Flying Etiquette for the Holiday Traveler

Posted on by

Perhaps you remember a time when traveling by plane was something you looked forward to. Flying etiquette prevailed. People dressed in their “Sunday best”. Passengers didn’t bite, claw and scratch their way through lines. Seats were spacious and comfortable. You chose a window or aisle seat based on whether or not you wanted to check the landscape below, not in order to gain a few extra inches of leg room. Flight attendants were friendly. Airlines served real food. There were sky caps to help you with your luggage, which managed to arrive at your destination when you did.

I could continue reminiscing about the “good ole days”, but they are long gone. Flying today is an ordeal which most people dread. When I fly, I worry if my flight will be on time, if I will make my connections, if my luggage and I will arrive at the same time and place, if my seatmate will be an oversized person who  should have purchased two seats, or if I will get stuck on the tarmac for hours on end without food or water.

Over the next two weeks more than seven million people will be flying the not-so-friendly skies. There will be the usual mix of business and leisure travelers—most of whom will be in something akin to combat mode. You can’t control what others do, but you can manage your own behavior. Let me suggest nine rules of flying etiquette that, when observed by all, could transform the travel experience.

Don’t hog the overhead bin. Although you are allowed one carry-on plus a handbag or laptop bag, you should only put one of those in the overhead.

Middle seat gets the armrest. That seems fair since the people on either side can lean right or left for more room.

Be considerate when reclining your seat. Notice if the person behind you is using the tray table and alert them that you plan to recline so neither their laptop nor their snack ends up in their lap.

Resist the urge to chat. Everyone should acknowledge seatmates with a smile and a greeting. Once you do, you’re done. Leave your seatmate to fly in peace.

Try not to be a jack-in-the-box. That’s the passenger who hops up and down repeatedly during the flight and crawls over everyone in his path.

Control your kids. Noisy, whiny, loud children ruin the flight for everyone except the parents—or so it seems. Anyone who has ever had the child behind them kick their seat understands the urge to kill.

Leave smelly food in the airport. Seatmates’ noxious food is one of the top peeves of air travelers.

Move as quickly as you can through the security line. Be prepared to remove your shoes, take out your laptop and toiletries and shed your jacket or sweater. Don’t wait until it’s time to place your carry-on luggage on the conveyor belt.

Be considerate of people with close connections when the flight has landed. How often have you heard a flight attendant on a late-arriving flight request that people with time to spare remain in their seats and let others in danger of missing their connection disembark first? Few people honor that request.

Good manners won’t make planes any less crowded, seats any more comfortable or security checks any less stressful; but they can help you and your fellow passengers arrive at your destination in a much better frame of mind—ready to go to work or enjoy the holidays.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com. Find out how her presentations, workshops and resources can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

 

 

Your Holiday Tipping Guide

Posted on by

The holiday season is a time when we focus on showing gratitude to those who make our lives easier all year long. Think of holiday tipping as holiday thanking. There are a number of ways to show your thankfulness; but for those who make their living in the service industry, the most appreciated is by tipping.

Along with the challenges of what to give your family and friends add the question of whom to tip and how much. When is it appropriate to give money and when should you opt for a gift rather than cash? Simply put, what are the rules of tipping? For that, you need a holiday tipping guide.

Start by making a list of the people to whom you want to express your gratitude. Then follow these guidelines:

  • Consider your budget and know how much you can afford to set aside for tips.
  • Tip according to the quality and frequency of the service rendered.
  • Take into account length of service – the number of years you have used a person’s services.
  • Present cash in a holiday card with a short handwritten note of thanks.
  • Give your tip in person whenever possible.
  • Tip within the week of the holiday or before.
  • Do it joyously.

Now that we’ve established the process, let’s consider who and how much.

The following suggestions should eliminate some of the confusion and stress associated with holiday tipping. But remember that there are no hard and fast rules. Tipping varies based on the type of establishment, regional customs, and your own budget

  • Housekeeper – Depending on frequency of service: one day or one week’s pay.
  • Gardner – $20-$50 or an amount equal to their monthly pay.
  • USPS mail carrier – cash gifts are not acceptable so give a small gift not to exceed $20 in value. Food is always good.
  • Delivery drivers – again cash gifts are not always acceptable so think about giving food items. Maybe something to munch on during deliveries.
  • Newspaper carrier – daily $25; weekend $10
  • Teachers, tutors, coaches and trainers for your children – small gift from your child. Cash is usually forbidden by school systems since it can appear to curry favor for your child.
  • Baby sitter – an amount equal to pay for a usual visit. Add a small gift from your child.
  • Full-time nanny – one week’s or one month’s pay and a small gift from your child.
  • Dog groomer – one half the cost of a session.
  • Dog walker or sitter – one day to one week’s pay depending on how often you employ them.
  • Nail technician- a sum equivalent to one visit.
  • Hairdresser – an amount equal to the fee for a typical visit

These are simply guidelines, and certainly not a complete list. The decision is up to you—whom you wish to tip, what you want to give and how much you can afford. Good judgment and an attitude of gratitude should be your guide.

If you would like the complete guide to holiday etiquette, order a copy of my e-book, Business Etiquette for the Holidays. It’s available as a PDF download or for your Kindle through Amazon.com.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com. Find out how her presentations and workshops can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits. You’d be amazed at how kindness and courtesy can affect your bottom line.

 

 

 

 

Check Your Holiday Table Manners

Posted on by

The holidays have arrived. There is no doubt about it. Signs of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza are everywhere.  In navigating the season, it’s hard to know what to focus on first. Is it planning for the office party, selecting gifts for clients and colleagues, decorating your workplace or sending those holiday cards?

Given that the holidays are all about parties, luncheons and dinners, I suggest as a next step brushing up on your table manners. Nowhere are manners more important than over meals. Table manners prevent us from being sloppy, offensive and boorish. They are part of communicating respect for others. They are not always hard and fast rules; rather they are guidelines to help us in our social and business relationships.

Here are a few reminders of what to do and not do at the holiday dinner and to help you brush up on your table manners:

Do reply to the invitation as soon as you receive it. A quick check of your calendar tells you if you are free or not. It’s not acceptable to wait around to see if a better invitation comes along.

Do what you say you will do. If you accept the invitation, show up. If you decline, you may not attend at the last minute. It’s that simple.

Do let your host know in advance of any food issues. If for cultural or health reasons you have limitations, your host should know ahead of time. However, don’t make this an issue for the person who was kind enough to invite you. He or she need not be responsible for preparing a special meal for you.

Do sit where you find your place card. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t particularly fond of where you are seated. Sit where you are told. Your host had reasons for the seating arrangement.

Do keep all personal belongings off the table. Your purse, even if it is small, does not belong on the table. Other items to keep out of sight are your keys and your cell phone. If you can’t bear to be absent from your phone during the meal, maybe you should have stayed at home.

Do remain seated during the meal. It is rude to act like a jack-in-the-box. If you must excuse yourself, do so between courses. Exceptions are coughing or sneezing fits. By all means, go before you ruin everyone’s meal.

Do wait to begin eating until everyone has been served, and your host has begun to eat. You don’t actually have to wait until the host has started to chew. Just keep in mind that this is not a race to the finish and there are no prizes for first place.

Do pace your eating so that you finish with everyone else. The slow eater is as annoying as the one racing to the finish.

Do make sure that you understand the basics of the place setting. It’s not as difficult as it seems. The basic rule is: Utensils are placed in the order of use; that is, from the outside in. A second rule, with only a few exceptions, is: Forks go to the left of the plate, and knives and spoons go to the right. The exception is: The dessert fork and spoon are placed at the top of the place setting.

As always, good manners are most noticed by their absence.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com. Find out how her presentations and workshops can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits. Kindness and courtesy can have an impact on your bottom line.

If you want more tips on table manners, order your copy of my Little Book of Table Manners – 85 Tips for Dining for Success.

 

 

 

 

Punctuality: Just On Time Is Not Good Enough

Posted on by

Lately I have begun to wonder if punctuality is my habit. Last week, I found myself racing to get to an appointment. It was then that I realized  this was not uncommon behavior for me.  Instead it’s a regular occurrence. While I am never late–well, almost never,  I tend to get where I am going just in time rather than on time.

Punctuality

Living in Savannah, I am aware of “Savannah time.” No one is expected to show up early for a meeting or an event.  If a meeting starts at ten o’clock, they arrive at ten o’clock, not a minute before. Others wander in at their leisure, sometimes with an apology and an excuse, but usually with little or no remorse. I feel myself on the verge of becoming one of those late-comers.

Indeed I do have an issue with punctuality. Maybe it’s really a matter of time management. Whatever, I don’t always practice what I preach.

I seem to think I can get one more thing done before I leave. In today’s fast-paced world, we always try to do more in less time. For example, if the phone rings just as I am walking out the door, I feel obligated to answer it. When I finally get in the car and check the clock; I realize that only with a bit of luck and all green lights, I may be on time.

Vince Lombardi on punctuality

Years ago I read a quote that is typically attributed to coaching icon Vince Lombardi. Regardless of who said it, the words have the same effect. “If you are five minutes early, you are on time. If you are on time, you are late. If you are late, don’t bother to show up.”

The problem with being late

There are unintended consequences to being late. People who are chronically late send a message that their time is more valuable than other people’s. Those who don’t make an effort to be on time are seen as arrogant and inconsiderate. That sort of behavior won’t help your career or your business.

Suggestions to help you be on time and what to do when you aren’t.

Don’t stop to take the last phone call. You can check your voice mail later. If the call was important, the caller will have left a message.

Have everything you need for the meeting or event out and ready to go. Plan ahead so you aren’t scrambling around at the last minute trying to find one more thing—like your car keys or your cell phone.

Decide how long it will take you to get to the event and add some extra time. Allow for the unexpected like traffic jams, road construction and other unforeseen occurrences.

If you are not 100% sure where you are going, do a test run ahead of time if possible. No one will be impressed when you say you got lost. If you can’t check out the location in advance, again add in some extra travel time.

If the worst should happen and you enter the meeting late, quietly take a seat. This is no time to interrupt to make your apologies and to explain to everyone why you were late. No one really cares.

Check the agenda to see what items have already been covered. The late-comer who interrupts the meeting to ask about an issue that has already been discussed is never appreciated. Wait until the meeting is over to ask what you missed.

There is no excuse for being late. Barring true emergencies, being on time is completely within your control. Taking ownership of your time, knowing the importance of punctuality, and choosing never to be late again, is one easy thing you can do to change your life and career for the better.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. She is happy to work from home but has traveled as far as India and Dubai to help stamp out rudeness. Just think what a wonderful world it would be if people were simply nice. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com. Find out how her presentations and workshops can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

Choosing Your Most Effective Email Closing

Posted on by

You’ve worked hard crafting your email so that your message is clear, your tone is correct, your format is inviting, and you have eliminated all errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar. Now it’s time to decide on an email closing, and you’re stuck. All else being perfect, the way you sign off requires more than a little thought and finesse. It may only be a word or a phrase, but it needs to be well-chosen.

If you are struggling to find the most effective email closing, you are far from alone. Extensive research on this topic—and yes, I did the research—revealed that opinions on this topic are all over the map. In one article three email etiquette experts were asked their stance on a long list of email closings. The end result turned up little agreement among the three. No wonder you find this subject challenging.

Before you decide how to sign-off, you should consider your relationship to the recipient and the context of the email. What works for a good friend or close colleague most likely will not work for a business contact. What is appropriate for an initial email may come across as too formal as your connection develops.

Here are my suggestions on choosing your most effective email closing.

    1. Always use one. Not signing off is like walking out the door without saying good-bye. Too abrupt.
    2. Match your email closing to your salutation. This column devoted time some months ago to using effective and appropriate email salutations. A formal salutation requires a formal closing. An informal salutation should be followed by an informal closing.
    3. Consider using a closing statement in lieu of a closing word or two. Email tends to be more relaxed so once you have established a relationship with the recipient, you might end your email with something like, “Have a nice day”, “See you on Friday” or “Enjoy your vacation”.
    4. Be respectful but avoid “Respectfully/Respectfully yours”. According to Business Insider those closings are too formal and are to be reserved for government officials and clergy.
    5. Proceed gingerly when expressing thanks. Both “Thanks” and “Thank you” get high marks when used in the right circumstances. The Boomerang study found emails that convey appreciation receive the highest response rate. However, there are some people who think that writing “Thank you in advance” comes across as demanding and should be used with caution.
    6. Keep anything with religious overtones out of your professional correspondence. Avoid wishing someone a blessed day.
    7. Following your closing, let people know how you want to be addressed. If you want to be addressed by your first name, use only that in closing. If you prefer to keep things formal, sign off with your first and last name. If you are “Bill” and not “William”, now’s your chance to let that be known.

As always the goal is to be courteous, kind and respectful. Let your good sense and good judgment be your guide.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com. Find out how her presentations and workshops can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

Phone Courtesy – Winning Customers Instantly

Posted on by

Phone courtesy needs to be rule # 1. Often the first contact you and others  in your company have with a client or customer is over the phone. Whoever answers your phone represents the entire organization and its philosophy about customer service.Impress your callers when you practice these phone courtesy tips.

Answer the phone promptly.

We live in a world of instant expectations. If you don’t answer the phone immediately, people assume that you are either closed for the day, gone out of business or simply provide poor customer service. Answer the phone as soon as it rings and grab that customer before your competition does.

Always identify yourself .

One of the top complaints about phone manners is that people fail to give their name.  People want to know to whom they are speaking.

Be prepared with pen and paper.

Don’t make callers wait while you search for pencil and paper. If you aren’t prepared to take information, perhaps you aren’t prepared to do business.

Take accurate messages.

With voice mail, we don’t have to take messages as often as we once did, but it happens. If the caller asks you to take a message rather than being transferred to voice mail, check that you have written all the information correctly. Double check the spelling of the caller’s name and repeat the phone number as well as the wording of the message.

Transfer calls smoothly.

Most of us cringe at the words “Let me transfer your call.”  Avoid “blind transfers”. Ask the caller to hold while you confirm that you are sending the call to the right person and that the person is indeed available.

Manage the hold key with care.

Surveys on phone courtesy reveal that people rank being put on hold as their biggest frustration. Ask your callers’ permission before placing them on hold and wait to hear their reply. Not waiting for permission will gain you nothing but an annoyed caller.

Put a smile on your face when you answer the phone.

You may not feel cheery, but  your callers don’t need to know. Smiles change the tone of your voice and can actually be heard over the phone. Fake it if you have to. Fake smiles over the phone are just as good as the real ones.

At the end of the day, ask yourself what kind of impression you made with callers. Was it your best?  Remind yourself that there is no such thing as an unimportant phone call and that you are the voice of the business.

For more tips on, invest in Lydia’s easy-to read book, Business Etiquette 101 – Telephone Courtesy. It’s a quick download for your Kindle.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com to find out how her presentations, workshops and resources can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

I was stuck…

Posted on by

It was yesterday afternoon. I found myself in the middle of a technological quagmire with no way out. I felt like I was playing out a scene in a mid-1940’s Western where the victim is being swallowed up in quicksand. As I struggled to free myself, the phone rang. I hadn’t dialed 911. 911 was calling me. Woohoo, it was my technologically savvy friend Jerry Gitchel. How did he know? Had the universe sent him some sort of signal?

Sensing both panic and despair in my voice, he instantly asked what was wrong. I told him that I had been trying for hours to resolve an issue that I had no business even considering. It was, as they say, way above my pay grade. In typical Jerry Gitchel style, he instructed me to put down my mouse and back away from the keyboard. Help was on the way. Two plus hours later, I was out of the pit. Problem solved.

This was not the first time Jerry has come to my rescue. Not only did he handle my issue with his usual expertise , he managed it with an incredible amount of patience. To top off, when he finished, I understood what he had done so that the next time I find myself in this mess, I will be able to resolve it alone. Okay, Maybe.

Jerry’s gifts include not only his technical skills but also his extraordinary ability to explain it in down-to-earth terms. He doesn’t talk in techno speak; he uses real words.

The next time you find yourself stuck in a technological mess, contact Jerry. You will walk away from your crisis with a clear understanding of what happened and what to do to fix it.  Best of all, Jerry will leave you with a step-by-step plan to get unstuck all on your own. What gifts. What a friend. Thank you, Jerry.

Jerry is President of Leverage Unlimited. Jerry has a special knack for helping business owners and professionals understand and address the overwhelming challenges and frustration brought on by the digital age. 

To learn more about Jerry visit: https://leverageunlimited.net/about/jerry 

Better yet, give him a call 904-566-8325. You are really going to love his voicemail announcement.

Wearing White After Labor Day–Yes or No

Posted on by

White after Labor Day

Labor Day was early this year, falling on September 2nd. On that day, no one in Savannah, Georgia, where I live, was talking about the usual holiday celebrations like barbeques and picnics. The topic of the day was Hurricane Dorian. The question of the day was “Are you going to evacuate?” Now that Dorian is history and has passed safely off the coast of Georgia, mercifully sparing those of us in the Coastal Empire, the question of the day has become “Can I wear white after Labor Day?

The simple answer to that query is “Yes, you can.” In spite of what your mother and grandmother told you, it is perfectly acceptable to do so in 2019. Like so many other aspects of modern manners, the rules have changed. There is no need to rush to your closet and put away all things white until Memorial Day.

The old rule was never white before Memorial Day or after Labor Day. So where did that directive originate? Who said we couldn’t show up wearing white after Labor Day? The answer seems to be shrouded in mystery.

Before you let those who are adamant about the rule intimidate you, you should learn why “don’t wear white after Labor Day” became one of the fashion commandments in the first place—and why it might no longer make sense to follow the rule. It had to do with the rich and famous or, at least, the wealthy urbanites of the Northeast in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s who abandoned their homes in the city and took to the comfort of their summer dwellings. At that time white signified a casual and cooler life. After Labor Day the elites returned to the city and donned their darker  more business-like attire, signifying that summer was over and it was time to get back to work.

A second and more practical reason for wearing white in the summer months is that it is cooler. It has nothing to do with affluence or class. In the era before air conditioning, people would wear white or light-colored clothing to prevent heat stroke. Sounds reasonable to me and still works.

Here are a few incentives, or maybe permissions, for wearing white after Labor Day.

  • White is a great neutral. It gives you countless outfit opportunities since it goes with practically everything.
  • It makes for an easier transition to the fall season if you don’t have to put up all of your summer pieces.
  • White is a classic in the fashion world. Coco Chanel is said to have worn white all year. You might say that it was part of her signature.
  • No one is actually going to judge you or we certainly hope not. Who knows, you might even inspire someone else.

Aren’t we just beyond the whole idea that there are hard and fast rules that you are not allowed to break even when it comes to etiquette and manners? Common sense, good judgment and universal courtesy should be your guide. Plus, September in the South is really hot, and why should white jeans be allowed on August 31 but not allowed on September 1st? We’re smarter than that.

Finally consider this—in the South, the season doesn’t actually change after Labor Day. It simply becomes summer with pumpkins.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com. Find out how her presentations and workshops can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

The State of the Email Salutation

Posted on by

It’s possible that you are not aware of a raging debate online and in print regarding the proper email salutation. The controversy is not quite on the same level as the political debates, thank goodness;  but like those hurricanes some of us dread all summer long, it is growing in intensity and covering an ever-widening area.

A while ago I was contacted by the Wall Street Journal for an article titled “Hey, Folks: Here’s a Digital Requiem for a Dearly Departed Salutation”. That was followed by a call from a reporter at Forbes.com seeking my opinion on the use of “hi” vs. “dear” as an email salutation or greeting.  From the comments and responses in those articles, this topic stirred up quite a controversy. And it continues.

Opinions on the proper email salutation:

Those who were either interviewed or quoted in were adamant about their stance.  Some felt the word “dear” was old-fashioned and out-of-date.  One person said it was too “girlie” while another stated that it was extremely intimate. Yet another replied that using any salutation at all takes too much time to type. I’m no speed typist, but really? How long does it take to type two letters?

Opinions were all over the map. Many people who preferred “hello” over “hi.”  “Hey” did not seem to get any votes.  Maybe all those interviewed had a mother like mine who drilled into me that “hey” was not an appropriate greeting in any situation. “Hay is for horses” was her response to anyone saying “hey”.  As a Southerner, I have to admit that I use the word frequently as a verbal greeting with friends.  It’s as common as grits here in the Georgia.

My stance on the email salutation:

  1. One size does not fit all. Use the email salutation appropriate to the situation and the person to whom you are addressing your email. Context and familiarity dictate the salutation.
  2. Use “dear” in your initial correspondence with someone whom you have never met and with whom you are trying to establish a professional relationship. When in doubt, “dear” is always safe and should be the default greeting for any first communication
  3. Use “hi” or “hello” once you have established a comfortable relationship. “Hi” is viewed as relaxing and welcoming.
  4. Follow the lead of your client or customer. If the other person always uses “dear”, then so do you. If they begin their correspondence with you by saying “hi,” follow suit. As in all business situations, mimic your client.
  5. Use a salutation of some form. There is always enough time to be courteous. Launching your conversation without a greeting is the same online as it is in person. It’s abrupt.
  6. Along with your chose email salutation include the person’s name. However, never use anyone’s first name in business until and unless they give you permission. When people sign their email reply to you using their first name, that is a signal that you no longer need to use “Mr.” or Ms.”
  7. With friends you may be as informal as you like. If you frequently exchange email with certain friends and colleagues, there is no need to be formal. Nevertheless, I am a fan of a greeting of some sort even if it is simply starting off with your friend’s or co-worker’s first name.

Still confused? Let me summarize:

  • Although “Dear” is viewed as outmoded by some, it is a failsafe fall-back.
  • “Hello” followed by the person’s name, is also acceptable.
  • “Hi”, plus the name, has been on the rise for some time, and is considered standard in many situations.

At this point, I leave the email salutation to your good judgment. I feel confident that “dear” is not dead.  But I believe that we are going to see a lot more “hi” in our in-boxes.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker and trainer. She is the author of Manners That Sell – Adding the Polish That Builds Profits and Lydia Ramsey’s Little Book of Table Manners. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com to find out how her presentations and workshops can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

Barbeque Etiquette – It’s Time to Revisit the Rules

Posted on by

It’s  time to brush up on your barbeque etiquette. Memorial Day is upon us, marking the official start of the summer barbeque season. This is the time of the year when the grill is hauled out, cleaned off, the required cooking utensils inventoried, lawn furniture hosed down, and barbeque sauces and rubs added to the grocery list.

If barbeque etiquette sounds like an oxymoron, it isn’t. There are rules for how to conduct yourself whether you are the host or the guest. Just because these events are held outdoors and are casual in nature does not mean that anything goes. Whether it’s a business occasion like the company picnic or a gathering of family and friends, there are required behaviors.

Etiquette Tips for the Host:

  1. Be prepared. Make sure you have enough of everything from charcoal or propane to food and beverages. Don’t forget an ample supply of plastic cups, paper plates, napkins and disposable cutlery. Grandma’s china and crystal are not the best substitutes if you run out of serving items.
  2. Have a rain plan. While rain should be forbidden during outdoor events, it happens. Arrange for tents if the crowd is large or know how you will manage when your guests gather indoors.
  3. Provide all the food and beverage. Unless you are hosting a family reunion or the traditional neighborhood party, don’t ask people to bring the food. If someone insists on bringing a dish; be gracious and accept, but don’t make it a requirement.
  4. Have plenty of bug spray and insect repellent. Your guests should eat, not be eaten. If you live in a “buggy” environment, it’s a good idea to have food domes on hand, not only to keep certain foods warm, but also to keep pests out of your culinary delights.

Etiquette Tips for the Guest:

  1. Keep your grilling advice to yourself. Your host is in charge of the grill. You may have what you consider to be a better way of doing of things, but unless you realize the host is about to set the house on fire, keep your mouth shut. Open it only for conversation and food.
  2. Leave your legendary potato salad at home. Unless you are asked to bring a dish, don’t. It would be an insult to your host who already has a carefully planned menu. It is certainly nice to offer to bring something, but ask first to be sure it is welcome.
  3. Volunteer to help. These events can get hectic so offer your assistance especially when it comes to cleaning up.
  4. Use your napkin to clean off your sticky fingers. Tempting as it may be to lick your fingers, it is simply not good manners even at a picnic. Neither is using your finger nail or toothpick to pluck the corn silk from between your teeth. Be sure to have dental floss on hand, but excuse yourself before you pull it out.

Etiquette Tips Specifically for the Company Barbecue

  1. Maintain your professionalism. While you are there to have fun, be mindful of your actions and your words.
  2. Dress like a professional. Business attire is not expected, but your casual dress should be conservative. Avoid anything that is sloppy, shabby, sexy or revealing.
  3. Hold back when serving yourself. Piling on as much food as your plate will hold makes you look like you only came to eat. You can go back for seconds once everyone has been served.
  4. Play it safe with the drinks. If alcohol is being served, limit your intake. Warm weather, alcoholic beverages and a company barbecue can be a dangerous combination.

Barbecue picnics are a relaxed way for family, friends and co-workers to come together to socialize and build relationships. Enjoy yourself, but be mindful of your manners. Demonstrate your best barbecue etiquette so you will be invited back and, in case of the company picnic, to insure that you will still have a job on the next working day.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com to find out how her presentations and workshops can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.