With wedding season upon us, and the BIG Royal wedding right around the corner, it is a good time to talk wedding guest etiquette - specifically how not to be the topic of conversation! Great wedding guest etiquette keeps the focus on the special event and the couple. I had the chance to sit down with Better Kansas City and talk through a few guest dilemmas. Starting with when to arrive!
A few weeks ago I sat down with Firesign Marketing to tackle an interview on a tough topic - how to handle a colleague's passing as it relates to the workplace. Firesign Marketing caters primarily to legal clients i.e. law firms, and they were interested in providing their readers with some etiquette in how to best handle this very delicate topic.
I love the consideration of this article topic, because there is truly so much to consider when this occurs. How does the firm relay the news? Who is in contact with the family? When and How should you notify other partners, colleagues or clients?
Read on below for our interview and the answers to these important questions.
How to Handle a Partner’s Death with Grace
From employee handbooks to partnership agreements, there are plenty of resources to help navigate the straightforward “do’s” and “don’ts” of law firm management.
However, there are sometimes unexpected instances that aren’t explicitly covered – like how best to handle the death of a partner. Who should you contact first? What’s the most suitable way to inform your staff? Do you post on the website?
While a partner’s passing may be unexpected, you do not have to be unprepared. Handling sensitive issues is easier with a plan; if you develop a general protocol for these situations, the process will be smoother for your firm and the family. You can balance business needs with empathy and emotional intelligence.
We talked to Courtney Fadler, founder of Courtney Fadler Etiquette. Fadler, a graduate of the Emily Post Institute, stressed the importance of offering condolences to all parties and keeping sentiments focused on the partner’s life and accomplishments. Fadler teaches the three etiquette principles of consideration, respect and honesty.
Here’s how to apply those principles to the passing of a partner:
- Work with the family. Fadler says the first point of contact should always be the family of the deceased. The family may wish for privacy, and it is important to know that before communicating a partner’s death to your staff. The family may have specific wishes on where flowers, notes and charitable donations may be sent, and they may not wish to have meals delivered to their home. Remember: They are grieving.Be mindful of putting too much pressure on the family. It is often more helpful to say “We are thinking of doing such-and-such, is that OK?” versus “How can we help?” Don’t put it on them to develop your plan. Be tactful when asking permission to inform staff, clients and the public of a partner’s passing.
- Tell your staff as soon as appropriate. Once you have received approval from the family, communicate the partner’s death to other partners and leadership first to discuss the best course of action for your firm. Be efficient in your execution of strategy. Do not let your staff find out in the newspaper or through gossip channels. Give them some time and space to mourn.
- Contact clients, too. Make a practical effort to call the decedent’s clients, when possible instead of email. Let them know the new contact at the firm and offer some reassurance.
- Post the news on your website and social channels. Once staff and clients know – and with the blessing of the family – make a tasteful announcement on social media. Consider adding a remembrance page on your website’s news section. Don’t immediately erase the deceased; add an In Memoriam header to the partner’s online biography. Fadler says it’s best to have the partner’s email automatically forwarded to someone who can personally respond to each email, whether by phone, email or in person. Make sure your receptionist knows how to direct calls, too.
- Remember your colleague. Consider memorializing the individual with a dedicated conference room or internal award. (Again, be sure to get the blessing of the family.) We know one firm that named its annual office putt-putt event after a deceased partner who used to organize it; the firm invites his widow and toasts his memory each year. It is a genuine, heartfelt commemoration.
“In these delicate and sometimes unexpected situations, it’s important to make every decision based on consideration for the family and those closest to the deceased,” Fadler said. “If so, you are probably making great etiquette decisions that will help honor the deceased and be comfortable for all involved.”
The weather is giving us a little break in this area of the country, and it's starting to feel like (ahhhhh!) SPRING! Though we know better in the Midwest than to think Winter is done with us, the hope is certainly there. But one thing is for sure, the colds aren't gone just yet!
I sat down to talk with the lovely host of Better Kansas City to talk about cold and flu season etiquette. Can you avoid shaking hands for the benefit of attempting to stay healthy? What do you do with a guest who is clearly under the weather? We tackled all of this and more in our segment. Below are a few quick Do's to help you stay safe AND civil during cold and flu season!
DO Shake Hands! The damage you can do by avoiding or refusing a hand shake, especially in a business situation, may be detrimental. Etiquette is all about building relationships, and properly greeting someone is an important part of that. Shake hands and then, if needed, discretely excuse yourself and wash your hands.
DO Stay Home! If you've been invited to do something with others (let's say a dinner party...) and you are feeling under the weather, be considerate of the other guests and don't bring your ailment to the party. On the show, we talked about the reverse - What if you have a guest who is clearly under the weather in attendance? Do you ask him/her to go home? Your good manners would never do such a thing, just be the gracious host you are and don't bring attention to it.
DO Hold The Door For Others! Keep your gracious manners in mind and continue to grab and hold that door for others. With everyone scurrying inside quickly to get out of the cold, this is such a simple way to show consideration and respect for others.
DO Excuse Yourself! Don't forget that some things have no place at the table. If you need to blow your nose or manage a prolonged cough, do excuse yourself from the table to the restroom. Your fellow companions will appreciate it!
And one last one that I selfishly include - please DO wipe down the exercise equipment after each use:)
Hang in there! Spring is just around the corner!
Wondering if you have to tip on wine at that holiday dinner? Is it okay to re-gift? How many drinks are too many at the company holiday party?? These questions and more answered on holiday party etiquette with the hosts of Kansas City Live TV!
Does "don't bring anything" really mean just that? I answered this question, along with many others around holiday social etiquette, on KCTV5 Better Kansas City's morning show. Listen in below for what to do if mother-in-law is expecting her recipes to be used, how to handle that late guest, should you get your boss a gift and is it okay to send your holiday cards to everyone?
You'll be calm as a cucumber all holiday long with a few of these tips - and remember to have a few small host gifts at the ready.:) Let the holiday season begin!
I had the opportunity to visit KC Live TV morning show this week and talk through some VERY frequent workplace email conundrums. Knowing how to navigate these sticky situations can sometimes be the difference between hiring and firing, or a promotion. These aren't just etiquette skills, these are leadership skills. Here's a helpful hint: if in doubt on email tone - pick up the phone.
I think for most of us who are parents, we are in a constant love/hate relationship with technology when it comes to our children. It’s ridiculously convenient on a long road or plane trip, waiting in the pediatrician’s office or when we desperately need to get something done around the house for a few minutes. But it grows very irksome as our children grow older and ask more and more to play on our phones, ipads, laptops, etc. Or even more so, ask for their own devices!
How do we foster the next cyber entrepreneur genius, while still ensuring our children are able to hold and master a face-to-face conversation?
I received this article out of The New York Times from my children’s Head of School, and I immediately printed it out and pinned it up. It’s written by a psychologist and practicing family physician, Dr. Leonard Sax, who has studied the effects of social media on children. My immediate takeaway….many of the “answers” to the growing issues with our children and technology lies in teaching them, and demonstrating in our homes, the basic principles of Etiquette! Here’s a few snippets from the article to show you what I mean:
“In the typical American household today, when kids go home, they go to their bedrooms and aren’t seen again except perhaps for meals. That’s crazy. A family can’t be a family if the kids spend more time alone in their bedrooms than with their family members. Insist that your daughter, or son, do whatever they’re doing online in a public space: in the kitchen or the living room. There should be nothing in the bedroom except a bed: no TV, no PlayStation, no screens. That’s the official recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Another suggestion: fight for suppertime. And don’t allow phones at the table. In a 2013 Canadian survey of kids across a range of backgrounds, those who had more meals with parents were much less likely to have been feeling sad, anxious or lonely. They were more likely to help others and more likely to report being satisfied with their own lives…A third suggestion: No headsets and no earbuds in the car. When your child is in the car with you, you should be listening to her and she should be listening to you – not to Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus or Akon or Eminem. Teach the art of face-to-face conversation.”
Here is the link to the full article. It’s short and definitely worth your time! Hope you gain as much from it as I have. What a wonderful reminder that the basic principles of etiquette (consideration, respect and honesty), whether taught from day 1 or started at day 3,001, remain a phenomenal tool for grounding our children in success for the future.
Wonder if it's okay to take your shoes off on an airplane? Have a guest who is always late to dinner? Curious if it's okay to have your cell phone in a meeting? Etiquette answers here from last week's visit to Better Kansas City!:)
So you’re ready to land that first job, or maybe move on to another opportunity. You’ve spent an enormous amount of time getting your resume or C.V. together, in the various forms they come in these days (remember back when it was on paper??), and you’ve finally been invited to interview. Now is when it’s time to shine and showcase your polish and confidence. That first impression is when you make your mark:
Mind Your Social Media Manners – Don’t think twice that potential employers won’t first look you up online to quickly weed out if they want to take your resume any further. In fact, for some larger organizations, their H.R. department may be tasked with doing just that. Your potential employer is looking for someone who will be an exemplary representation of that organization, and if your online presence turns up any photos or words that are questionable, you can probably consider yourself out of the running. There’s a lot of competition out there, and you have to set yourself apart in a positive way.
P.S. This goes for life in general. Your online image and presence sends many messages about you, intended or unintended. Keep it courteous, respectful, civil and dignified, and you’ll find it will help you keep relationships and flourish new ones.
Prepare for the Interview – You should be doing as much advance work as your potential employer is! Review their Web site in depth so you can answer questions and pose thoughtful, educated ones. And, if possible, look up the person with whom you are interviewing so you recognize their face when you meet in person and possibly know a little more about them to add to conversation.
Dress the Part – You’ve likely heard the expression, “Dress for the job you want.” Well, it still holds up. It is always better to be overdressed than underdressed, especially when you are trying to land the job. You may already know that the organization has somewhat of a “relaxed or business casual” environment, but that does not give you permission to assume that is okay for the interview. Most would never fault you for, say, a suit and tie, or a lady’s business suit or dress, even if it’s a casual workplace. But, they just may note you didn’t bother to change out of your jeans and tennis shoes. Always err on the side of looking your personal best.
Be on Time – Be on time, be on time, be on time. Cannot overstate this enough. Going into an interview with a strike for lateness puts you at a tremendous disadvantage, and can taint the overall tone of the interview. It’s discourteous to the person interviewing you, who likely has a full day already and is short on time. Not to mention, you lose out on that time you could have been using to impress. CONVERSELY, don’t arrive too early. Ten to 15 minutes early MAX is an ideal time to arrive. Arriving 30 minutes early or more puts the interviewer in a position to have to figure out what to do with you, especially if he or she is tied up until the interview time.
Make an Impression – When the moment arrives, and the interviewer walks toward you to greet you, follow these rules:
· Stand Up
· Extend your Hand and use their last name i.e. “It’s a pleasure to meet you Mr. Jones/Mrs. Smith”
· Shake Hands (2 or 3 firm pumps) and smile!
· Say “Thank You” for taking the time for the interview. You will say this again at the end.
Follow Up – When the interview is over, say “thank you” once again as you are leaving. Always end with that message of gratitude. Then follow up, immediately, with a “thank you” note. It will likely distinguish you from the others. If you feel compelled, you may also send an immediate follow up “thank you” email for same day timeliness. But still put that written “thank you” note in the mail too as it shows an added touch of effort, which just may make the difference.
Now Go and Be Gracious!
Is there anything better than a meal of just appetizers? It’s not really a question, the answer is “no.” Appetizers and rose’, this is all I need. And half of those appetizers should consist of various forms of cheese plates, as long as I’m still planning my perfect meal.
If you’re like me, and you never host a dinner party without a few apps to start – or if you’ve ever eaten (or plan to eat) an appetizer – then these 4 Quick Tips are for you!
Here’s a quick debrief on what to do for those tricky appetizer encounters, whether you are the host, guest, or out to eat at a restaurant. And if it involves burrata, you should definitely get that!
1. Use the Plates. Know those stack of plates your server brings to your table with that heaping bowl of spinach dip and chips? Well, go ahead and start passing them out to everyone at the table. Because no matter what the appetizer (yes, even chips and salsa/guacamole), you should put it on your appetizer plate and use it. Not the bread plate you may have already been using for, well, bread. And not your hand either that you’re using as a makeshift plate for that chip dip from the bowl in the middle of the table to your mouth.
Spooning a reasonable amount of the dip, sauce, etc., on to your plate and then using a utensil to get the conduit (i.e. chips, bread, veggies) on your plate serves many beneficial upsides: the food is now closer to your mouth so less chances of embarrassing yourself by dropping on the table halfway, less germs are shared by a communal appetizer bowl, and you decrease the chances of the gross broken chip left by another person in the queso bowl by 100%.
Conversely, if you are entertaining at home, set out appetizer plates for your guests. For quick one bite options, feel free to use plastic disposable tooth picks (they make really cute ones now), or even tiny little individual cups for nuts. There are so many clever table hosting options these days. If you find yourself in a situation where plates aren’t available, use a napkin instead. Always remember the First Rule of Etiquette – Be Gracious! Never make a fuss when someone else is cooking for you, make do and appreciate what they are doing for you.
Other appetizers this section also applies to:
· Pita and hummus
· Cheese plates
· Buffalo wings
· Shrimp cocktail
· Endless jalapeño poppers/mozzarella sticks/toasted ravioli
· And every other appetizer you can think of or have tried (In the U.S. anyway, remember other cultures have other customs. You should always defer to the customs of that culture, including in other people’s homes.)
2. Seconds, After Everyone else First. You know when you’re really hungry, and you can already tell dinner is going to take awhile, and there’s only a few slices of bruschetta left, and everyone else has had one except your wife/wife’s friend who is busy gabbing to the host about her centerpiece? (Right now my husband is nodding his head “yes”.) You want to get another piece of that delicious tomato and mozzarella heaven, but you know good manners precludes you from doing that. But, what if someone else does it anyway, and then it’s all gone?!
Follow your instincts and good manners. Instead of giving in to the voice of your grumbling stomach, pick up the platter of heaven, and take it over to your wife/wife’s friend and offer her a plate (or napkin) and a slice of the bruschetta. Once she accepts, or declines, then you are free to take it back to the table and help yourself to another serving. As always with your good manners, don’t go crazy, just take one. It’s likely some other starving husband (or wife) has been eyeing those last few pieces too.
Same goes for restaurant etiquette, take a reasonable portion of the appetizer, and then pass it along ensuring there is enough for everyone at the table to have the same portion. And don’t forget, for those odd-portioned or large-sized appetizers, cutting items in half to ensure there is some for everyone is not only gracious, it’s just plain good manners.
3. Pass to the Right. Once you’ve sliced those mouth-watering beef short-rib sliders in half so there’s enough for everyone at the table to have one, go ahead and start the platter by passing it to your right. Same rule applies at any “Family Style Dinner” setting i.e. Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. You always pass to the right. And while I’m at it, I love a person who forgoes their own first selection to pass it to the right and then claims theirs at the very end. This is not necessary! I just love the thought behind it.
4. “Finger Foods” for a Reason. A quick word on utensils and appetizers – it’s completely okay to eat “finger foods” with your fingers. Once you’ve gotten those truffle fries and aioli on your plate, go ahead and dip away with your fingers. If you’re a person who prefers to eat their pizza with a knife and fork, you may also be one who prefers to use a fork for all finger foods as well. This is completely okay. The best rule of thumb in any situation, if you’re unsure of what is and is not a finger food, is to look to your utensils setting and/or your host for what they are doing. For instance, if you have a tiny fork among your setting and your host is using it for the smoked oysters, go ahead and do the same. In all instances, make sure you utilize your napkin, whether in your lap or under your plate while standing at a cocktail party, to wipe your hands. If need be, make a quick dash to the restroom to wash up after particularly messy appetizers.
BONUS TIP: The Barefoot Contessa says all you really need for a great appetizer spread at a dinner party is a (preferably silver) bowl of salty nuts, some shavings of really good Parmesan cheese and some nice baked crackers along side. Two things you can buy, and one you can make if you desire. So simple and so elegant. Now go plan a party:)
Air Travel Do’s and Don’ts - CF Etiquette on "Better Kansas City"
All of your burning etiquette questions for air travel answered below! If I missed some, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Would love to hear your questions!
Honestly, is it okay for me to bring my lunch onto a plane? I see so many people doing it.
· The short answer – yes, of course – but with a huge caveat.
· Your first rule of etiquette is to always do what is considerate. So make a considerate lunch choice that will not create a smell others may not care for.
· Skip the tuna salad sandwich for a turkey sandwich instead, or go for a salad instead of something hot.
· Be sure to give your trash to a flight attendant as soon as possible so it is no longer lingering in your row.
· And as always, the same rules of consideration apply as if you were at a dinner table i.e. chew with your mouth closed and don’t talk with your mouth full.
What if the person next to me is eating something that I cannot stand to look at or smell? What do I do?
· If it is not feasible for you to politely move to another seat (as planes are often completely full), the best thing to do is take your mind off of it by putting on your headphones and diving into a book or work.
· It wouldn’t be considerate to make the person feel uncomfortable about their food choice, even if it is bothering you or others around you.
· Once they are finished eating, you can politely offer to hand their trash to the flight attendant or “throw it away” while you are up.
· If the situation becomes unbearable for any reason, you can discreetly discuss it with a flight attendant, who may be able to offer some remedies. They have certainly seen it all!
Can I recline my seat?
· Unless you are on a very long cross-country or international flight, the best etiquette rule of thumb is not to recline your seat.
· There is very little space these days for leg room, and reclining seats just takes that much more away from the person behind you.
· If you are on a very long flight (i.e. international flight) and will be reclining your seat for sleep or otherwise, make sure the person behind you is not in the middle of eating their dinner on the tray table before you recline.
· You can even take that extra step of consideration, and ask them if its okay if you recline your seat for awhile.
Who gets the armrest? Is it whoever gets there first? And what about the person in the middle?
· Since the middle seat is typically least desirable, the etiquette armrest rule of thumb is that the person in the middle gets both of the inside armrests, the aisle passenger gets the aisle armrest, and the window passenger gets the window armrest
I always seem to sit near someone talking on their Bluetooth or hands-free phone, is that acceptable on planes now? It drives me crazy, what can I do?
· Under the etiquette principles of consideration and respect, it is definitely NOT okay to speak on your cell phone in a hands-free setting on the plane.
· It invites everyone else into your conversation, even when they would prefer not to be.
· If you must talk on your cell phone on the plane, be brief, and keep the volume of your voice at a minimum.
· If you are seated next to someone talking loudly on hands-free, you may feel free to politely talk to them when they are not on a call, and ask if they wouldn’t mind talking a bit more quietly as you are trying to read, baby is asleep, etc.
· People are usually unaware of how loud they are talking, and don’t really mean to!
How do I escape a conversation with the person next to me? I don’t want to be rude, but I’d like to read during the flight.
· It’s a polite thing to exchange pleasantries when you sit down next to a person on a plane. In fact, it’s just plain good manners to make eye contact and say “hello” to them.
· However, if it evokes a conversation that begins to go on a little longer than you might like, a polite way to excuse yourself from the conversation is to say something like, “I’m so enjoying talking with you, but my apologies I have a deadline for work I’ve unfortunately got to get working on now. Let me know if my typing bothers you!”
· No matter what you say, though, make sure it is honest. The person next to you will easily be able to tell if you are playing solitaire on the computer as opposed to writing a work email.
I once had a passenger tell me my bag was in her overhead compartment space, and that I need to move it. Is there assigned overhead bag space?
· No, overhead bag areas are first come first serve.
· The polite thing to do is to put your bag directly over your seat, but if that space is no longer available, you may feel free to try and locate another space near your seat, or ask a flight attendant to find a space for you.
· The key is to find a place for your bag that is the least disruptive to other passengers when you are trying to disembark.
Best Rule of Etiquette for Air Travel – Use the Flight Attendants! You don’t have to be the one to address the issue. They are trained to do it in a polite way, and know how to handle it if a situation were to escalate in grumpiness!
Hands-free and blue tooth cell phone options are wonderful, especially in the privacy of your car when you’re on the go. It’s safer and smarter. But what happens when people take the “on the go” convenience of hands-free cell use a bit too literally…like on the plane next to you, waiting behind you in line at the store, or even in the stall next to you in the bathroom!
I have most definitely experienced all of these, and I bet you have too. It’s just terribly awkward, isn’t it? The conversation is audible to everyone, and typically louder than a normal phone conversation because the person is trying to speak loudly enough for the microphone to pick it up. Plus, that person is usually trying to speak over whatever other noise is going on around them, including the roar of an airplane engine or the flush of a toilet. It makes me cringe just thinking about it. And, I even find that I am unwittingly trying to be more quiet than normal just to allow them to have their conversation without interruption, which is frankly slightly absurd on my part.
How do you politely tell someone you don’t want to be a part of their cell phone conversation simply by default of your proximity to them?!
The reality is, you really can’t without interrupting their call, which wouldn’t fall in line with your code of consideration. You are left to either try and ignore the conversation, or put on headphones and tune it out until you can move out of ear shot of the person. Or, at least, until the airline attendant tells everyone to turn off their cellular devices. In cases where you are stuck next to a person for a lengthy amount of time, and cell phone use is permitted, you can politely ask them in between calls if they wouldn’t mind using the regular cell phone option or continuing at a lower volume.
Hands-free options are meant for private places where your conversation won’t invite others nearby into it, especially when they don’t want to be. So keep the headsets (and speaker phones) put away for places like your car, office or hotel room. And, as always, no matter whether you’re using hands-free or not, consider others around you before you make that call, and find a quiet spot to take it where it’s easy for the person on the other end to hear you too.