Friday, September 27, 2013

What Do I Do...Fine Dining Edition

We’ve talked a lot lately about the “What Ifs” in life—handling those unexpected moments that could range from split pants, an online argument, or biting into too-hot food. Today, let’s talk about fine dining without fear!

WHAT DO I DO…if I’m at a formal meal and don’t know what utensil to use?

Watch the host, hostess, the senior person at your table—or the one you think has the most dining savvy! “Formal” can mean a wide variety of things, but we can say that there will always be two guidelines to help up navigate the table setting, whether it’s for a formal meal, a casual one, or a picnic. Those guidelines are:

1.  Watch your host/hostess
2.  Start from the outside and work toward the plate

If the occasion is most formal and you are facing multiple forks, spoons, and knives, start with the outermost utensil of each kind to begin the meal. Think of it as if the utensils are placed in order of their use, so start with the utensils farthest away from the plate, working in toward the plate. Know that those utensils are planned and paired with each specific course, so you’ll have the usable utensils to enjoy eating that particular course. Now, that is the essence of good manners: a host/hostess that has planned the table setting so that you will have the utensils you need!

Friday, September 20, 2013

What Do I Do...Ms./Mrs./Miss Edition with Dawn Jumper

If you ever find yourself worrying about the etiquette "what ifs"—we're here for you. After discussing ripped pants, too-hot foods, forgetting someone's name mid-introduction, and Facebook drama...let's talk about how to address women by last name in a formal setting.

And we're getting some extra help to answer the "Ms., Miss, or Mrs." question. Thank you, Dawn Jumper, etiquette consultant of Chattanooga-based The Etiquette Company!

Now, onto....

WHAT DO I DO...if I'm not sure whether to call someone Ms., Mrs. or Miss?

Dawn Jumper says:

The answer is: it depends.

If you are referring to a young unmarried woman then Miss is acceptable. The challenge is how to define "young," because as those of us over 30 know, "young" is a relative term! I use the rule of thumb of college age and below for the use of Miss.

If you are addressing a woman who you know is married and has taken her husband's last name, it is acceptable to use Mrs.  Mrs. tends to be used more often in social settings.

You often do not know which last name (her husband's or her maiden) a woman is using , so play it safe and use Ms. Over time as you do get to know her, you will learn how she prefers to be addressed and you can adjust accordingly.

If a woman has kept her maiden name, only address her by Ms.

You may also use Ms. for a married woman who uses her husband's last name.
Ms. is always acceptable in business settings regardless of age and martial status. Wondering how to pronounce Ms.? It rhymes with "quiz".

The take away:
  • Ms. is always an acceptable option.
  • Miss can be a useful designation for a young unmarried lady.
  • Mrs. should only be used if you know the woman is married and has taken her husband's last name.
Thanks, Dawn!

Friday, September 13, 2013

What Do I Do...Online Drama Edition

If you get stressed out over all the etiquette “What Ifs” in life—well, do we ever have help for you, even if you’re online!

WHAT DO I DO….if Facebook gets inflammatory?

Facebook can be a hotbed of lively discussion…but let’s be frank, it can also be a hot mess, especially when “friends” start acting less than friendly.

What do you do if someone leaves an insensitive or downright rude comment on a post, or posts something that really pushes your buttons? There is really only one thing to do: ignore it. As hard as it may be, resist the urge to respond. You can apply this rule of thumb to politics, religion, controversy in general, or any personal comments about someone’s looks—unless it’s complimentary, of course!

If you feel very strongly that the inflammatory comments must be addressed, do so by personal message only—not by leaving a comment others will see. You’ll be grateful later that you didn’t lose your temper in public! Like it or not, your social media presence becomes your “personal brand”—how others see you. Take the high road!

Stay tuned for our next What If!

Friday, September 6, 2013

What Do I Do...Forgetting Names Edition

We all have those “What If” moments—like, what if I split my pants? What if I take a bite of too-hot food in public? Or…

WHAT DO I DO…if I blank on someone’s name, mid-introduction?

“Hello, I’d like to introduce to you…” Who, exactly? Oh no, you’ve forgotten the other person’s name!

This happens to everyone, and the solution is simple: Smile and say, “Your name has escaped me.” Then the other person should pick up the introduction and run with it. If they miss the hint, say again that you’ve forgotten the name—just do it with a smile.

It’s far better to admit that you’ve blanked rather than not make the introduction. Make the introduction as best you can! The more you practice making introductions—even with people whose names you’ve forgotten—the better you’ll get at it.

Stay tuned for our next What If!