partly 😉 ).

Anyhow, for a while I erroneously thought that etiquette belonged only in the first world I described. What can I say? I was young and naive. What I found, though, is what I try my best on a daily basis to say on this blog. Etiquette is for everyone. Whether or not etiquette applies to you have absolutely NOTHING to do with how much money you make, if you’re around “important” people, if you have a life that is constantly being scrutinized by others, etc. It, simply, has everything to do with respect for others and for yourself. I don’t know many people who want people to think of them as entitled, selfish people. In general, no one wants to be around those people. Instead, we want to develop caring, real relationships. What I struggled with the most with etiquette was losing the realness. Mind you, this struggle was years ago, but I still remember how it felt, and I think it may be something many of you can empathize with. I also hope that by sharing my personal struggle, you can see that etiquette isn’t about being fake.

I struggled with thinking I was putting on a fascade with I invited people over and had the best dishes I had at the time on the table for them. Instead I should have viewed it as an opportunity to show how much someone meant to me.

I struggled with being afraid people wouldn’t share their real emotions and fears because etiquette seemed formal to me at the time. Instead I should have learned more about etiquette to know that there is an etiquette for everything. Etiquette helps us to reduce the misinterpretations of people’s intentions.

I struggled with wondering if etiquette wasn’t needed if you weren’t rich. Instead, I should have realized that kindness costs nothing and that kindness is the bulk of etiquette.

Etiquette is NOT about living a fancy life, full of social events. You can absolutely live slowly and purposefully while utilizing etiquette.

Etiquette is about others. It’s about not being entitled and always thinking you’re the most important person in the room, even if you happen to be at that particular point in time.

Most people you meet are struggling with something. Defenses can easily be put up, and etiquette helps us take them back down. I think there’s a lot of room for grace in etiquette, which is why I focus heavily on traditions. Some parts I even tend to only talk about in a historical way, as they are no longer relevant to our lives today. Overall, though, while I think formal dinners truly are fun and a great change of pace, I realize there are SO many other parts of etiquette that are easily overlooked and are missing in today’s society. That is the are of etiquette I hope to most share with you.

Thank you for reading!