Handshake, manners, introductions, tact, diplomacy, leadership
Civility, Confidence, courtesy, Etiquette, Respect

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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VNC Image & Etiquette
Business, Civility, Confidence, courtesy, Etiquette, good, Grace, Image, pleasantness, Respect, Whatever

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
Civility, Community, courtesy, Etiquette, Respect

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?

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, 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.