Archive for the ‘Manners and Etiquette’ Category

Having lived in other countries in the past, one thing I know is that you adapt. You obey their rules and you (learn to) speak their language. If you didn’t like it you didn’t have to live there. In the United States we celebrate Christmas. However, somewhere along the way someone decided that saying Merry Christmas would offend others who live in this country and do not call their celebration Christmas. Come on now, don’t you think that is just a bit too sensitive. I like saying Merry Christmas and sending Christmas cards, and after a lifetime of saying Merry Christmas, saying Happy Holidays just doesn’t feel right.

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


You might also like:
A Social Network Christmas
Santa and his singing reindeer
What Not To Get Your Wife for Christmas
The Art of Gift Giving
Merry Christmas, My Friend
May You Be Blessed

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Have you ever wanted to say to someone, “Back up, you’re in my personal space?”

We all have a comfort zone, an invisible zone of psychological comfort that we carry with us. It’s the region surrounding each person, or that area which a person considers their domain or territory. It’s the bubble of space that you keep between you and the person standing in front of you. We call it our personal space. How much personal space one needs varies depending on who we are talking to and the situation we are in.

Ever notice how uncomfortable you get when someone gets too close to you physically? That means that person has invaded your personal boundaries.

I once had a female supervisor who was like the guy in this video. (Yes, she’s the same person I mentioned in my post “Green with Envy.”) She was this way with everyone. It made me think, “What’s wrong with you?”

In 1966, Edward T. Hall, an anthropologist, introduced the term proxemics.

What is Proxemics?

– The study of the cultural, behavioral, and sociological aspects of spatial distances between individuals
– The study of set measurable distances between people as they interact
– Has to do with the study of our use of space and how various differences in that use can make us feel more relaxed or anxious.

Different cultures maintain different standards of personal space. Mr. Hall has broken down the distances of personal territory (for U.S. Americans) into 4 areas:

0-18 inches: Intimate distance

Has this ever happened to you at work?

18 inches – 4 feet: Personal distance for interactions among good friends or family members

4 feet – 12 feet: Social distance for interactions among acquaintances

12 feet – 25 feet or more: Public distance used for public speaking

Comfortable personal distances also depend on the social situation, gender, and individual preference.

I think many of us know these personal space etiquette tips. This video is especially for those people who are personal space invaders, and don’t know it:

When interacting with others, be mindful of their personal space. Remember these words to a song by “The Police” — “Don’t stand, don’t stand so, don’t stand so close to me!”

Other info on proxemics:
Proxemics article
Book – “The Hidden Dimension,” by Edward T. Hall
Proxemics Overview
Proxemics Research


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Have you ever received a gift from someone and wondered, “What were they thinking?”

This is the time of year that stores love — People are out shopping big time for that special gift(s) to give their family, friends, and sometimes co-workers. I know with a gift it’s supposed to be the thought that counts, but sometimes the message received is “I really wasn’t thinking about you at all. I just wanted to grab this gift to say I got you something.” I still remember the Christmas when my hubby received a cumberbun from a close family member. We both thought, “What were they thinking?” Where was he going to wear it? It’s not like we were going to formal occasions that required one to wear a tuxedo and cumberbun. After all the gifts over the years, I’ve come to realize that some people just don’t have a knack for gift-giving. I’m not an expert but my mother and I have been told “you always give good gifts.” So I thought about it and put together some tips on the art of gift giving.

The Art of Gift Giving

1 – It’s not about you – Giving a gift is about the other person (the receiver), not about you. Get a gift you think the other person will like, not just something you want them to have because you like it. Actually think about what you know about the other person. Do they have any hobbies, are they avid readers, do they collect anything, do they love to cook, fish, play video games, love clothes, shoes, jewelry, etc.

2 – Spend only what you can afford – Do not go into debt to buy presents. An inexpensive gift can be just as special. Sometimes the simplest things are the best things. For example, a framed photo of someone special to them; a grocery store gift certificate.

3 – Listen – Listen when people talk. They will usually tell you about themselves and what they like, and what, if any, hobbies they have or activities they enjoy (for example: going to the theatre, watching movies, playing video games, traveling, reading, music, hiking, biking, etc.)

4 – Observe – When you are with that person, or are in that person’s home, observe your surroundings. You can get a feel for what they like and even for what may be missing that they could use. For example: You can see the person likes Yankee Candles, collects Lladros or Hummels or anything else. You might see that they could use a new pair of gloves, coat, hat, wallet, television, dvr, cd player, dvd player, ipod, electric knife, dishes, silverware, towels, tools, watch, clock, etc. – you get the picture).

5 – Fill a need – People will tell you what’s going on in their lives and what they think they need. You may know that the person is going through a difficult time financially and money would be just the right gift for them. Or maybe they are saving up for something special. Who doesn’t like getting money?

6 – Ask – Ask the person what they would like as a gift. You can say something like “What’s on your birthday, Christmas or whatever, wish list this year?”

7 – Be practical – Give the person something they can use. Keep in mind: Not everyone likes fruit cake or your cooking. My father once had a co-worker that liked to give baked goods on special occasions. The only problem was that none of her co-workers liked the taste of her cooking. She must’ve been trying to make things from scratch. Besides burning it, how else do you mess up cookies?

8 – Splurge – Give the person something special that you know they like but can’t afford, or can afford but wouldn’t spend the money on for themselves. For example: A Coach bag, or some other designer handbag; Tickets to a ball game, concert or a play, etc.

9 – Be sentimental – Someone once told me that one of the best gifts they ever received was from her best friend. She had known her friend since college and now they are grown up, working, and married with children. Her friend made her a (Creative Memories) Photo Book that documented special occasions and words said during the course of their friendship. My daughter and I have since made a special photo book (hardcover with binding and everything) documenting the lives of my mother and aunt. We’ve also done books for others and it seems to have gone over quite well. Sometimes I think I see a little tear forming in their eyes.

Do you have any other tips for gift giving?

Frugal and Homemade gift ideas e-book: The ABC’s of Christmas Gift Giving

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“Visits always give pleasure – if not the coming, then the going.” –Portuguese proverb

Do you think you know how to be a good houseguest?

There are some things in life we take for granted — like assuming that everyone knows how to behave, what to do, and what not to do while visiting someone’s home. Even if that someone is a family member, you still need to remember you are a guest in their home. The holidays can be an especially stressful time even without guests staying overnight.

“When you’re invited to someone’s home for a weekend or longer, knowing what to do to maintain harmony is essential. Sharing living quarters can bring out tensions between guests and hosts like nothing else – and it’s up to you, the guest, to do your best to avoid tense situations.” -Sue Fox, Etiquette For Dummies

How to Be a Good Houseguest

Here are some important things to consider when you plan to stay over at someone’s home:

1 – Be sensitive. Did you call and ask if you can stay? Or did the host invite you to stay in their home? They may feel obligated to say yes, or even to invite you. Listen for anything between the lines. Do they really mean it? Is there space for you to sleep?

2 – When asked to spend the weekend with friends, never assume that bringing your pets, children, friend, or family member is acceptable if you aren’t directly told or invited to do so. Never ask if your children are included in a weekend invitation. Assume they are not unless your hostess specifies otherwise. Don’t ask to bring your pet.

3 – If you have special dietary requirements, please let your host know before you arrive. You may also want to bring some of your own food.

4 – If you’ve brought your children, bring along a supply of portable snacks.

5 – Bring a small gift for the host as a gesture of appreciation. Bring a bottle of wine (or liquor), a picture frame, candle, flowering plant, or a gift that you know your host would appreciate. Nothing too extravagant. Coming in the door bearing gifts is always a good way to start off the visit.

6 – Know when it’s time to go home; don’t wear out your welcome. If you agreed to leave on Sunday afternoon, don’t extend your stay until Monday morning. Remember the old Benjamin Franklin saying, “Fish and houseguests begin to smell after three days.” He was speaking from the point of view of the host.

7 – Offer to pick up the tab sometime. You are saving money by not having to pay for a hotel. If your host takes you out on excursions to see the local sights or you go out to breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you should pay your own way or better yet, treat your host. A good guest would also offer to purchase the gasoline if they take you sightseeing.

8 –If you stay longer than a weekend (three days or more), offer to take your host and hostess out for dinner one night. If there are other houseguests involved, you can all split the cost.

9 – During your stay you must adapt to the host’s lifestyle. Don’t try to run the show. Be adaptable. Be open to the host’s suggestions for meals and recreation. Be ready for anything – or for nothing.

10 – Give your host some space. Usually, both guest and host need some “breathing room” away from each other. Depending on the length of your visit, you might want to spend an afternoon or an entire day out of the house (alone or with your family) and leave your host in peace. Don’t rely entirely on your host and hostess for entertainment. Don’t make other plans without letting your host know.

11 – Don’t accept an invitation before checking with your host. If you have friends in the area who invite you over to their house, tell them you have to check with your hostess before accepting their invitation and be sure to ask if it’s all right to bring your host and hostess with you.

12 – Offer to help. By simple observation, one should be able to notice what needs doing. Ask your hostess if you may help with any household chores.

13 – Clean up after yourself, make sure not to leave your belongings strewn around the house, and make your bed. When your stay is over, empty any wastebaskets and ask your host where to put the used bed and bath linens.

14 – Tidy up after yourself. If you are sleeping on a pull-out convertible sofa bed, take the sheets and blanket off each morning, fold them, and put them along with your pillows away in some out-of-the-way place (you can leave the sheets on the mattress before folding the bed). When it’s time to go to bed, it’s up to you to turn the sofa back into a bed.

15 – Keep the bathroom clean. Don’t splash water everywhere – if you make a mess around the sink, clean it up. Don’t throw anything on the floor, and don’t forget to flush! Men should keep the seat down.

16 – Before taking a bath, ask the hostess if there’s any limit to the hot water supply and, if there is, use the hot water sparingly so others will get their fair share. After the bath, clean the tub.

17 – Return a borrowed item as soon as you no longer need it – and in as good shape, or even better than as when it was lent to you.

18 – If you break it, you fix it. If you break a glass or piece of china, tell your hostess. If it’s something valuable, take it home and have it repaired. If you accidentally leave a stain on a bureau or side table, again tell your hostess and offer to pay whatever the refinishing charges will be. If you stain upholstery, rugs, or other fabric, insist on paying the cleaning bill.

19 – Telephone – Don’t tie up the telephone; if you make a long-distance call be sure to charge it to your credit card or ask the operator for charges and reimburse your host. Don’t answer your host’s telephone without asking. This rule applies even if you’re right next to the phone.

20 – Bring your own toiletries. Don’t count on your host having stocked the guest bathroom cabinet with everything you might need.

21 – Be on time for meals and other activities. If you want to have breakfast in your bathrobe that’s fine, provided you come to the breakfast table looking neat, hair combed, and wearing bedroom slippers.

22 – Be considerate of someone else’s house; don’t sit on furniture in a wet bathing suit; keep your feet off the furniture; don’t hog the bathroom.

23 – Keep your voice down late in the evening or early morning, and if the guest room has a television, keep the volume low.

24 – If you must smoke, ask the hostess if she minds your doing so in her house; if she does, then smoke only out of doors. Never smoke in bed.

25 – Don’t make the first move to go to bed. When to end the evening is the host’s prerogative. You can hint that you’re tired, but the custom is to wait for the host to give you the signal. The exception is when your hosts are family or close friends who won’t mind if you retire early or stay up late.

26 – On the day you leave, take the sheets, blankets, and pillowcases off the bed, fold them, and leave them neatly on the top of the bed.

27 – Appear to enjoy yourself. Even if you aren’t having the best time, act as if you couldn’t be more pleased.

28 – Check your bedroom and bathroom before leaving to be sure you haven’t forgotten anything. Then check it a second time. It’s inconvient for a hostess to have to mail something you’ve left behind.

29 – Be courteous. Treat any household help courteously.

30 – Always send your host a thank-you note or letter of appreciation.

“Hospitality is making your guests feel at home, even if you wish they were.” -Author Unknown


Emily Post’s Etiquette, by Peggy Post, 17th edition

Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette: 50th Anniversary Edition, by Nancy Tuckerman, Nancy Dunnan, and Amy Vanderbilt

Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, Freshly Updated, by Judith Martin

Etiquette for Dummies, by Sue Fox

EHow article

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Do you think you know the proper way to cough and sneeze? I thought we all got that lesson.

During an update on the H1N1 virus, Health and Human Services Secretary (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius gave some impromptu advice to NBC’s Chuck Todd when he sneezed and forgot to cover his mouth.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17 (UPI) — A sneeze is just a sneeze except when it’s done in front of the U.S. health and human services secretary — then it’s a learning moment.

Kathleen Sebelius called out an errant sneezer during a White House news briefing Thursday while she was reviewing several department initiatives.

“Bless you,” she said, then realized the reporter didn’t use the preferred method of sneezing into the crook of his elbow. “I mean, what is that about?” Read more here: http://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2009/09/17/Sneeze-at-briefing-nothing-to-sneeze-at/UPI-31821253225452/

Just for the fun of it I googled “proper way to cough and sneeze.” We do want to be prepared for the upcoming flu season don’t we? I actually found a video that was rather entertaining, yet educational. It’s called “Why Don’t We Do It In Our Sleeves.” Take a look here: http://www.coughsafe.com/media.html

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Are you on Facebook?

Facebook http://www.facebook.com was once thought of as a social networking site for the young. Not true any more. I was finally coerced into joining Facebook and was amazed at how many people over the age 40 are members. To my surprise, I’ve reconnected with people from my high school, and keep in better contact with friends and family members. I’ve even gotten some friend invites from several young men that I don’t know. Hmmm, I guess there are guys on there trolling for women. I was a little flattered but I just ignored those requests. Since I’m a Facebook newbie, my blog buddy – Digitalcitizen http://digitalcitizen.ca, shared a Facebook Etiquette/Netiquette Guide he wrote. I’ve also found other Facebook manners/etiquette tidbits.

Here’s a rather humorous video on Facebook manners:

Here’s Digitalcitizen’s Facebook Etiquette/Netiquette guides

If you’re already using Facebook, I think you’ll get a kick out of this video titled “Facebook Breakup”:

You might also like:
Facebook humor – A Slap in the Facebook

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People often worry about the forms of introductions, but the only true unforgivable breach of etiquette is the failure to attempt an introduction when people who don’t know each other are in your presence. –Emily Post’s Etiquette

Have you ever been in a social situation where you felt awkward because you were not introduced to someone, or people, you didn’t know?

What is the purpose of introductions?

In my research I found three answers to this question:

1- To convey names

2- To promote a sense of comfort and ease among strangers


3 – The goal for making introductions is to provide information about each other in order to give you a common ground to carry on a conversation.

The following are some guidelines for making social introductions:

1 – The secret to knowing the order of social introductions is to remember the rule “Identify the king (or ruler) of the situation.”

2 – The most important person (ruler) is the eldest woman in the group. When introducing her you say her full name first.

3 – If no women are in the group, the first name spoken is that of the eldest man or most distinguished man. If you aren’t sure of their ages, or if their ages are the same, introduce the man you don’t know as well to the one you know better. Say the name of the person you know better first.

4 – Formal and informal social introductions are done by gender. Traditionally in social situations, men are introduced to women (“Mrs. Rich, I’d like to introduce Mr. Jones.”). Today it can be done either way.

5 – By tradition and out of respect, the younger or less important person is introduced to the older and more important one, regardless of sex. The younger person’s name is stated second. For example: “Aunt Ruth, I want you to meet my roommate, Mimi Carey. Mimi, this is my aunt Mrs. Rich.”

6 – If you’re in a business situation, gender doesn’t matter; determine who to introduce based on pecking order — the ruler is the highest-ranking person in the group. For example, when introducing your father to your college professor, the professor is the ruler, and you say his name first.

7 – Always give a last name when introducing people to each other.

8 – Try to introduce people by the names and titles they prefer. In the case of a doctor or someone in the clergy or military, it’s usual to include a title in the introduction. Including the title will let people know the proper way to address the person.

9 – Introduce family members by their full names unless they request otherwise. The relationship between the introducer and the family member is often mentioned. When introducing others to family members, the other person’s name is generally said first (“Carlos, I’d like you to meet my brother, Edward Prince”) if the people being introduced are of roughly the same age and rank. But as a sign of respect, an older family member is named first (“Granny, I’d like to introduce Mr. John Silver. John, this is my grandmother, Mrs. Mack”).

10 – When introducing your college friends to your parents, you would use your friend’s full names, but you probably wouldn’t introduce your parents by theirs. You can simply say, “These are my parents.” Or if they have a last name that differs from yours, you can say, “These are my parents, Mr. and Mrs. Doe.”

11 – When you share last names, introduce your spouse and offspring to adults by first names only. When introducing your husband to a friend, what you say is, “I’d like you to meet my husband Joe (or Joe Doe).” Never refer to him as “Mr. Doe” or “Dr. Doe.” The same formula applies when your husband introduces you.

12 – When introducing yourself to others, always give your full name and tell them something (but not too much) about yourself. Be sure to ask them questions too.

13 – Extend your hand for a handshake when introducing yourself or being introduced. Squeeze the other person’s hand firmly, yet gently, and grasp the entire hand.

14 – In social situations, the host(s) should try to jump-start the conversation between the people they’ve just introduced. This can be done by trying to find some topic the people they’ve just introduced have in common.


Emily Post’s Etiquette, by Peggy Post, 17th edition

Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette: 50th Anniversary Edition, by Nancy Tuckerman, Nancy Dunnan, and Amy Vanderbilt

Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, Freshly Updated, by Judith Martin

Etiquette for Dummies, by Sue Fox

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“If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek,
Five things observe with care: —
Of whom you speak — to whom you speak,
And how — and when — and where.”
–from Little House on the Prairie

Have you ever become upset or offended by someone’s lack of manners? Recently my blogging buddy Delicacies http://delicacies.wordpress.com and I have. You can check out her etiquette story here: http://delicacies.wordpress.com/2009/07/20/rachael-ray-martha-stewart-and-my-niece-l/. So this started me thinking — how do we know what we know when it comes to manners and etiquette? My first thought was that it starts with “home training.” We begin our manners and etiquette education at home. We are first taught by our parents/guardians. Then we are taught more lessons when we enter school, and later on in the workforce. We must know the proper manners and etiquette for a variety of life situations (such as parties, traveling, weddings, letter writing, personal hygiene, etc.), as well as visiting someone’s home. There is social etiquette and business etiquette. Now that we have cell phones, computers and the internet, there are even more etiquette lessons to learn. Manners and etiquette also vary based on cultures. It seems manners and etiquette is a life-long learning thing. So this got me thinking…

How did this manners and etiquette thing begin? What’s the difference between manners and etiquette? Who makes up the rules?

The first known book on appropriate behavior was a guide that Ptah-hotep, a government official in Egypt in 2500 B.C., wrote for his son. Several Greeks and Romans wrote behavior guides, including Aristotle, Horace, Cicero, and Plutarch. In thirteenth-century Europe, the chivalric code established precisely and minutely the proper behavior for knights regarding the Christian church, their country, and the treatment of women. During the reign of Louis XIV (1638–1715) in France, the term “etiquette” came into use. Based on the French word “ticket,” which denoted the proper paths for nobility to follow in the gardens of the palace of Versailles, the rules of etiquette came to provide a daily, very precise list of functions related to times, places, and proper dress and behavior. Thus, proper etiquette came to be associated with the upper classes and those trying to emulate their behavior.

Nevertheless, proper manners were a concern even of leaders in the more democratic society of eighteenth-century America. At age fourteen, George Washington transcribed his own “Rules of Civility.” William Penn published collections of maxims on personal and social conduct. Benjamin Franklin’s very popular Poor Richard’s Almanac was full of comments on proper behavior. During the nineteenth century, hundreds of books on etiquette were published in the United States. These were designed for the common person and schoolchildren as well as the upper classes. One of the most popular, which has survived to the twenty-first century, is the Youth’s Educator for Home and Society, published in 1896, which covered a wide variety of situations, including the usual—parties, traveling, weddings, parents and children, letter writing, and personal hygiene—but also, cycling.

As society has changed, so have rules for proper behavior. After World War I (1914–1918), society became more open as roles of women began to change. Many believed that proper manners would become less important. In 1922, Emily Post published the most popular book on etiquette for society, business, politics, and home and family. Her book became the model for thousands of others since then. The sixteenth edition of Etiquette was published in 1997.

Post was succeeded by Amy Vanderbilt, who called herself a “journalist in the field of etiquette.” Her contribution to American good manners was “Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Guide to Etiquette.”

Soon other etiquette mavens followed, including Letitia Baldrige and Judith “Miss Manners” Martin, whose tongue-in-cheek columns led to the publishing of several books on etiquette, including “Miss Manners Guide To Domestic Tranquility”, which she published in 1999.

Today, Peggy Post, the great-grand-daughter of Emily Post has also thrown her hat into the good-manner ring. Her book is called “The Etiquette Advantage in Business: Personal Skills for Professional Success.”

The field has also expanded beyond society manners. Today, many big businesses employ etiquette trainers whose job it is to teach good manners to executives. Etiquette trainers not only show business people how to dress and act–how to eat and converse in proper company–but they also train them how to become more successful in their companies and in the business world by providing lessons on such peripheral items as writing good business letters.

With the global society becoming much closer, executives having a background in societal and cultural differences have a much better chance not to offend as well as a greater success rate if they can demonstrate good etiquette skills. Hundreds of etiquette coaches exist in business today.

There are etiquette books and Web sites for nearly every subject imaginable. The arena of most concern appears to be the proper manners and etiquette for weddings. Other titles reflect changes in American society and cover everything: singles in the city, all sports (not just cycling), proper computer “netiquette” and use of cellphones, and multicultural situations. The coverage demonstrates the changes in society but also demonstrates the continued concern about how to behave appropriately. As many people believe, good manners may be dead, but certainly the curiosity and concern about rules of etiquette are alive and well.

Manners and Etiquette:

“Etiquette tells one which fork to use. Manners tell one what to do when your neighbor doesn’t.”

Good manners signal that you have respect for others, and that you will rise to every occasion with grace.

It is helpful to know some rules about how to behave in certain situations — if only because this makes life more comfortable for you and makes you more self-confident in social situations.

Manners and Etiquette go hand in hand, but are not the same. Etiquette is a set of rules dealing with exterior form. Manners are an expression of inner character. According to Emily Post, perhaps the most influential American writer on etiquette in the twentieth century, “manners are made up of trivialities of deportment which can be easily learned if one does not happen to know them; manner is personality—the outward manifestation of one’s innate character and attitude toward life.” Manners are common sense, a combination of generosity of spirit and specific know-how. Rules of etiquette are the guiding codes that enable us to practice manners.

Most commentators would agree with Emily Post and add that rather than being stiff, rigid rules, proper etiquette is meant to help people get along with each other and avoid conflict. Respect, kindness, and consideration form the basis of good manners and good citizen-ship. Etiquette becomes the language of manners. Rules of etiquette cover behavior in talking, acting, living, and moving; in other words, every type of interaction and every situation.

For the unlearned, etiquette lessons in business and social situations can be purchased via the internet or bought in a book store. There is no longer an excuse to not have “the ticket”. Etiquette today is based on treating everyone with the same degree of kindness and consideration, and it consists mostly of common sense and basic good manners.

Since there is so much to learn in this area I will do a blog post once a week on the subject of manners/etiquette.

“Don’t reserve your best behavior for special occasions. You can’t have two sets of manners, two social codes – one for those you admire and want to impress, another for those whom you consider unimportant. You must be the same to all people.”
–Lillian Eichler Watson

Info obtained from: US History Encyclopedia: Manners and Etiquette


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