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]

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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Although just about anything goes with regard to tying the knot, some basic factors still govern wedding gift etiquette.

As a rule, a guest should always consider the couple’s wishes, their relationship with them, and their own personal budget in selecting a wedding gift.

Bride And Groom Celebrating With Guests At Reception

We have compiled the following outdated and long-held myths that have complicated wedding gift-giving for far too long.

1. Registry Required.  While a registry is super-convenient and ensures the couple will enjoy the gift – it is a suggestion, not a decree.

➤ Guests are free to buy from the registry or choose a more personal gift, as they wish.

Wedding Gift Etiquette

2. No Rush.  This rumor suggests that it’s perfectly acceptable to send a wedding gift up to one year post-event.

➤ A gift should be sent shortly after receiving the invitation, or within three months following the wedding (at the latest).

3. Tit for Tat.  Another unfortunate falsehood is that the cost of the wedding gift should match or exceed the price-per-plate.

➤ Guests decide what to spend on based on the couple’s preferences, their closeness to the couple and their own financial situation.  Period.

Gay Couple Celebrating Wedding With Party In Backyard

4. Cash is Crass.  Not so.  A monetary gift is often the right choice for older people with existing households, or when the couple has requested honeymoon funds or deposits to specific accounts.

➤ Money can be sent directly to the couple with a personal note, or straight into the institution indicated.

Couple Elope

5. Go It Alone.  Group gift-giving is not only acceptable, sometimes it is the best idea.

➤ Big ticket registry items can be out of reach for just one person, but perfect for a combined effort.  These are things the couple may not be able to afford, and therefore very much appreciated.

Despite the myriad of ways couples can fulfill their wedding day dreams, wedding gift etiquette hasn’t changed much.  It is still defined by the requests of the couple, the degree of friendship, and the guest’s budget.

By taking these factors into account, a guest can rest easy knowing they will give an appropriate gift – whether the event takes place in a centuries-old cathedral or on a cliff overlooking the ocean.

newlywed couple at the beach

If your curious about how much the average person spends on a wedding gift, Brides.com has run the numbers and their experts weigh in with some stats that you might find interesting.

Click here to see what they have to say.

Too often the word ‘etiquette’ is associated with antiquated ideals or customs.  In fact, ‘etiquette’ has far less to do with convention and much more to do with common courtesy. 

An effective etiquette instructor focuses not on what fork to use, but on how decent human beings relate to each other with kindness and respect.  The urgent need for such instruction in our society becomes more evident by the hour.

Certain components of our modern existence threaten the development of effective social skills.  Without focused cultivation of these skills within our schools, our homes, and our communities, the civility born of etiquette could indeed become a thing of the past. 

road rage

The Troll

By virtue of lurking behind a monitor, certain people can justify unleashing vile remarks at will.  Argumentative, belligerent or flat out reprehensible exchanges are the norm.  People are capable of ‘saying’ things online that they would never dream of uttering out loud.  A sense of isolation, anonymity and irresponsibility often festers behind the screen.  Thus the dawn of the internet troll.

The Distance

According to Pew Research Center, both Mom and Dad work full-time in 46% of two-parent households.  The National Center for Health Statistics puts the divorce rate at just under 50%.  Punishing schedules, conflicting obligations and decreased togetherness make it difficult for parents to focus on development of their children’s social skills.  Other factors such as increased time in organized activities and solitary time on devices limit kids’ opportunity for face-to-face interactions.

The Meal

Most American families are over-scheduled and rushed, too busy to sit down and eat together. The Harris Poll states that 59% of people claim their family has fewer dinners together than they did growing up. This is cause for concern since the family dinner is the cornerstone of conversation skills and consideration for others.

Children Eating Breakfast Whilst Playing With Mobile Phone

The Race

The landscape of human interaction has changed and moves at warp speed.  Not only do we communicate more and with larger audiences, we do so lightning fast, using emojis, status updates and 140 character declarations.  Communication-on-the-run all too often fosters misunderstanding and miscommunication.

Etiquette education and life skills training fight these and other enemies by instilling confidence and poise, and by developing character and courtesy.  Such traits are the glue that hold families and communities together.

They are as important now as they were in generations past, ensuring that kindness - and therefore, etiquette - will never go out of style. 

To Learn More About Etiquette and What We Are Doing  Click Here

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If you will be attending a meal at someone’s home for the holidays, congratulations, you are a lucky person. If you will be hosting, you are lucky too, but we will get to you later.

Here are a few timely tips that will make the host want to say the most wonderful things about you afterward.

  1. Bring a gift for the host. It is always a kind gesture. Baked goods, candles, wine (if it is appropriate) or anything small that you know the host would enjoy is perfect.
  2. Offer your assistance whether in the kitchen, helping other guests with their jackets when they arrive or just keeping an eye on the children.
  3. If seats are not assigned at the dining table, don’t just plop down in any seat. Ask the host where they would like for you to sit.
  4. When you sit down at the table, put your napkin in your lap.
  5. If you are a guest in someone’s home, wait for the host to begin the meal. Often times a blessing or a few words will be shared to thank everyone for being there.
  6. If six people or less are at a table, wait until all are served and seated before starting to eat.
  7. If the dinner is buffet style and there are eight or ten people at a table, wait until half the table has been seated before starting to eat.
  8. If you have to sneeze or cough at the table, always turn your head to the side and cover your mouth with the napkin.
  9. Eat slowly!
  10. Don’t overload the fork or spoon.
  11. Be ready to listen and ask questions. No one likes to hear someone go on and on.
  12. If you have to remove a piece of meat or a bite of food that you can’t chew, discreetly slide it back onto your fork and place it on your plate. Try to cover it up with something else so that it is not visible to others.
  13. Traditions and customs are meaningful. If the host has something they do each year and want you to be a part of it, do your best and try to participate.
  14. If you ate too much food and feel stuffed, there is no need to tell anyone. Avoid saying, “I ate too much,” or “I’m stuffed!”
  15. After your meal is over, say something nice about the food to your host.
  16. When guests help clean up after a dinner, the host always appreciates it. Even if they decline you should see what you can do to be of assistance.
  17. Know when it's time to leave. Look around and take cues. The host will often subtly let the guests know when it is time to call it a night.
  18. Send a thank-you card after the dinner (within 3 days or a week) expressing your gratitude and appreciation for the meal.

We live in the age of technology and information, as most of us are painfully aware. As technology advances, information comes at us faster and in increasingly innovative formats: news tickers, posts, blogs, tweets, shares, updates, and so on. We are literally bombarded with information all day, every day.

The sheer quantity of the information begs the question of the quality of the information. In the current climate of social media and self-publication, assuming that information is accurate can be dangerous. The 2016 Election Day is a good example: one much-shared tweet stated that voter registration cards were required in order to cast a ballot, yet not a single state requires such a card. A popular Facebook page indicated that voting could be accomplished online, when in fact no states allow online voting (other than a few exceptions for military personnel or overseas voters).blog-quote

Within the etiquette industry, a commonly misconstrued notion is what to do with the napkin when leaving the table. Numerous blogs and articles on etiquette state that when you leave the table, it is appropriate to place “the napkin on your chair”. However, this is in direct conflict with the following statements by the recognized authorities on the subject:

“At the end of the meal or if, for any reason, you must leave the table during the meal, place the used napkin to the left of your fork.” Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Book of Etiquette – A Guide to Gracious Living, 14th Edition, p. 254

“When the meal is finished, or if you leave the table during the meal, put the napkin on the left side of your plate, or if the plates have been removed, in the center.” Emily Post’s Etiquette – A Guide to Modern Manners, p. 101

“Put your napkin to the left side of your plate when the meal ends or whenever you excuse yourself from the table.” Emily Post’s Etiquette 17th Edition, p. 386

How do the wires get so crossed? Interestingly, in this particular instance, the wires were crossed by a disgruntled ex-employee! One of the pioneers of the etiquette industry, after being relieved of her position within the presidential press corps, wrote a spoof on etiquette. In it, she included the misguided instruction to place the napkin on your chair upon leaving the table. Ever since this “prank” was printed, similar advice has popped up and been handed down from one source to another, including currently circulating blogs and articles. If misguided information can spread rapidly from a typewriter, it is easy to see how the same could happen from a post seen by tens of thousands.

A is correct. B is incorrect.
A is correct. B is incorrect.

Be discriminating in what you accept as truth. Be vigilant in determining the source and history of a statement. Beware the internet’s ability to turn every blogger into an ‘expert’. And keep in mind the old adage, “Don’t believe everything you read”. Words to live by, indeed.

Well, it’s official: now is the time to reflect on all that is good in our lives and give thanks. We will go to great lengths to be with our loved ones, prepare and enjoy a scrumptious feast, and acknowledge our many blessings. Just as the ghosts and goblins come out in October, November is the designated month for gratitude and appreciativeness. But, unlike the ghosts and goblins, perhaps we shouldn’t pack up our gratitude with the serving platters as soon as dinner is over. Perhaps we should instead strive to make giving thanks a year-round endeavor.

We know that expressing gratitude is the right thing to do. Although some say a handwritten thank-you note has been lost to texts, emails, posts and chats, most of us were dutifully instructed to give thanks upon receipt of a gift. But outside of the simple expectation of a thank-you note, it seems adopting an ‘attitude of gratitude’ is actually good for us – and there is science to prove it.

 

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Research has demonstrated there are tangible benefits to consistently acknowledging the positive. Studies at the Greater Good Science Center at the University of Berkeley suggest that “thankful people are healthy people” and enjoy a myriad of benefits. These include stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, experiencing more optimism and joy, acting with compassion and generosity, and feeling less isolated.

In one study, participants were divided into three groups. Group 1 was asked to write down things they were thankful for; Group 2 was to write about frustrations and day-to-day annoyances; and Group 3 had to write down any events that affected them, positive or negative. By the end of the ten week study, results indicated that Group 1 enjoyed a more optimistic and positive outlook on life, more frequent and consistent exercise habits, and less frequent doctor visits. This suggests that by consciously focusing on blessings as opposed to burdens, we can reap emotional and physical benefits.

Workplace and personal relationships can also flourish because of gratitude. The National Center for Biotechnology published a study which showed that managers who said thank you to workers on a regular basis noted an overall improved work ethic. Couples who made it a point to verbally express their gratitude for each other were more content in their relationships.   There is even data to suggest that thankfulness can lead to improved sleep patterns, which directly impact our physical and emotional well-being.

Even if you aren’t naturally the half-full type, you can consciously cultivate and increase gratitude in your everyday life with a few simple tricks.

  1. Journal. Keeping a gratitude journal is an excellent way to become cognizant of your blessings. Some people start each day with a gratitude list, some jot down the good stuff along the way, and some wind down with a review of the positives. Regardless of the approach, counting your blessings can change your life.
  2. Write Thank-You Letters. This is different than a thank-you note scribbled off to Aunt Jane upon receipt of her annual Christmas fruitcake. A thank-you letter is a heartfelt message to someone that has deeply affected your life or contributed to your success. Writing in detail how you have benefited from someone else’s influence or kindness is a powerful cultivator of gratitude.
  3. Have a Grateful Group. By surrounding yourself with positive people, you will pick up on their habit of focusing on the pluses not the minuses. In the same way that the healthy eating habits of your friends will affect your diet, gratitude is contagious.
  4. Volunteer. It is impossible to help those less fortunate without becoming more thankful for your own circumstance. People who spend time in service to others experience deep spiritual and emotional benefits themselves.
  5. Focus on the Little Things. Communicating appreciation for common, everyday things can increase gratitude. A smile and a “thank-you” to the grocery clerk; a quick text applauding a spouse’s efforts; a simple compliment to a co-worker …there are countless opportunities each day to express thankfulness that will mutually benefit you and the recipient.
  6. Exercise. Grateful people exercise more, and people who exercise are more grateful. This has been proven in studies examining the link between thankfulness and overall physical health.

Science tells us that deliberate thankfulness is linked to improved emotional, spiritual and physical health. Therefore, with Thanksgiving rapidly approaching, it may be a good idea to adopt some techniques to maintain holiday gratefulness well after the last turkey sandwich is gone.

Yes, these are the worst. We have tallied the most despicable and have them here for you in “countdown” fashion.

 

Test Your Table Manners

11. Pushing away the plate or bowl when finished.

10. Eating off someone else's plate.

9. Hovering over your plate and elbows on the table.

8. Checking your devices / not paying attention.

7. Beginning to eat before others at the table have received their food.

6. Not using a napkin.

5. Licking your fingers.

4. Inhaling your food.

3. Talking with food in your mouth and chewing with your mouth open.

2. Eating with your hands when you should be using a utensil.

1. Noisy eating – slurping, burping and gulping.

If you want to brush up on your dining skills, check out our DVDs Networking and Dining at Home and Abroad and Dining Skills for the 21st Century. Our DVDs are available as digital downloads and hardcopy.

fb1The Importance of Family Dinners

With the school year gearing back up, families around the country are bracing themselves for busy schedules and complicated carpooling. It can be difficult to juggle a career and raising a family. After a busy day at work, it's understandable to dread the work involved with dinner preparation. However, putting in this effort can dramatically strengthen family ties and be a rewarding experience for all.

The statistics show that more and more Americans families are picking up on these benefits. In 1998, only 47% of families reported to eating together at least five times a week. By 2014, this number had jumped to 59%. This is good news for our society: a consistent family dinner routine has been linked to improved physical and mental well-being in children. Eating together at least four times a week correlates with lower rates of obesity and eating disorders, as well as with improved self-esteem and academic success. Children who eat with their families are less likely to develop depression or battle with substance abuse, as the dinnertime becomes a platform for parental reinforcement and support.

In order to reap these benefits, however, certain dining protocol must be followed. The dining table needs to be an environment that fosters healthy conversation. Cellphones should not be brought to the table, the television should be kept off, and gaming devices should be banned. This strengthens communication skills by reinforcing the importance of giving a conversation your full attention.  Additionally, dinnertime can be used as a place to teach your children proper listening techniques and polite methods of expressing emotions. Encourage every member of the family to engage in the discussion and demonstrate inclusivity. Use the dinner table as an extension of the classroom by challenging your children with high-level conversation and vocabulary.

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Dinners at home can also cut costs and calories. A 2014 study found that the average American family spends $225 a month eating at restaurants and grabbing food on-the-go. That totals to over $2500 a year - hardly pocket change! Buying and preparing the food yourself enables frugality and greater control over the nutritional content.

Because restaurants aim to impress their customers, their chefs will often add liberal amounts of salt, butter, and other tasty - but unhealthy - ingredients. This quickly adds unnecessary calories that often go unnoticed. Well-prepared family dinners can instill the importance of a balanced, healthy diet - a habit that will likely stay with the children for the rest of their lives.

Tfb3he advantages of coming together abound, but sometimes the demands of our busy lives get in the way. Aviva Goldfarb, advocate of family dinners and author of "Six O'Clock Scramble", suggests that family dinners don't have to be an all-or-nothing affair. She says that realistically, the average family may not be able to sit down every night of the week. Goldfarb suggests targeting quieter times, like Sunday evening, and making those meals sacred. Cherish the times spent together. In the words of Desmond Tutu, "You don't choose your family; they are a gift to you, as you are to them."