Tag Archives: manners

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

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’

You may also be interested in:

Cutlery Etiquette How to Make a Great Impression

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6 Top Dining Don’ts

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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

You may also be interested in:

Dining Traditions vs. Casual Lifestyle

How to Be the Perfect Dinner Party Guest!

6 Top Dining Don’ts

Kimberly sig pic

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.

You may also like…

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Gift Giving at Work by Kimberly Law, Certified Image Consultant

During the Christmas season although it may be customary to give gifts to friends and family it can be a little confusing at work. Especially when you don’t know the etiquette for gift giving and there is no written company policy.

Here are three tips to make office gift giving less awkward:images

  1. If you are new to the job, check the company policy for gift giving. Some company’s allow it and others don’t.  If office policy permits or promotes gift giving to co-workers or you are expected to play the role of secret Santa at your holiday party, stick to the limits and guidelines that have been suggested.
  2. If you have developed a friendship with a co-worker and want to give a gift that is beyond the expected, it should be given outside the work environment.
  3. Gifts for the boss are not generally expected and may be considered brown-nosing when undertaken alone. If you wish to buy your boss a gift, ask staff members to chip in for a group gift instead.

Happy Holidays!

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All the Best for your Winter Celebration Kimberly Law, AICI CIP

With Diwali now past and American Thanksgiving coming up this week, November is kick off month for many cultural and religious winter celebrations. Depending on your imagesupbringing or culture, you may enjoy the festivities of Diwali, American Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas or another of the many celebrations during this November or December.

As we become more and more global it is important that we open our eyes and our hearts to the traditions of other cultures. We need to remember that even though all cultures are not all the same, we all deserve the same level of respect, acknowledgement and appreciation.

As you gather together with family and friends this Festive Season, I wish you and yours all the best for your celebration.

Happy Celebrating!!

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Airplane Boarding Etiquette

Over the past few years I have travelled by airplane for both business and pleasure and must say I have seen some of the best and worst behavior amongst the passengers. Before boarding or off-boarding your next flight use the following tips to show your consideration.

  • Boarding and off-boarding the airplane is no different than lining up for anything else. Wait your turn.
  • If you don’t have priority boarding, respect those who do. Wait for your seat row to be called for boarding and don’t push in front of others.
  • The same thing goes when leaving the airplane, Leave the plane in order of seating front to back. Allow those in front of you to exit first. Don’t shove and push your way to the front.
  • If you know it will take you longer to off-board due to carry-on luggage, small children or health issues. Wait in your seat to let others who are in a hurry leave the airplane first.

By waiting your turn and considering others, getting on and off the airplane will be more efficient and less frustrating for everyone. For more on travel etiquette see – How to Make Airplane Odors More Bearable

How To Make Airplane Odors More Bearable

Unless you are traveling first class, the term personal space unfortunately does not apply on an airplane. Being in close contact with others over a long period of time can be unbearable, especially when unsatisfactory odors accompany them.  Here are three odors to consider before boarding an airplane:

  • With many airlines opting out of providing a meal for their passengers many of us bring food onto the plane to eat during our flight. When deciding what to bring consider your neighbours. While strong smelling foods may be appealing to you, they may not be appealing to the person sitting next to you. Whenever possible, choose food items with more subtle odors or odors that don’t linger.
  • Body odor is not only social killer; it can make the person sitting next to you on the airplane feel ill. Although it can be caused by lack of hygiene or dental care it is often as result of diet, health issues, smoking, or just too many hours cooped up on an airplane. Before leaving for the airport, take the time to take a shower. Brush your teeth before boarding the airplane and don’t forget to floss and gargle.
  • It may be your favourite fragrance, but it doesn’t mean those around you will appreciate it like you do. Many people are allergic to fragrance; many people are sensitive to fragrance; and many people just don’t like the smell of additional fragrance. Before you leave for the airport consider those who will be near you and apply your fragrance subtly or not at all.  Check out my blog post on Travel Packing Made Easy for more tips.

What Not to Do at the Company Picnic

A while back I wrote an article called ‘What Not to Wear to the Company Picnic’. I received lots of great feedback on the article. However it is not just how you look at the company picnic that is important. How you behave at the company picnic counts just as much. Since picnic and barbeque season has finally arrived, here are a few tips:

  • RSVP in a timely fashion and in the specified timeframe – Just because it is a casual gathering it doesn’t mean ‘just show up’.
  • Confirm who is invited – Family and friend aren’t always on the guest list.
  • Don’t barge in – Wait your turn in the food line-up
  • Serving utensils are there for a reason – Use the serving utensils not your fingers
  • No double dipping – veggies and dip; chips and dip; Veggies & dip-dip?? NEVER
  • Leave some for the rest – take one burger not two. Go back for seconds only after everyone has been served.
  • Play the game but play fair – this is no place for competitiveness
  • Clean up after yourself – Don’t leave litter for others to clean up after you.
  • Help the host – Hosting a picnic is a lot of work. Make it more enjoyable for your host by offering to help.

These are just a few tips to make your summer corporate activities more enjoyable for all. Click here for Additional Etiquette Tips on – How to be the Perfect Guest.

Handshakes

When meeting and greeting for the first time, be sincere, stick to the rules of etiquette and be sensitive to the person’s strength.

Make eye contact, smile and shake hands, repeating the person’s name in the greeting. For example:

  • “Hello Mary. It’s nice to meet you, I am …;hands
  • Or ‘It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

The most formal greeting would be

  • “How do you do, Mary, I am…” The reply to “How do you do.” is “How do you do.”

If you would like to meet someone, when approaching that person:

  1. Make eye contact and smile.
  2. Introduce yourself with your first and last name.
  3. Shake hands firmly, web to web. Lean into the handshake. Hands should be vertically parallel.  Shake hands 2-3 pumps.

This shows confidence and sincerity

Handshakes to avoid

  • The bone crusher – some people have no idea how strong their grip is.
  • The limp handshake (sometimes called the dead fish) – gives a non-confident, wishy-washy impression.
  • The power grip (when someone grips with their hand on top) – in body language this indicates that the person perceives themselves as more important or is trying to get the upper hand.
  • Gabbing the finger tips sometimes very softly-  this can be a cultural difference not unusual on some Asian cultures – in western society we prefer a web to web handshake

These handshakes are a bit too friendly for business. You may be perceived as coming on too strong. Better to be saved for friends and family.

  • 2 handed handshake (when you cup both hands around the other persons hand) – is very nurturing and friendly.
  • Keep your hands to yourself. Avoid shaking hands while holding the other persons elbow or shoulder – too friendly for business

For another way to get a grip on your handshake watch the video on Living Vancouver with host, Jaeny Baik and Kimberly Law, AICI CIP. Click on Watch the Show in the top menu and then on It’s a Living in the right column.