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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Handshakes: They speak volumes, what’s yours saying?

Handshakes been in the news lately, so we though it was time to take a look at what they communicate – and how to make sure yours is the best it can be! 

Here are some quick tips and pointers to ensure that yours is always polished, professional and confident.  Remember to add a smile and eye contact to take your greeting to the next level!

I’d love to hear if you’ve hand any funny, telling, successful or disastrous handshake experiences send us a note.

We’d also love you to join the conversation 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 Spirit of the Season

Holiday Greetings from Polished Professionals


December is almost here and our thoughts are turning to our various holidays, and these days that gives way to the inevitable discussion about ‘holiday’ greetings.

Over the past number of years I’ve seen an increase in the number of “It’s not Happy Holidays, it’s MERRY CHRISTMAS” posts, and I find these unfortunate.  The frustration that leaps from these posts is palpable, but I’m not entirely sure where it comes from – when any greeting is given in warmth and friendship we ought to receive it the same way.

Whether your faith or belief system is based in deep religious roots, or a certainty that Santa does live at the North Pole, it should not be so easily shaken that you rail against a ‘happy’ greeting.  Instead of worrying which greeting is used, we ought to recognize that the words (no matter which ones they are) come from a place of affection and warmth.

I think that we are immensely fortunate living where we do, and when we do: our melting-pot-cities and societies are made up of many traditions and holidays, and this is what gives our lives richness and depth. Let’s embrace it, not fight it.

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Putting Presence in your Presents

Delivering PresentsThis time of year – a time of peace and goodwill – can be one of the most stressful for us, particularly when it comes to buying presents. We often feel an enormous amount of pressure to get it all ‘right’.  To help ease some of the strain, I’ve come up with a few suggestions.

How do I decide?
Generally we give presents because it feels nice to make others happy, right? Therefore the key thing is to give our purchases some thought. Even a little goes a long way.

“Sure”, I hear you say, “but where do I start?”

Start by making a short list of some of the things you know about the recipient – even as few as five things will give you ideas (and if you don’t know five things about them, do you really need to give them a present?). For instance, a list about me would look like this:

  • Wears jewellery
  • Reads biographies
  • Likes a nice G&T
  • Loves tea
  • Hates being cold

Now you have at least five ideas of presents that would be very well received.

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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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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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