Category Archives: Etiquette

Use Your Manners at the Canada Day Barbeque

Canada Day and the USA 4th of July is the perfect occasion to get outside and gather with family, friends and business colleagues at a picnic in the park or a summer barbeque.

However no matter how good the food tastes, bad manners can leave a bad taste in the mouth of your host and those of the other guests. Yes, how you behave can leave a lasting impression. One that may not only be the deciding factor on whether the barbeque becomes an annual event… or not, but also one that may determine your position on the next barbeque guest list.

Last year I wrote a post called ‘What Not to Do at The Company Picnic’.  By using the good manners in this post at every outdoor event, you can ensure you will act your best and be more likely to rise to the top of the guest list for the next picnic, barbecue or summer celebration.

Meet the In-Laws: How to Enhance Your Success

Happy Easter!

Let’s face it – meeting the in-laws for the first time can be a daunting experience. Whether you are hoping to be welcomed into the family, or your role is to welcome someone into the family, the first gathering can feel like going for a job interview. The knowledge that you will be judged, evaluated, and compared to or potentially competed with by everyone that came before you can leave even the most confident person feeling nervous about that first meeting.Even though I think most would agree that a couple’s happiness should be the most important consideration in a relationship, those of us who have gone through the process of meeting the in-laws or future in-laws would also agree that, as a couple, knowing you have won the family’s acceptance and respect can be essential for the future success of any relationship. Uncertainty of how the in-laws will respond over time, and possibly impact your relationship with your partner or family member can leave anyone feeling insecure.

Having been through this three times – first with parents-in-law; second with a parent of mine entering into a relationship; and most recently with adult children, his and mine; I can say I have seen all sides. I can also honestly say that experience has not made me an expert on winning over family members. However, eliminating additional barriers can increase your odds for success. When meeting your new or future family – prepare ahead of time, be on your best behaviour and dress appropriately.

The success of the gathering weighs heavily on the partner or spouse bringing the families together. If that’s you, take the lead. Help reduce unnerving surprises by providing a heads-up about what to expect. Prepare both sides by disclosing likes, dislikes and personality quirks before the gathering.

• Even though you may be a new family member or want to feel that way, making yourself at home in the home of your host can be perceived as offensive unless invited to do so. Some hosts want their guests to act at home right away and others find guests’ feet on the coffee table, helping ones-self to the fridge, or casually lighting up a cigarette in the house, among other things, enraging. Learn your host’s expectations ahead of time. Then follow their lead.

• If you are one of the in-laws, never bring up the past relationships of your affiliated family member. i.e. “Oh, by the way I saw _____, last week. She said to say, hello. She is such a nice girl.” Fondly bringing up old relationships can bring up new wounds in new relationships. Don’t say or do anything that might hurt or embarrass your new or future family member.

• Don’t leave your child or parent’s date sitting in the living room alone, while you and other family members are in the kitchen. Include your guest by treating everyone equally and with respect. Don’t let your guest feel like an outsider.

• Brush up on your dining skills. Some families dine formally and others are very casual. However, knowing how to navigate the table and what not to do will help you feel more confident and leave a good impression in any situation.

• Find out ahead of time what is considered appropriate dress. Some families dress up for family gatherings and others don’t. Either way leave faded jeans and t-shirts at home. Slacks and a collared shirt, blouse or a lightweight sweater would likely be a better option for casual dress. It will show respect to the host and it will show that you care.

The road to family acknowledgment, acceptance and support can be a long and bumpy one to travel. However, knowing ahead of time what will be appreciated and what will be considered appalling may help ease the tension and make the journey a little smoother.

©Kimberly Law, AICI CIP 2014

 

How to Choose the Wrong Underwear for the Workplace – By Kimberly Law, AICI CIP

Today I want to talk about something that has plagued the workforce for many years… the wrong underwear. It makes employers uncomfortable, co-workers uncomfortable, clients uncomfortable and if you fall victim to this, it can not only make you uncomfortable, but in the end it may be the cause of you being victimized and likely end up embarrassing you and those around you.

Over the years, many companies have invited me to speak to their employees about the importance of professional attire. And as strange as it may seem, in almost every situation the employer brings up the topic of underwear as a big concern. Behind closed doors they tell me of their horror stories about those embarrassing days when an employee comes into work, with the bra straps showing; the thong panty straps showing;  or a bra or panties worn too tight, non-supportive or even worse –  obviously non-existent.   Appropriate underwear is part of your professional attire. So let’s talk about underwear openly.

Lingerie has a very long history and over the years has been designed for many different functions – from hygiene & modesty to changing the shape of female figure & enhancing sexuality.

However, even though historically, lingerie may have served many purposes, (on the scene and behind the scene) in the board room underwear should never get top billing. At work, the purpose of underwear is to provide structure and comfort to your professional attire. As a foundation piece in a professional setting, it should always stay behind the scene in a supporting role rather than standing out as the main attraction.

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Napkin Etiquette By Kimberly Law AICI CIP

Here in Canada, especially on the West Coast, we tend to be very relaxed in our approach to life. We prefer to be comfortable over being perceived as formal. However, since you are likely to see a napkin at your place setting this Thanksgiving, Hanukah, or Christmas, here are a few how-to’s:

When setting the table, the napkin may be placed in many locations of the place setting. Often you will see the napkin in the center of the place setting or dinner plate. However it is still considered traditional to place the napkin to the left of the forks, on the bread plate, or in the glass above the main-course knife (usually the water goblet or wine glass). It should always be accessible, and never placed under the utensils. Traditionally, the napkin is never grouped the utensils on the right side of the place setting.

The purpose of the napkin is to blot your mouth and wipe your fingers… not blow your nose, or spit food into. If you need to blow your nose use a tissue discretely at the table or go to the restroom. If you put something inedible into your mouth remove it discretely and place it on the side of your plate.

No – the napkin is not a bib. Although many cultures use napkins in many different ways, in North American culture, the only time a napkin is tucked under your chin is if you have received a plastic bib to eat crab in a restaurant or are eating spaghetti and your host has lead the way. In North America and most European cultures a dinner napkin is folded in half and placed on the lap of both legs with the fold facing towards you.

After you are seated the napkin goes on your lap. In a business setting the host leads the way and the guests follow. The traditional way in a social setting would be to wait for the female host to take the lead. If you’re like me, often when I am entertaining I am in the kitchen bringing out serving dishes instead of being served by staff. If this is the case, it would be polite to lead the way by inviting the guests to start. This would be an invitation for the guests to place their napkin on their lap.

Never crumple a cloth napkin onto your plate. When finished your meal the napkin is placed on the table to the left of your place setting. This is one indication that you are finished and your dishes can be removed. If you normally eat fast, slow down and pace yourself with the host and the rest of guests. If you are a slow eater, try to speed up to keep up the pace with the diners. Wait for the host to finish before leaving your napkin on the table.

Whether dining at the dining table or the coffee table, napkin etiquette remains the same. Napkin etiquette is for holiday dining and everyday dining… enjoy!

Kimberly Law, AICI CIP

Formal Dining for Informal People

Formal Dining for Informal People      

Whether we like it or not, how we handle ourselves at the dining table can impact our business and social relationships. ‘Formal Dining for Informal People’, is a great reference tool to help you appear more confident and feel more at ease when dining casually or formally. This holiday season dine with confidence!

Want to learn more about Dining Etiquette? Buy the eBook ‘Formal Dining for Informal People’  today for only $10.00

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How to Use a Finger Bowl by Kimberly Law, AICI CIP, Certified Etiquette Expert

finger bowl 1 Although disposable finger towels are practical and often used in informal environments to cleanse the hands after eating messy food, in a formal environment you may be presented with a finger bowl as part of a dessert service or alone, even if your hands appear clean.

In a traditional European dining environment the custom is for the fingerbowl is used after the dessert is eaten. If it has been presented to you as part of the dessert service, with both hands move the finger bowl and the doily together with both hands and place them in front of you after you have finished your dessert and your dessert plate has been removed. Dip the fingers of one hand into the water, and then dry them before dipping the fingers of the other hand into the water. After you are finished, place your napkin in loose folds to the left of your place setting.

For more on this topic buy eBook ‘Formal Dining for Informal People’

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What is a Dessert Service? By Kimberly Law, AICI CIP, Certified Etiquette Expert

In Canada dessert is generally served and brought in from the kitchen, or served at the table by the host. However at a very formal meal, served traditionally you may be presented with a dessert service.

A dessert service consists of a dessert plate. On the plate, there will be a finger bowl placed on a doily in the centre of the plate, with a dessert fork to the left and a dessert spoon placed to the right of the finger bowl.

The guest sets the fork on the table to the left of the plate and the spoon to the right of the plate. Then picks up the doily and the fingerbowl, and places them on the table at the upper left of the dessert plate.  The server then places the dessert on the plate.

When dessert has been served onto your plate, the spoon is held in the right hand. The fork is held in the left hand. Cut the dessert using the spoon. The dessert is pushed onto the spoon with the fork and eaten with the spoon. This is the traditional way in England and many other European Countries. However, in some European regions, the spoon is used for cutting and pushing the dessert onto the fork. The dessert is then eaten from the fork. Because there are many customs for the use of these dining utensils, it is best to familiarize yourself with regional customs before you arrive.

When in doubt, always follow the lead of your host.

For more on this topic buy the eBook ‘Formal Dining for Informal People

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Perfume, Eau de Toilette, Cologne What’s the Difference?

Many of my clients ask me what the difference is between the many forms of fragrance we see in the stores today.

Fragrance terminology can be confusing. The main difference is the amount of essential oils in the product. The more essential oils – the less fragrance you will need to apply; the longer the scent will linger on your skin; and the more expensive the product generally is. The following charts clarify fragrance terminology.

Women

Form Concentration Reapply Quality
Perfume Most concentrated Apply pulse-points 4 – 5 hours 20 – 25% essential oils
Eau de Perfume Concentrated       Apply pulse-points 3 – 4 hours Up to 15% essential oils
Eau de Toilette Medium concentration Apply throat or pulse-points 2 – 3 hours Up to 12% essential oils
Cologne Weaker concentration Apply throat or pulse-points 1 – 2 hours Up to 8% essential oils
Splash or Soft Cologne Weak  concentration Apply throat or pulse-points Often Less than 5% essential oils
Body lotion / cream Weak concentration Apply on body As needed Varies
Shower gel Weak concentration  Use like soap When bathing Varies

Men

Form Use Reapply
Eau de Toilette Most concentrated              Apply throat and pulse-points 3 – 4 hours
Cologne Concentrated                                  Apply throat or pulse-points 2 – 3 hours
Aftershave Acts as astringent and antiseptic after shaving After shaving as needed
Aftershave Balm Protects and sooths sensitive & dry skin after shaving After shaving as needed
Shower gel Weak concentration                       Use like soap When bathing

When applying Perfumes, Eau de Toilettes and Colognes use them sparingly and remember… a little goes a long way.

Find out more about fragrance and other grooming how-to`s in my eBook Personal Care from Feet to Hair.

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How to Get the Most from Your Fragrance by Kimberly Law, President, Association of Image Consultants International (AICI)

This past summer I had the opportunity to vacation in Italy. Upon our arrival, one of the first things my friend said to me was, “smell the flowers.” I remember, at that moment breathing in the wonderful scent of Jasmine. Those of you who have been to southern Italy know what I am talking about.

It has been suggested that the sense of smell is the most powerful of all five human senses. It affects every aspect of our lives. Fragrance has been used throughout history as a way to influence the mind and the body. Although the use of fragrance is considered more acceptable in some countries and regions than others, over time it has become an important ingredient in our grooming products and many other consumer products that we use every day.

However, is it too much of a good thing? Wearing perfume, fragranced body lotion, fragranced hair styling products and fragranced deodorant, all at the same time, compete with each other and can be overwhelming to others. In in an effort to combat allergies and the overwhelming effect of too much fragrance, many public places in Canada, US and other countries of the world are becoming ‘Scent Free’.

When you wear fragrance, one way to be considerate of others is to appreciate that a little goes a long way. One way to tell if you have applied too much is by how much you notice it on yourself over time. Because you become immune to its odour, if you can smell it on yourself 30 minutes after application, you’ve applied too much. For more sparing application, try the following:

  • Apply on pulse points only
  • Spray fragrance into the air, then walk through it
  • Use body splashes or lotions that are less concentrated
  • Apply less – more often

Using less fragrance will save you money by making the bottle last longer. Another way to get the most out of your expensive eau de toilette is by exchanging some of your fragranced grooming products for fragrance-free grooming products.

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When Email Isn’t Enough by Kimberly Law, AICI CIP

For centuries, handwritten letters delivered by messengers or post were the only form of written correspondence. Over time typewriters became the norm, but the delivery system remained the same. Now with the explosion of email we are able to correspond at lightning speed. Even though it is fast and easy, there are times when electronics just won’t do.

Thank You

If you are given a gift, are the recipient of a favour, have received excellent service or have been interviewed for a job, send a thank you as soon as possible. Even though email is a fast and easy way to say thank you, a hand written thank you note, letter, or card shows you have taken the time to put it in writing and will come across more sincere.

Sympathy

Sympathy is not the right time for email. If you are close to someone whose family member has died, send a handwritten sympathy letter or card as soon as you hear the news. If you learn about the death of someone who is connected to you in some way, the card or letter is sent to the person you know the best.

Apology

When you have hurt someone’s feelings, pick up the phone or apologise face-to-face. For an extra nice gesture follow up with a handwritten note.

Email definitely has its place. It is fast; it is easy; but in some situations a call or handwritten note is more effective. Before going to your computer, take the time to consider the purpose and consider the person you are corresponding to.

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Email Signatures Add Credibility, by Kimberly Law, AICI CIP

As a business owner, everyday I receive unsolicited emails from companies promoting their products and services. Each of these business solicitors tell me their product can make my business more successful. They provide information about how they have researched my image & etiquette consulting business ‘Personal Impact Image Management International’. And why they feel I need their help.

Although I personally don’t like to receive unsolicited email, occasionally something will arrive in my outlook inbox that looks interesting and could potentially be of value to my business.

I read through the email with great interest and then arrive at the signature line. All too often they look like this:

emailThis email signature lacks credibility. Other then the person’s name, it does not tell me anything about the person or the company they work for.

  • It does not provide a company name,
  • It does not provide the company location,
  • It does not provide a contact telephone number,
  • This person is marketing website SEO –  however there is no indication they even have a website; and
  • The email address in the email signature is a gmail account which would lead the consumer to believe this is a personal email address rather than a business email address.

The signature below provides credibility to the company. There are no secrets.

email2A good email signature should include the following information:

  • Your name,
  • Your position (if applicable),
  • Company’s name,
  • Contact telephone number,
  • Company address (if applicable),
  • Company website; and
  • Contact email address.

Providing full information provides the potential client the opportunity to research your company before contacting you. This also provides reassurance to your potential client that you, your company and the product or service you are offering are credible.

Your personal image consultant,

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