One of the most enjoyable aspects of the holidays are the parties! Whether for work, family, or friends, gathering with others and celebrating the season is a happy occasion.
While common etiquette rules apply, what special situations do the holidays present? The unique nature of holiday party etiquette involves dealing with gifts, open bars, and mistletoe! Let’s look at seven situations you may be navigating in the next few weeks.
1. Personal Interactions
People make the parties! When interacting at holiday parties, you can keep many of the same etiquette rules in place. Look people in the eye, give a firm handshake, and ask more questions than you give answers. Ask questions about their family, interests, or whatever else comes up!
If you find yourself caught in a lengthy conversation, politely excuse yourself at the next lull in a conversation. Do not continually look past the person and to the crowd, hoping someone “bigger and better” comes along. Be present with the conversation you are in.
2. Eating & Drinking
If the party is a pot luck (bring your best dish, for those not in the south), then ask the host what type of dish the party needs. Many food sites like FoodNetwork.com have hundreds of recipes, or use a family favorite! If your dish is for special diets, stick a toothpick with a note in the corner to describe the dish (vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free).
At the party, eat to be full but don’t stuff yourself. If you’re treating the party as a networking event, eat before the party and snack while there. You don’t want to have a mouthful of ham when a good contact walks up!
If the party has alcohol (and many do), limit yourself to a few drinks and stay in your right mind! Careers and friendships have been ruined by one drunken holiday party. Sipping on your drink over time and drinking water in between will lessen the alcohol’s impact on your body and mind. Consider getting a friend to cut you off, and remember not to drink and drive!
As we talked about last week with social media holiday etiquette, consider avoiding pictures, especially if you’ve been drinking. If you’re the one taking pictures, certainly avoid snapping embarrassing shots of co-workers or friends. A wild party isn’t always a person’s best moment, so save them some embarrassment and keep the camera in your pocket.
Now this doesn’t mean we need to run away when a picture is being taken. If everyone is feeling and acting appropriately, enjoy taking some memorable pictures of the party!
4. Mistletoe Etiquette
Finding yourself under the mistletoe can be an awkward situation for many people, but if you follow a few simple guidelines you’ll be commended for your mistletoe manners! Avoid full lip kissing with co-workers, instead opting for a hug, or kiss on the hand, cheek, or an “air kiss”, moving your cheeks close and making a kissing sound in the air. Of course, if you find yourself under the mistletoe with a spouse or significant other, then lip kissing is encouraged
The bottom line under the mistletoe is to treat the other person with respect and defer to their wishes, while protecting your own dignity. If you do find yourself underneath with someone who goes in for a full kiss, kindly turn your cheek, and then turn and head for the hors d’oeuvres!
If the party has a gift aspect, be sure you are clear on any guidelines. Gift swaps usually involve a price range, and it’s impolite to stray too far over or under, even if the gift was on sale! In a memorable episode of The Office, Michael Scott went way overboard and brought an iPod for his gift, creating lots of gift giving (and taking) tension.
You can still give unique gifts within a price range, choose to shop at local stores and boutiques, or online storefronts like Etsy.com
If you’re at a hosted party, check in with the host before and after to see if there’s anything you can do to help. Simply putting up chairs, taking out the trash, or soaking the dishes can be a huge help to the host family.
Even if you’re an event where the setup and cleaning is taken care of, it’s polite and kind to take a few moments to thank those hurrying around and cleaning. Their hard work helps ensure that you and your friends are having fun, and is worth your time to say thank you and happy holidays.
7. Thank You’s
Speaking of thank you, be sure you thank the host and organizer during and after the event. This simple act of gratitude is one of the bedrock foundations of proper etiquette, and reveals a lot about who you are as a person. Within a week of the party, take ten minutes and write the host a follow-up thank you card. Hand written cards are a very tangible way to show how much you appreciate their hard work.
Following the tips laid out in these seven situations will allow you to gracefully navigate the holiday party scene, and help others feel comfortable around you. Though holiday parties offer a few unique situations, if you remember the principles of everyday etiquette, no situation will prove too much to overcome!
As the song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” and there is plenty going on in our lives and the lives of others this holiday season. As I’m sure you realize, etiquette does not take a winter break, in fact this is the time of year to practice showing gratitude and thankfulness in more ways than ever!
Today, I want to cover five different topics for social media etiquette and the holiday season. The holidays offer a unique opportunity to build people up and make them feel special, but on the flip side we can cause people a lot of pain with improper etiquette. Let’s get started ok?
1. Share Proper Pictures & Videos
This is especially true for holiday parties. If the party begins to get a little out of hand, people may do and say things they will later regret. Though you can’t control what people publish about themselves, please don’t make the mistake of sharing an inappropriate photo or video of someone who isn’t quite themselves. Consider actually leaving your phone in the car or by the table to remove the temptation.
2. It’s not Christmas for Everyone
While much of America celebrates Christmas, remember large groups of people also celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and other winter holidays. If you’re speaking to strangers, whether online or in person, a simple “Happy Holidays!” is polite and respectful, while covering all your bases. Now, if you know which holiday the person is celebrating, feel free to use an appropriate holiday greeting.
3. Giving & Receiving Gifts
When you’re out shopping for gifts, avoid the urge to post pictures or share with your networks what you’re picking up for loved ones. For one reason, you don’t want the recipient to find out early! Another reason is because people celebrate and give gifts at different times and different price ranges. Posting about how you just went on an expensive shopping spree may make people feel bad about their own offerings, to you or to others!
When receiving gifts, keep this same advice in mind. Avoid excessive celebrating or complaints about your gifts, simply write about how thankful you are to have received a gift from a loved one. Social media is a dangerous place to vent, whether you think the other person is active on facebook, twitter, or anything else.
4. Holiday Parties
One of the most enjoyable parts of the holiday season are the parties to attend! Whether for work, neighborhood, or family celebrations, keep in mind the rock-solid rules of etiquette and social grace. Be kind to others, aks more questions than talking about yourself, and don’t be the party drunk. From a social media standpoint, don’t be the person who starts tweeting or posting about another person’s unfortunate decisions or actions during a party, whether there are pictures involved or not.
Live-tweeting an embarrassing moment may come back to haunt you as much as if you had been the person intoxicated. As we talked about earlier, you may just want to leave your phone in the car or by the table to remove the temptation.
5. Social Media Interactions
As we move throughout the holiday season, and especially Christmas on the 25th, begin sending out holiday greetings through social media. Here are some ideas:
- Tweet, share, or post to someone and share the holiday spirit with them.
- Send a message (email, facebook, twitter) privately to someone, thanking them for a way they helped or encouraged you this year.
- Share a digital version of your holiday card.
- Reply to all similar greetings sent to you (in case you don’t anyway).
I hope you learned some great tips for making this holiday season a wonderful experience, both online and in-person. For more great etiquette tips, sign up for my email list! Happy Holidays!
The holiday season also kicks off another less festive part of our year, flu season. Fever, chills, weakness, and a host of other symptoms can leave you feeling terrible for several days, during the most wonderful time of the year!
Luckily, the common characteristics of proper etiquette can lessen the chance you and your loved ones avoid flu season all together. Follow these nine quick tips to keep your immunity high and exposure low!
1. Be proactive
Staying up-to-date on your immunizations and shots will help prevent sickness and keep you feeling great throughout the year. A regular multi-vitamin and plenty of healthy foods will help keep your body in good condition to fight off any sickness that may be spreading through the area. Setting a good example will help encourage others to do the same!
2. Keep it clean
More so than any other time, the combination of holiday and flu seasons signal the importance of keeping your hands clean. You may be cooking food for other people, eating food prepared by others, and doing a lot of hand-shaking and hugging with all kinds of people at parties and family gatherings. It’s important for you and others to keep their hands clean to limit the spread of germs.
3. Stay active
Integrating a steady exercise habit during the holidays will help build up your body’s defenses and give you more energy during this holiday season. Just a simple walk through the neighborhood, 5 minute workout, or short run will do wonders for your health and waistline! For ideas, fitness site The Simple Gym offers a 12 week starter series to get you going!
4. Rest up!
Along with exercise, a good night’s rest will help your body recover from the daily grind. While waking up later isn’t always an option, try going to sleep 15 minutes earlier per night until you can squeeze that extra hour of sleep out of the night! Here’s a quick tip for falling asleep earlier too… read fiction books. Compared with non-fiction (especially self-help books) which encourage future projections, a fictional story (or biography) present natural stopping points. Of course, if you’ve stayed up all night with a good story, this may not work for you either! Just a suggestion.
5. Be politely assertive
If you notice someone isn’t covering up a cough of sneeze, then find the courage to politely assert your (and others) wish that he or she try to keep their sneezes to themselves. Try these lines:
I’m so sorry you’re not feeling well, can I get you some tissues?
I can see you’re a little under the weather, could you cover your mouth when you cough?
6. Offer help
Keep hand sanitizer, fresh wipes, and tissues with you at all times, and offer them to people around you who seem to be feeling sick. This helps protect everyone while helping the sick person feel better too!
7. Be selfish
At a party, or even family gathering, keep a hold of your own cup, plate, and cutlery. While this may seem like common knowledge, it is not always practiced! Be selfish about your own cup and anything that will go near your mouth, even chap stick. Offer your generosity in other ways, like with gifts, time, and food. But not your spoon!
8. Cover up
Be sure to dress properly for the weather, and not wear too few clothes for this cool season. Hypothermia and other cold-related illnesses rapidly lower your body’s natural immune defenses, and make it easier for the flu to gain a metabolic foothold! In another sense, politely covering up your mouth to cough or nose to sneeze is a cornerstone of proper etiquette, and is the best way to prevent a sickness from spreading.
9. Don’t be a hero
If you’re feeling sick, don’t be a hero and head in to work to infect other people. Sick days are in your contract for a reason, so use them! Many people are able to do some work from home if needed, but an office full of sickly people trying to go the extra mile doesn’t serve anyone well. Especially if you work in food service or retail, and have lots of interaction with customers, do everything possible to stay at home and get better!
What other ways can we help ourselves and others avoid getting sick by practicing good etiquette and healthy habits? Or, if we do find ourselves sick, how do you bounce back? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Photo by Juhan Sonin
Thanksgiving is a day we have set aside to do exactly that. Give thanks. In the busy-ness of everyday life, it’s easy for us to lose sight of the many blessings we have, and thanksgiving helps us recall what truly matters to us. Food, shelter, friendship, and so much else.
As I was reflecting on what I’m truly thankful for this year, these 10 blessings came to mind again and again.
Simply having drinkable water is a modern luxury that not everyone in the world has. Can you believe this?! Water is like heaven to me, reminding me of how I’ve been washed clean. Whether drinking, bathing, or raining, I love love love water!
2. Coffee Dates
For 15 minutes each morning, Bobby and I spend time sipping coffee and talking about our family and the day ahead. When we clink our cups together and smile over sips, I know I can face whatever the day brings!
3. My Siblings
My sisters Dee and Joy, brothers Neil and Justin, and the memory of Allen. They strengthen me, console me, encourage me, and challenge me. I wouldn’t be where I am today with their support!
4. My Cubs
If you’re here for the first time, this is the little pet name I have for my boys. So thankful for them and the incredible blessing in my life! Just to hear them call me “mama” makes my heart wobble (most days!)
5. My Sweet Friends
Cris, Jodie, and Michelle, we’ve laughed and cried through this shared journey of raising kids, and they are some of my favorite memories! We’ve meals and clothes, highs and lows, and you’ve always been ready when I’ve needed you. I’ll be forever grateful for the times we break bread and help heal broken hearts! I’m so grateful for the friendships I share with the Myrna’s, Melissa, Wendi, Jodi, and Sylvia, and the truth they share, good and difficult, it’s always what I need to hear!
I’m thankful I have food to fix and serve to my family and to others. Sometimes I take for granted this amazing gift, and how so many people in the world, and even in our own country, don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
7. Nieces and Nephews
God blessed me with their smiles and laughter, they are a treasure and always make me smile.
8. O’dark-thirty & 3:00 pm
3:00 pm is when I get to see my cubs again after a day at school, picking them up and hugging their necks. I’m thankful my body will wake up at O’dark-thirty so I can get to work and knock out the day’s work so I’m able to be in line at 3:00 pm.
I’m blessed to be able to speak and share for a living, teaching kindness and communication to make companies and organizations a better place to work and live together. This has always been my dream and I’m so blessed to be able to follow it. Go fast, go together, go far!
The invisible vehicle that has taken me out of the darkest of places and prepped me for the brightest of places. This little poem that gives me slices of heaven all day long, every second of the day, IF I do what it says….
Finding the way to heaven is not a matter of talking about it with arrogant certainty. It is a matter of…
Most of all, it is a matter of accepting my own flaws, before I searching for the limitations of others…
What are you thankful for this holiday? Please share with each other in the comments, I’d love to hear how you’re being blessed!
Quick, tell me an age-old technique for getting noticed, networking, and rising quickly in your workplace or community?
If you’re rolling your eyes right now, take a minute and think about how we can effectively be helpful to everyone, and not just people we want to gain favor with (bosses, etc).
Normally, when people think about being helpful it normally is only being helpful to those in power; hoping you’ll be noticed by them and thus given more power.
But what if you reversed the trend?
Instead of serving the greatest, serve the least.
Instead of trying to be helpful for a select few, be helpful for the incalculable all.
At this point, you may begin to be skeptical again.
Patricia, being helpful to everyone is nice, but what does that do for me?
Now we’ve uncovered the essential issue. We’ve been trained to be helpful for a purpose, and that base purpose to get ahead. As long as there’s something in it for us, as long as we’re not taken advantage of, we can be helpful. I know this isn’t the case for everyone, and millions of genuinely helpful people serve their communities every day.
But what about if every day we all went out looking for ways to help each other, without expectation of repayment. Again, this seems counter-intuitive, but only when thinking from a me-first perspective. If you consider service from a thee-first perspective, you’ll eventually come to realize other people are going out of their way to be helpful to you! With no expectation of you doing anything in return! Wow!
To get started, I want to share five quick ways you can help someone out today, this week, whenever you need to. Enjoy
1. Do the dirty work
Maybe you’re out for a run in your neighborhood and notice someone’s trash can is tipped over. Take a second and stand it up. If you’re feeling particularly helpful, go ahead and put some trash back in!
If you’re at a house party, pick up the dishes and start placing them in the dishwasher. Soak the pots and pans, anything to help out the host family!
2. Make an introduction
Play professional matchmaker, and send an introduction email to a colleague you know could help another person. Maybe you know a web designer and can send them to a friend who needs a website, win-win! Think about the people you know whose skills could be mutually beneficial.
3. Help across and below your pay grade
This is normally where people find themselves of doing anything to gain favor with the higher-ups in the company. Instead of only going upwards in your assistance, ask people on your floor, other departments, and even those who have less experience or responsibility! This builds your own skills, experience, and knowledge of what else is going on within the company. Asking other people how you can help them is a better use of your downtime than checking through Facebook.
4. Try something new
Find creative ways to save time, improve workflow, or office organization, especially during natural downtime. Maybe you could offer to drive the carpool an extra day, mow someone else’s lawn, or stack supplies differently. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself!
5. Offer your skills
Believe it or not, there are skills you have that not many other people do. Think about your department, your family, or your neighborhood. Odds are there are a few things you’re the best at, and can help other with. Maybe it’s technology, home and car repair, entertaining groups of kids, cooking for large groups, or any other number of skills! Offering yourself up to others with no expectation of payback is one of the most honorable things we can do for each other.
And I believe eventually the gifts you’ve given will find their way back to you.
Have a blessed day.
Can you help us out? What are some other ways you can be helpful in every day situations? We’d love to read your suggestions in the comments!
The business world is full of ways to make positive or negative impressions on people. Proper etiquette is essential to creating positive, long-lasting impressions with future clients and colleagues. We also know the key to good business etiquette is not to focus on what you can get out of the relationship, but in finding ways you can be mutually beneficial to each other. Remember, whether in business or in life, the world is not all about you! Our hope is to form kind, helpful relationships with everyone around us.
But, what is etiquette like in other countries? How can we create memorable impressions and lasting relationships when the rules on etiquette are slightly different? We are truly living in a global economy, and chances are you will be interacting with someone from a completely different culture as you. These tips will be a part of a whole new part of our business etiquette content, so keep checking back and learning how to make great impressions all over the world!
To begin, we’ll cover three tips for each of the four countries profiled. Grab your passport, we’re headed overseas!
First, we’ll cover three common tips I uncovered that work well across a wide-range of countries, including the four listed below. They are:
1. Business card etiquette – One of the best tips for international business is to have your cards printed two-sided, with english on one side and the native language on the other. This will show respect for the culture, and help communicate your work more effectively!
2. Greetings – Always greet the most senior member first, then work your way down. This shows respect for the senior executive, the company, and the culture.
3. Be on time – Just in case you were curious, nowhere in the world is it acceptable to be late! Even if your hosts are running late, they are expecting you to be present. Plan on at least 15 minutes ahead if meeting with senior staff. If you are stuck, attempt to communicate the delay at least one hour in advance.
Now we’ll cover three tips from a range of countries and cultures. Remember, there is always more to learn, and you should do your research before engaging with a new international business contact.
1. Greetings – When making an initial greeting in Japan, do not initiate a handshake, but instead follow the lead of the person you are greeting. Likely, a formal introduction (using correct titles) and slight bow will be acceptable. Not all of Japanese culture uses handshakes, and can make him or her quite uncomfortable.
2. Longevity – Japanese culture is very strong on respect, and you should treat everyone in a kind, courteous way. Japanese workers still tend to remain with the same company for many year, so keep in mind the intern serving drinks may one day be a department head.
3. Stay on task – Japanese business operates on a much tighter schedule than many American companies. If a meeting is scheduled to end at 4:00 pm, it will end. Get to the point.
For more information on Japanese business etiquette, click here.
1. Dress code – Though parts of the Chinese labor force have adopted a more relaxed dress code, you should wear a standard business suit unless instructed otherwise. This conveys a more serious tone in your work and level of responsibility.
2. Dinner table – Chinese dinners tend to offer a lot of food in rotating dishes. Respectfully try a little bit of each dish, but do not feel compelled to finish it all, as the servers will take this as a sign you want more! Also, though it is acceptable to refuse food, only do so in the case of a dietary issue, or unless you are finished with the entire course.
3. Give a gift – Gift giving is common in China, and usually one gift is given to the leader of the organization. Local flavor is encouraged in the gifts, so be open to bringing something from your home country! If at first refused, persist! This is common, and will eventually be accepted. Colors to use: dark red, gold or blue. Colors to avoid: white and black, which are usually associated with funerals.
For more information on Chinese business etiquette, click here.
1. Namaste – If you’ve ever been to a yoga class, you’ve heard this common greeting and sign of respect. Bring your palms together and chest level, and give a slight bow of the head. Pronounced Nah-mah-stay.
2. Be patient – Since Indian culture has roots in caste system, different types of work are assigned to different levels of workers. Just like we pay people to move furniture and clean, similar jobs exist in India. The difference is that if a task is below a person’s status, they will not do it, meaning that you may wait a couple hours for something to be done if the appropriate worker is not around. Secondly, family life is very important to Indian culture, and takes precedent over business matters. Be polite and respectful if a meeting is delayed or canceled because of a family matter.
3. Listen well – When doing business and negotiating, be sure to listen for cues of what the person is really saying. For example, Indian culture considers saying “no” quite rude and possibly offensive. Listen for phrases like “we’ll see” or “possibly” and realize this may be a way he or she is politely declining. Strive to do the same.
For more information on Indian business etiquette, click here.
United Arab Emirates (UAE)
1. Correct titles – Always use the proper title when greeting someone in an Arab country. Common titles include: Sheikh (chief) (or Sheikha for a woman), Sayed (Mr.), Sayeda (Mrs.), etc. Men are addressed using their first name, e.g. Ben Jones would be Sayed Ben.
2. Don’t reveal your sole – A common mistake westerners make is to show the sole of one’s shoes during a meeting or gathering. This is a sign of great disrespect and should be avoided. When sitting cross-legged (which is common), tuck your feet under or in between your knees. To show the soles of your shoes is to announce you’re ready to leave the room, and you don’t want to be the one to announce departure!
3. Prayer time – Islam is the official religion of Arab countries, and is taken very seriously. Insulting Islam or their prophets is to be avoided at all costs. At five pre-determined times throughout the day, all Muslims are called to prayer. Many worshippers will go to the local Mosque to pray, however praying from the home or office is common too. So do not be surprised or upset when a meeting is interrupted for prayer. You are not required to join in, simply wait respectfully until prayer is complete.
For more information on Arab business etiquette, click here.
In the next installment of international business etiquette, we will cover major European countries like Great Britian, Germany, Italy, France, and more!
Have a blessed day!