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, 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, 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.