WHY GOOD TASTE MATTERS

WHY GOOD TASTE MATTERS

As we begin the spring social season, it is the perfect chance to master more social opportunities. Our Ms. Etiquette Expert, Sharon M. Schweitzer, J.D., is always on the scene to lend stellar insight into any modern conundrums that may arise.

 

Dear Ms. Etiquette Expert,
What’s the best way to pay a genuine compliment to a colleague without it seeming like I am too friendly, or worse, a participant in sexual harassment?
Gent at The Office
Dear Gentlemanly Behavior,

Dear Ms. Etiquette Expert,
What’s the best way to pay a genuine compliment to a colleague without it seeming like I am too friendly, or worse, a participant in sexual harassment?

Gent at The Office                                   Dear Gentlemanly Behavior,

An unintended consequence of the #MeToo movement is that many men are unsure of how to interact with women in the workplace. The headlines highlight all the wrong behaviors without mentioning any positive actions. In a perfect world, men will compliment women for their work accomplishments, as opposed to their appearance. Until we reach that pinnacle, the workforce is left in a conundrum with questions about whether it’s appropriate to compliment a new hair design or jacket. So, consider this approach: “Great plaid coat.” or “Slayed that new haircut.” It’s best to avoid commentary about someone’s body, wardrobe suggestions, or your emotions and feelings about their looks.

 

Dear Ms. Etiquette Expert,
Since its spring gala season, can you please settle a bet? I say that if we are guests at a host’s table at a non-profit event, we are obligated to buy a silent or live auction item to support our host’s cause. My wife says no. What say ye?

Gala Going                                                          Dear Gala Goer,
One theory supports your wife’s position that hosts invite guests to charitable events with the hope that they will develop an interest in the charity that blossoms into building a donor relationship–without an expectation, that guests will buy an auction item or write a check that evening. When a host invites someone, there isn’t a fee for accepting. The host’s gala table covers all guest costs unless a prior agreement is made to purchase the table seat. The charity may request a contribution with an auction or compelling verbal appeal. However, a substantial portion of their revenue is earned through table sponsorships. As a guest, if you’re feeling generous, contributing will please your host. Consider the alternative: if an auction item purchase is always expected, then potential guests may be tempted to decline fundraising invitations, or worse yet RSVP yes and then decide to stay home the night of the event.

The alternative position is that accepting an invitation obligates the guest to donate at the charity event. Some argue that the donation was already made, and the guest is offered the tickets as a “gift” because a percentage of the ticket price covers the event costs. Therefore, the host has the right to expect the guest’s support with a donation for the ticket value (or an amount they can afford.) These hosts believe that the guest’s contribution demonstrates the guest’s thanks and good faith and allows the guest to secure a reciprocal opportunity to call in the favor later for their own cause. Sounds complicated, doesn’t it?

Dear Ms. Etiquette Expert,
My dear friend, who is on a tight budget, yet loves to support the community, often asks to borrow and switch gowns. Not only do I not want to, since we’re close, yet different sizes, but also want to retain my individual style. How do I politely refuse?

Gowned & Ready                               Dear Gowned For Glory,
Setting healthy boundaries with friends and family is a life-long endeavor. New requests seem to arrive daily to borrow clothing, attend expensive soirées, or host events. Remember that people-pleasing is also known as “the disease to please.” Saying yes when it’s healthier to say no can cause resentment that undermines a friendship. Avoid doing this disservice by saying no since gowns are investments to you. By declining, one can protect the gown’s investment. A stained gown can ruin a friendship. Consider responding to her request with “thanks for the offer to exchange gowns, what a compliment. However, I don’t lend my clothing to anyone.” Offer an alternative such as shopping online or going gown shopping together. Avoid implying a lack of trust–instead remind her that you’re typically a generous lender of sporting equipment (“Yes, absolutely you can borrow my golf clubs”), but gowns and clothes are off-limits.

 

IN GOOD COMPANY

IN GOOD COMPANY

As we begin the new decade ahead, we can all brush up on our skills to make every social situation as seamless as possible. Our Ms. Etiquette Expert, Sharon M. Schweitzer, J.D., is on the scene to lend sage wisdom for any modern conundrum that may arise.

 

Dear Ms. Etiquette Expert,

My fiancé and I just became engaged.  My mother is insistent that I register for good china, and I know we’ll never use it, making it seem like a waste. How should I proceed, since my parents are also paying for the wedding? 

Bride To Be

 

Dear Future Bride,

Best wishes and congratulations to you and your fiancé. Consider this advice:

  1. Encourage open communication with both sides of the family early in the engagement, especially with your parents. Set a time to explore your mother’s insistence on registering for china. Highlight the family customs you and your fiancé are honoring in your wedding, clearly explaining your thoughts. Showing parental respect goes a long way, especially when your family is paying for the wedding. Remember, you will be sharing holiday meals for years to come.

 

  1. Compromise. Graciously coordinate with your family. Respectfully state that although this is your wedding, you plan to honor the important customs of your mother during the wedding. Summon up your best diplomacy skills, compromise, and remember, you can’t please everyone, all of the time.

 

Dear Ms. Etiquette Expert,

How should my younger children address new adults that they meet? By their last names, like Mr. Van Huntzel, or by their first name, using a prefix, like Miss Caroline? 

Naming Honors

Dear Naming Necessity,

Younger children learn how to acknowledge and address all adults properly when they practice at home with you through role-playing. Use proper titles with your younger children, such as Mr., Mrs., or Dr., and first or last names. In the south and southwest regions, using the first name with a title is common. For example, Ms. Kristin or Mr. Jason. Pretend to be different people and ask your children to respond to an introduction with correct titles and pleasantries such as “Hello, Mr. Thompson. How are you, Ms. Aldrich?” The next time your children meet an adult, encourage them to use the greeting. Some children are hesitant near adults so gently prod with “Courtney, remember Ms. Kristin? Will you say hello, please?”

 

Dear Ms. Etiquette Expert,

Can you please share your top three, interesting-as-heck, conversation starters that are appropriate for dinner with just-met dinner partners?

Budding Conversationalist

Dear Dining Companion,

A meal is such a wonderful way to spend an evening, and if we are seated next to someone we don’t know, it’s a terrific opportunity to learn more about the world. How about if we go with three categories from which to choose that will enable completely comfortable conversation with just about anyone…

 

TRAVEL:

What’s your favorite travel destination?

If you could pick one country to travel to, which would you choose and why?

Do you have travel plans? Will you share your destination?

Would you rather travel during a vacation or have a staycation?

What’s your favorite part about travel?

If you’ve  traveled a lot, has it changed who you are? How?

Are you someone who likes group travel? Or, solo travel?

When you travel, do you follow guidebooks or blaze your own path?

 

TECHNOLOGY:

Do you think we as humans will invent anything that makes time travel possible?

What do you think will be the greatest invention in the next 25 years? 10 years?

Do you think technology makes our lives simpler or more complicated?

What discovery do you think has transformed our world the most?

What’s your favorite invention of all time?

 

BOOKS:

What are you currently reading? Who is the author?

What’s the last book that you read, and what did you think of it?

Who’s your favorite author? Why?

Do you read fiction? Or do you prefer nonfiction?

Do you read paper books? Or, use an e-reader, or listen to audiobooks?

Have you built a library in your home? Do you gift books to friends and family?

 

POLISH MAKES PERFECT

POLISH MAKES PERFECT

Since we all attend so many weddings, that means there are numerous social situations that are unique. Join our very own etiquette expert Sharon Schweitzer, J.D. as she helps us navigate the nuances for this special time in your life when you are in the spotlight.

Dear Ms. Etiquette Expert,

We’ve decided not to invite kids to the wedding, but my fiancé’s mother really wants us to invite her grandchildren. Can we bend the rule or is that playing favorites?   

         Plays By The Rules

Dear Rule Requester,

Deciding whether to invite children is one of the most difficult guest list questions. Once a decision is made, it’s best to stick with it. Graciously coordinate with both families. Respectfully state that although this is your wedding, you plan to honor what is important to both families during the wedding. Summon up your best diplomacy skills, compromise and remember, you can’t please everyone all of the time. Your fiancé’s mother and her grandchildren will be your new family and you may want to respect their wishes. Consider the following to avoid playing favorites:

Due to space limitations, we are hosting an adults-only wedding. The only children attending are immediate family or our wedding party. If anyone needs help with making arrangements for childcare, please let us know and we will do our best to assist.

 

Dear Ms. Etiquette Expert,

My family has set our wedding budget based on our initial guest list, but now my future mother-in-law wants to invite 30 more people. What should we do?

Best Guest List

Dear Guest Handler,

Marriage is about bringing two people together to create a new family. Creating and encouraging open communication with both sides of the family early in the engagement and wedding planning will set the stage for excellent communication during your marriage. Discuss the invitation, location, catering and budget; are there certain people from each family that must be invited? What does your fiancé think? If finances are an issue, will your fiancé’s family contribute? Having an awareness of family customs and showing parental respect goes a long way, especially when this family will become your new extended family.

 

Dear Ms. Etiquette Expert,

Recently, we had a falling out with a friendly couple during our engagement. Can we dis-invite them?

Friend Indeed

 

Dear Friendly Persuasion, 

Etiquette experts agree that this must never occur. However, life happens. Friendships dissolve, crimes are committed, and indiscretions are discovered. Predicaments the bride and groom cannot fathom surface that can cause anguish on both sides. Yes, it’s true that it’s your wedding and you can invite anyone you wish. However, inviting someone and then rescinding that invitation requires contemplation and diplomacy.

If you have the fortitude to rescind a wedding invitation, then you have the courage to do so in person or by phone. Sending an informal text, email, or instant message is insensitive. Words on a screen cannot convey the compassion necessary to deliver the message. When it’s an indiscretion or something criminal, it’s difficult and there are two sides to a story. Yes, there are times when a person can be asked not to attend a wedding as the best solution.

Dear Ms. Etiquette Expert,

We don’t want guests to take pictures during the ceremony. How do we stop them from doing it without confiscating their phones?

Social Media-Free

Dear Social Studies,

While there are several steps that can be taken to reduce photos, no one can guarantee that Aunt Gertrude won’t snap a photo for your grandmother. So, consider the following steps to reduce the paparazzi in your circle:

1.     Host an electronics free wedding

2.     Post an announcement on your wedding website

  1. Include a note with the written invitation
  2. Decide against a wedding #hashtag
  3. Print a notice in the program
  4. Post a sign in your style similar to the following:

Welcome to our unplugged wedding. We invite you to be fully present during our ceremony. Please turn off all gadgets and enjoy the ceremony with us.

SOCIAL CUES

SOCIAL CUES

As our social obligations increase this time of year, it may seem like we have less time for the niceties of life. However, according to our ETIQUETTE EXPERT Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., here are some ways to be more thoughtful about those around us.  

 

Dear Ms. Etiquette Expert,

Our upcoming travels are taking us on a European river cruise where we will delight in culture and devour goodies while wandering through the regions’ markets. What is the best way to politely barter while attending these markets?

Packed With Passport

Dear Packed & Ready,

Ensure you do your research on the specific cultural norms in each of the countries that you will be visiting on your cruise. Learn if bartering is indeed culturally appropriate in particular provinces. If so, incorporate the three P’s into your bartering strategy: personable, polite and private. Don’t reveal how much you are willing to spend, be friendly and always utilize kindness. Respect is universally understood.

 

Dear Ms. Etiquette Expert,                                                                                                               
I work in a small office and I adore my colleagues. My wedding has been a major topic of conversation between them, it seems. Do I have to invite everyone?                                                                    

Marrying Soon

Dear Married In The Future,

In the U.S., at the heart of every guest list is a congenial, compatible group of people. If you are friends with your coworkers and are social together, then it is appropriate to extend an invitation. If you are only inviting select coworkers to your wedding, you may discreetly ask them to keep it quiet at the office or workplace. You are in the best position to know whether this will remain quiet. Avoid being surprised when word of the guest list leaks out as it usually does. 

If you do wish to invite colleagues, consider the option of having a standby list or a “B” list. If you have a limited number of guest spots, send the “Save The Date” communication several months or a year in advance to the priority or “A” list Then, send the “official invitation” (by mail, website, or email). When the RSVP deadline arrives, have a friend or family member designated to begin the process of contacting and following-up with all guests who haven’t RSVP’d. Today, guests often fail to RSVP.

After the “A” list has been confirmed, extend invitations to colleagues on the “B” list if space is available. Be sure to wait until all “A” list guests have been contacted or confirmed. In some cultures, like much of Latin AmericaAsia, and specifically India, the social obligation is much stronger to include colleagues, leadership and supervisors, and business associates―including those of the bride and grooms’ parents. Depending on the culture and customs, social ramifications for failing to invite coworkers may cause a loss of face for both parties, and or personal offense. 

 

Dear Ms. Etiquette Expert,

Just when I think I’ve figured out modern dating, all these new terms surface. I think I know what “ghosting” is, but how do I know if I’ve been “uncuffed” or if I’ve “benched” someone?

Dating Awkwardly

Dear Awkwardly Seeking,

Modern dating is complicated enough without all of these new words for how a date may conceivably disappear from the scene. Let’s define a few terms that indicate that you just aren’t that into him. Keep in mind that from an etiquette standpoint doing any of these things demonstrates a lack of maturity and poor communication skills. Hopefully you aren’t dating anyone who does this…

Benching is when you like your date well enough to keep seeing them, but not so much that you want to “lock it down with them.” So, you keep your options open with them while continuing to date around.

Cuffing is short for handcuffing someone you have been seeing. Winter is viewed as “cuffing” season when the romantic holidays occur and cooler weather encourages couples to stay indoors binge-watching shows and cuddling together. Being “uncuffed” means you are now single.

Ghosting occurs when your friend or the person you’re dating suddenly cuts off all communication with you, with zero warning or notice before hand, hoping they will get the hint that they’re no longer interested. A ghoster will avoid one in public while simultaneously ignoring their phone calls, texts and on social media. It’s extremely confusing for the recipient.

Breadcrumbing is the brutal act of send flirtatious, but non-committal text messages aka “breadcrumbs” with the goal of luring an intimate partner without expending much effort. It’s also called “leading someone on.”

THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE

THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE

Since we all attend so many weddings, that means there are numerous social situations that are unique. Join our very own etiquette expert Sharon Schweitzer, J.D. as she helps us navigate the nuances for this special time in your life when you are in the spotlight.

Dear Ms. Etiquette Expert,

We’ve decided not to invite kids to the wedding, but my fiancé’s mother really wants us to invite her grandchildren. Can we bend the rule or is that playing favorites?   

         Plays By The Rules

Dear Rule Requester,

Deciding whether to invite children is one of the most difficult guest list questions. Once a decision is made, it’s best to stick with it. Graciously coordinate with both families. Respectfully state that although this is your wedding, you plan to honor what is important to both families during the wedding. Summon up your best diplomacy skills, compromise and remember, you can’t please everyone all of the time. Your fiancé’s mother and her grandchildren will be your new family and you may want to respect their wishes. Consider the following to avoid playing favorites:

Due to space limitations, we are hosting an adults-only wedding. The only children attending are immediate family or our wedding party. If anyone needs help with making arrangements for childcare, please let us know and we will do our best to assist.

 

Dear Ms. Etiquette Expert,

My family has set our wedding budget based on our initial guest list, but now my future mother-in-law wants to invite 30 more people. What should we do?

Best Guest List

Dear Guest Handler,

Marriage is about bringing two people together to create a new family. Creating and encouraging open communication with both sides of the family early in the engagement and wedding planning will set the stage for excellent communication during your marriage. Discuss the invitation, location, catering and budget; are there certain people from each family that must be invited? What does your fiancé think? If finances are an issue, will your fiancé’s family contribute? Having an awareness of family customs and showing parental respect goes a long way, especially when this family will become your new extended family.

 

Dear Ms. Etiquette Expert,

Recently, we had a falling out with a friendly couple during our engagement. Can we dis-invite them?

Friend Indeed

 

Dear Friendly Persuasion, 

Etiquette experts agree that this must never occur. However, life happens. Friendships dissolve, crimes are committed, and indiscretions are discovered. Predicaments the bride and groom cannot fathom surface that can cause anguish on both sides. Yes, it’s true that it’s your wedding and you can invite anyone you wish. However, inviting someone and then rescinding that invitation requires contemplation and diplomacy.

If you have the fortitude to rescind a wedding invitation, then you have the courage to do so in person or by phone. Sending an informal text, email, or instant message is insensitive. Words on a screen cannot convey the compassion necessary to deliver the message. When it’s an indiscretion or something criminal, it’s difficult and there are two sides to a story. Yes, there are times when a person can be asked not to attend a wedding as the best solution.

Dear Ms. Etiquette Expert,

We don’t want guests to take pictures during the ceremony. How do we stop them from doing it without confiscating their phones?

Social Media-Free

Dear Social Studies,

While there are several steps that can be taken to reduce photos, no one can guarantee that Aunt Gertrude won’t snap a photo for your grandmother. So, consider the following steps to reduce the paparazzi in your circle:

1.     Host an electronics free wedding

2.     Post an announcement on your wedding website

  1. Include a note with the written invitation
  2. Decide against a wedding #hashtag
  3. Print a notice in the program
  4. Post a sign in your style similar to the following:

Welcome to our unplugged wedding. We invite you to be fully present during our ceremony. Please turn off all gadgets and enjoy the ceremony with us.

OCCASIONALLY SPEAKING

OCCASIONALLY SPEAKING

There is a correct response for every social situation. Most of us get it right most of the time. However, when we don’t our etiquette expert Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is on board to give us a hand up in potentially awkward matters.

Dear Ms. Etiquette Expert,

I‘m a tall female with short, cropped hair. In fact, I saw it on the streets of Paris and had to have the chic look. I’m frequently welcomed to shops or restaurants with a loud “Hello, sir.” Once they realize their faux pas, they stumble awkwardly apologizing and backtracking. This mislabeling is hurtful for those who are transgender or gender-nonconforming. How do I graciously respond?

 Inquiring Mind

Dear Mindfully Inquiring,

Like all things, etiquette evolves with the times. What was appropriate historically may not work as smoothly today. The clerk was more than likely intending respect with their greeting, and it will create a more gracious atmosphere if you give them the benefit of the doubt. Keep in mind that military and Southerners will say sir and ma’am out of habit. If a clerk is unsure about an appropriate greeting, they can leave off the gender tag and say “Good morning” or “Good afternoon.”

The next time this mislabeling occurs, respond with a genuine smile and a warm tone, “Please consider dropping the ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am’ from your friendly greeting. It hurts when you get it wrong.” Sales associates will be more cautious or try to break the habit.

Dear Ms. Etiquette Expert,

I have been encouraged to improve my professional protocol since I am losing accounts and the respect of my colleagues because of oversharing on social media and being a jerk. However, I’ve no motivation to do so. It seems overwhelming. Where do I start?

                                                                                                                                      Social Media Boor

Dear Feeling Boorish,

Motivation is the key to achieving our professional and personal goals, succeeding in our careers, and improving ourselves as lifelong works in progress. It can come from anywhere…from our personal relationships, to a desire to overcome adverse circumstances and achieve success. Whatever its source, motivation can make the difference between reaching our dreams, and watching them pass us by.

In order to remain a driving force in our lives, motivation must be maintained as a source of inspiration and resilience. To keep motivation high, it’s important to remind yourself why you began your professional or personal journey in the first place. Are you seeking a promotion that would allow you to exercise your creative abilities? Whatever your reason, here are four easy tips for maintaining motivation and achieving your ambitions:

  1. Write down your end goal and why you want to achieve it, note the date at the top of the page, and re-read your response often. Think of this as a promise every day that you’re making to yourself as a conduit towards fulfilling that commitment.
  2. Keep a source of inspiration somewhere you can see it each day. Make your phone screen a picture of your dream vacation destination, keep a family photo nearby, or tape your dream university’s brochure above your desk. Visualizing your goals will remind you why you’re working so hard and encourage you to stay the course.
  3. Success is a marathon, not a sprint. Instead of setting a long-term goal that may take years to accomplish, come up with a timeline of benchmarks that break down your goal into more feasible steps. When you reach an important milestone, celebrate your achievement; then look forward to the next step in attaining your goal.

Finally, consider finding a coach or mentor with experience in your field who can advise you on how to reach your goal. Set up weekly meetings to decide where you need to improve, and what successes you’ve achieved so far. Not only is a coach or mentor a great source of insight, but they will ask all the right questions and hold you accountable to them.