The Civilized Minute

a minute of manners and musings

Category Archives: Organization

Nesting and etiquette or nesting etiquette

This post is a little different…rather than me writing a post for you, I’m directing you to another post. On another blog. Please try to keep up. Before you click off to this other blog, I need to tell you something.

I’m pregnant.

Not really…just wanted to see how many of my girl cousins will call me because they stop reading at that simple sentence.

Here’s really what I want to tell you: the blog I’m sending you to is called Housewife Bliss. She writes about “the finer points of nesting.”  She is very very skilled at running a household without the household running her.

WHAT does this have to do with business etiquette? Exactly this: If your nesting habits are lacking, there are probably business organization skills that are lacking AND when your house and home are in disarray, it prevents you from being able to fully concentrate and focus on your business. AND, it’s these extraneous stresses and burdens that cause even the nicest of the nice to act unbecomingly. Haven’t you snapped at someone because you were late to a meeting because you couldn’t find your keys or your child’s lunchbox or couldn’t lock the back door of your house because you keep forgetting to call the repairman? Yeah, me either.

So, today’s post on Housewife Bliss is about The Essential Household Management Book. Beware: it’s a spiralbound notebook and it is the bomb. Even if you use only 1 or 2 of the tips she suggests, you’ll be glad.

Happy Nesting toward Success!

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new holiday etiquette, part 2: party preppin’ & etiquette-cool

Welcome to part 2 of New Holiday Etiquette! In case you missed it, here is the link to part 1.

Pre-Party Preppin’ Time

Another emerging and perfectly acceptable way to gather for a meal this season is for the host to make a plan and ask each guest to help execute it. In other words, ask each guest to gather a particular list of ingredients and show up at specified time. When each person arrives, give them a festive apron to don (this could even serve as a party favor for your guests to take home! I suggest one from The Hip Hostess.) while they chop, stir and mix their way toward the intended dish and, ultimately, the dinner table. It’s communal, it’s fun and it’s not intended to be perfect. This will create a relaxed atmosphere where stressed out folks can meet new friends and have an easy and entertaining evening. Faux pas are expected with this relaxed approach, so drop the ‘entertaining with etiquette’ and ‘when will I be served’ expectations. Lend your host a hand and have some fun. However, moderation is key. While informal is good, cellphone manners remain firmly in place: Phone is turned off or at the very least put on vibrate (for whatever emergency you are anticipating, have warned others about and asked for forgiveness) and no texting. These are non-negotiable. This is isn’t high school. 
 
Etiquette-Cool Style
While the trend in the etiquette world (and the world at large) is to relax from convention and rigidity, it is still a requirement that you treat others with thoughtful consideration.

 Wouldn’t you prefer the gifts you receive to come with thoughtful consideration? Uh-huh, thought so. I mean, just how many scarves do you want, anyway? So, you gift the way you would like to be gifted. Teachers, for example, would probably love a prepared and frozen casserole they can bring out for their families. Or, when it’s time to find a hostess gift, reach for something applicable to their personality, not just something that happens to be sold on the path from your door to theirs, or the typical bottle of wine. You could even make a donation in their honor to a cause you know they are particularly fond of.

Further, people find it thoughtful and endearing to ask a question before making an assumption.  The original Emily Post might have trouble with this one. Let’s say you are introduced to Mr. Pearson. The lady standing next to Mr. Pearson is his wife, but she goes by her maiden name, Cannon. You have to listen when the intro is made or you’ll miss that one. And, if you do catch the difference in names, it’s ok to simply confirm what you heard. “Your name is Pearson and your name is Cannon. Did I get that right?” People have all sorts of reasons to not share a last name, none of which is any of your business, so just make sure to know their names and move on. Or, let’s say you are invited to a Winter Cookout. Will you really eat outside? Should you dress to be outside for 2 hours?? Rather than feeling uneasy about what to expect or trying to figure it out on your own, just call up the host and ask. It’s ok to ask! That initiative shows you are interested in making the function a success and are ready to come prepared.

 Thoughtful consideration works like a charm. 
 
Your Guests

When you are considering hosting a holiday event, step out of your norm when you are making the guest list. The world is a much smaller place than when it was appropriate to only have intimate family Christmas dinners. Think of the people you know whose family live in faraway lands. Perhaps you have friends who have chosen not to travel to visit family this year. Perhaps you know someone who lost a loved one during the year. Share the wealth of your holiday cheer and invite one and all. Bring them into your fold with the same treatment your usual clan gets by including them in whatever traditions you have. If you each open a small gift, have one ready for your new guests to unwrap. if you work in a soup kitchen in the hours leading up to your own dinner, invite your guests along. 
 
Now, the party’s over, it was a blast and your memories are engrained and ready to be shared. Before you click ‘Enter’ on your Facebook password, remember this new etiquette for this new thing called social media: 
*Posting a remark about last night’s awesome party with a list of people who were especially entertaining will only serve to make someone feel left out and that’s not etiquette-cool. And, you can’t disguise it with a post that starts with ‘Thank you Lisa & Bob for an incredible dinner last night.’ That’s still revealing too much. 
*Don’t post pictures from the event no matter how good your hair looks in the candlelight. While you may be so impressed with your locks, you could be killing the reputation of the guy in the background who is double-fisting his merriment. 
*A Facebook status or Tweet does not take the place of a thank-you note. Be more genuine than that. Drop a note in the mail or call up your host to tell them specifically what you enjoyed so much. 
*Stay positive! People have enough mediums to reinforce their level of stress, so back off comments like, “My co-workers are driving me crazy” or “I’m so sick of Christmas shopping”. Instead, share a golden nugget like an online retailer’s free shipping promo code or where to shop that offers pretty gift-wrapping. 

 Don’t be afraid to try something new – even at Christmas. Your invitation to chop or your just-right-for-them gift may be just what you friend needs.

Merry Christmas, Everybody!

new holiday etiquette, part 2: party preppin' & etiquette-cool

Welcome to part 2 of New Holiday Etiquette! In case you missed it, here is the link to part 1.

Pre-Party Preppin’ Time

Another emerging and perfectly acceptable way to gather for a meal this season is for the host to make a plan and ask each guest to help execute it. In other words, ask each guest to gather a particular list of ingredients and show up at specified time. When each person arrives, give them a festive apron to don (this could even serve as a party favor for your guests to take home! I suggest one from The Hip Hostess.) while they chop, stir and mix their way toward the intended dish and, ultimately, the dinner table. It’s communal, it’s fun and it’s not intended to be perfect. This will create a relaxed atmosphere where stressed out folks can meet new friends and have an easy and entertaining evening. Faux pas are expected with this relaxed approach, so drop the ‘entertaining with etiquette’ and ‘when will I be served’ expectations. Lend your host a hand and have some fun. However, moderation is key. While informal is good, cellphone manners remain firmly in place: Phone is turned off or at the very least put on vibrate (for whatever emergency you are anticipating, have warned others about and asked for forgiveness) and no texting. These are non-negotiable. This is isn’t high school. 
 
Etiquette-Cool Style
While the trend in the etiquette world (and the world at large) is to relax from convention and rigidity, it is still a requirement that you treat others with thoughtful consideration.

 Wouldn’t you prefer the gifts you receive to come with thoughtful consideration? Uh-huh, thought so. I mean, just how many scarves do you want, anyway? So, you gift the way you would like to be gifted. Teachers, for example, would probably love a prepared and frozen casserole they can bring out for their families. Or, when it’s time to find a hostess gift, reach for something applicable to their personality, not just something that happens to be sold on the path from your door to theirs, or the typical bottle of wine. You could even make a donation in their honor to a cause you know they are particularly fond of.

Further, people find it thoughtful and endearing to ask a question before making an assumption.  The original Emily Post might have trouble with this one. Let’s say you are introduced to Mr. Pearson. The lady standing next to Mr. Pearson is his wife, but she goes by her maiden name, Cannon. You have to listen when the intro is made or you’ll miss that one. And, if you do catch the difference in names, it’s ok to simply confirm what you heard. “Your name is Pearson and your name is Cannon. Did I get that right?” People have all sorts of reasons to not share a last name, none of which is any of your business, so just make sure to know their names and move on. Or, let’s say you are invited to a Winter Cookout. Will you really eat outside? Should you dress to be outside for 2 hours?? Rather than feeling uneasy about what to expect or trying to figure it out on your own, just call up the host and ask. It’s ok to ask! That initiative shows you are interested in making the function a success and are ready to come prepared.

 Thoughtful consideration works like a charm. 
 
Your Guests

When you are considering hosting a holiday event, step out of your norm when you are making the guest list. The world is a much smaller place than when it was appropriate to only have intimate family Christmas dinners. Think of the people you know whose family live in faraway lands. Perhaps you have friends who have chosen not to travel to visit family this year. Perhaps you know someone who lost a loved one during the year. Share the wealth of your holiday cheer and invite one and all. Bring them into your fold with the same treatment your usual clan gets by including them in whatever traditions you have. If you each open a small gift, have one ready for your new guests to unwrap. if you work in a soup kitchen in the hours leading up to your own dinner, invite your guests along. 
 
Now, the party’s over, it was a blast and your memories are engrained and ready to be shared. Before you click ‘Enter’ on your Facebook password, remember this new etiquette for this new thing called social media: 
*Posting a remark about last night’s awesome party with a list of people who were especially entertaining will only serve to make someone feel left out and that’s not etiquette-cool. And, you can’t disguise it with a post that starts with ‘Thank you Lisa & Bob for an incredible dinner last night.’ That’s still revealing too much. 
*Don’t post pictures from the event no matter how good your hair looks in the candlelight. While you may be so impressed with your locks, you could be killing the reputation of the guy in the background who is double-fisting his merriment. 
*A Facebook status or Tweet does not take the place of a thank-you note. Be more genuine than that. Drop a note in the mail or call up your host to tell them specifically what you enjoyed so much. 
*Stay positive! People have enough mediums to reinforce their level of stress, so back off comments like, “My co-workers are driving me crazy” or “I’m so sick of Christmas shopping”. Instead, share a golden nugget like an online retailer’s free shipping promo code or where to shop that offers pretty gift-wrapping. 

 Don’t be afraid to try something new – even at Christmas. Your invitation to chop or your just-right-for-them gift may be just what you friend needs.

Merry Christmas, Everybody!

Birmingham and Southern Living

Would you think less of me if I confessed that I didn’t know there were mountains in Birmingham, Alabama? Well, big hills, anyway. What a beautiful town! Em and I had such a wonderful time eating and sight-seeing our way around for, oh, about 18 hours.

We stayed at The Aloft Hotel. Very contemporary with yummy beds. It was also across the street from Tutti Frutti, a yougurt shop where you serve yourself. That’s right, heap on the toppings, Honey. After you build your creation, it’s weighed to determine how much you owe. I think it’s a little wrong that they use a scale to determine its weight right in front of you. Red Velvet Cake yogurt with crushed Oreo’s, chopped up Kit Kat and just a touch of Ghirardelli caramel add up in a hurry.  In more ways than one.

For dinner, we met my friend who took us to The Club. The view overlooking Birmingham was spectacular. Not to mention the hummus and the bibb rolls. And the mushroom risotto.  Interesting tidbit…the producer for the movie Staying Alive grew up in Birmingham and modeled the famous dance floor in the movie with lighted blocks of color after the dance floor in the main dining room there. As my friend, standing on yellow, was telling us about this, the song Staying Alive was growing in my head. It was like someone was slowly turning up the volume as she made her way to the punch line.  Louder, louder, louder until it was all I could do not to burst out with Ah, ah, ah, ah, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive. If this etiquette business doesn’t work out, I may just call her up, see if she wants to take that show on the road.

For breakfast the next morning, we ate at Another Broken Egg. It was just as yummy as the beds at The Aloft. And, we saw the cutest couple. Had to be in their 80’s. She was wearing a lavender suit, her long gray hair up in a bun, slingbacks with a square heel, nude pantyhose, pearls around her neck with pearl and gold ear screws. Screws, not clips. I was immediately thrown back to my great grandmother’s bedroom playing with her pearls and ear screws and anxiously awaiting the day it would take me more than 5 minutes to be ready to walk out the door. (Be careful what you wish for, right?) He, the perfect gentleman, was starched and creased. We overheard them discussing what they would be having for breakfast and, get this…when the server got to their table, he ordered for her. When done right (and he did it right), it’s not a show and it doesn’t scream I’m in charge, it’s a nicety. It’s sweet.  It’s thoughtful. Guys should learn how to do this. Honestly, that 82 year old gentleman had me swooning.

And then…the highlight of our trip…we toured the Southern Living headquarters. My life is now complete. I can die a happy woman. Well, after that man from the breakfast place teaches The Hubs how to order my breakfast for me using my name, describing my eggs the way I like them and does it with a twinkle in his eye AND after touring the Southern Living headquarters, I can die a happy woman.  As we walked from the reception area toward the offices and the TK (that’s SL lingo for Test Kitchen), we could begin to smell the smell we all aspire to produce when we dare to try a SL recipe. I didn’t smell the first bag of burned popcorn in this office, that’s for sure. It was heavenly.

Every person we met was so friendly! The photographer who was shooting a bowl of cut up melon with chopped mint didn’t seem to mind at all that we were salivating on her props. It was the color coordination that was driving me insane. And the perfectly ironed napkins. There was an entire rolling cart full of props that I just wanted to pick up and rub my cheek against. It looks so simple, yet…as we all know…not.  We spent the most time in the Test Kitchen where, again, everyone was so willing to let us gawk and drool. We even met the lady who produced the white cake on this month’s cover! I asked her a couple of very intelligent questions, naturally. She was kind enough to act like they were that, anyway.  

Personally, I’m typically intimidated by a SL recipe unless it has 5 or fewer ingredients. Not anymore and here’s why. One of the first things I realized as we walked into these kitchens is that they are so normal! They don’t look anything like the gourmet ones featured in the Homes section of their magazine. They use a regular, everyday Whirlpool oven and a regular, everyday Weber grill. I finally had to say, “Ya’ll are killing me with the McCormick spices and the Arm & Hammer baking soda! I was expecting something really fancy!” (I didn’t say it exactly like that.) Their response was very matter-of-fact. “Of course not. We cook like the average person cooks using what the average person can get at Kroger or Publix.” Well, how about that.

So, I left Birmingham and Southern Living inspired to do 2 things.

1)      I am going to brush up on that little added touch that can make a person feel special. I probably won’t order breakfast for The Hubs, but I might work out a system to remember facts about people I meet so I can ask them about what’s going on in their life the next time I see them.

2)      I am going to be more willing to try things that, at first glance, look too hard. I’m going to dub my kitchen the TK more often, I’m going to organize the shelves in my office and I’m going to start learning how to speak Spanish.

Now, I want to know. What are you inspired to do?

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.

                                  the-civilized-minute

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

green office groove

Lately, I have blogged (preached?) and talked (ranted?) about presenting your most professional and productive self via your workspace.  So, here is  a website I stumbled on that should help you de-clutter, organize, and, as a bonus feature, go green.

www.GreenHome.com

On this site, you will find words like Eco-Simple that make you want to see what they are talking about.  Take a look at this:

Eco Simple Flash Drive – USB

This is what the site says about this little treasure:

“These sleek eco-friendly flash drives are better for the environment because they contain no lead, mercury, cadium or other toxics, and they decompose easier than their traditional counterparts.”

Do it, Eco Simple Flash Drive.

Here’s another thing that caught my eye:

It’s a journal with handmade plantable paper.  Way cool.  So, you fill it up with all your unimaginably intelligent thoughts, tear the cover off and plant it.  What do you get?  Wildflowers, of course.  Great gift for officemates, by the way.

Now you know where to go to get your green office groove on!

do you need to fill your suitcase?

This is Carol Tinsley.  She is the Training Coordinator for Persons Banking Company.

From phone 4-29-10 013

After sitting through my business etiquette training class 5 times, I guess she couldn’t help but learn something.  For example, I tend to lose my balance when I wear heels.  It’s kinda like watching the Leaning Tower of Pisa since I’m 5’11’.  Not good, I know.  I’m working on it.

And, she learned what to do if you are in the middle of an introduction and blank out on a person’s name.  In one class, she introduced me as Kate Moss.  Offended, I was not.  Made me laugh, though, since sporting heels is surely no problem for the other Kate. 

Bet the other Kate can’t run up stairs as quickly as I can wearing bedroom shoes and carrying a cup of coffee.

Here’s the other thing Carol learned.  She wasn’t putting the professional image out there she thought she was.  She had so much stuff in her office that did not speak to her job tasks, it was killing her image.  She had pictures and keepsakes that were special to her but did nothing to improve productivity.  See that shiny desktop in the picture above?  It was not visible day one.  But, after hauling out a suitcase full of distractions, she is back to being a training and organizing extraordinaire. 

Take a look at this.

From phone 4-29-10 014

This, too, looked a little different before Carol became cleansed.  Notice how she left a few things that are simply decorative.  Moderation is good and a few things are ok.  They can serve as conversation pieces and enable co-workers to get to know Carol and her interests. 

I really wish I had a picture of her rolling that suitcase down the hall, don’t you?

Thanks, Carol, for letting me share these pictures of your office.  More importantly, thank you for sharing your wisdom and time with me over the last couple of weeks.  Looking forward to our Training Trek Across Georgia!

5 ways business etiquette makes you more productive

Professionals use business etiquette as a means to an end.  It’s the way to get from here to there.  It’s a guide.  Without that guide, anxiety and unease begin to limit our productivity levels. That is uncomfortable and no fun at all.

Take a look at these 5 ways mastering the skills of business etiquette can boost your output.

1)  Being comfortable gives you freedom to take advantage of unusual opportunities.  Someone who is comfortable in lots of different situations will not shy away from an out-of-the-box setting.  Let’s say your boss asks you to entertain clients for dinner who are in town from Sweden.  Oh, and by the way, they don’t speak English.  Some might say No Way!  But, the savvy and confident team player will figure it out.  Get a translator, get a book on Continental Dining skills, read up on the current events in Sweden…do whatever needs to be done to get the job done.  In the end, you will have impressed not only the clients, but your boss, for working to make them feel welcome.

2)  You are able to connect with anybody.  Let’s face it, half the battle in the workplace is fitting in with the culture of the company and the people who work there.  Without a pleasant working relationship with the people you spend so many hours with, you will never be viewed as a team player.  In order to develop that relationship, you have to be nice and engaging.  You must be able to initiate small talk, mingle with other departments during the company picnic and even offer condolences to a coworker who has experienced a tragedy.

3)  Presenting yourself with authority is a key ingredient for any leader.  If the people that work for you do not take you seriously or follow-through with their commitments, it could be because they do not view you as an authority figure.  Are you sending them that message by your body language, your posture or your lack of eye contact?  These are things that, if done correctly, can let everyone in the room know you are in charge without saying a word. 

4) Organization is a form of business etiquette.  It falls into the ‘impression management’ category.  Unfortunately, the signs of un-organization can’t be hidden very easily.  Papers trailing behind when you walk into a room, the clutter and disarray on your desk, the scramble to find a document or file all screams lack of competence.  Others will react to that impression you give off and not seek you out for projects and opportunities.  It’s had to be productive when you are shunned from the action.

5) Knowing what to do eliminates the time waster called worry.  Not many people operate effectively when they are burdened.  By knowing how and when to use the rules of business etiquette, you can glide through your day worry-free and focused on the task at hand.  No more worries about who you will talk or sit with at the department meeting or how you will manage if your 11:30 appointment wants to get lunch.  Business etiquette rules guide you through these situations with ease.

Do you have your own rules of behavior that boost your productivity?

 

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