All posts tagged: Manners

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How I Avoid Gossip in a Small Town

I hate to admit it, but I love gossip. It’s fun, it’s easy, and as I am a naturally nosy person, completely satisfying. But as with drive-thru French fries, some delicious habits simply are not good for you. Despite my love for it, I’ve had to reduce my indulgence. I live in a small wine country town, and, as you can imagine, we socialize at lots of wine and food events. In this kind of atmosphere, it’s a real challenge to avoid talking about each other. Wine-fueled + small-town = the perfect storm for gossip. A quick definition: Gossip is social talk that judges someone when they’re not there to defend themselves. It’s usually personal, sensational, or far too intimate. Often, gossip is mean-spirited. An easy test for me to decide whether or not something is gossip is by asking myself the question, “Is this something I want the subject to hear?” If the answer is no, well, it’s gossip. Avoiding gossip is tough because we humans are hard-wired to share information about each other …

We Can Be Friends Without Being Facebook Friends

At least once a week, I invariably have a conversation that goes like this: My friend: “Jamie is so annoying! She won’t stop posting pseudo-science articles about how coconuts cure cancer. And then she liked all my vacation photos from three years ago. Who does that?” Me: “Just unfriend her.” My friend: “I can’t do that! It’ll hurt her feelings!” I really don’t understand all the tiptoeing around Facebook friendships. Don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook. As a native Philadelphian transplanted to the suburban wilds of Connecticut, Facebook lets me easily keep in touch with my nearest and dearest at a time in my life when my closest family member is a four-hour drive away. I don’t have to miss anyone’s kids growing up, and I can easily arrange dinner, drinks and karaoke when I’m back in town for a visit. But I’ve found that people put up with an amazing amount of BS in the name of Facebook “friends.” [pullquote]As Roger Murtaugh said in Lethal Weapon, “I’m too old for this shit.”[/pullquote] A …

Hey, Millennials: A Tunic Is Not a Dress (and Other Important Career Advice)

In the 20 years since I’ve entered the workforce (the past 10 of them at J. Walter Thompson), I have traveled the world, hung with Hollywood’s elite (and not so elite), had cocktails with the Marahana of Udaipur, sold major bling and counted stacks of moldy cash (literally, stacks) in the kitchen of an Aspen mansion on red mountain, met “The Donald” and all of his wives (yep, Ivana, Marla and Melania – at separate times for different reasons), been accompanied by one major Las Vegas CEO’s Belgian attack dogs (long story) and handled many major corporate crisis communications campaigns, brand launches, executive visibility campaigns and so on. Because of the nature of my job, some of my biggest accomplishments were keeping things OUT of the media, to protect either a brand or an executive. So when the fabulous Ann Shoket asked me to write about advice I would give to my 25-year-old self (or those starting in the work force), it was pretty simple. Today’s 25-year-olds don’t understand that Generation X “paid our dues” …

What Ever Happened to Customer Service? Meet Bette

What the world needs now is a customer service vigilante. Her name: Bette. (Bette is short for Better, as in Better Customer Service.) Bette is not a caped crusader, though. Bette wears a 1980s skirt suit. The jacket has shoulder pads and an asymmetrical hem. The matching knee-length skirt is formfitting — not 21st century formfitting but pre-Herve Leger formfitting (i.e. touching, not hugging, her in all the right places). Bette wears black square-toe heels and maroon lipstick. Her cheeks are sometimes stained with excess rouge. She is attractive, but she’s formidable. The sound of her heels clicking against the floor makes you shudder. Bette is my imaginary hero. She is the avenger whom I wish would pop up whenever a cashier yells, “Next!” instead of cheerfully asking, “May I help you?” (And, no, a sullen “May I help you” sans the lilt of a question mark doesn’t count.) I wish Bette were there to break up a conversation between two cashiers who are so busy talking to each other that they haven’t bothered to …

Mom, Interrupted: Let Me Finish My Sentence

“Mom, can the new kid in my class come over sometime and…” Click. “The new kid in MY class from Japan brought in this candy today that tasted like…” Click. “Somebody said there was a bug in the noodles today, and my whole class was, like, screaming…” “Tristan’s mom is having a baby…” “Sweetheart, can you please get my watch fixed before… “ Click. Click. Click. Somehow my entire existence has become a live-action website. Each day hurtles at me at warp speed. But it’s not like it was when I was growing up, when life seemed to unfold in a forward motion not unlike the 1970s TV shows I watched after school. Instead, life in my family today seems as if it’s its own social network of bang-bang status updates – an unyielding series of nested hyperlinks, one after another, mouse click after mouse click after mouse click. They carry me, like a cognitive tidal wave, away from whatever it is that I’m trying to say and think. [pullquote]Perhaps we’re afraid our overscheduled 40-something …

Teaching My Son to Be Nice to the Robots

“Siri. Siri, you’re stupid.” My son — the most polite, sweetest, kindest little boy I know — is at it again. “Siri, I think you’re ugly.” I cringe. I yell from my office, “CALVIN! Stop being mean to Siri!” “But Mom, she’s not human!” he yells back from his nest of pillows on the couch. Yeah, I think to myself. That’s exactly what people said about their slaves 150 years ago, isn’t it? It’s what the Nazi’s said about their victims in the ‘40s and what ISIS says about Yazidi women today. Is that where the bar lies in this household? Is this our acceptable level of conduct? Calvin, like many children of his generation, learned the word “acceptable” even before he learned to walk. He used to toddle around and scold his stuffed animals with that big, grown-up word. “No ass-ET-ball,” he’d chastise, wagging his chubby finger at Elephant, who is, unsurprisingly, a stuffed elephant. “NO ASS-ET-BALL!” [pullquote]“But if you can’t learn to be nice to the robots, then you can just…just…FORGET about having a robot. …

Margit’s Note: Darling, Your Manners Are Showing

At brunch last Sunday, in one of the quaintest, grass-fed-filled Brooklyn establishments, my husband and I asked for a refill of our coffee mugs. Smiling, the server speedily took away the mugs and replaced them with two “to-go” paper cups of coffee. We hadn’t asked for the check — heck, we weren’t even finished with our omelets. But without so much as asking us if we wanted them, she slid the paper cups in front of us. A not-so-subtle cue to hurry up and scram. This wasn’t the first time this had happened; pushing diners along is part of a growing trend to ditch civility and opt for turnover. The Washington Post wrote about this back in June, citing the trend of clearing before everyone was finished noting “restaurants have abandoned, or simply overlooked, a classic tenet of service etiquette.” Allow me to channel Andy Rooney for just a minute. (You don’t know who Andy Rooney is? SIGH. What are you doing on this site?? Harrumph.) What the hell is happening to good manners? And …