What Happened to the Wonderful World of Tact & Diplomacy?

Youth Get a Bad Rep

Handshake, manners, introductions, tact, diplomacy, leadership

As I was sitting in a meeting about a new program that was coming to the educational institute I work for, my attention was peaked when I heard the coordinator say that there would be a class to teach “tact and diplomacy” as a part of the course requirements. I suppose I was intrigued because I am in the business of image, etiquette and leadership in my side hustle, VNC Image and Etiquette, and these are exactly the types of things I teach or talk about.

I see the basics of manners, protocol, image and respect (the precursors to tact and diplomacy) are in such a demand in this world we live in. I came to notice it mostly in my days as an employment counsellor. Clients would come in smelling like pot smoke, slouching, wiping their noses on their sleeves and void of any vocabulary that gave any semblance to manners. Of course, I paint a picture of the clients that needed the biggest introduction to tact and diplomacy but there are many that just don’t know what they don’t know about making a good impression with just these small but significant ideals.

tact, diplomacy, respect, civility,

The thought that it is going to be included in a college degree program was great as far as I was concerned but it got me to thinking. Why is this an issue today? I came up with a list of what I thought could be causing the shift away from such things as tact and diplomacy.  I have no empirical data to back this list up but it might generate a discussion or perhaps a hypothesis. See what you think:

Busy parents

It’s a busy world we live in with many households having 1 or 2 working parents. These parents then have to manage the household, volunteer commitments and the children’s extra-curricular schedule. This is my world. I try my hardest to teach manners, respect, etiquette and protocol and model this the best I can but I know my children are picking up many behaviours outside the home. Some of them are not the most favourable.

Lack of structured religion

Typically, there are good things that come out of regular church attendance despite one’s stance on religion or faith.  There is a common practice in most faiths to preach The Golden Rule, “do unto others as you would have done unto you”.  It fosters community, provides a spiritual connection, reinforces social and civic duty and allows for the facilitation of gratitude and respect.  With the decline in church attendance over the past several decades, this is a resource that isn’t being accessed or introduced to our young to enlighten them on such things.

Decorum or comportment aren’t taught in school todayTea time

My parents and grandparents talked about classes in decorum and/or comportment or just regular inspections on one’s wardrobe, posture or etiquette.  They further mentioned they hated them but that what they took from them was important for how they carried themselves today.  It comes down to respect.  Although it is expected in many educational environments, I’m not sure it is defined as a part of curriculum in those same institutions.  And if there are no guidelines or structure, respect can be a very subjective topic.

Helicopter parenting 

Because news of kidnappings, sexual abuse and other violence in society, parents have had to take a more active role in ensuring the safety of their children.  This, in return, has taken away the opportunity for our children to develop physical independence as well as independence in thought. They cannot learn from the experience of having their own feelings or problem-solving tactics on difficult matters and therefore do not learn how to control them or appropriately express them.  Many youth today develop a sense of entitlement because of the overprotective nature of parenting today.

Multiculturalism

As our society embraces new or varied cultures, the lines of understanding of what is respectful or civil may become blurred.  What was once considered polite and cordial to some may not be considered the same to others if they have a different understanding or perspective.  A new sensitivity and openness to these different perspectives are quickly becoming a necessity as our world becomes more globalized.

Technology

The impact of technology on our lives becomes more apparent and comes at us at a much quicker pace than ever before.  It changes the way we communicate no doubt.  A dichotomy of respect has emerged between those who are having to embrace newer and quicker technologies and those who are born into it and don’t need to embrace for it is their world.  Many adults complain that technology creates disrespect when it is used in place of face-to-face communication.  Youth today, don’t necessarily regard technology use as rude because this what they know and this is how they communicate.  Because technology has moved in (what seems) so quickly, it is changing the rules of etiquette and courtesy when it comes to communication.

Curious to learn more about Tact and Diplomacy?  Head over to The Art of Tact and Diplomacy.

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Other Words for Image & Etiquette

VNC Image & EtiquetteWhen I am researching for articles, posts or material for VNC Image & Etiquette, I have many words that I will use in my search that are related.  I’ve included them here.  Let me know of words that you might think of and include them in the comments below.

Etiquette Manners Image
Wardrobe Style Fashion
Look Leadership Career
Success Civility Kindness
Courtesy Mentorship Career
Politeness Positivity Optimistic
Friendliness Thoughtfulness Respect
Self-esteem Confidence Congeniality
Social Grace Charm Protocol
Butler Poise Elegance
Class

How to Appear Confident … even when you’re not

Confidence

Confidence is key in this western society that we live in. Jobs, relationships, perceptions and self-esteem can all be made or broken by how much confidence we exude or don’t. Many times, we simply are not confident. We might be nervous, feel inferior, not feel knowledgeable or unprepared and worry that we just don’t fit the bill. Even though we may feel that way, it doesn’t mean we can’t present ourselves confidently.  Even just looking the part despite not feeling it, can get us through until, eventually, our artificial sense of confidence turns into the real thing. “Fake it ’til you make it”, I like to say. Here are some tips to help you come across as confident even when you don’t feel it.

1. Posture – The way you stand can say so much about you.  If you aren’t feeling your best, slouching, hiding behind long hair or leaning against the wall can be a direct message that you don’t want to put yourself out there.  Stand or sit straight with your head up and your shoulders back.  Pretend you have a string that is tied to middle of your head and a puppeteer is holding you up by the string – straight and looking forward.  Good posture sends the message that you know what you are doing and you are comfortable with where you are.

2. Eye Contact – Always make eye contact when you are talking to or listening to someone.  If people can’t see your eyes when you are talking to them they may not feel you’re trustworthy.  Shifty eyes will make people nervous.  No eye contact suggests you don’t believe you are good enough to talk to or worse, you don’t believe the other person is good enough to talk to.  If you don’t make eye contact when someone else is talking, it may give the impression that you aren’t listening or you are not interested in what that person has to say.  Not only can it destroy your confidence believability, it may keep you out of the networking loop.

3.  Admit when you don’t know something – I’ve had people tell me that they will pretend to understand or know about something that they have no clue about just so they don’t come across as stupid or naive.  You are not expected to know everything.  Asking for information to learn something or just plain saying “I don’t know the answer to that,” shows that you are comfortable enough to show you are human.  This, believe-it-or-not, is confidence.

4.  Smile – The best thing you can do for almost any situation is to just smile.  Especially when you aren’t feeling confident.  Physiologically, smiling will send signals to your body to relax and help you take control of your thoughts and feelings.  Smile long enough and you can trick your body into thinking your are happy even if you aren’t.  It will signal to others that you are happy or experiencing a “light” moment and are, therefore, approachable.  When people approach you to spark conversation or make inquiries, it will make you feel confident.  And the greatest thing about smiling is that it’s contagious.

5.  Wear your power outfit – Everyone should have a power outfit.  That one outfit that makes you feel like you can take on the world.  You look good and feel good in it and you can’t help but feel confident.  I have a pant-suit that I only wear when I’m presenting to large and perhaps, corporate, audiences.  It makes me feel tall (I’m not), put-together, attractive and stylish.  Even if I’m sweating buckets and am incredibly nervous, I know that I look like I mean business when I’m in my power outfit.  And sometimes, just putting on that outfit is enough to put me into full-fledged confidence mode.

6.  Firm hand shake –  A firm handshake is a must.  It may be a bit cliche but when meeting people, if the grip isn’t one with some fortitude, it can make or break an introduction and thus, a relationship.  A firm handshake (one coupled with eye contact *see point #3) suggests that you know who you are and you are ready to make a new and possibly great connection.  Even, when not feeling the power of a confident mood, that firm handshake at least gives that message at the start so you can catch up with confidence later.  Caution, however, that the handshake isn’t too strong.  A bone-crushing handshake can give the impression that you mean to dominate and that does not, a great introduction make.

7.  Prepare – If you have an event or an opportunity approaching where you are worried that your confidence may not be in full order, the best thing to do is prepare.  If it’s a networking event, read-up on who is expected to be there; what is the focus of the event; are there questions you can prepare ahead of time so that you are armed with information for those awkward silences.  Perhaps check out what is trending on twitter before heading in so that you have some quick conversation-starters like “Did you catch that headline about …?”  If you are going into a situation where you will be in the spotlight, go over your notes or ask a friend to prepare questions to ask you.  The more preparation you can do ahead of time, the more confident you feel and the more confident you will come across.

Should you be in situation where you’d rather just curl up and sit in the corner, these tips will hopefully help not only put you into the centre of the room, but help you to feel comfortable being there.  Are there other ideas that you use to help you feel confident even if you aren’t?

Top 10 Most Gracious Celebrity Women according to me

These are women that I see as role models. They are women I’d like to have at my supper table and who I’d love to sit down and chat with. From what I know of them (and of course that is through the lens of the media) they exemplify the following characteristics:

Criteria:
• Often seen smiling
• Present positively
• Sense of humour
• Well – groomed
• Well dressed
• Courteous
• Humble
• Giving
• Authentic
• Not afraid to look silly
• Courageous
• Confident
• Grateful

10. Michelle Obama

Gracious Michelle Obama

9.  Kate Middleton

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8. Queen Latifah

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7.  Emma Stone

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6.  Meryl Streep

Meryl-Streep

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.  Princess Diana

princess diana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.  Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen-Degeneres

3.  Maggie Smith

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2.  Julie Andrews

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1.  Audrey Hepburn

audrey

A Quick Thought About Your Impression

more business casual
Whether we like it or not, agree with it or not, judgments will be made about us. If we do not take into consideration how we look or act, these judgments may not be in our favour. Furthermore, these assumptions may not only be made about us but could be made about our positions, our departments and/or the organizations we work for. Therefore, it is very important to put thoughtful consideration into our appearance and behaviour.

Make Courtesy a Habit

I often have conversations with people about how society has lost it’s courtesy and civility.  It often leads to discussions of entitlement and how our youth today, don’t seem to have the understanding of manners and decorum that once used to be taught in school and practiced at home.  Then, you sit by the young gentleman in a small plane who gets up and assists you to your seat and starts polite conversation and you realize that all is not lost in the world of polite society.  When instructed to turn off all electronics, he did so promptly and stowed it in his carry-on. He indicated he was a university student travelling to visit some friends for a weekend party.  If he had of told me that first, I would have judged him as one of those youth that I often talk about with my adult cohorts.  I was impressed with his ability to manage conversation, make eye contact and use the most impeccable manners throughout the flight.   I didn’t point out the impression he made on me civilityfor fear of embarrassing him but I want to pass it on – especially to young people out there – manners and courtesy are never out of style.  Make courtesy a habit.  You never know who you are going to impress with it. 

Cart Full of Courtesy

Inspired by a conversation I heard on my favourite radio morning show this week, I thought I’d write about the unwritten rules of Grocery Store Etiquette.  It stemmed from a trivia contest about self-check-outs at many grocery and department stores these days.  It then morphed into a chat about pet peeves, not only at the self-check-outs but shopping experiences in general.  Have you ever been frustrated by your visits to the supermarket because of what you felt was “rude” behaviour of other shoppers?  I certainly have and I know my husband has since he groans every time he needs to go.  These are some rules I try to keep in mind when shopping:

1.  Observe express lanes as “express” – These are the lanes for people who only have a few items and want to get in and get out fast – hence the “express” in the title.  I figure if I can hold all my items in my arms than I’m probably safe to use this lane and this is typically less than 8 items.  In one experience, I was behind a gentleman who had a shopping cart  heaped with groceries and he put on 8 items, paid for them, then put on the next 8 items, paid for them and so on.  I would have went to another lane but it was a day before a long holiday weekend and the other lanes were packed also.  The store clerk had to finally tell him that “1-8 items” meant that he was only supposed to have a maximum of 8 items only.  Being the polite person she was, she continued to check out his purchases but warned that he shouldn’t do that again (much to my aggravation).

2.  Place the divider bar on the belt when finished placing all items – Although I don’t get too upset  if someone doesn’t follow this rule, I do appreciate it when it is practiced.  It says that the person ahead is considering me and making a small gesture to let me know that I am welcome to place my items alongside theirs at the check-out.  Small but not insignificant.

3.  Pull cart to the side when checking items on the shelf – Aisles often have only enough room for two passing carts in order to get optimum use of the floor space to display items for sale.  It is not considerate to leave your cart in the middle of the aisle while you compare labels or make decisions on which item to purchase.  Make sure your cart is off to the side so others may pass.  Of course, you also want to be sure not to leave your cart parked too long to the side if there are others waiting to pick out items that are blocked by your cart.

4.  Put the cart in the cart-corral when finished – There are usually designated areas in the parking lots or stores, conveniently located, to gather carts when shoppers are finished.  It isn’t just for courtesy’s sake, to return your cart to one of these areas, it is also for safety’s sake.  A parking lot cluttered with stray carts is hazardous.  When returning my cart, I also like to take the extra effort and interlock it with the carts previously placed.  It will allow space for more carts and it will make the cart retriever’s job a little lighter.

5.  Have your cash, debit or credit card ready – While waiting for the cashier to scan your items, get your payment ready.  This will allow you to complete your transaction promptly, saving time for you and the others waiting behind you.

Are there other rules that you like to follow when shopping?