Civility, courtesy, Etiquette, good, Grace, Respect

After You Ma’am.

 

Volunteering at a recent event, I was amongst 4 retired gentleman.  Each of them was probably around the age of 60.  The event lasted a few days so I had the pleasure of these gentleman’s company for the duration of that time.  We checked in at Volunteer Headquarters every morning and then caught a shuttle bus to our designated work areas.  I couldn’t help but notice the overabundant politeness that seemed to take place.  Each of them insisted I enter the shuttle first, they stood if I stood, they would open and hold the door for me and wait until I went through first.  On one occasion, I got on the shuttle after everyone else and the bus was full.  At least two of the them quickly stood up and offered their seats.  I indicated that I was okay but they were insistent that I take one of their seats.  I didn’t want to create a scene or not respect their expressions of courtesy so I took the seat.

I wouldn’t say this behaviour was foreign to me but it certainly wasn’t something I was used to on a regular basis.   I know  from my university days, when feminism was at its peak, men offering  to do anything for women created somewhat of a controversy.  Perhaps that is part of the reason it isn’t as prevalent so much any more.  For me though, I liked it.   Men or not, being met with courtesy, grace and respect – it was a good thing.

Civility, Community, courtesy, good, Respect

Civility Includes Respect for the Environment

What do you think of when you think of civility?  Is it putting up with the in-laws when they drop in unannounced?  Maybe tolerating the sniffling of the co-worker in the cubicle beside you.  Or do you think of keeping your dog fenced in yard so he doesn’t do his business on someone else’s lawn.  Do you ever consider your respect for the environment as an act of civility?  Let’s not forget that we are only borrowing this space on earth while we are here.  Respecting the elements is important for everyone now and those to come.

Here are 5 Ways you can help the environment from fellow blogger, Kelly Allen.  Even if you already do these,  it’s always a good reminder to know that even the small things can add up to a big difference in the end.  Please read:

http://kellybrownpaper.wordpress.com/2011/12/29/5-ways-you-can-help-the-environment-today/

Civility, courtesy, good, Peace, Whatever

Some Christmas Spirit

My high school English teacher and dear friend tagged me on a Christmas meme.  I love these things and I especially love the holiday season and so of course I wanted to dive right in.  Please feel free to copy and paste in your blog.

 Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?

I love Egg Nog during the holidays but nothing beats hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day or night; especially after toboganning or skating.  It brings back many wonderful memories of childhood.

Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? 

Santa uses very distinct wrapping paper and is meticulous about his wrapping.  And his gifts don’t go under the tree, they are the ones set out in front because they deserve the most attention.

Coloured lights on tree/house or white?

It was coloured lights when I was little but now I love the twinkle of white lights.   I have wee ones at home and they love the coloured lights.  My oldest – 7 – goes crazy with the lights and wraps them around everything.  I don’t share his enthusiasm for the explosion of multi-coloured lights around the house but I let him have his way.  It will be all too soon when he won’t want to be such a willing participant in the decorating.

Do you hang mistletoe?

No.  But I love to get caught under it with loved ones at someone else’s home.

When do you put your decorations up?

The rule growing up was “nothing before December 1st”.  I hated that rule.  So, the rule in my house is any time after Remembrance Day.  I love the Spirit of Christmas and I want it to last as long as possible.

What is your favourite holiday dish?

Definitely the turkey with all the fixings.  Sharing in this meal with family is so special.  There are so many memories …

Favourite Holiday memory as a child?

Sitting in the living room with only the light of the Christmas tree and listening to “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”.  There was a feeling of awe and magic that I think one only gets as a child.

When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?

I’m still learning.  I believe Santa is much bigger than the man in the red suit.  He’s a spirit full of magic and love and hope and peace and all that is good and he passes that spirit on to all those who believe.

Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?

Only if it’s pjamas.  But even then, I like waiting.

How do you decorate your Christmas tree? 

My husband has to assemble it because it’s too heavy for me but then my boys and I hang the ribbon and ornaments.  Usually, the bottom three feet of the tree of packed since that’s as far as the boys can reach.  That means there aren’t many ornaments left for me to hang on the upper limbs.  It makes me smile.

Snow! Love it or Dread it? 

I wish I loved it.  I’m not a confident winter driver so I find the snow a bit intimidating.  And being in Canada, snow is (usually) plentiful at Christmas.

Can you ice skate?  

I sure can.  Now if I just had a pair of skates.

Do you remember your favourite gift?

When I was ten, my sister (5 at the time) and I, literally, saved all our pennies to buy a computer.  At that time, the Commadore Vic 20 was hot on the market.  We had spent that summer collecting beer and pop bottles, grew pumpkins to sell in the fall and held a yard sale.  My parents were so proud of our efforts that they surprised us with the computer on Christmas day.  My sister and I were stunned.  We fully expected to pay for it ourselves.  We were able to spend our hard-earned money on games and accessories for the computer.

What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you?

The spirit.  People give and share.  Family and friends get together.  Children watch Christmas classics and get so excited.  It’s so special.

What is your favourite Holiday Dessert?

Pie.  I like pumpkin and chocolate.  I think I’d have to say that chocolate is my favourite.  Anything chocolate is awesome!

What is your favourite holiday tradition?

My younger self wouldn’t believe this but it’s going to church with family on Christmas Eve.  There is just something about that service that gives me goose bumps.  I feel connected to all those important to me, past, present, with me in body and spirit.  It moves me.

What tops your tree?

It used to be an angel but now it’s a star if we can get it stay on top of the tree.  It’s a bit heavy.

Which do you prefer giving or receiving?

Giving.  It’s so much more fun to give – especially when you know you’ve got something for someone that they will love.

What is your favourite Christmas Song?

I’m not sure I have a favourite song but I definitely have a favourite album.  Christmas with Conniff is hands-down my favourite.  No one in this era even seems to know what I’m talking about when I mention Ray Conniff because he was a musician from back in the days of my grandparents who haven’t been with us for over 25 years.  But, Grandpa would pull that vinyl album out every Christmas, skips and all, and we would sing along to it.  It took me many years and lots of searching to find it on CD.  When I did, it was one of the best gifts I gave to my mom.  Lot’s of memories with that one.

Candy Canes: Yuck or Yum?

The first couple are yummy then I get sick of them pretty quick.  I do like bits of candy cane sprinkled on chocolate or in my cocoa but for a hint of mintiness.

Favourite Christmas Show?

I know it’s not the classiest, but I have to say Christmas Vacation.  That’s the one that I look forward to every year.  I also like watching Rudolph and How the Grinch Stole Christmas with my boys.  Those are some classics.  Oh, and Love Actually.  I like that one too.

Saddest Christmas Song

Honestly, if it’s sad, I usually change the station.  I can be sad at other times, Christmas, for me, is about  Joy.

Civility, Confidence, Etiquette, Image

How to Stand Out

Some people just stand out. At the grocery store, maybe it’s that one cashier that you always go to, or the guy in the suit standing next to you in line at the bank machine. For whatever reason, some people just “catch our eye”. What is about them? Are you one of those people? Not sure? Here are some things to consider if you want to “get noticed”:

1. Posture – Memorable people walk, stand and sit with their heads up and shoulders back. They are looking forward and don’t shy away from making eye contact with anyone in their path. It’s easy to blend into a crowd with your head down or shoulders slumped. Good posture sends the message that you are confident.

2. Eye Contact – Eye contact is crucial. When someone looks into my eye when I am talking, it lets me know they are listening. If they are talking, I can pick up on other communicative clues. Either way, I want to share in a conversation when someone is looking at me. No eye contact and I will probably loose interest or assume the other party is not that interested in me.

3. Conversation Initiator – I feel as though I’m the conversation starter usually so when someone starts a conversation with me, I take notice. I realize that this can be intimidating for many but it’s amazing who you may end up speaking to or what you end up speaking about. I have landed jobs because I was the one who said “hi” to the right person.

4. Dress Well – How you dress can say a lot about you. It doesn’t take a tonne of money either. Ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you wear, it’s how you wear it”? It’s absolutely true. Pay attention to trends and pick clothes that fit you well. If you don’t know what your colour season is, it might be a worthy investment to find this out. Wearing the “right” colours can take you from looking “okay” to looking “FABULOUS”.

5. Be Well-Groomed – This is critical. A person who is well-dressed but doesn’t comb her hair, trim his nails, or shower, stands out for the wrong reasons. When I am “people-watching”, the notable ones have well-coiffed hair, usually finished with some hair product, have nicely manicured nails and smell great.

6. Walk with purpose – I mentioned that posture is important when walking but so is the way you walk. Scuffing or dragging your feet can give the wrong impression. When walking amongst a crowd, it’s a good idea to keep up with the pace. Just like with driving, a slow walker may annoy those behind him who are trying to maintain a steady gate. Those who rush and weave in and out of other walkers can be an annoyance as well.

7. Smile – Smiling just draws attention on its own. It makes people feel happy. It makes you feel happy. People want to be around people who are happy. Remember that. People will notice you if you are smiling. And sometimes, even when you feel the furthest from smiling, forcing yourself to do so can start the process of turning things around so that eventually, you aren’t forcing yourself anymore. Your natural smile just comes through. I always loved that song from the musical, Annie: “You’re never fully dressed without a smile”.

Civility, Community, good, Peace, Respect

9/11 – A Metaphor of What We are Capable of

I watched the memorial presentation for the tragedy of 9/11.  I can’t believe that 10 years have passed.  No other day, no other moment, no other memory is as burned in my mind as September 11, 2001.  Everyone has their own account of where they were and what they were doing when the planes began to crash.  Many larger-than-life images instantaneously come to our minds without thinking.  But, when I sift through the rubble in my mind of that day, I remember the fantastic acts of human spirit that manifested from those events.  People began to reach out to help; help others they didn’t even know.  Smiles and greetings that were never extended previously, became abundant. Conversations started among strangers. Estranged families found common ground.  Couples contemplating divorce, re-evaluated their relationships.  People came together that would otherwise not even acknowledge each other. Community came out of the chaos.

I heard a  reading today that stood out as so poignant in marking this anniversary.  It goes like this:

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour.  Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve Human Kind.  Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are.  Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of it all.  If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceable with all.  (Romans 12: 9-18).

As I watched the memorial of this tragedy 10 years later, I remembered what the human spirit is capable of.   Even when we are hit with the most unbelievable horror, we can rise above.  We are capable of great acts of goodness when faced with unspeakable evil.  I look to these events as a metaphor of what we can expect from ourselves … and it is good.

Civility, Etiquette, Respect

Don’t Put Manners on Strike at the Picket Line

No one wants a strike.  Striking is a last resort when an agreement cannot be made by an organization and its workers.  Employees do not want to relinquish their pay cheques to walk a picket line and employers don’t want to loose the labour.  Any public involved do not want the inconvenience of lost production, services or having to cross that picket line.  As unpleasant as they are, sometimes they are a necessary evil in order to move forward.  When presented with a strike situation, there a few things to keep in mind:

1. They are people on those picket lines.  They have feelings, families and lives.

2.  Expect delays if you are crossing the line.  Often, workers will stop line-crossers to hand out brochures or explain their side of the situation.  Be patient and keep conversation pleasant.

3.  Drive slowly when crossing a line with a vehicle.  Hitting the gas pedal, squealing tires or driving erratically is only putting people’s lives in danger and isn’t going to improve the situation.  Not-to-mention, it is unlawful and could end up being a bigger problem than just trying to make a statement crossing the line.

4.  Waving the middle finger at picketers or yelling obscenities only serves to discredit you.

5.  Under normal circumstances, honking of horns can be obnoxious and annoying but there is no sweeter sound to a picketer than the sound of a honk of support.  A quick “beep beep” on the horn and a wave means so much to a person who is walking the line.

6.  Safety should be the number one priority for all involved.  Tolerance, restraint and respect are critical.  Everyone has the right to an opinion but no has the right to take away the safety and security of another.

7.  Be polite and courteous at all times.  The person who can civilly disagree is heard more clearer than the one screaming and mud-slinging.

Civility, Etiquette, Image

7 Things Successful Students Do

When I was first making the transition  from high school to university (many years ago now), I signed up for a summer “warm-up” program to help ease the anxiety of moving to the next stage in my life.  One of the workshops I attended was an overview of what to expect in a university class versus a high school class.  There were some valuable tips I picked up in the seminar that helped me survive as a student and I wonder what would have happened if I didn’t take it.  How did the other students make it if they didn’t attend that seminar like I did?  Many of those tips have stuck with me and I still practice them when attending professional development workshops and classes.  Here are some:

1.   Go to class –  For many, post-secondary is the first time living away from home.  Being regarded as an adult and expected to make decisions for oneself can be very exciting.  But choosing to party all night and skip class the next day can be a costly mistake.  It’s difficult to absorb information and get to know your classmates and instructors if you don’t make it to class.  Often, instructors will put questions on exams that pertain only to notes and discussions they hold in class.

2.  Come to class early There are a few reasons why this an important one.  Firstly, if you are early then you will have time to go over notes and feel prepared for the lecture.  Secondly, you can strike up a conversation with your instructor to reinforce understanding of class content and ask questions.  Lastly, even if you do not stand out as an early bird, it is better than standing out as a late-comer.

3.  Sit close to the front – As a student who often elected to sit at the back during high school, I realized a huge difference in my marks when I started to sit at the front.  I was less likely to be distracted since I was in proximity to the instructor.  I could hear better, see better and participate more when I wasn’t separated by several rows of students.  I also didn’t have any students to hide behind so I was more likely to stay engaged since the instructor could see me.

4.  Make eye contact with your instructor –  You will find when you make eye contact with the instructor and gesture that you are genuinely listening to what he/she has to say, they will start to look to you for clues of understanding.  This will help you build rapport with him/her and you will probably find you are more engaged when that happens.  It will also make it more comfortable for you to ask questions or approach him or her at another time should you have questions or need assistance.

5.  Be prepared – Do your homework and readings.  This will allow you to be engaged during class and contribute to discussions.  You’d be surprised how much easier it is to pay attention when you understand what is being presented.  If you don’t understand, you will feel more confident to ask questions if you have at least attempted to read or understand the homework.  You will also find it far  easier to build a relationship with your instructor when you show him/her that you are putting in the effort.

6. Participate – Nothing makes an instructor more happy than when they have a student who participates in class.  Ask questions, start discussions.  This is when the real learning takes place.  When you start a discussion, you not only let the instructor know that you have been doing the readings, but you are able to engage other learners and learn from them and their perspectives.  Not-to-mention, this will help to reinforce the concepts learned from class and homework.

7.  Be respectful – The classroom is not the place to snooze, text, listen to your favourite tunes on your iPod, change your Facebook status or tell the person next to you how great the party was on the weekend while the instructor is talking.  Some instructors may allow time for such activities but don’t take advantage.  Remember, you are there to learn and so is everyone else.

Civility, Etiquette

7 Things Leaders Don’t Say

In gaining momentum in my career, I have learned a thing or two about people and behaviours .  I’m no expert by any means but I have found there are certain phrases or attitudes that people in leadership roles never tend to say or use.  Do any of these ring true for you?:

1.  I told you so.  No one wants to be reminded that they were wrong.  A good leader understands that the person who made the mistake will probably have learned from it and will move on without saying anything.

2. If I need you to know, I will tell you.  Don’t insult people’s intelligence by dangling carrots in front of them.  If you have information that you cannot impart at a particular time, don’t even let on that you know anything all.  People will resent that you have information that they are not privy to.

3.  To get anything done, I have to do it myself.  Let go of the control.  A good leader will delegate tasks and have faith in his/her people to get the jobs done.  If it isn’t done to your standards then lay out your expectations and have them try again.  People can’t learn if you don’t let them make mistakes.  Besides, making them feel incompetent is not going to instill confidence or trust.

4.  You think that’s bad, this one time I…   Let people have their moment.  Perhaps you have a great story to tell but wait for another time.  You’ll steal someone else’s thunder by overshadowing their story with one of your own.  Appreciate what they have to say.  It will make them feel good and you’ll get the benefit of hearing a great tale.

5.  I am so great.  Or other ways of outright saying how nice, good-looking, well-spoken or good you are at something.  If you truly are as good as you think you are, people will notice it themselves and won’t need to be told.  And if you are fishing for compliments, this won’t work.  People don’t take well to gloating.  You may never hear how esteemed you are, you just need to have faith in yourself and others will follow.

6.  I hate the way things are.  Don’t complain.  Everyone has moments and situations that aren’t ideal but complaining about them just brings others down or promotes an atmosphere of frustration or helplessness.  We all need to vent at times just make sure you’re doing it to come up with a solution and not to breed misery.

7.  You wouldn’t understand.  Really?  Don’t assume you know the level of knowledge or experience of others.  Maybe they won’t understand but you’ll never know making this assumption.  You’re also not creating an environment of acceptance and trust.

Image

Pick Up Your Feet

I try to keep an open-mind about people.   One thing that drives me crazy and tends to make me judge quickly is the sound of someone dragging his/her feet when walking.  Perhaps the person harbours an injury and cannot fully pick up his feet. Or maybe she has traipsed through snow and accumulated so much ice on the bottom of  her shoe that it’s physically difficult for her to manage the extra weight.  These could be legitimate reasons for that irritating sound but what I tend to think when I hear foot-scuffing  is one of 3 things: laziness, low self-esteem or disrespect; not sought-after qualities.

In my experience working for an Ontario college, I most commonly witness the foot-dragging with students in the halls as they make their way to class often with Blackberry’s in hand and paying no attention to who is around them.  They don’t seem to care where they are going, who is in their path and or even if they get there at all.  Like I said, I try to keep an open-mind about people but if this is what I am thinking, I guarantee there are others making the same assumptions. These others could be future in-laws, employers, business associates or life partners who dismiss the extremity-shuffling culprits without giving them the chance to make a case for themselves.

If you are one who doesn’t pick up your feet, you need to ask yourself if you feel you should be placed in the same category as the lazy, meek and/or disrespectful.  If not, why give yourself the opportunity to be misjudged?  Pick up your feet when you walk – walk with a purpose.  Hold your head up and show the world you know where you are going and how to get there.