THINGS ARE LOOKING UP

THINGS ARE LOOKING UP

Our Etiquette Guy Jay Remer is with you every step of the way to help determine the most appropriate course of good manners. After all, etiquette in social situations were created to help everyone feel as comfortable as possible.

Dear Etiquette Guy,

As our travels become more robust again, is it insensitive to post my own social media photos?

Hitting The Road

Dear Robust Traveler,

Up, up, and away has finally returned. Posting photos on social media is a great way to share the joy of your adventures with others. We live vicariously through others’ joy and love to see our friends thriving! However, as you suggest, it can be overdone. Always look at your intention before posting anything­–a photo or words. If you’re not using the platform for self-aggrandizement or some other unseemly reason, share away. If you enjoy seeing how much fun your friends are having, most likely, they will, too.

 

Dear Etiquette Guy,

A college friend, who lives in another city, is getting married this fall. There will be many bridal showers, yet I can’t attend them all due to logistics. Should I send gifts for the ones when I am unable to participate?

Wedding Goer

Dear Wedding Goer,

Isn’t it wonderful that large weddings can once again take to the stage? For once-in-a-lifetime celebrations, to borrow a phrase from Downton Abbey: nothing succeeds like excess. Nonetheless, with multiple showers, scheduling can be understandably difficult. If you are invited to more than one shower for the same bride, try to attend at least one. If you’ve received an invitation, your presence is truly wanted. When you accept an invitation to a shower, you should bring a gift or send one ahead whether you attend or not. There is, however, no obligation to accept every invitation you receive. If you send your regrets, you are not required to send a gift, but the option is still on the table. Follow your heart.

 

Dear Etiquette Guy,

Do I have to open a host or birthday gift that I might receive, right then and there, or may I wait until later?

Lucky Recipient

Dear Lucky,

Allow the circumstances to guide you in making your decision. There is no rule obligating you to anything in this case. Giving and receiving gifts should come from the heart. Therefore, I recommend listening to your heart more than your head. Choice is liberating, yet try to read how the other person is feeling. If they insist that you open the gift, try to make the time and space to do so. Because this can create an awkward moment, be cognizant when you are in this position–try to resist the insist.

 

Dear Etiquette Guy,

I recently went on a business trip to the West Coast and was shocked at the level of both professional and personal flakiness. How do I respond when a colleague or friend simply cancels a meeting or meal at the last minute?

                                                                                                                                         On The Ball

Dear Ball in Your Court,

Exacerbated by the excruciating and ongoing demands that COVID-19 extracted from us on all levels, many entrepreneurs and business executives no longer perform as they once did–personally or professionally. Moreover, given the recent departure of millions of people from the US workforce, of their own volition, the way we do business moving forward must change dramatically.

 

The old methods of power and control will transform into new inclusive and diverse ones where mutual respect and trust, a fair value-exchange agreement, common sense, and following The Golden Rule will prevail. While this transformation takes place, we may need to stretch our flexibility muscles. I recommend you hold people accountable while being as flexible as you can. Your time is every bit as valuable as theirs. A gentle reminder never hurts. We all must become better at picking our battles. Compassion goes a long way in keeping those muscles from seizing up.

HOW TO REALLY SEE OTHERS

HOW TO REALLY SEE OTHERS

Jay Remer, our Etiquette Guy, is on the scene for spring to warm up some questions we all might be having these days as our times are rapidly evolving. After all, the best manners we can practice often include asking insightful questions of others. 

Dear Etiquette Guy

As summer travel approaches, we’ll be traveling again like we have in the past. Can you please refresh my memory on gratuity? How much shall I tip an attendant on private aircraft or boat?

      Flying High

Dear Wheels Up.

Gratuities are a way to express our appreciation for something someone has done to enrich our lives somehow. How private households and their accoutrements receive such compensation varies. In some situations, tips are part of the deal and are understood ahead. In others, gratuities may be optional, but for savvy guests, they are de rigeuer. So, yes, appropriately tipping private flight attendants is still a good thing. A rule of thumb is $100 per crew member.

 

Dear Etiquette Guy,

Now that things are hopefully getting back to normal, post-pandemic, it seems like my social muscles have atrophied a bit at parties. Can you share some of your favorite conversation starters that I might borrow?

  Muscle Beach Bound

Dear Beachy Keen,

Isn’t it exciting to finally be able to socialize with our old friends and meet new ones as we emerge from our restrictive isolation? Many of us are happy that gatherings are smaller because we can form stronger bonds and enjoy more meaningful conversations.

 

Typically, when we are bursting at the seams from the excitement of rejoining our social circles, we fall into the faux pas of talking about ourselves – our health issues, the inconveniences of isolation, and the suffering we experienced or observed. We frequently forget to ask how the other person is and how the pandemic has affected them. Beginning a conversation on a positive note helps break the ice. Some of us are more comfortable starting with small talk – topics with no particular significance. Others, like me, tend to prefer more fulsome conversations.

 

Many people spend their newly found home time reading books and watching Netflix. Additionally, we had opportunities for self-reflection. Bringing up a great book that you’ve discovered or a new show you recommend binge-watching is light and fun. Although it may be awkward for some of us to discuss, any revelations we garnered through meditation, yoga, or other forms of ‘me’ time are also great ways to begin a great conversation.

 

 

Dear Etiquette Guy,

Recently I’ve seen much in the news about They pronouns. I certainly don’t want to offend anyone, so can you please advise on when I should use They instead of He and She?

Socially Astute

Dear Aspirationally Astute,

They, as a singular pronoun, is now an approved usage in the mainstream vernacular. Yet, many of us have a challenge understanding how someone can decide not to identify as either a male or female but rather as a non-binary person. Those individuals prefer us to refer to them as they rather than he or she. If you find this challenging, have some self-compassion–you’re not alone, and you do not need to beat yourself up about it. Everyone is getting used to many new difficult-to-understand societal changes.

 

If you are unsure how someone identifies themselves sexually, which is understandable, using they as a singular pronoun is also correct–your safety net. You will likely not offend people if your intention is not to offend. Furthermore, others will most likely take no offense because they live through this transition. Undoubtedly, this new usage becomes a more natural feeling with practice…in ourselves and others.

THE NEW CIVILITY

THE NEW CIVILITY

You can always count on our Etiquette Guy, Jay Remer, to be on the scene and on the go, solving social conundrums like wedding festivities do’s and don’ts, as found in his new book, The 6 Pillars Of Civility.  

My new book, The 6 Pillars Of Civility, is essentially a road map to, well, civility. There is an appetite for returning to a society where we treat each other with respect and courtesy. Fortunately, thanks to a handful of curious scientists, we are beginning to understand how our brains function, allowing us to realize our behaviors are primarily grounded in survival, not just pleasure.  

How people interact with one another should reflect mutual respect and kindness both publicly and in their private interactions. Civility is the umbrella under which etiquette and decorum rest. Since overwhelming incivility often surrounds us at times, I thought sharing my observations could offer a positive perspective on how to regain civility, often by employing the self-reflective exercises that follow each chapter. One favorite is Blended Families and Holidays. Family structures can be complicated and confusing today, particularly as multiple marriages create blended families. As a result, tensions can arise, especially around holidays, weddings, graduation ceremonies, and other celebrations. However, these command performance events should bring out our best behavior, which can sometimes mean biting your tongue and showing compassion.

Difficult as it may be, we must put our core differences aside in deference to why we have gathered together in the first place. This can be much more challenging for some people than others. If you cannot control your emotions or maintain a level of acceptable civility, then it is best not to accept the invitation in the first place.

Dinner parties involving assorted family members and friends can challenge the host when planning a seating chart. Placing potential combatants well apart and out of range of even possible eye contact makes the meal more pleasant for everyone. The host must know the dynamics of the guest list well in advance of their arrival. We usually know where danger may lurk, but we would do well to get the current state of affairs from someone in the know. However, surprises will occur, and it’s best to start by defusing any negative vibes as quickly as possible. Remembering to keep our composure in the face of turmoil is the sign of a great host.

Being a great guest can present challenges as well. As somewhat of an extrovert, I like to converse with everyone at most gatherings, including people who may be difficult. Take the high, less traveled road and approach everyone with the same sense of humility and respect.

At weddings, family tensions can arise. Adhering to proper protocol is helpful. First, the host must determine the guest list in order of importance. In most cases, the relationship between the marrying couple and their guests determines priority. However, flexibility is necessary because each family is unique. Remember weddings are for brides and grooms and celebration.

In fact, another life transition moment, funerals, are often highly emotional celebrations of life. Most people attending share great sadness and grief. Funeral arrangements are often the shared responsibility of the deceased’s next of kin, the funeral director, and a clergy member. Too often, well-meaning friends and family are actually in the way. Allowing the grieving process to unfold for people in their own way is the compassionate way to handle these stressful times. No two people experience grief or loss in the same way. Kindness goes a long way in letting others understand your true intentions and feelings.

Graduation ceremonies can also be stressful events for a variety of reasons, as well. Sometimes, seating is limited. Perhaps the scheduling makes attending difficult. Nonetheless, it’s a significant milestone in anyone’s life, and we should accord it the proper respect. Emotions can play a role in any celebration like this, and allowing each of us to show our feelings is a compassionate act we can all embrace.

No matter the occasion, we must always keep the real purpose of the gathering in focus. If we do, we will likely think less about ourselves and more about others—it’s a foundational principle of civility for wedding occasions and beyond.

WE HAD A MARVELOUS TIME

WE HAD A MARVELOUS TIME

Our Etiquette Guy, Jay Remer, is on the scene to smooth over the wrinkles when social conundrums occur. He shows us how to be cool, calm, and collected in these holiday months.

Dear Etiquette Guy

With the holidays upon us, we’d like to entertain in our home this year since we didn’t last year. But, due to Covid, how do we tastefully confirm that everyone remains healthy and is fully vaccinated?

Soirée-Ready

Dear Soirée Sera Sera,

This is an important question and a legitimate concern. Unfortunately, the stance around vaccinations has divided some members of our society. As with almost any emotionally charged issue, expressing ourselves with grace and clarity is essential. On an invitation, you simply write: We request that all guests be fully vaccinated. Because this is critical to you, send a confirmatory email for any less formal invitations, ensuring guests understand this. As time moves forward, instructions such as masks optional, etc., can be employed.

 

 

Dear Etiquette Guy,

During the holiday season, I realize we all feel more generous than ever. What is your policy of a gratuity gift for helpers who make life so much better year-round?

Totally Tips

Dear Tips Plenty,

Showing gratitude during the holidays is a tradition everyone enjoys. Professional service providers appreciate all Holiday cards, but especially those from loyal customers with crisp cash inside. The amount of the gift usually is equivalent to a regular appointment. For example, if you pay $100 for a service that you enjoy monthly, $100 would be appropriate. Generosity is boundless and depends upon the depth of the relationship you have. Non-cash gifts of equivalent value may feel more comfortable in certain situations or where cash gifts are verboten. As you give, also be grateful for the services you’ve enjoyed as well as the joy of sharing. 

 

 

Dear Etiquette Guy,

A friend of mine’s sister joins us for dinner periodically. She’s lovely and a fun conversationalist, but recently she’s gotten in the habit of stopping in the middle of the meal to go “live” on social media and posting a barrage of selfies. May I ask her to refrain?

Social Media Savvy

Dear Savvy & Social,

Yes, I encourage you to ask her to refrain, as her actions run the risk of making people feel uncomfortable. They interrupt the dinner conversations and crash through boundaries of etiquette that would merit checking. For example, you might ask your friend to speak with her sister in private. Correcting a dinner guest at the table would cause embarrassment, which is always best to avoid. Often, the offender is oblivious to their rudeness, and once aware will stop. Otherwise, you can impose the “no cell phones at the dinner table.” rule. That puts everyone on equal footing.

 

 

Dear Etiquette Guy,

My cousin’s best friend has a habit of, well, licking his fingers instead of using a napkin. Is it ever okay to do that, as I can’t imagine others like seeing or hearing, it either? I don’t want to offend or be offended, either.

Neat & Natty

Dear Neatest Of Them All,

Licking fingers is best for picnic tables, or crab bakes where we eat most foods by hand and rules change. Otherwise, this unattractive habit is offensive. One way to avoid this annoyance is to serve food that doesn’t require using your fingers. As with most pet peeves, we need to take responsibility for our feelings and avoid blaming others. If people are eating finger food, licking fingers is part of the deal. We’ve been oppressed enough through COVID – no need to impose a ban on finger-licking everywhere.

IF YOU PLEASE

IF YOU PLEASE

Navigating the social realm of today’s modern world may offer many ways to now view things.  Our very own Etiquette Guy, Jay Remer, is on the scene to provide both sense and sensibility with any social conundrums you may have.  

Dear Etiquette Guy,

Can you please remind me of some of the fall season rules…like no white dinner jackets after Labor Day, etc.? Can I still dress summery if I live in a resort climate?

On The Scene Again

Dear Scene and Be Seen,

Given the pandemic, flexibility is the new name of the game. In fashion, the old rules may no longer apply as stringently. If you really feel like wearing white after Labor Day has passed, then wear white. With climate change weighing heavily on us, unseasonably peculiar weather patterns require us to be more adaptable. Look and feel the way that puts you in a festive mood. We’re awakening to a new world, and with that comes new rules.

 

 

Dear Etiquette Guy,

With Covid in mind, is there a protocol you recommend when asking people I will gather with if they have been fully vaccinated as a health precaution?

Very Vaccinated

Dear Ready to Mingle,

This intersection has already presented challenges because the decision to vaccinate is a very personal one. I have found that asking the host before accepting the invitation is the way to go if this is a concern. Legitimate reasons for requiring vaccinations or asking that guests wear masks need to be considered by hosts and guests. For example, if someone has a compromised immune system, they may request that unvaccinated people wear masks. The bottom line is that the host calls the shots. They, too, may have personal views that may or may not align with yours. You must do what is best for you, even if that means sending your regrets.

 

 

Dear Etiquette Guy,

Since weddings are happening again, do you have any favorite gifts these days that you recommend for the fortunate couple?

Aisle Be There

Dear Aisle Say,

Personally, I like kitchen gadgetry. I also like good-quality gardening tools. Consumables, gift cards, and experiences are always an excellent choice for older couples who already have everything they need. There is also no harm in asking the couple what they’d like. Buying something for them that they would not normally splurge on for themselves is often a guaranteed hit.

 

 

Dear Etiquette Guy

We will invariably be invited to costume Halloween parties again this year. It’s just not my favorite holiday, especially with the pressure of dressing up. Thoughts on a polite decline?  

Hallowed Eve

Dear All About Eve,

If Halloween parties just aren’t your thing, sending your regrets as you would any other invitation is appropriate. The reason for declining is personal and need not be shared. If pressed, however, honesty is the best policy. Your true friends will not judge you negatively for being your authentic self. The shoe will be on the other foot one day, giving you, too, the opportunity to graciously accept regrets without explanation.

CHARTING THE COURSE

CHARTING THE COURSE

In this topsy-turvy world, we can always count on intuition and common sense to help us stay the course as we round the bend with the pandemic, according to our infallibly sensible Etiquette Guy, Jay Remer.

Dear Etiquette Guy, 

Can you please help me take the guesswork out of dressing for a summer black-tie dinner party? 

Curiously Dressing Up 

Dear Dressing Up,  

Whenever dressing for any formal occasion, my best advice is to be comfortable, which begins with ensuring your ensemble and shoes fit correctly. Women are fortunate that they have far more flexibility and can wear colorful dresses–short or long, depending on the occasion. This traditionalist advises resisting wearing slacks or skirts for black-tie affairs, as they are too informal. It’s wonderful to enjoy all the flair you wish. Being colorful, chic, and bejeweled is always a winning combination. 

 

For men, I recommend wearing a basic black tuxedo. In the summer, a white dinner jacket is appropriate and preferred, especially in warmer climates like Texas. A crisp white shirt sets off a black suit beautifully, but soft colors can work nicely with a white jacket, especially if the color highlights your best features. A hand-tied black silk bow tie is traditional–and for a good reason–it’s always perfect. Black silk or cotton socks match your patent leather or polished black shoes. If you feel the need to add some flair to your sartorial look, limit it to one item only–a colorful tie with or without matching bright cummerbund, etc. Keeping things simple eliminates the guesswork and achieves a smashing look.

 

 

Dear Etiquette Guy, 

Now that COVID-19 has rounded the corner, what is the appropriate attire at summer weddings, daytime, and evening events? 

  Wedding Wonder 

 Dear Wonderful Wedding Goer, 

As we emerge from the confines of this cruel pandemic, weddings are once again possible. Daytime celebrations are usually less formal than evening affairs. Women have more latitude at afternoon weddings with extravagant hats and flowing chiffon dresses, setting a high style. Slacks and skirts are also appropriate. Remember that comfort is key. Wearing sensible shoes is, well, sensible. Avoid wearing serious jewelry during the day, but please do bring out the bling at night. Sparkle, dazzle and shine as much as you wish. In the afternoon, men may wear casual suits or a snazzy trouser/blazer combo. Traditionally, neckties are standard, but as a more relaxed, comfortable style evolves, ties are becoming optional. For an evening event, ties still create a formal tone, especially if black-tie is not requested.

 

Dear Etiquette Guy,

As pandemic protocol loosens up a bit, can you lend some insight on summer travel etiquette when it comes to interacting with resort staff? 

Off To The Islands 

Dear Island Hopper, 

Traveling this summer will be different than pre-COVID times. Frankly, I’d be less concerned with the staff than with other guests. All hotels, resorts, or other tourism venues should have strict protocols in place. The staff must follow these to the letter. Guests, unfortunately, can be less attentive. In any case, I advise keeping a safe distance, wash your hands appropriately, and wear a mask in close quarters. Avoid physical contact with anyone as a precaution. Use common sense because our safety is everyone’s safety.

 

Dear Etiquette Guy

With school starting back in August, any advice for parents on encouraging our children into a routine again? 

Passionate Parent

Dear Parental Guidance Suggested, 

Raising children during COVID has been the most difficult challenge parents have ever faced in generations. Children thrive on routine and reassurance. They also can understand the reasons why there have been changes and that everyone is struggling–some even suffering. My best advice is for parents to set the pace for establishing their own routine first. Children will naturally follow your lead, especially with encouragement, which is not to be confused with commandments.

 

Above all, have consideration for your children when they are out of sorts and confused. Also, remember to have self-compassion. These times are not easy for any of us, and we must realize that no matter what, we are doing our best. We all deserve grace from time to time. Of course, with any situations that are beyond our ability to handle, professional guidance is available.