The Civilized Minute

a minute of manners and musings

Category Archives: Business Travel

wardrobe wants

Like a lot of you, my role as a business etiquette consultant is just one of the many hats I wear. I’m a mom, a community volunteer, a school volunteer, a backyard basketball player, a professional grocery shopper, a vegetable washer, a wife, tired…you get the picture. One of the many challenges of wearing all these hats (and all at once) is wardrobe. It frustrates me to have to change clothes between appointments. When I get dressed in the morning, I want to be able to wear the same thing from my breakfast with the girls to my committee meeting to a doctor’s appointment.

And, here’s the thing. Us chicas-with-responsibilites need to look good. Everywhere and all the time. There is no need to be the very last person to pick your child up from school and look like something the cat drug in. And, don’t breeze in late to work wearing worn out pants and a shirt with a stain. If you look sloppy and unorganized, people will assume the same about your work. I know it’s hard to get everybody where they are supposed to be while putting on your makeup, blow drying your hair, preparing breakfast, and ironing someone else’s collars, but it’s important that you at least appear to be clean and tidy.

Have you guys heard of Boden? It’s a clothing company out of the UK. Their line includes everything from tshirts and sneakers to dresses for Sunday. Most everyone works in a Business Casual environment, so take a gander and imagine how good you would feel to saunter into a meeting with your boss wearing something like:

A dress with simple lines and good colors Add a pair of neutral pumps and you are set for the office; shed the heels and slip on a pair of neutral flats so you can be comfy during your after work errands.

A tunic over straight ankle length pants. This is an updated Audrey Hepburn look that is classic and classy. The secret to making this oversized shirt look neat (as opposed to a bathingsuit cover-up) is the fit. Make sure it’s long enough and it fits your shoulders properly. Be sure to wear this with big earrings.

Straight Leg Trousers with a simple top in a color that is perfect on you. Simple, clean and easy to put on. Having a “plain” pair of black pants you can wear on nearly any given day feels as good as having a babysitter always available. When I find a pair of black pants in a year-round fabric, I buy two. It’s difficult, but you have to make yourself pitch these when the black begins to fade. Also, if you find a pair that almost fits, consult a tailor. With a little tweaking, they might just work fine.

Boden products are little pricey for some, but here’s my testament: It’s quality stuff that won’t stretch so that you leave the office with knee humps in the legs of your pants and the hems are not going to fall out the day before you go out of town. You have more to deal with than your clothes falling apart.  

You don’t have to buy Boden clothes, but I do hope you’ll take a look around your closet and in your mirror. Look at yourself as other people see you. Do you look like the kind of woman that could compile presentation materials with a baby on her hip and her phone to her ear? If not, call up a girlfriend, put on your Spanx and go shopping.

Boden is a great option and I’m not even paid to say that.


road trip!

By the time you reach your late thirties, the words ‘road trip’ just don’t have the ring they once did. Nevertheless, that’s what we did over the weekend. We took a road trip. To Tennessee. We live in Georgia. We didn’t really go that far.

We spent Friday night in Chattanooga where I, as any good mother would do, tried desperately to teach my children the song, Chattanooga Choo-Choo. You see, anytime we take a trip, we (and by ‘we’, I mean ‘I’) have a theme song. Last summer when we took a cruise, it was Zac Brown’s Where the Boat Leaves From. It was perfect! My family, on the other hand, just doesn’t know how to be jolly.

We spent Saturday at the Tennessee Aquarium and it was fantastic. Two buildings full of creatures you have seen and tons you have not. Here’s the thought that kept running through my head: there are so many beautiful colors! Salt water fish are stunning. Beats the heck out of a Georgia National Fair goldfish, that’s for sure. And, just in case you haven’t seen one up close, penguins act just like their cartoon counterparts. They had me laughing out loud! ‘Course, not everyone saw the humor and irony that I did. True to my profession, I created a small list of things my children were doing to drive me crazy aquarium etiquette points.

  • Running ahead in the exhibit and yelling back what you see spoils it for those who have yet to round the corner.
  • Running ahead in the exhibit then running back to Mom tapping on my  her arm saying, “Mom! Mom! Mom! Come over here!” spoils it for the Mom that has yet to round the corner. Additionally, all that incessant tapping will give the Mom a nervous condition.
  • It is inappropriate for Moms or Dads to ask the volunteer guides at the shark exhibit how one might get into that shark tank then threaten the children with a ‘swim with the fishes’ if they don’t act right. It’s just too much for those around you to comprehend. Discuss the Swim with the Fishes opportunities before you get out of the car.
  • One’s appearance is never a joking matter. So, it should go without saying that Husbands should not gaze at the biggest, ugliest, fattest sea turtle in the world, drape an arm around each child and say, “Doesn’t your mama look good, kids?” (I would have frogged him, but there was a very distinguished looking lady with a beautiful hair color job carrying a Chanel bag that seemed appalled enough.)

After a painful stop by Starbucks and a long discussion about parking meters (country-come-to-Chattanooga), we got back in the car headed north.  Yep, further into Tennessee and into the unknown. Our 9 year old son, who we’ve decided doesn’t get out nearly enough, asked what hotel we would be visiting for Saturday night. I told him and he said, “Gosh, I hope it’s nice.” This, from the fella who stood on the street outside the Hardrock Café in Atlanta (a whopping 103 minutes from home), spread his arms and feet wide and yelled, “Heeellooo New York City!”  Like I said, he doesn’t get out much.

Sunday, we went to church with relatives to see a beautiful baby cousin christened. She wore the christening gown her aunt wore, a gold necklace from a great aunt, we ate pimento cheese and marinated beans with old family sterling silver for lunch, had pound cake and coffee for dessert and laughed about the idiosyncrasies of our family. While we were definitely north of where we call home, the southernisms lived on and it was a perfect day.

Interestingly, we are taking another road trip today. Our 12 year old daughter and I are going to Birmingham to visit the Southern Living magazine offices. We will see, first hand, how they put together the pieces that make up a traditional and southern lifestyle.

As if we don’t know already…

Which day is your day?

Maybe it’s because I have children that I  sometimes become stunned when people actually follow my direction.  My children, well, don’t always do that. 

I released my e-book called The Civilized Minute last week.  Here’s the cover. There are pages behind it.  They are filled with all sorts of trickery. Thirty days worth of trickery to be precise. It’s written so that you have a 1-minute read each day for 30 days with each day presenting a lesson in civility.


And, people are actually buying it.  AND, people are actually telling me about tips they have implemented – that are working.  They are saying things like, “I didn’t realize I was reacting so harshly to everyday situations” and “Day 9 is printed and posted on the office bulletin board”. 

So, admitting to the masses that this comes as a surprise to me probably does not make me appear…confident? sure? as if I know what I’m talking about?

Well, who doesn’t doubt their genius status every now and then? (Day 11 is pretty good help with this) I mean, don’t we all want to be liked? (Day 25) Don’t we all want to be viewed as a role model? (Day 5)

Am I tempting you yet?  Well, don’t let me stop you from 30 days of pure…well, you decide…but, be nice about it (Day 22).

Click here to decide which day is your day: The Civilized Minute e-book

the company logo

Today’s post is taken from the book also titled  The Civilized Minute. I am eagerly awaiting its release in early November 2010.  I hope you are, too!

If you have worked for any company for just about any length of time, you have all sorts of stuff with the company logo on it. Everything from beach towels to clocks proudly sport the logo you barely notice anymore.

Enter potentially damaging mind-set #1: you don’t see the logo anymore. You drive pass it in the parking lot, you walk pass it on the door coming in to the building, your fingers cover it up when you show your badge to the security guard, you look beyond it on the motivational posters hung along the wall on the way to your office or cube and your day goes on. The same goes for the logo on the coozie you used last weekend at the concert in the park. Remember? That was the day you had just a little too much to drink and danced shirtless to the cover band’s version of Free Falling. You may not have noticed the logo that day, but I can assure you other people did.

Enter potentially damaging mind-set #2: you forget you are displaying the logo. That blue chair you take to every single one of your son’s baseball games is your lucky chair, right? It’s the one that got you through the play-offs last season. Well, it was the chair and the fact that you screamed at the umpire throughout the entire game. What would your son’s team do without you and your lucky blue chair displaying your company’s logo on the back?

In case you aren’t adept at reading sarcasm, I’ll be clear. No one appreciates your antics when you are wearing or using company identifiable items. When you can be identified as a representative of any organization, you become the face of the group. Further, you become an indication of the quality of service provided by that company and the quality of the people who work there. Be mindful that you are representing the brand well.

Savvy Suggestion: Just because you are given company items, does not mean you have to use them. If you do not want the burden of representing your company while performing any mundane weekend activity, go through all your closets and drawers and get rid of anything with the logo on it.

my weapons of choice

Have you ever been talking to someone who’s been “into the red wine” at a networking event and you don’t know how to tell them that they’ve definitely made their mark? Then you know that a wine mustache can blow your corporate cover in a hurry. Let me suggest a few ways that you can avoid leaving one of your own . . .

· “Sauvignon Blanc, please.” The easiest way to avoid an embarrassing situation is to choose the path of least resistance. White wines are the best choice in a business setting.

But what if you’re at a red wine tasting? It’s true that sometimes there just isn’t a safe choice. So I’ll give you a heads up on how to proceed . . . with caution of course.

· Preparation is key. Bobbi Brown’s Lip Balm is thick, but not glossy, so it’s perfect for acting as a barrier on your lips and preventing stains on men and women. And its unique blend of wheat germ and olive oil is delightfully non-greasy.  The packaging is perfect to slip into a coat pocket (guys) or in a clutch (women).  Just remember to apply in private!

Bobbi Brown Lip Balm SPF 15

· Limits. If you must drink red wine, limit yourself to a single glass and follow immediately with a glass of ice water.  Swish, swish.

· Keep it clean. The wipes from are an image saver and, for special events, can even be customized. Think ahead when planning your next event & order them for the guests.  These are magical when it comes to removing wine stains from your lips or teeth.  Again, this is your little secret weapon so don’t whip this out during the event.

“A bottle of red . . . A bottle of white . . . things are okay with me these days” sang Billy Joel. And they will be for you too as long as you remember these simple tips!

Now, leave a comment and share your weapon of choice!

swearing in savannah

I arrived in Savannah, GA yesterday.  I had forgotten how lovely this town is.  The trees, the history, the mystery.  I am going to have to read In the Garden of Good and Evil again.  Just before dinner last night, I took a walk along River Street.  Despite the good ole Georgia humidity, the breeze was nice and I enjoyed watching a tremendous ship glide into port.

There was a downer, though.  As I sat on a low brick wall watching the ship and wondering where in the world – literally – it had come from, I got frustrated by a group of people talking loudly nearby.  I was trying to have a River Street moment, but with all that cussing and fussing, it was almost impossible. 

Why must some people use profanity so freely and openly that everyone is forced enjoy it?  It’s truly a mystery to me.  Are they that insecure?  Are they trying that hard to be liked?  Who told them that’s how to be liked, anyway?

Yeah, the boat is huge.  I see it, too, so it really isn’t necessary to say repeatedly “that’s a big *&#! boat”.  I get it, Mr. Vice-President.

The general public is full of people who hire, fire and represent good companies.  It’s an opportunity lost to conduct yourself poorly in public.  You never know who could be nearby. 

So, mind your manners and your mouth!


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