Etiquette of an Argument 

It was a crime of passion, in the heat of the moment and blinded by rage; we’ve heard it all before and we know it looks like this: 😡. This helpful pint sized face means that you’re peeved, but what happens when **it really hits the fan? When it’s not an off the cuff text to your BFF? When your blood is boiling and you’re so mad you’re vibrating? First of all, thank you for recognizing that you need advice. Secondly, anger needs to be resolved from the inside-out. Ready? Let’s break it down?! *insert beat drop*

1. Breathe. Detach from the issue and try to identify the source of the anger. Take a moment to investigate what’s actually bothering you. 

a. Ensure you’re arguing with the right person. Where’s this conflict coming from? And with whom are these feelings connected? (We’ve all argued with our significant other when we’re really mad at our belittling boss.)

b. What is it you’re arguing about. Do you you feel misunderstood? Disrespected? If it helps, write down the specifics in a personal journal or document, but don’t bring that letter to the table, unless it’s an intervention.

2. Set out a clear objective. When conflict arises, it’s easy to point out the problem, but if you provide solutions the likelihood of resolution is exponentially greater. Clarity is key, 9 times out of 10, the conflict arises from miscommunication. 

3. Play nice. Keep it factual, current and topical. We all know what it’s like to be personally attacked for issues that are professional, or to have past conflicts weighted and reiterated on current situations. Don’t dredge up the past, unless it’s an ongoing issue, that has yet to reach resolution. 

4. Agree upon an outcome. This is key to resolving your conflict. If both parties decide to make an effort to prevent this blood boiling row in the future, everyone can work towards that goal together. I’m a fan of: Team work makes the Dream work.

Anger is uncomfortable. It rips relationships apart and burns lives down to the ground. But anger can cleanse too, clearing out all those dried emotions to make way for the new growth. So, don’t avoid anger, just keep it to a controlled burn, for after the fire comes rebirth. And, there’s an emoji for that too: 🌈

YOU ASKED Re-Launch

It has been a long, lonely, year and I have missed dishing out my dollops of wisdom for each and every one of those 365 days. ***DRUM-ROLLL, PLEASE**** Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with enthusiasm and eager fingers, that I announce the re-Launch of my popular “YOU ASKED” blog on this website. With that I request all your social foibles and potential mis-steps. Send them my way and will smooth out those edges, get you on the right track and keep you in Polite Company. I’m ready to be back in action, and I’m thankful.

Bieber: How To Roast With The Most…Etiquette

Today is the #BieberRoast ! Now, for those who don’t know what a roast is/are unknowly missing out on one of comedy’s longest tradidtions; a roast is when a group of funny folks collect to tease a good sport. These jokes range from good natured ribbing to near fatal comedic attacks veiled with a shrug and a wink to the audience. The subject of the roast is made to sit upon a throne through this event with a smile on their face and laughter in their throat. But what happens when a joke goes horribly wrong? When it cuts too close to the not so funny bone? The roast is tricky territory, so I am here to share some etiquette tips to help you stop a joke from going too far.

The roast evening has a classic format: MC introduces the Roastee, tells the audience to tip their waitress*, then proceeds to introduce each presenter, until they have all roasted, then the MC invites the well roasted Roastee to roast the presenters. Simple enough right?  The hard part is: How do I tease someone, in front of their friends and family without really hurting anybody’s feelings? How indeed. As an occasional funny girl, I’ve told a few (MANY) bad jokes ‘cue the crickets and tumbleweeds’, but there are a few simple rules that might save you from my fate.

How To Roast

  1. Know your subject, know your audience. Knowledge truly is power. It will also inform the type of jokes you can get away with. If great-aunt Helga is overtly sensitive about her viking heritage, then pillaging jokes may be too invasive.
  2. Don’t steal thunder. If you have heard another presenter tell a “classic-Roastee” story to uproarious reception at many a social event, know they are going to whip out that whale tale, hoping for a similar response. You’d be a special kinda jerk if you stole it. Plus stealing jokes, who does that? I mean c’mon, you’re better than that.
  3. Jokes should be short, but not sweet. A short zinger is better than a long story with only one funny moment. A quick sting isn’t as personal as a detailed/boring/drawn out/graphic tale of woe.
  4. Avoid repetition. It’s repetitive. People don’t want to hear a joke again and again. Repeat after me: If someone has told your joke, you should cut it out. (Unless of course, your joke is SO funny the world would suffer from not hearing it.)
  5. Avoid jokes about those “off limit” topics. Typically, things that cannot be changed; like the Roastee’s mother is dead or his son was born with 3 legs…well, that last one would be hard not to roast, but you get the idea.
  6. Roast jokes are always better when they aim up. Instead of simply pointing out the negative, put a positive spin on it: “It’s tough being bald, but at least you’re saving money on shampoo.” 
  7. Play on words. Be clever.  ‘Nuff said.
  8. Avoid collateral damage. Often the Roastees inner circle can be hit with joke shrapnel, and they are not your target. Keep your jokes specific to the Roastee, unless his 16 ex-wives are all there…it would be hard to avoid ALL of them.
  9. The best jokes are based in truth, especially if it’s a truth known to the entire audience.  Who knew honesty can be hilarious? Honestly?
  10. Be a good listener, and laugh at the other presenter’s jokes. The more people engaged and laughing the less pressure on the Roastee. Plus you can’t avoid repetition, if you don’t know what’s been said.
  11. Roast the other presenters. They are fair game, but follow the same rules. This also gives the Roastee a sense of “We’re all in this together”, even though we all know why we’re in this.

Other than those 11 hints, there so many other possibilities for how to tell a joke without hurting anyone. But my suggestions boil down to this: Be careful. Careful is a great word. I find myself in trouble when I am not “taking care”. When I let my jokester-brain take over is when I break every one of my good-clean-funny suggestions. If I were careful I wouldn’t have to apologize for my jokes half as much as I do, but that’s another blog entry entirely.  Good luck Bieber! I hope you get evenly roasted on all sides, cuz there’s nothing worse than awkward tan lines.

* 15% or $2 for the first drink, $1/drink after but that’s a story for another day.

You Asked: Awkward Situations In The Workplace

Dear Auntie Etiquette,

         I was walking into a meeting with one of my colleagues (she‘s a mature woman and I am a younger man) and when I looked over, I could see her stocking tops showing (the lacey part). Now, there were potential clients coming into this meeting, and this is out of character for her. What should I do when it is something that personal? Tell her quietly or say nothing? I’m worried it could get me in trouble. Could it could get me in trouble?

 Signed,

the Platonic but Awkward Co-worker

 

Dear Plato-worker, 

          That’s a good one! The short answer is yes. It’s always best alert the potentially embarrassed party to prevent the spread of discomfort. People would rather know, especially, if it’s something that personal and she’s not the type to be showing that much leg in a business meeting. Though, I can understand your trepidation, especially with sexual harassment in the workplace being grounds for dismissal. My advice is tell her, just be respectful, subtle and discreet. Better you’re both momentarily embarrassed, having the conversation, then she conquers the meeting, walks out into the world feeling unstoppable, then gets to a mirror and realizes the embarrassment that nobody told her she was showing more than a PowerPoint presentation.

      This lesson also applies to anything stuck in teeth, holes in crotches, food that’s been dropped down the front of clothing, anything embarrassing, that by acknowledging you can *hopefully* prevent further embarrassment.

    Now, how to deal with this; I recommend a compliment sandwich.

  • make eye contact – the bread
  • lead with compliment – cheese
  • express concern – sauerkraut
  • offer aid – corned beef
  • then smile and compliment them on mastering the misstep – the bread,

See, it’s a sandwich, a delicious, delicious compliment sandwich. In no time, you’ll be laughing about this sauerkraut, I mean embarrassment, and *fingers crossed* avoid the dreaded HR meeting re: appropriate inter-office relationships. Stay Savy, Platonic but Awkward Co-worker!

Yours in Eternal Improvement,

Auntie Etiquette

March 8: Celebrate Those Special Ladies

March 8 is International Women’s Day! This year it falls on a Sunday, my absolute favourite day of the week. Typically, Sundays are saved for quiet reflection and catching up on personal matters; like ‘Sunday check-in’ with my Mom, making plans to see my friends that coming week, then weekly prediction and eventually, relaxation. This week however, I will also be sending out some special shout outs to my fav ladies!

  1. My Momma – she loves me when I don’t even like myself. She thinks I’m brave. I got my smile from her and we pose for photos the same way, which is a blessing and a curse.
  2. My BFF for Realsies Forever – I have the distinct pleasure to live with her. She is tough, motivational and skilled at living a fulfilling life. She is a charmer, puts everyone at ease and her ability to have fun is only outmatched by her enthusiam for new experiences. She’s my guiding light in my new endeavours and the supportive kick in the arse I need. 
  3. My Momma friends – these ladies have the pleasure to teaching teeny girls of their own. They are patient and kind. The love is obvious by the amount of photos and exhausted smiles. I don’t get to see these ladies enough, especially if I’m gonna be weird Auntie Etiquette!
  4. The Boss Lady – She needs me just as much as I need her. My creativity is complimented by her business savy. She helps me see the business-picture. Her support of me has been unwavering. Plus there are very few office jobs where people get the giggles on the regular. 

There are of course so many more inspiring women in my life, but I don’t want to ruin the surprise that unforeseen appreciation brings. And that’s my plan! As for you if you’re not sure what to do, I have a few suggestions.

  • Compliment a stranger on their choice of well, whatever you like about her 
  • Call that friend who you haven’t talked to since, who knows when
  • Smile and say thank you for all the kindnesses we typically disregard – out loud, with eye contact
  • Be a stong female example

So, this March 8, be good to all the special ladies in your life, and everyone else too, that’s just good manners. And maybe we should do that everyday, yeah, that’s a better plan- let’s do that.

It’s A Shame: Public Shaming and You

Today’s lesson, is one I am going to tackle in my #Internetiquette 101 course: Public Shaming. It happens when we disagree with the way the people around us are living their lives; and then we feel the need to broadcast their inability to ‘follow the rules’, in hopes of changing their behaviour. The offense can be anything from wearing bulky backpacks on the streetcar, butting in line or expressing unpopular opinions. But here’s the thing: No situation was ever made better by publicly shaming the offender. Attacks of any kind are met with offense. Cuz everybody knows offence is the best defence.

A perfect example: The Great Wall of China. The Chinese were being attacked, so what did they do? They built a giant wall to defend themselves. It’s difficult to knock down giant defensive walls, it’s way easier to negotiate change from a neutral and supportive place. No one wants to be attacked. All the grown ups I know are open to hearing a positive message, and willing to change offensive behaviours, especially if they had no idea they were offensive.

So, if a behaviour arises that we disagree with, what should we do? Don’t you worry my pretty, I just so happen to have a few tips.

1. Privacy – Pull the ‘offender’ aside. By making the effort to remove the public from the interaction, we assure our positive investment in the situation. The problem you have does not have to be assessed, judged or observed by anyone else, especially an angry mob.

2. Clarity – Be specific as to the offense. Ensure that you express why it hurts or offends you. Be case specific, do not use this opportunity to diatribe about your dislike for their -insert long and arduous list of unlikable qualities here-, spiraling into an out of control hate rant. That won’t help anyone.

3. Honesty – Use language with emotional connections. Express your sadness or discomfort. These will help the recipient understand how their actions have effected you.

4. Humility – Recognize that everyone has bad days. If the offender is acting out of character, acknowledge that. Ask if there is anything you can do to help them get back to their best selves. Remind them how much you like that version of them.

5. Acceptance – Not everyone who hurts you will respond with action or even accept they have done anything wrong. In this situation it is up to you to be the bigger person. Don’t bad mouth, gossip, vaguebook or slander, honestly, just be the bigger person and unfriend them.

Everyday our world gets smaller online. We meet more people. Things change – FAST! The best thing we can do is be a positive force within the often negative whirlwind. Celebrate those who are leading by example. Be brave enough to stand up for what is good. Know that when someone hurts you, you can still advocate for the change you want to see in the world. You are worthy. And we’re all trying our best…most of the time.

I’ve Discovered The Cure For FOMO!

Okay guys, lean in close to learn the best kept secret on the internet. After many years of scrolling, refreshing, double booking, hrumphing, wishing I was having all the fun that everyone else was having, oh abs scientific exploration; I have finally discovered the cure to FOMO!

For those of you who don’t suffer from FOMO (the fear of missing out), how lucky for you! FOMO is the inability to be in the moment where we are, for fear of missing something “better” elsewhere. This epidemic has run rampant through our iPhones and Androids. We have been dragged into the world of perpetual possibility, yet there’s a constant nag, as though we’ve made the wrong choice. Take for instance New Year’s Eve and the endless pursuit of the best party. Most of the night is spent traveling from one party to another, in search of the perfect place to be; which leads to actually missing out. Ever the paradox. So, how do you cure such a disease?

Here we go, the cure for FOMO is: Having the best time, wherever you are. If you are having a great time, you won’t feel like you’re missing out. It’s impossible. I know this can be tough, but you could already be at ‘the’ place doing ‘the thing’ others wish they weren’t missing out on and not even know it. You’re M-ing-O on what you FOMOed! Whoa, mind blown! Wait does that make sense? It must, somehow.

People, the real lesson here is one of awareness. Nobody can predict where the best time will appear, but, if you are trying to have a good, scratch that, great time, every time, you won’t miss out on anything! You will be the MOed event du jour for those who aren’t around you. And isn’t that what we’re hoping for anyways, to be part of the fun?!? I mean, have fun, always. Don’t miss out on your own life by wishing you were somewhere else. You are exactly where you are, and you’re not missing a thing. Also, maybe you should share this blog post, so no one else misses out.😉

The Foibles Of Little Miss Fix-it

My whole life I’ve been a fixer. I am that person who knows where to find the broom. I have the pump that saves your bike ride. People rely on me to fix whatever has gone wrong, when it goes wrong. And boy oh boy, do I love this job! I relish the ability to shift a situation from dastardly to ecstasy! There is one thing I can’t fix, but darn it, if I can’t stop trying. That thing: People.

Recently, I was reminded, I have no control over others. We all feel pain, despair, heartache, and though I keep trying to fix all of it, I can’t. I grasp desperately for a magical wand to heal everything, trying to force a fix. And that’s where I get myself into more trouble ‘trying to help’ than if I’d just followed my own etiquette advice. Oh, and what is that you ask? Here goes: Everyone is working really hard, trying to ‘fix’ themselves, they don’t need my ‘help’, they need my support.

Support is one of the best gifts you can give your relationships. The admission that the decisions of friends and family are the best thing for them. Sometimes, it’s hard to keep your mouth shut. It was hard for me to admit they might know better than I, how to live their lives. But I realized, I still love them, wether I agree with their opinion or not; and it wasn’t up to me to fix their lives. Unless, of course it’s a terrible haircut, or their fly is down, I’ll fix those things. So, join me in supporting the decisions of your loved ones, and try -I emphasize- TRY not to tell them what’s the best fix for them or be a Ms. Bossy-pants, cuz honesty, nobody likes a know it all. Trust me;)

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It’s Complimentary, My Dear

I love your boots! Your work is always completed before the deadline and I appreciate that! Oh wow, look at your hair! You have an amazing smile! You’re one of the funniest people I know. I love spending time with you. How did that make you feel? Good? Surprised? Shy and embarrassed? Well, get used to it baby, cuz every single person deserves to be complimented…for something. When I was younger (last week) I learned that if you don’t have anything nice to say, you should say nothing at all. What I take that to mean is; when you have something nice to say, you should say it loud and often. See what I did there? I turned a negative into a positive. Now, come with me, on a brief journey into the Land of Learning.

The art of giving and receiving a compliment is one as old as, well looking, feeling and behaving well. Now, there’s obviously a give and take aspect to this interaction. So, let’s delve deeper.

Giving: Compliments express our admiration, astonishment and overall appreciation of one another. By offering a sincere compliment, we reinforce what we perceive to be “good” or “nice” or “pretty”. We are essentially thanking the complimentee for their contribution to improving themselves and the world around them. I know this sounds dramatic, but at the base of every compliment we are expressing gratitude, and that gratitude, when genuine, can improve the overall status of our relationships and life in general. We’ve all received compliments rooted in jealousy or lined with insincerity and they just don’t feel the same tingly, lovey-dovey way that a genuine compliment does, I don’t recommend it. The act of giving a compliment should feel as good as receiving one.

The 3 keys to giving great compliments:
Be honest and specific, without expectation.

Receiving: This is where we (the Royal, We) tend to get muddled. Compliments, especially genuine ones can be a jarring and overwhelming experience. And it’s not cuz we don’t deserve to be complimented, it’s because we don’t expect anyone to really take the time to be grateful for us. Even, if it’s just for our keen fashion sense. I have been guilty of many flawed complimentary transactions. Before completing my etiquette studies, I would offer a rushed compliment back as though the scales of niceties needed to be balanced. Or I would disagree with their compliment. My “Aw no, you really think so….?” attitude would deflate the complimenter’s good intentions. So, what you ask is the answer? Why, it’s simple. When you are given a compliment, say thank you. A smile also helps, but honestly, that’s it. Sit in that compliment for a minute, let it hug you, and you’ll find yourself eager to spread that feeling to another, with genuine enthusiasm. Ah, the circle of love, it just keeps spinning around.

The 3 keys to receiving great compliments:
Hear it, hold onto it and say thank you.

I know, it can be hard to hear how others feel about us. I know it can be really hard to feel good about ourselves, but if we listen to those around us, we will find out a few things we didn’t know to be true. And those compliments will keep coming, if you put in the effort to become the person you hope to be. Thank you for reading my words and all your lovely compliments. Also, I think you’re great, so take that compliment and receive it.

Happy #ReNEWal Year!

It’s that special time of year when well intentioned folks overwhelm themselves with unrealistic expectations of a complete life overhaul. I have found myself in this situation oh, so many times before. I have promised myself a whole new body, a whole new life, major changes, this would be my year, and it would start today! I’ve done this year after year, over and over again, I’ve vowed to become this ideal version of myself, overnight. And guess what, I’ve failed every year. So, this year I’ve resolved to shift my perspective, and think of it as a #ReNEWalYear !

So, what’s a #ReNEWalYear ? Well, here goes: A ReNEWal Year isn’t about change, it’s about improvement. Let’s face it, change is scary and hard. To poise yourself for failure by setting unrealistic goals benefits no one. Instead a ReNEWal Year implements subtle changes, integrated over time. By simply setting and achieving attainable goals, you will gain the motivation and momentum to take those oh so tempting drastic actions…eventually. My theory is to build on the foundations that have been laid and encourage yourself to work up to those big ‘resolutions’.

In mere hours, we will bid adieu to 2014, and welcome 2015! And I couldn’t be more excited. In the past weeks, I have reflected on all the growth and challenges I’ve faced this year. But I have also created a series of goals for the coming months, some small ones, and some fever-dream sized. I look forward to taking small balanced steps towards my goals, instead of leaping without looking. I hope my ReNEWal Year is one of progress, etiquette, optimism, organization and enthusiasm. Thank you for joining my Army of Nice! And I will see you next year… Bah, that joke never gets old.