Dining Etiquette Mini-series Part 2: Napkin Nuances

Dining Etiquette at Your Fingertips (Literally!)

This week we give you some quick tips on what to do, and NOT to do, with your napkin!

Will using your napkin change your life? I doubt it.  Will not using it make you look less polished and professional? Absolutely!

Entertaining clients?
Being interviewed over a meal?
Going out to a fancy restaurant?

Whether you’re taking clients to your favourite burger joint or the finest four-star restaurant – we have your (Dining Etiquette) back.

Our Dining Etiquette Mini-series will help you avoid (or recover from) disaster, clean up the spilled Pinot, and deal with that pesky fish bone.

Want access to answers anytime? Then we’d love you to join the conversation over at our FB Group: The Snapdragon Society for Polished Professionals and Etiquette Enthusiasts

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Celebrating International Women’s Day

It’s International Women’s Day, so we’ve done a little something different.

I am lucky enough to have had amazing women influence my life – they have inspired me, encouraged me, tolerated me, supported me and helped get me where I am today.

Three of these amazing women are featured in this video.

Curious? A quick click will reveal all. 

Who are the women who have influenced you? Let us know in the comments – we would LOVE to hear your stories.

If you’d like to join the conversation then we’d love to have you over at our FB Group: The Snapdragon Society for Polished Professionals and Etiquette Enthusiasts.

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Emotion Commotion: Which Emoticon to Chose?

Facebook. FB Emoticons

(for the purposes of this blog I’m going to assume you use it…otherwise you’ve probably already stopped reading)

Whether you love it, hate it, or are ambivalent towards it, it probably takes up at least a little bit of your time and  your energy.

I happen to love it. Sure it has pros and cons but over the years it has kept me in touch with friends and family from all over the world, and that is a true gift.

However, I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with the ‘like’ button – how do you ‘like’ a post that is sad or makes you angry? So, I was delighted when FB introduced a wider rage of emoticons – THESE, I figured, would solve that trickiness. But have they?

With so many choices, it should be easy to click the right one, right? But that doesn’t always seem to be the case. I’ve noticed that some posts create a bit of a conundrum, an ’emotion commotion’, if you will.  Maybe it’s just me, maybe I’m overthinking (wouldn’t be the first time) but in case I’m not alone I thought I’d bring it up.

The posts I’m talking about are the ones that cause me to stop and think about which button to click. This has come up a few times in the last couple of days, most recently when a friend’s mother died.  The post was, of course, incredibly sad but the way she had written it was beautiful and loving.

So, in these circumstances which emoticon fits? The only one we can rule out for certain is the ‘laughing’ one. But let’s look at the others:

  • I might like what she wrote, even if what she wrote was sad.
  • Perhaps I want to send love to her.
  • Maybe I’m surprised at her news.
  • I’m certainly sad for her.
  • And just maybe I’m bubbling up with anger, on her behalf, that she’s lost her mum.

They all fit, one way or another, so there is a decision to be made. How do I convey the right thing, or more importantly, the thing that will bring comfort to my friend?

In the end I chose the ❤️ , partly because the sad face felt too sad, too visceral, but also because I wanted to send her warmth and love. I also followed it up with a comment that said as much.

But these decisions aren’t limited to personal posts. There have been other kinds that have caused me pause as well. The one’s where the shared content makes me feel one way, but the poster’s comment makes me feel another. In those moments, I do stop and think about what I want to communicate.

I realize that on the face of it this might seem like a silly thing to think about, let alone give time and effort to write about. But is it?

In this day in age when SO much of our communication hinges on ‘likes’, quick comments and passing clicks, these things take on far more meaning.  Therefore, perhaps we need to be putting MORE thought, not less, into what we’re ‘saying’.

Food for thought.

 

 

 

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The Eleventh Hour

Remembrance DayFor me, the phrase ‘the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month’ has always held great power and significance. It represents not only history – the end of the Great War, the First World War, the ‘war to end all wars’ – but also the moment in modern life when we are meant to stop, reflect and remember.

However, I have noticed that in my lifetime (and I’m not that old) many people have ‘stopped stopping’ for those two minutes, that they don’t always take the time for this small observance; instead they plough through, ignoring it or simply forgetting to pause.  Not only are they themselves missing an opportunity to stop and reflect, but they are often actively intruding on those who do want to mark that time with silence.

In our constant modern rush we very rarely stop, let alone in silence and stillness. I truly believe that we owe it not only to history but to the future, to pause and reflect for those two minutes – perhaps more now than ever.

The power of the two-minute silence is that it is based in humanity. It is time to reflect on what we owe all the men and women, past and present, who have helped shape our country both in times of war and times of peace.  They lived through experiences we can never imagine; recognizing this and showing our gratitude is the least we can do.

Here are a few things that you can do, not only to help you stop for those few minutes but also encourage others to do the same.

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How to ask for a favour

Need to ask someone to do something they don’t necessarily want to do? Try this simple change of language and see what happens.

 

Your Stories
We love hearing from you! If you have a tip, trick or story you’d like to share we would love to hear it.  Send us a note and we’ll include it here.

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Symbols & Remembrance: Wearing your Poppy

Today marks the day that our poppies go on sale and I’m a firm believer in both buying and wearing a poppy. The sale of poppies not only supports the vital work of the Royal Canadian Legion but also serves as an Royal Canadian Legion Volunteersimportant physical reminder of past wars and conflicts. Remembering and marking (not celebrating) these events is as important now as it was when they first came into being in 1921.

I try to buy my poppy from the Legion volunteers who set up their tables in and around the town because I enjoy chatting with them and showing my support. Today I had the enormous pleasure of meeting these two lovely volunteers, Marleine Levin and her mum, Eva Kay.  I was doubly-pleased to discover that they are two strong Scots women originally from Glasgow (my Nanny’s birthplace). Marleine kindly offered to pin my poppy on so that it would be secure.

Wondering how to wear your poppy?

In late October and early November the inevitable questions arise: when and how to wear your poppy?

When should I wear my poppy?

The practical answer about ‘when’ is that, in Canada, the Royal Canadian Legion poppies officially go on sale on the last Friday of October (today), so that generally dictates timing, unless you have one leftover from previous years. No matter when you start wearing your poppy, it should be worn through November 11th then tucked away for next year.

I’ve been asked whether it’s acceptable to wear a poppy year-round.  While it’s a nice thought to show support throughout the year, the impact of the symbol starts to wane over time, so it’s best to restrict it to a few weeks a year.

Where do I wear my poppy?

There are many people who feel strongly about this. Left side, right side? On a cap or hat, or not?

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Job Well Done

When someone does a good job, tell them. Please Ring For Serivce

Then, tell their manager.

Not only does it give you a good feeling, but reinforcing good customer service becomes a virtuous circle.

I particularly like doing this when I talk to anyone in a call centre who does a good job. Let’s face it, if you work in a call centre chances are you work long hours and deal with many annoyed, frustrated or downright angry customers. So when I speak to someone who is friendly, professional and helpful I want to make sure they know that I appreciate it.

This week I had to ring a call centre because I wanted to cancel my membership in a car sharing service. The service itself is fine but I never use it and wanted to stop paying the monthly fee. I was hoping to be able to do this online, to avoid the inevitable sales pitch but, of course, they want you to go through the sales team. In any case, I called and spoke to Lloyd, who couldn’t have been nicer or more helpful, in spite of the fact that I was calling to cancel.

At the end of the call Lloyd asked the final ‘is there anything else I can do for you today?’ question, to which I replied ‘yes, I’d like to speak to your supervisor or manager to tell them how helpful you’ve been’. I love doing this. Not only does it reinforce good customer service but it also comes as a pleasant surprise to both the sales person and their manager. In addition, many call centres have points systems, so when you do take the time to provide positive feedback, the sales rep gets a ‘gold star’ and is often rewarded.

Is there a downside to doing this? Yes, sometimes you have to wait on hold for a bit to get the manager on the line, but that time is well spent because not only will you make their day, it will leave you feeling pretty good as well.

I highly recommend you try this the next time you get a nice person on the telephone.

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From Londoner to Torontonian…five years on

London to TorontoFive years ago today I arrived back in Canada, after almost two decades of living in London. Two years ago, I sat in my local Toronto cafe and reflected on my first three years back in Canada.

In that post I wondered what ‘the next three years’ would bring. Well, it’s only been two years and already the business has undergone a massive change: a change of name.

For the first seven years of its life my business was known as MAJ Communications. A name that meant (and still means) the world to me for many reasons, not least because it was a tribute to an incredible individual. However, from the start it proved a barrier when it came to helping others understand what the company did.

I knew, from early on, that a change was needed but it took a long time for me to be ready to make that change, let alone come up with something I wanted to change it to.

This past spring, with new growth sprouting, I had the moment of inspiration I needed and Polished Professionals came into existence.

I truly believe that the new name accurately reflects what I aim to achieve, on every front. Professional, polished behaviour is not about perfection, which is unrealistic (we are human, after all) but rather about having the skills, and understanding, to navigate all situations with grace and aplomb.

Five years on, Toronto continues to present both charms and challenges (don’t get this etiquette expert started on the TTC…) but by far the biggest reward has been the ability to build and grow a business that provides tools, and encompasses philosophies, I believe help everyone, both professionally and socially.

This post would not be complete without an enormous thank you to everyone, on both sides of the Atlantic and both ends of the continent, who has provided friendship, encouragement, support, nagging and love. With the biggest thanks of all to Mum.

I can hardly wait to see what the next five years bring.

___________________

 

Your Stories
We’ve all fallen foul of rude or thoughtless behaviour…sometimes it’s even we who have been guilty of it.

If you have a story you’d like to share, please feel free to send me a note and I’ll include it here.

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Accepting Compliments: Don’t do that. Do this instead.

This article is part of our Don’t do that. Do this instead series.*

Compliments are lovely.  We all like to hear nice things about ourselves, don’t we?

While most of us like hearing compliments, not many of us feel comfortable receiving them.

Justify a compliment: DON’T DO THAT

Instead of being left with a sense of accomplishment when someone pays us a compliment we find ourselves slightly embarrassed; we stumble for words, look at our feet and probably mutter something self-deprecating.

Often the conversations go something like this:

‘Job well done!’ …‘Oh, I was just doing my job.’

‘You look gorgeous!’ …‘Oh, I, um…in this old thing?’

‘Great presentation.’ …‘Oh, anyone could have done that.’

Not only does this leave us feeling slightly embarrassed but it also leaves the person giving the compliment feeling awkward and takes away from their good intentions. When we make excuses and try to rationalize the compliment we run the risk of turning it into a much bigger ‘event’ than the other person intended.

DO THIS INSTEAD: Say ‘thank you’

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Making Moves

Three years ago today I arrived back in Canada. As with all my continental moves, I had virtually no plan other than getting myself from A to B (you’d never know I DSC_0652organized stuff for a living…).

There have been ups, downs, ‘zeds’ for ‘s’s, crazy-busy jobs, crazy people, travel from coast to coast, humidex heat alerts, ice storms, the chance to see cherished old friends and the opportunity to make fabulous new ones.

The biggest change, though, has been being able to work full-time on developing my company. I’ve wanted to do this since Washington seven years ago and can’t believe I’ve finally got to a point where it’s possible. The germ was planted by Auntie Bubbles (40 years ago!), fostered by Mum and Dad (and Sandra & the Maj), executed by me, and helped along by countless others.

Although I miss Blighty (it’s my heart’s home) and ‘my’ people more than I can say, had I not made this move, in all its undefined-ed-ness, I would not be doing half of what I’ve managed so far. The trade-off of place is worth it; the benefits of new experiences and new friends, beyond measure.

Sitting writing this from my cosy local cafe, where I know the owners and locals alike and where I have made friends, it feels as though there might finally be roots extending into my ‘new’ community.

Three years is a tiny slice of time but it’s been immense to me in many ways. It’s gone by in a flash and I can only imagine what the next three will bring….perhaps an international division of MAJ Communications?

With love to my all my lovely, supportive, funny, crazy, loving and kind people, all over the world, who make living on any continent a true pleasure.

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