Whoever said “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” didn’t have a clue. 

Words can hurt. Words can destroy. Words can be annoying.

A lot of words that we say, text, and tweet just aren’t necessary and can get us into a lot of trouble – Just ask Roseanne Barr.

There are some sayings that have made their way into our daily habits that often spill out of our mouths without much thought. 

These annoying and often times offensive comments have become so customary, that pulling together a list wasn’t even that hard.

Here are 12 phrases that are never appreciated:

1. Just Calm Down

This phrase has never helped anyone calm down.

2. Are You Sick? You Look Tired

What you are basically saying is you look terrible.

3. Please, Don’t Take this Offensively

Something offensive is about to be said.

4. When Are You Going to Get married?

Rudest question ever.

5. When Are You Going to Have Children?

Add to the list of rude and insensitive questions.

6. Those People

Immediately stop referring to any group or person as “those people”

7. I’m Just Saying

What are you just saying?

8. I’m Fine

Its passive aggressive and typically the person asking how you are is doing so genuinely.

9. You Look Skinny

You may have meant it as a compliment, but it doesn’t come out that way.

10. Are You Going to Eat All of That?

Just stop it.

11. It Is What It Is

And what is that exactly?

12. My Bad

Did you mean to say you're sorry?

See how current your Etiquette IQ is with our True/False Questions Below

1. Elbows are sometimes permitted on the table.

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]TRUE[/toggle]

2. Proposing a toast can be done anytime during the meal.

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]FALSE[/toggle]

3. Political discussions should always be avoided during a meal.

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]FALSE[/toggle]

4. At a buffet, start eating as soon as half of the people have returned to the table. 

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]TRUE[/toggle]

5. If you are eating a messy meal (ex: spare ribs), it is perfectly all right to tuck your napkin under your chin. 

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]FALSE[/toggle]

6. When introducing two people of the same age but different sex, it really doesn’t matter whose name is stated first. 

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]FALSE[/toggle]

7. In business or social situations, it is always correct for a woman to shake hands.

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]TRUE[/toggle]

8. The nature of e-mailing is informal, but business e-mails should still be communicated formally. 

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]TRUE[/toggle]

9. Fold-over note cards are used by men and women. 

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]FALSE[/toggle]

10. It is acceptable for a “thank-you” text message to replace a handwritten thank-you note.

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]FALSE[/toggle]

11. There are exceptions, but one usually doesn’t give out his/her business card unless another asks for it.

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]TRUE[/toggle]

12. One who overlooks etiquette rarely has it called to his/ her attention.

[toggle title="Answer" variation=""]TRUE[/toggle]

While some customs from long ago have remained fixtures in our modern society, there are many that have faded into obscurity and for good reason. We have uncovered the explanations behind some of today’s common and strange customs that managed to stick around.

The Handshake

Dating back to Ancient Greece – a source of many modern Western customs – this greeting was a sign of equality and mutual respect.

Shaking hands replaced bows and curtsies, while also serving as proof that both parties came unarmed.

In medieval Europe, the handshake became a powerful symbol of the bond between husband and wife. It was the final gesture of wedding ceremonies.

Today, a hand shake can symbolize multiple things but mainly it is used to say hello, goodbye, congratulations, and to seal the deal.

“Achoooo. . . . God Bless you!”

It’s almost as much of a reflex as sneezing itself.  Here in the United States, when someone sneezes, “God Bless you” will often be heard immediately after.

But why? We don’t acknowledge any other bodily functions in such a way. So how did this response originate? 

Some point to the Greeks and Romans for starting this fascination with sneezing. They viewed it as a sign of wellness – a means of expelling bad spirits from the body – and would routinely offer blessings unto the sneezer.

Centuries later, widespread fears brought on by the outbreak of the bubonic plague cast suspicion on the sneeze. Pope Gregory VII called on the people of Europe to utter a short prayer, “Bless you”, after every sneeze to protect against the sickness.

Upon reflection, it is a very strange custom - - -that doesn't appear to be fading anytime soon.

Dining Styles - Continental or American Style Dining?

As all of The American School of Protocol’s Certified Graduates know, there is a stark difference in dining styles once you cross the Atlantic.

In the United States, “Zig-Zag” is used, while our European neighbors predominantly eat “Continental.”

It is very surprising to learn that the traditional European method was in fact originally the American style. The "dining style divide" resulted when British colonists sailed across the Atlantic, bringing their multi-step cutting method to the New World.

The colonists retained this dining style, but back in Europe, the Industrial Revolution brought a faster pace of life that left little room for the niceties and courtesies of the previous era, leading to the more streamlined Continental style.

Clinking glasses

After a toast, it is tradition to clink glasses with fellow diners. This iconic act of celebration comes from a dark past.

Clinking glasses originally started with the intention of spilling a little of the other person’s drink into your own to demonstrate that neither party had poisoned the other’s glass. The clink was a sign of good will, a feeling that has endured to today.

Elbows off!

“Don’t put your elbows on the table!” The origin of this classic motherly saying dates back to medieval times.

Feasts were held in great halls and hundreds of people would eat together at long wooden tables. While the food was often plentiful, space was not.

Furthermore, when dining in the presence of the lords and ladies of the realm, it was deemed “peasant-like” to hunch over one’s plate, guarding the food from others. The act gave off an aura of distrust, and has since become a commonly repeated rule.

Today, it is acceptable to have your elbows on the dining table in between courses and when there are no dishes on the table.  Other than that it's a good idea to follow this old rule. 

It is truly interesting to trace our everyday behaviors – many of which we don’t give a second thought.

Both near and far, in massive numbers or individually, tragedy and death often find us unprepared and unsure of how to approach the situation. 

Things You Should Never Say to Someone Who Is Grieving

I know how you feel. Even if you have suffered a similar loss or are currently grieving yourself, every experience is unique, just as every relationship is unique.

Everything happens for a reason. This could not be true according to the griever’s spiritual beliefs.

Time heals all wounds. People who have suffered the loss of a loved one often report that their life is permanently altered.

Be glad for the time you had together. Someone who is grieving will most likely cherish the memories of their loved one and be heartbroken at their loss, all at the same time.  They are not mutually exclusive.

At least he/she is no longer suffering. The fact that terrible physical suffering has ended in the death of their loved one is often not comforting to the bereaved.

Remain strong for others. This suggests that the griever should hide their feelings or try to appear as if they are not suffering.  Neither is a healthy approach to the natural process of grief.

What You Can Do

Open up. Share your thoughts and feelings with a trusted friend or family member to relieve the stress.  Tread carefully when doing so in a professional setting.

Listen to others. Try to empathize with others and allow them to express themselves as needed.  Recognize that processing tragedy is stressful and can cause people to act differently than normal.

Seek joy. Do things that you enjoy, such as cooking, gardening or exercising.  Pick up a new book, attend a sporting event, go to a concert or plan a weekend getaway.

Protect yourself. Limit your exposure to dire reports by avoiding broadcasts on TV or your smartphone. Less is more when the media is focused on gruesome details.

Serve others. Change your focus by getting involved in a community-building event, organizing a service day, or supporting a non-profit fundraiser.

Tragic situations befalling those we know or those being reported on the news can make us uncomfortable and cause stress. Awareness of certain coping techniques and specific phrases to avoid can ease anxiety and allow us to support others in their time of need. Remember to always consider your audience and setting before discussing.  

To learn more on how to explain and discuss the horrific act of gun violence to children and teens Click here . . . 

A recent article featured in the Guardian by Alex Hern entitled ‘Never get high on your own supply’ delved into why social media bosses don’t use social media. Reading that the very people who invented these social sites and strongly promote them don’t use them might be a surprise to many.

Social media has such a strong presence in our culture today, so it's quite astonishing that the ‘founding fathers’ of social media object to using it. What do they know that we don’t?

#1 social media influences how we feel about ourselves and the world we live in

#2 it is compulsive and addictive

#3 we have no idea what the repercussions of using social will be

The article shares that the people who created these social platforms know all of this and they use it to their advantage.

Sean Parker, the founding president of Facebook, exclaimed that he is “a conscientious objector” to social media at a conference this past October. Parker  is sounding the alarm to the dangers of social media and the deliberate ways that social networks do everything in their power to keep us coming back, even at the risk of hurting our brains.

The common understanding of what is considered appropriate has been drastically morphed over the years. Just log on to any social media site and you can immediately see the bullying and spewing of disrespectful rhetoric about race, politics, religion and everything in between. Could this transformation have to do with social media?

A recent national survey reported that an astonishing 75 percent of Americans believe that incivility has risen to crisis levels. Many people believe that technology plays a central role in the decline of good manners.

Stories of individuals being fired and even arrested for things they have said on social media sites have amounted to the thousands.  In late 2007, The American School of Protocol was asked to write the 'Dos and Don'ts of Using Technology and Social Media' into our Etiquette Certification curriculum because social media classes were in high demand. 

Technology and social media have reshaped the understanding and awareness of etiquette. Personal interaction is now being replaced with screen time, texts, online classes, dms, snapchats, and so on. And we are only just beginning to see the effects this has on our society. 

Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, said “Technology by itself doesn’t want to be good and it doesn’t want to be bad either. It takes humans to make sure that the things that you do with it are good.”

Since including our initial 'Dos and Don'ts of Using Technology and Social Media'' into our syllabus, we have written extensively on this topic to help educate others.  New content has been added every year and we ultimately had to give 'Technology and Communication' its own section in our training manual. 

"We are doing our best to combat the problem, but it would be easier if we had more support", says The American School of Protocol Founder, Peggy Newfield. Her words to those who want to listen,"Be aware of what you post, how you respond, and what you read. Social media already takes up much of our time and energy, don't let it take your dignity." 

The centuries old pattern of ‘going into retirement at a certain age’ is fading away - - - and it’s for a good reason. Doctors around the world are now saying that instead of heading into retirement, you are better off staying in work to keep physically and mentally active.

Instead of facing retirement without a plan, many are embarking on this new chapter of their lives by reinventing themselves. Searching for a new career path, starting a business, making your hobby profitable, these are challenges that ex-retirees are finding exciting and purposeful.

After retirement many succumb to loneliness, isolation and health deterioration. With all the recent studies we know that going into auto-pilot, drifting without purpose only gets you one place fast.

The AARP Bulletin recently searched out ordinary people who have done extraordinary things with their second careers.  They discovered that 40 percent of people working at age 62 had changed careers since they turned 55. We found this article to align with many of the individuals who attend The American School of Protocol’s Etiquette Certification Training.

President and Founder of The American School of Protocol, Peggy Newfield says, “Seventy percent of the trainees who attend our program are planning for their second career. They are utilizing their new found freedom after retirement as a way to not only keep themselves busy, but also an avenue to give back.”

Peggy Newfield speaking to trainees during the 5-Day Etiquette Certification Training

According to Newfield, “With over 800 certified graduates, I have found that careers can take off at any age. There is only one ingredient that has to be there: PASSION.”

During The American School of Protocol’s five day training program trainees learn how to set up an etiquette consulting and teaching business. Through hands-on tutorials, small sessions, and class discussion each graduate leaves feeling empowered and ready to set out on their new career path.

“ASP’s proven outline and ongoing support is the roadmap to success” says Martha Berge who graduated from the program in 2015. After retiring Berge found herself bored and in need of stimulating work. 

“After working as a marketing executive for 35 years I was not ready to just lounge around. I needed a purpose.”

Berge is now using the skill set she learned during Etiquette Certification Training to reach out to her community. She is a keynote speaker once a month at rotary meetings and has a set evening every week where she answers etiquette questions at her local country club. 

With 15 grandchildren Berge also makes it a point to personally teach her grandchildren. “They find my sessions to be fun and truly look forward to it.”

Berge says the experience and skill set that she gained during the 5-Day Certification training has empowered her.  She now feels more connected to her family and community than ever before. 

“My children and grandchildren call me to ask etiquette questions. I have been asked to attend a local high school job fair and speak to the students about interview skills and how to land the job. The opportunities seems endless.” 

Newfield, who founded The American School of Protocol in 1980 strongly believes that those heading into retirement need to plan for this new chapter of their lives.

“Keeping your mind busy improves your chances of staying healthier longer. It’s a fact. Instead of focusing on ‘retirement’ we need to start thinking about what to do next.” 

Newfield strongly states, "You are still here and have something to offer. Don’t sit around and waste your time lunching and shopping.  Make yourself useful and do something you will be proud of."

To Learn more about The American School of Protocol’s Certification Training that is helping to launch second careers all over the world click here.

Have you ever wanted to say this to someone?

A terrible handshake can leave you saying “yuck”, “eeewww” and “ouch”.  It may even make you immediately want to wash your hands.

Everyone and we mean everyone has experienced a bad handshake.

Awkward, limp, Aggressive: One of these three words is the stereotypical description of a bad handshake. Whether too powerful or too feeble, a lousy handshake is just terrible.

Cringeworthy Handshakes 

The Bone Breaker

The Clammy Clamp

The Paw

The Dead Fish

The Won't Stop Shaking

What Your Handshake Says

Lifeless and Limp = Insecure

Overpowering = Aggressive

Forced = Desperate

Prolonged Shaking = Anxious

Sweaty = Nervous

Our current culture recognizes a firm, confident handshake as the accepted form of both greeting and goodbye. We use it to convey everything from congratulations to the close of a business deal. 

When shaking hands keep the adage Less is More in mind. 

Most of all, if your handshaking partner commits one of the cardinal sins above, be kind and courteous and learn from their mistake.

How to Correctly Shake Hands

1. Extend your open hand in front of you with your thumb widely separated from your other fingers.

2. When the other person clasps your hand in the same way, KEEP YOUR HAND OPEN until your thumbs lock.

3. Then close your grip and shake FIRMLY once up and down.

- Be firm and make moderate contact.

- Never try to establish dominance.

- Keep it simple and professional by using only one hand.

- Be prepared for sweaty palms.

Writing a thank you note shows the person who took the time to think of you and give you a gift that you value their time. When someone goes out of their way to handwrite a note in our technology driven world, it is memorable.

If you are reading this, then you are most likely writing a thank you note.  Thank you for keeping this tradition alive. 

Sending a thank you note is NOT a thing of the past! Writing thank you notes is still something that people do AND thank you notes are very much appreciated.

Below are 5 sample thank you notes to help you get started.

Dear Meg and Liam,
Thank you for the aroma diffuser. It not only makes my apartment smell great, but it’s so pretty - - a true art piece on its own. Paris is beautiful this time of year so I know you will have the best time. You both have to come over and tell me all about your trip and to see how calming and Zen like my place feels with the diffuser. Best wishes, Penny Parker

Dear Aunt Julie,
Thank you for the warm scarf you sent to me. The fact that you made it yourself makes it even more special. It’s currently 2° here in New York and will be even colder by New Year’s Eve. I really appreciate your thoughtfulness, as well as your talent for knitting!
XOXO Katie

Dear Mom and Dad,
Thank you for being so thoughtful and thinking of me as I buy my first home. Your kind gift will be used wisely during this process. I am looking forward to 2018 and I hope it is a wonderful year for us all. Owning my own home has always been a dream and I can’t wait to share it with you. Thanks again, Miles

Dear Gram and Pops,
Thank you for sending me the complete DVD collection of Game of Thrones. This is my favorite show, so it was a wonderful Christmas gift. I hope you enjoy spending the New Year in Jackson Hole. I am already on Season 4 and plan on finishing the entire series over New Years!
Love, Benjamin

Dear Sean,
Thank you for the stunning terrarium. It is such a great conversation piece for my office. Your green thumb has always inspired me to love plants. Please stop by in the New Year to see how beautiful the succulents are.
Kind regards, Amelia Williams

See how easy that is?

We follow this simple four sentence format which is just the perfect amount to fit on a correspondence card or folder over.

• First Sentence – Says thank you for the gift
• Second Sentence – Says something about the gift
• Third Sentence – Says something unrelated to the gift
• Fourth Sentence – Says something about the gift

Don't forget to . . .

⇒ Sign on and Sign Off

⇒ Write clearly

⇒ Date it (bottom left-hand corner)

⇒ Proofread

Awkward, inappropriate and ill-mannered conversations are meant to rock the boat. Encounters like these will make you ready to abandon ship and often leave you feeling drunk as a sailor.

What’s even worse is when you are held prisoner to this inappropriate dialogue which is heading for shipwreck because it is unfolding over a meal.

An interesting discussion usually makes the meal even more enjoyable, however even the best food can smell fishy when paired with unwanted dinner conversation.

Below are a few tactics that will keep you from being dead in the water when you feel like the titanic heading straight toward an iceberg of unfortunate conversation.

Know which way the wind blows

If someone asks you an inappropriate question, know the ropes and don’t take the bait.

Simply respond by saying “What an interesting question. I am going to need some time to think about that.”

Hook, line and sinker

Then, as quickly as you can, take the wind out of the sails and change the subject to something lighter- - - like how delicious the oyster appetizer looks.

Loose lips sink ships

If you can feel that the tone of the conversation will veer you off the straight and narrow guess what? You are the captain of this ship.

Quickly hold the topic at bay by linking to something said in a previous conversation.

Keep your head above water

It is always good etiquette to keep the response positive. Find something complimentary to say about the guest or topic.

Then, stay on course and begin moving full speed ahead.

Barge right in

You can also be more honest and answer with, “I really don’t want to dive right into the deep end … I just want to hear about you and what’s going on in your life.”

Rats abandon a sinking ship

Be ready to turn the tables and look for opportunities to engage in a conversation with someone else.

Sink or swim

If you sink you will end up with knots in your stomach.

If you swim, use humor as your lifeboat to steer the conversation into calmer seas.

Be ready to walk the plank

If the focus doesn’t change remember the restroom is a safe harbor. Kindly excuse yourself and take a few minutes to gather your thoughts.

Don’t let any conversation leave you high and dry. Throw caution to the winds and remember, a smooth sea never made a skillful sailor.

In the aviation world, these three words are considered a common approach to flying situations. 

Aviation studies have discovered that during emergencies pilots can get so focused on solving the problem that they forget to actually fly the airplane.

Being prepared and knowing exactly what you will do before you do it serves us well in all aspects of life. This tactic can also be employed to help you feel more comfortable when dining with others. 

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[one_half_last]You won’t be panicked because you accidently used someone else’s bread plate or so frazzled that you forget to eat.

Here are a few tips that will ensure you land once you have taken off!

Prepare For Take Off 

Avoid Turbulence

Final Approach

The Landing

The takeoff is important just like the landing and everything in-between, but the most important part is how you walk away feeling after the experience and how you made those around you feel.

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