Category Archives: Holiday Etiquette

The New Year is Thank You Note Season

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Now that the holidays are almost over, and we find ourselves in the new year, it’s time to start sending out thank you notes for the thoughtful gifts and tasty treats you received during the season. Yes, I know, those are not the words you want to hear—especially since you know that I am talking about those handwritten notes that I continue to harp on. It would be so much easier and more convenient to text or email your gratitude. A few clicks of the keyboard, and you’re done.

However, when it comes to delighting those special gift-givers with the perfect sentiment at the perfect time, here are two things to consider:

  • Ink trumps email. Why? Ink implies effort.
  • Handwritten notes connect people in a way that simply isn’t possible via text or email. How? Your unique handwriting makes your message and therefore your relationship more personal.

Now that you understand the power of the handwritten note, what’s holding you back?

  • Is it the time? We all have the same number of hours and days.
  • Are you too busy? Everybody feels life is too demanding.
  • Do you lack the supplies you need? If you haven’t heeded my earlier advice and purchased appropriate cards or notes before the holiday rush, those items are still available. They do not sell out during the holidays.
  • Did you forget to buy stamps?  If so, no problem. The rush is over at the post office so pick up stamps while you’re out shopping for your stationary. Then write a note to self on your calendar for next fall that reminds you to buy your correspondence cards or notes and stamps early.

Finally, the greatest obstacle for most people is knowing what to say and how to say it? Those two things should be the least of your worries if you establish a process for writing your thank you notes and follow these steps:

Step 1. Decide how to address the recipient. Do you need to formal salutation or one that is casual? Are you going to call the person by first name or use their title and last name?

Step 2. Begin with “Thank you”. There’s no need to attempt anything more exotic than those two words.

Step 3. Name the gift specifically. Saying “Thank you for the gift’ is cold, off-putting and will make your recipients wonder if you value their gift or even know what it was. You might as well say, “Thank you for the thing.”

Step 4. Say something about the gift. What made it special? How will you use it? If someone sent your food items, tell them how much you either enjoyed the treats or how much you are looking forward to having them. Even if you are not thrilled with what you received, the giver need not know.

Step 5. Say how much you appreciate the thoughtfulness. This is really simple and always sincere. Who doesn’t appreciate being thought of?

Step 6. Choose your closing. Again…are you being formal or casual in your approach? Your salutation will determine your closing.

Think of your thank you note as a sandwich.

The opening and closing are the like the two slices of bread. Your thank you for the specific gift is the lettuce; the sentence about why you like the gift or how you will use it is the meat; the statement saying you appreciate their thinking of you is the cheese. Now wrap that in an envelope; garnish it with a stamp; and you have it. Just don’t forget to drop your handwritten thank you notes in the mail.

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.

 

 

 

Flying Etiquette for the Holiday Traveler

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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

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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

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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.

 

 

 

 

The Handwritten Thank-You Note

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Handwritten Notes

Handwritten notes

Do you want to make a positive professional impression during the holidays?  Do you want to make your clients, customers and colleagues feel special?  Do you want to stand out from the crowd for all the right reasons?  Then try sending a simple handwritten thank-you note to those who thought of you during the season.

Whether you received a gift, were included in a holiday party, were invited to a special meal, or were on the receiving end of an act of kindness, take time to recognize people’s thoughtfulness and generosity.

You may have been given a gift at the office party.  Perhaps a vendor delivered one in person. In both instances, you should have expressed your appreciation at the time. But go the next step and follow up with a handwritten thank-you note.

If the gift came by mail or some other form of delivery, it is even more important that you acknowledge it.  The person who sent it needs to know you received and appreciated it.

If the present came from an organization or a business group, you are not off the hook.  Some people think that when a supplier or vendor sends a gift, it doesn’t require any form of thanks.  Being the customer or client is no excuse for bad manners. 

When you were included in a holiday party or meal, always follow up with a written thank you.

Sending a handwritten thank-you note is not as daunting a task as some people make it out to be if you follow these tips.

  1. Purchase the appropriate stationery before you need it. In business, thank-you notes are traditionally written on message cards (5 x 3 ½) or correspondence cards (6 ¼ x 4 ¼) which are single white or ecru cards with your full name or monogram engraved at the top center. Another option is the fold-over note (5 ¼ x 3 ½). The front page is blank or has a monogram engraved in the center.
  2. Do not send the garden variety cards that have “Thank You” printed on the front if you want to appear polished.
  3. Keep some of your stationery on the top of your desk, as convenient as your phone and computer.  If you put it in a drawer, there is the temptation to “get to it later”.  Have your stamps next to your stationery. This assures that your notes will go out in a timely fashion—like that day or the next.

The format of a business thank-you note mirrors that of a general thank-you note. It’s simple.

  • Begin with a salutation.
  • Mention the gift, occasion or act.
  • Be specific by writing how you feel about it. What makes it special, useful or helpful?
  • Say “thank you”.
  • Compose a sentence that winds it up.
  • Add your closing.

A handwritten thank-you note trumps an email thank you every time. It gives the appearance of extra effort on your part and makes the recipient feel special. So do yourself and the generous person who sent the gift or who entertained you a favor.  Take five extra minutes to show your personal gratitude with a handwritten note. I promise that in today’s world, you’ll be among the few who do and you’ll long be remembered for your thoughtfulness and good manners.


Lydia Ramsey is a  business etiquette expert who believes it’s not about rules–it’s about relationships. She is keynote speaker, trainer and author of several books. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com to find out how she can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

Holiday Gift-Giving in the Office

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Holiday gift-giving in the workplace is a thoughtful way of letting colleagues and clients know that you value the business relationship you share. But gift-giving comes with its risks. When a present is too expensive or is too personal, even the best intentions can backfire. Knowing the answers to the following questions will take the stress out of gift-giving in the office and enhance the joy of the season.  It is, after all, supposed to be a time of good cheer and not one of high anxiety.

  • Should you give a gift to everyone you work with?
  • Do you need to buy a present for your boss?
  • What are appropriate gifts?
  • How much should you be expected to spend?
  • When is the right time to present your gifts?
  • What if you can’t afford the gift exchange?

The first thing you need to do is find out if there is a company policy on holiday gift-giving. If the company doesn’t have one, this could be a good time to establish one or, at the very least, come up with guidelines within your own department.  If you work for a small business, decide with your co-workers how you want to handle this conundrum. And make sure that everyone is on board with the collective decision.

For religious, cultural or financial reasons, some people prefer not to engage in holiday gift-giving at work . Honor those people and make sure you have a process that allows individual to opt-in rather than opt-out. One way to do this is by passing around a sign-up sheet for those who want in. No pressure or judgment should be placed on those who don’t sign up.

Follow a process like “Secret  Santa”, and set a low dollar limit to make it easier for everyone to participate. After all, holiday time can be costly at best. Stay within the limits set. Just because you can afford more, going over the limit will not win you any friends.

Avoid giving inappropriate items such as clothing, fine jewelry or perfume to your co-workers. Save those for family and friends. Gag gifts are also on the banned list. Not everyone thinks the same things are funny so don’t give an item that could be offensive. You’ll have to work with the person you offended long after the holidays.

Appropriate gifts include foods like candy, cookies, jams and jellies, soaps, scented candles, books, and gift cards. One caution about gifts of food—don’t give candy or cookies to the person who is trying to diet.

Plan when you will engage in the holiday gift-giving in your office. You may choose to have an office party in-house or go off-site for a holiday luncheon or an after-hours party. If you want to give a special gift to a close colleague, do it outside the office, not in front of others. And certainly not at the office party.

When it comes to the boss, there is no obligation to give a gift. Sorry, boss. Gifting should flow downward, not upward. Consider this: the boss makes the most money and is the person who should be buying for employees. If everyone feels strongly about giving to the boss, set a dollar limit and collect a minimal amount from each employee. Don’t make an end run by giving the boss a present when everyone else in the office chose not to. That is one sure way to create conflict and ill will with your co-workers.

If a coworker or supervisor gives you an unexpected gift, don’t worry. Proper etiquette states that unexpected gifts do not need to be reciprocated. All that’s required is a friendly “Thank you!”

These rules for holiday gift-giving in the workplace are designed to make the process joyful and stress free. Don’t use them as an excuse to play Scrooge or the office Grinch.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Gift-Giving in the Office – Do’s and Don’ts

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There is enough stress during the holiday season without worrying  about how to handle gift-giving in the office.  More than a few people struggle with this issue every year. Do any of the following questions ring a seasonal bell with you?

  • Should you give a gift to everyone you work with?
  • Do you need to buy a present for your boss?
  • What are appropriate gifts?
  • How much should you be expected to spend?
  • When is the right time to present your gifts?
  • What if you cannot afford to a gift exchange?

The list goes on. So what can you or your office do to eliminate the stress and confusion around this time-honored workplace tradition?

The first thing to do is to establish a company policy on gift-giving. If the company does not have one, then decide with your co-workers how you want to handle this challenge. Make sure that everyone is on board with the collective decision. Many people would prefer not to give gifts at work during the holidays. If you choose to exchange gifts in the office, here are some points to consider.

  1. Honor those people who don’t want to participate in a holiday gift exchange. Reasons for not engaging could range from religious or cultural to financial. Choose a process which allows people to opt-in, rather than opt-out. One way to do this is by passing around a sign-up sheet for those who want in. No pressure or judgment should be placed on those who don’t sign up.
  2. Set a low dollar limit which will make it easier for everyone to participate. After all, holiday time can be costly at best.
  3. Stay within the limits set. Just because you can afford something better, going over will not win you any friends. Now if you found something you like on sale, that’s okay. However, avoid going into detail about the original price as opposed what you paid for it. That is completely unnecessary.
  4. Avoid giving inappropriate items to your co-workers. Those include personal gifts such as clothing, jewelry or perfume. Save those items for family and friends. Gag gifts are also on the banned list. Not everyone thinks the same things are funny so don’t give a gift that could be offensive. You’ll have to work with the person you offended long after the holidays.
  5. If you want to give a special gift to a close colleague, do it outside the office, not in front of others.
  6. There is no obligation to give the boss a gift.  Sorry, boss. Gifting should flow downward, not upward. Consider this: the boss makes the most money and is the person who should be buying for the employees. When everyone pitches in to buy something for the boss, guess who ends up with the most expensive gift in the office? If everyone feels strongly about giving to the boss, set a dollar limit there as well and collect a minimal amount from each employee.

These rules for gift-giving in the office are designed to make the process more joyful and less stressful. Don’t use them as an excuse to play Scrooge or the office Grinch.

About Lydia Ramsey

Lydia Ramsey is on a mission to stamp out rudeness and enhance professional conduct in the workplace. She is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, sought-after speaker, trainer, author and newspaper columnist. 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 at LydiaRamsey.com to leave a comment, ask a question or learn more about her programs and products for businesses, corporations, associations, colleges and universities.

 

 

 

 

 

The Etiquette of Cold and Flu Season

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etiquette expertTis the season to be jolly, but tis also the season for colds and flu. That makes it the season to practice the etiquette of cold and flu for your sake and that of others.

While you are spreading joy and goodwill, be careful that you are not spreading germs as well.

At this time of the year, we are most likely to find ourselves celebrating in large groups or traveling in close quarters as on planes, trains and buses. Now is when good manners and good health go hand in hand.

Here are twelve tips to keep yourself and others healthy and flu-free during the holidays and over the next few months.

  1. Get your flu shot. You are not only protecting yourself by doing so; you are also being considerate of others and sparing them the misery of this inevitable winter illness.
  2. Avoid the holiday party if you are sick. Staying at home is your seasonal gift. It’s one excuse the boss and co-workers will appreciate.
  3. Don’t prepare food for a party. If you are asked to bring a dish of some sort, buy one that is already prepared or store bought. Your flu germs should not be the secret ingredient.
  4. Double-dipping is a no-no under the best of circumstances but especially if you don’t feel well.
  5. Cough or sneeze into your elbow, awkward as it may seem. You will spread fewer germs that way. Coughing or sneezing into your hand offers a whole host of ways to pass on germs.
  6. Carry a supply of tissues with you. Carefully discard used ones and wash your hands.
  7. Wash your hands often. You can’t do it too many times all year long but particularly during flu season. Wash them before you eat or drink. Do it before and after you shake hands.
  8. Have hand sanitizer with you at all times. It is a quick and convenient way to prevent the spread of germs.
  9. Use your hand sanitizer to wipe off any work surfaces you touch to keep yourself and others safe.
  10. Don’t even think of shaking hands if you don’t feel well. Others will appreciate your saying, “Please forgive me for not shaking your hand, but I haven’t been feeling well.”
  11. Excuse yourself from the room or the table if you are having a coughing or sneezing fit. No one else needs to be subjected to your performance.
  12. Call in sick when you have a cold or the flu. You may not want to use up your paid time off or you may need to work on an important project, but you are not doing yourself or anyone else a favor by showing up ill.

Back to # 1: This tip cannot be over-emphasized. Get your flu shot so that you and those around you are protected from the miseries of the flu. The holidays and winter months should be enjoyed, not endured.

Who would have thought that there was indeed etiquette of cold and flu season?

You can find more helpful tips for the season in my ebook on holiday etiquette.

lydia_sm-e1393277822156Lydia Ramsey is business etiquette and modern manners expert, keynote speaker, seminar leader and author of Manners That Sell-Adding the Polish That Builds Profits. Based in Savannah, Georgia, she travels across the US and as far away as India and Dubai to work with clients that include universities, corporations, small businesses, associations and non-profit organizations. Her topics range from flip-flops to forks. Visit her website www.lydiaramsey.com for more information about her services and resources.

Ten Tips for Surviving the Holiday Office Party

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It’s inevitable—the annual holiday office party. You can pretty much count on it every year. This year approximately 75% of bosses are planning to treat their employees to what they deem to be a festive celebration.

For some, this is a much anticipated and eagerly awaited event. For others, not so much. They would rather face a root canal than have to mix and mingle with the gang from the office.

While the holiday office party is not guaranteed to be your opportunity to gain points with the boss and leverage your next promotion, it can decidedly be the event that tanks your career. Read on for tips that will help you stay out of the danger zone and on the safe side.

  1. Show up. Attendance is not optional. It is a requirement of the job. If you can’t attend, you need to have a pretty darn good excuse.
  2. RSVP. If the invitation says “RSVP”, a reply is necessary whether positive or negative. Your boss needs to know how many to plan for.
  3. Say what you will do and do what you say. If you reply that you will attend, do so. If you say that you cannot attend, don’t show up unannounced.
  4. Don’t arrive with unexpected guests. Only those who are named on the invitation should make an appearance. If your babysitter cancels at the last minute, don’t take the kids.
  5. Arrive on time. This is your best chance to be noticed by the boss and to interact with others in attendance.
  6. Engage your boss in conversation. This needs only be a light exchange. It is definitely not the time to talk business. A hint: to start the conversation, find something to compliment the boss on–perhaps an accessory such as his clever holiday tie or her attractive necklace or gorgeous scarf.
  7. Don’t hog the buffet table. The food may be delicious, but you are not there for the food. If you have a bite to eat before you go, you are less likely to find yourself overdoing it at the buffet table.
  8. Mix and mingle with your coworkers and colleagues. This is your opportunity to do some team building so go for it even if some of those people are not your close friends.
  9. Go with some conversation starters in mind. If you are not comfortable talking to people whom you don’t know well, have some ideas of topics you can talk about. But remember that all you really have to do is ask people about themselves and they will take that ball and run with it.
  10. As always, watch the alcohol. Have one or two drinks at the most. If you crave another, have it when you get home.

Drive safe; stay safe, have fun and watch your P’s and Q’s. You want to wake up the day after the holiday party with no regrets and know that you were your most professional polished self.

Happy Holidays!

Lydia

P.S. It is not too late to grab your copy of my e-book on holiday business tips for surviving the season.

P.S. Neither is it too late to order your copy of Manners That Sell – Adding the Polish That Builds Profits. It’s the perfect gift for yourself or anyone you know who wants to get ahead in the business world.

lydia_sm-e1393277822156Lydia Ramsey is business etiquette and modern manners expert, keynote speaker, seminar leader and author of Manners That Sell-Adding the Polish That Builds Profits. Based in Savannah, Georgia, she travels across the US and as far away as India and Dubai to work with clients that include universities, corporations, small businesses, associations and non-profit organizations. Her topics range from flip-flops to forks. Visit her website www.lydiaramsey.com for more information about her services and resources.

Should You Talk Politics at the Holiday Dinner?

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Thanksgiving Table MannersIt goes without saying that this has been a difficult year with a contentious presidential primary. You probably thought that peace would be restored once the election process was final. Wrong. In many ways, it has only gotten worse.  Do you dare talk politics during this holiday season?

Before the election, there were those who were willing to talk about the candidates’ behaviors and their verbal attacks on each other, but reluctant to disclose how they planned to vote. As soon as the polls opened, people came out of the woodwork to declare their position and candidate of choice.

You follow the news. You know what has happened since. A lot of it is ugly. As the holidays approach and friends and family gather for the traditional festivities—particularly the holiday dinner–do you dare talk about the election?

No one is naïve enough to believe that family gatherings always go smoothly and joyfully. Every family has one or more members who can stir the pot—not necessarily the one on the kitchen stove. How do you handle that person, or persons, this year who wants to talk politics, the ever-forbidden conversation topic?

Is it wrong to bring up the subject or talk about the obvious “elephant in the room”? Maybe not. How you do it is the tricky part.

  • Do you try to force your opinion on everyone else?
  • Do you put down those who don’t agree with you?
  • Do you become argumentative?
  • Do you toss your napkin on the table and stomp out in anger?
  • Do you force people to take sides and polarize the family?

I hope not.

The political situation cannot be ignored. It’s like living on the coast of Georgia, as I do, and not talking about Hurricane Mathew that ravaged my community. The 2016 election is too much a part of our lives to disregard. It should be discussed and acknowledged, but in a way that values all opinions.

  • To use a cliché, you should agree to disagree.
  • Keep your mind open to the views of others.
  • Listen without being offended.
  • Don’t interrupt.
  • Question without challenging.
  • Beware your body language.
  • Give yourself permission not to join in the conversation.

I am not so naïve as to think that everyone will play by these rules. Some of these family gatherings will end in disaster. Just make sure that you are not the one who caused the 2016 holiday event the one to remember for all the wrong reasons.

Approach those whose opinions you do not share with kindness, courtesy, respect and a heavy dose of tolerance.

13-0811 Lydia Ramsey eBook CoverFor more information on how to handle this and other holiday issues, order a copy of my ebook, Business Etiquette for the Holidays.

 

lydia_sm-e1393277822156Lydia Ramsey is business etiquette and modern manners expert, keynote speaker, seminar leader and author of Manners That Sell-Adding the Polish That Builds Profits. Based in Savannah, Georgia, she travels across the US and as far away as India and Dubai to work with clients that include universities, corporations, small businesses, associations and non-profit organizations. Her topics range from flip-flops to forks. Visit her website www.lydiaramsey.com for more information about her services and resources.