Tag Archives: etiquette

Replying to Invitations Post-Pandemic

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What’s the one thing you have missed most during the pandemic? When asked, many will reply that it’s people. Even the extreme introverts give this answer. Human beings need connection and social interaction. Some need it more than others.

During the pandemic, technology has allowed us to communicate via Zoom, texting, and other online platforms. However, there is nothing that quite compares with being in the same time and space as our friends and family. We miss them all, even grumpy old Uncle Fred or bossy Aunt Mary.

Now that some of the rules of masking and social distancing are beginning to relax post-pandemic, how do you feel about venturing out into social situations? More people than you might think are somewhat reluctant to return to socializing as they once knew it. Many fear that they have lost their social skills and are afraid they won’t be comfortable mixing and mingling again.

Are you someone who is excited to see an invitation come your way; yet when it comes time to head out, you lose your nerve? Maybe you rejected the invitation to begin with. Perhaps you accepted and now need a graceful way to back out? Once again, let me assure you that you are not alone. It’s oddly part of that “new normal” we talk about.

Having established that these feelings are commonplace, how do you handle replying to invitations, specifically turning down invitations without offending someone and risk being forever blacklisted?

Try a bit of old-fashioned honesty. Most people will understand when you confess that you aren’t quite ready to go out. You can explain that despite being fully vaccinated, you are somewhat reluctant to be in groups or crowds. If you aren’t comfortable exposing your fears, you can simply say that, unfortunately, you have a conflict. There’s no need to explain further.

Keep it simple. You only need one reason to turn down an invitation. You never want to pile on a dozen excuses for staying away. Even if all twelve are legitimate, it sounds phony.

Be appreciative. No matter how you choose to respond, thank your would-be host and ask if you can have the proverbial rain check. Stress that you are grateful to have been thought of and that you value the invitation. Suggest that you get together sometime soon.

Go easy on yourself. Take your time with your re-entry. Try accepting a few invitations, perhaps those for small events. Above all, keep in mind that while you may feel alone, you are in good company. This is normal post-lockdown apprehension. When you are ready, the world will be waiting and will welcome you with open arms.

Pandemic Grocery Store Etiquette

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Coronavirus has done it again. It has altered another aspect of our lives and caused us to rethink one more behavior—the way we grocery shop. The result is a new set of etiquette rules. When I began writing this column 25 years ago, it never occurred to me that grocery store etiquette would become a topic. But here I am writing to remind people how to conduct themselves while shopping for their daily bread.

During this pandemic, grocery stores have implemented new policies and procedures to protect their customers and employees. They are trying to ensure that everyone is following the recommended guidelines to prevent the further spread of Covid-19. For their part, stores have provided hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. They have posted signs and make periodic announcements reminding customers to social distance. They have marked their floors at checkout points to indicate where customers should stand. Others have gone a step further and redesigned their floor plan to create one-way traffic so customers do not find themselves passing too close to each other.

With stores doing their part, it’s time for the shopping public to do theirs. Most people are following the rules. As always there are exceptions. Those few are making it risky for others.

There are etiquette rules that everyone needs to follow in order not to be the jerk at the supermarket. Etiquette means exhibiting a strong moral code of conduct as well as being respectful and courteous towards others. As we struggle to get through this difficult time, you can do your part by paying attention to your pandemic grocery store etiquette.

Wear a mask. It can be uncomfortable, but it’s fast becoming a fashion accessory. Who would have thought? You might as well invest in more than one mask as this pandemic is most likely to be with us for a while. Why not have a little fun with it? As a reminder: you wear a mask to protect others, not yourself. Let’s all put one on.

Follow the signs. Pay attention to where you should stand. There may be places other than checkout lines where you need to keep physical distance. Respect those one-way paths.

Minimize your shopping trips. Although our governor has lifted the stay-at-home order for all but special cases, limit your visits. By doing so you can cut down on the chances of spreading the virus. Your pocketbook will thank you. You’ll plan more thoughtfully and learn to shop for only what you need.

Don’t be a hoarder. I will never look at a roll of toilet paper the same way again. It will forever be a reminder of Covid-19. Granted, some items are still scarce. Most stores have set limits on those high-demand items. Take only what you need. Leave some for other people. There will always be food on the shelves. And yes, toilet paper.

Watch where you put your hands. Some experts warn that the virus can live on certain surfaces for some time. Others disagree. Why take a chance? We know so little about this disease. Make it a habit to touch only what you plan to buy. It’s not necessary to handle five tomatoes before you settle on the one you want.

Properly dispose of gloves and wipes. The ground outside the store is not the place to toss them. Someone has to clean up after you. If you can’t find a trash can, take items home to discard them.

Shop mindfully. You may think you are invincible, but not everyone is. We continually hear that we are all in this together. Think of others; not just yourself.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert. Visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com to learn how her virtual presentations, workshops and resources can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits through tough times.

Flag Etiquette

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As we approach the Fourth of July, what better to time to review our flag etiquette? For those who have served or are serving in our military, flag etiquette is second nature. For the rest of us, the do’s and don’ts are not so well-known. If you are among those eager to fly “Old Glory” on July 4th, no doubt you want to do it correctly and avoid anything that is disrespectful of our stars and stripes.

The American Legion established the standards of flag etiquette under what is known as the United States Flag Code. Compliance is not mandatory. It is voluntary and strongly suggested. I have chosen to offer the best practices for respectfully caring for and displaying your flag.

Displaying the Flag.

The flag is displayed from sunrise to sunset on buildings and outdoor flagstaffs. It may only be displayed 24 hours a day if it is illuminated during the hours of darkness. If you are flying the flag on the front of your house, you need not run out and purchase a spotlight. Just leave your porch light on.

Pay attention to the position of the union—the blue background with white stars, symbolizing the union of the states. The union should be at the peak of the staff when projecting horizontally, at an angle from a windowsill or the front of a building. When displayed against a wall or in a window, the union should be uppermost and to the flag’s right—that would be to the observer’s left.

The flag should not be flown in inclement weather unless you have an all-weather flag, one made of nylon, polyester or other treated material.

The flag is never displayed with the union down except as a signal of extreme distress meaning danger to life or property.

Respecting the Flag

Flags should not be displayed over any part of a vehicle, train or boat unless they are affixed to a staff.

Neither the flag nor any part of it should be used for apparel, bedding, drapery, or as part of a costume or uniform. The exception is using it as a flag patch on the uniform of military personnel, firemen and policemen.

No items that are intended for temporary use should be decorated with the flag. That means that the flag should not be embroidered, embossed or printed on cushions (please, don’t sit on the flag), napkins, boxes, bags or anything else that will be discarded.

Disposing of the Flag

Torn or tattered flags are not appropriate for display and ought to be destroyed respectfully. According to the code of respect, this should be done by burning. Organizations such as the American Legion, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts regularly retire flags. There is no need to start your own bonfire.

The flag as wearing apparel

The line in the flag code that causes the greatest confusion is the one that states that the flag should not be used for apparel. That begs the question “Is it permissible to wear an item of clothing that looks like the United States flag?” The answer from the American Legion is “Unless an article of clothing is made from an actual United States flag, there is NO breach of flag etiquette whatsoever. People are simply expressing their patriotism and love of country by wearing an article of clothing that happens to be red, white, and blue with stars and stripes. There is nothing illegal about the wearing or use of these items.”

For those of you who may be celebrating the 4th of July by wearing your red, white and blue face mask to honor our country and respect the health of your fellow citizens, have at it. It’s acceptable.

Texting in Business: the New Phone and the New Email

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Just a few short years ago would you have thought that texting in business would be a widely-accepted staple of  communication? Probably not, but then a decade ago, you would not have believed that email would be flooding your inbox. Thanks to texting, those overflowing inboxes are no longer consuming the better part of our day. Texting has become the new email and the new phone call.

Before we get into the subject of why, when and how to text, be assured that I am not suggesting that you abandon all other forms of communication in business. Hopefully, nothing will supplant real conversation over the phone or meeting face-to-face.

Why should you consider texting in business?

  1. Your customers prefer texting. Regardless of your preferred means of communication, it’s the customer who chooses. Because of all those spam calls, some people, even in business, do not answer their phones. Others won’t take your call because they don’t want to get involved in a lengthy phone conversation.
  2. Texting has a higher open and response rate. Studies show that people will open a text message while they ignore an email. And they are more likely to respond. Now that’s good business.
  3. Texting is a time– It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that texting is faster than making a phone call or sending an email.
  4. Texting is versatile. You can send out reminders, make appointments, schedule meetings and announce business updates. It’s a short sweet marketing toll. 

Before you embrace texting with all of its advantages, establish guidelines and set standards for yourself and your business. If you don’t, you can quickly spoil a business relationship.

What are the etiquette rules for texting in business?  

  1. Avoid abbreviations and acronyms unless your customer uses them. Don’t assume that everyone knows what you know or knows what you mean.
  2. Text at appropriate times. Is it after hours? Are you likely to be an intrusion?
  3. Use correct spelling. Yes, even in texting.
  4. Limit your number of texts you send. A nuisance will quickly lose credibility.
  5. Include your business name in each message. Again, make no assumptions.
  6. Consider your “why” for sending the message. Your customers need to know what you expect them to do. Do you have a “call to action” or an obvious reason for sending that text? Be clear about your purpose and give instructions for responding.
  7. Proof your text. Treat it just as would your email. Check your grammar, spelling, readability and especially the autocorrect. Texting makes assumptions. If you don’t double-check, it will replace what you wrote with some bizarre and unintended words.
  8. Get your customers’ permission before texting them. There are laws that govern texting in business. Know what they are. Ask your attorney or refer to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

Texting is here to stay. People like it. Why? They like it because it is private. They like it because it leaves a record of conversations. They like it because it’s polite and respectful of others and acknowledges their busy lives.

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.





Workplace Etiquette – Getting Off on the Right Foot

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It’s a new year, but when it comes to workplace etiquette, there aren’t any new rules. Some people haven’t digested the old rules yet. Don’t be one of them. Here is a potpourri of tips on workplace etiquette for review in order to get off on the right foot in a new year.

When to start eating:

If you are seated at a table for eight or fewer, don’t begin until everyone has been served or until your host has begun. If you are seated at a long banquet table, you may begin eating when several people near you have been served.

What to put on the dining table:

Put on the table only those items related to food. That means no cell phones, car keys, handbags or sunglasses.

What if you don’t want to drink wine:

Simply touch the rim of the glass with your finger tips to signal the server not to pour. Do not turn your glass over. The same rule applies to the coffee cup when you don’t want coffee.

When and how to use speakerphones:

The only time to use speakerphones is when you want to include someone else in the room on the call or when you need both hands for taking notes. Let the person on the other end of the line know you are using speakerphone and why. There should be no surprises about who is listening in.

Holding doors for other people:

The first person to get to the door holds it for those following. Gender is not an issue here—just basic courtesy. When a man holds a door for woman, she need not be offended. The opposite is also true.

Using the office kitchen:

There are three basic rules—clean up after yourself, don’t put any stinky food in the microwave and remove your food from the refrigerator before it turns blue. The office fridge is not a science lab.

What to wear to work:

Know the company dress code. Even if casual dress is acceptable, don’t dress like you are going to the beach. Treat the workplace environment with respect.

When to talk or text on your smart phone:

The answer is simple—never in the presence of others. Think of texting in front of others like whispering behind their back. At a business meal or meeting, your phone should be on mute. And don’t look to see who called in or texted you until afterward.

Basic rules of email etiquette:

Use “reply all” judiciously. In most instances, only the person who sent out the email needs to see your reply. Don’t burden everyone on the list with unnecessary email.

Make completing the address line the last thing you do. Fill in the name and address of the recipient the last step you take. Hit “send” only after you have carefully proofed your message.

What to post on social media:

Only what you want the whole world to see. Not only can your friends view what you post, others can repost, copy, share or retweet anything you put out.

Behaviors in a cubicle workplace:

Be courteous and respectful of your coworkers. Keep noise, smells and other distractions to a minimum. When talking on the phone, keep your voice low.


Being on time is a basic courtesy. People who are chronically late show disrespect for coworkers and colleagues and send a message that their time is more valuable than other people’s time.

Travel etiquette:

Don’t crowd the boarding area. Move up only when your section is called. Stow your bags quickly and sit down so others may pass. Don’t treat your seat as if it is your living room recliner. Once off the plane avoid crowding the baggage carousel. Step forward only when you see your bags.

When to send a handwritten note:

Any time someone has gone out of the way to offer you a kindness, given you a gift or treated you to a meal. Nothing is as impressive or rare today as the handwritten note.

If you keep these workplace etiquette tips top of mind, you will enjoy a successful year.

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 she can help you or your employees add the polish that builds profits.

Lydia’s mantra is “Etiquette and manners are not about following rules; they are about building relationships.”






Conversation Creator Or Conversation Killer?

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Much has been written about the art of conversation. Engaging strangers comes easily to some people. For others, it is a nightmare to start a dialogue and keep it going.  In the business world, good conversation skills are a must if you want to build relationships with your clients and your colleagues.  

Like so much in life, good conversation is a matter of maintaining balance.  It’s a blend of speaking and listening.  Paying attention to what other people are saying is crucial to keeping a natural flow.

People with the best intentions can kill a conversation without realizing what they have done.  Here a few of the classic types who have earned the title “Conversation Killer.” With a bit of intention, you won’t find yourself on this list.

The Bore: That’s the person who talks on and on about himself when you want to talk about yourself.

The Interrogator:  This person read somewhere that asking questions is the secret to good dialogue.  The result is a barrage of questions fired at the other person until he is completely worn down.  By commenting occasionally on what other people are saying, you can avoid making them feel as if they are being grilled by the Gestapo.

The Interrupter:  This person doesn’t take time to hear you out.  He continually jumps in to finish your sentences for you, acting as if he knows what you are going to say next. Pauses make the interrupter uncomfortable.

The Advisor:  This conversation killer believes he is keeping the balance.  He has heard what you said and is now offering his advice.  The problem here is that you didn’t ask what he thought. To avoid being the advisor, keep your opinions to yourself unless you hear, “What would you do?” or “What do you think?” 

The One-Upper:  This individual can hardly wait for you to finish your story so he can go you one better.  So you had a skiing accident and broke your ankle?  Well, he fell off a mountain and was in a body cast for a year.  Whatever you have to say, he can top it.

Chatty Cathy: She talks way too much. She doesn’t realize that people seldom regret what they left unsaid.

The Poor Sport: This type refuses to play the conversation game. You can ask every question in the book, and he still manages to provide only one-word responses.

Good conversation is give and take.  Everybody enhances conversation by listening, acknowledging and offering the occasional response.  Sometimes it feels like work, but after all, you are trying to establish relationships, grow your business and be more profitable.  Being a conversation creator is part of the job.

As always, the best conversationalist is the one who listens.



Flying Etiquette – It’s Time for a Few Tips

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With the holidays upon us, more than a few people will be taking to those formerly friendly skies to visit family and friends or perhaps to take a special vacation. Wherever they are headed, one thing is for sure—their air travel will have its share of challenges.

British Airways has unveiled an unofficial rulebook on flying etiquette in an effort to help their passengers handle some sticky in-flight issues. The airline surveyed 1,500 travelers in the US, UK, France, Germany and Italy to get their thoughts on etiquette in the air.

Given the diversity of countries and cultures, there were naturally conflicting opinions on the do’s and don’ts of mile high manners. The results are food for thought for those taking flight.

The airline tackled what it considered to be the four biggest areas of contention: Should you take off your shoes and socks in flight? Who owns the armrest? Should you engage in pillow talk with your seatmate? And what are the rules about waking a sleeping neighbor?

Shoes and socks on or off? Not surprisingly, travelers overwhelmingly agreed that removing your socks is unacceptable, but taking off your shoes is all right. The one group taking the opposite approach was the Italians. Apparently, taking off either is tantamount to undressing in flight. My perspective on this is that it’s fine to take off your shoes as long as your socks are clean. And no bare feet, no matter when you last washed them.

Who owns the rights to the armrest? There was general agreement that every flier should have at least one. The point of contention was the middle seat. Is that passenger entitled to one, two or none? American and British fliers seemed to want to claim both armrests; whereas the French, Germans and Italians said that he who asks first shall prevail. Now that hardly seems fair to me. The poor soul who is wedged in a middle seat ought to be given more consideration. Besides, I can never recall hearing anyone asking permission for an armrest. More often than not there is a silent battle between seatmates.

Pillow talk: is it okay to chit chat? There was general agreement that passengers should acknowledge each other with a smile and a quick greeting. After that US and UK fliers are not eager to engage in conversation and have their subtle ways of sending that message—like taking out a book or putting on their headset. Italians, being the friendly warm people that they are, enjoy a good in-flight conversation. Ignoring your seatmate entirely may cause you to miss out on a good connection and an interesting experience. I once sold copies of one of my books to a seatmate.

Should you wake a sleeping seatmate? You need to make a trip to the lavatory and the person between you and the aisle is asleep. What to do? This could well be my favorite. 80% of travelers say that it’s okay to wake your neighbor, but 40% say that you should only do it once per flight. I wonder if there was any consideration given to the time in flight. It seems to me one needs to be more flexible on this issue. However,if you find yourself making frequent trips to the restroom, book an aisle seat. And don’t overlook the etiquette of climbing over. Global etiquette dictates that you make a face-to-face exit. Try it; it’s not easy.

The fourth question begs a fifth: What to do about the seatmate who is snoring? Here is where the majority of people tended to be polite and said they would ignore those intermittent outbursts—all except the British who would not hesitate to give a chap a nudge.

There are indeed rules of flying etiquette to be observed when you take off for the holidays, it’s clear that not everyone can agree on what they should be. Perhaps that’s why there is so much turmoil in the air these days.

You can’t control how someone else behaves, but you can manage your own manners. Showing as much consideration for your fellow passengers as you would like for them to show you could just possibly bring about a return of the friendly skies. Oh for the good ole days.


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
  • learn more about her programs and products for businesses, corporations, associations, colleges and universities.




How Do You React to Poor Customer Service?

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How often have you encountered a surly sales clerk or a sour server? Unfortunately, most of us find ourselves on the receiving end of poor customer service more frequently than we’d like.  Some people just seem to show up for work in a bad mood. Like your mother used to say, “They act like they got up on the wrong side of the bed.” When the cashier ignores you or the waiter doesn’t have time to be friendly, it shouldn’t be your problem, but it is.  How should you, as the customer, react when you run into this kind of behavior?  Should you respond in kind, chastise the employee, report the incident to the next level or simply go away and never come back?

Start by treating others as you would like to be treated.  That’s not such a novel idea. Everyone knows the Golden Rule, but some people seem to have forgotten it or perhaps they made a conscious decision not to play by it.  When you find yourself face-to-face with a grump, take the high road. Start by making eye contact, smiling and speaking in a pleasant manner. The grouchy person might possibly perk up and react positively to your behavior.

If your upbeat attitude does not rub off, resist the urge to counterattack.   Going straight for the throat at the first sign of trouble will only make the situation worse and cause you to look bad in the eyes of everyone else. In today’s world, people tend to take matters into their own hands. We see examples of rage and anger all too often, and they never end well.

When you encounter poor customer service or rude behavior, report it to the appropriate person and do so politely. Stay calm. Your concerns will be taken much more seriously if you are cool and collected.  If you rail at the manager, your complaint will be discounted. You will look like the problem rather than the employee.

You can choose to avoid the issue by walking out and vowing never to return. With this kind of non-reaction, you do the business a disservice. Since avoidance is the last thing any establishment wants, give the owner or manager a chance to correct the problem.  Find a manager and report the issue.  The way those in charge react to your problem will let you know if your business is appreciated.

We all want to feel valued, especially when we are parting with our hard-earned dollars.  It is never too much to expect to be treated with kindness, courtesy and respect. Those businesses and their employees who don’t make customer service a priority and the responsibility of everyone in the organization will find themselves wondering where all their customers have gone.

Photo from Savanah magazine

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. 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. The author of Manners That Sell – Adding the Polish That Builds Profits and Lydia Ramsey’s Little Book of Table Manners, Lydia is available to speak at your next conference or meeting.




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.