Flu season etiquette

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Throughout each week, I meet with countless editors, public relations and marketing people, other reporters, sources and of course friends and family. There always is a lot of handshaking, hugging and likely a few pecks on the cheek. I’m a huggy, kissy, handshakey kind of gal, so alll of the above is fantastic — except during cold and flu season.

I had this conversation at a recent happy hour meeting with a long-time source. He owns a successful PR firm and is shaking hands all day. Between sipping bubbles and sharing cheese, he mindfully slipped off to the washroom to give his hands a good scrub. We discussed our flu-avoidance strategies, which for us both involves loads of hand sanitizer (I keep a bottle stashed in the car and in my purse) and frequent handwashing.

One could avoid handshaking and opt for a quick fist bump a la notable germ-o-phobe Howie Mandell. This is acceptable only if you know the other party very well and are in a casual environment. I do not recommend it in business meetings outside the music industry or you likely will be be met with confused looks and awkward moments.

If you already are sick and staying home is not an option, it’s acceptable to head friends and associates off at the pass and preempt contact with a simple, “You may not want to shake hands with me. I think I’m coming down with something.” A source did this with me at lunch last week and I was grateful to her for it.

At home, be sure to swap communal hand towels in the washroom and kitchen with fresh, clean replacements throughout the week. If they aren’t delicate linen or vintage, wash them in hot water as an added measure.

It’s both proper work etiquette and good common sense to wipe down desks, phones, keyboards and other items at your work station with disinfectant a couple of times per week. Offices are a cestpool of germs and desks and keyboards are where everything disgusting and contageous go to live. Do yourself and your co-workers a favor and clean often.

Finally, always sneeze into the inside of your elbow — NOT in your hands. But you already knew that one, right?

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Question: If I buy a drink for a friend, is he obligated to leave the tip?

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Today’s question surrounds cocktail etiquitte. The asker wants to know if when buying drinks for a friend, if the friend is obligated to offer up the tip. Also, if said friend doesn’t, does the buyer have the right to be annoyed?

We advise that while it would be a lovely gesture for the friend to offer the tip, he isn’t obligated to do it. If he doesn’t, it’s of course a free country, but it was a gift to buy the drink, so you are obligated to absorb the cost of the tip and keep your annoyance to yourself. After all, you knew that was part of it when you bought the round. No matter what though, a hearty thank you is required and cheers to the buyer’s health.

This conversation does have us thinking that from now on, we’ll at least offer up tip money when given the gift of a delicious adult beverage.

What do you think? To offer tip or not to offer tip?

Cheers!
M

Re-find women: Ladies who inspire

Today, we are starting a new feature called “Re-find women: Ladies who inspire.” Our first lady is a dear friend, Rita Marroquin.

Re-find lady Rita Marroquin

Rita is an Independent Stylist with Stella & Dot Jewelry (click here to visit her site), is in school at the Aveda Institute to become an esthetician, teaches fitness classes, feeds the homeless, mentors at-risk youth, volunteers with cooking classes at Central Market, runs in tons of races and does it all with class, style and a beautiful spirit.

We are so proud to call Rita a friend and so inspired by her can-do attitude and fearlessness in life and in making a complete career change by starting her Stella & Dot business and going to school.

Thanks for the inspiration Rita!

Cheers!

Melanie

The definitive guide to e-mail etiquette

Today we are caught up in a whirlwind of production for the day job newspaper duties, so this will a brief, albeit important missive. Click here for what we at Re-find think is the best, quick hit list of e-mail etiquette tips we’ve seen to date.

Admittedly, we’ve committed one or two on this list, but we give ourselves points for getting it mostly right most of the time. We are however fans of emoticons and when e-mailing other emoticon-o-philes, we let our guard down and smiley face with the best of ’em.

Enjoy the list and when you are done, share with us your e-mail etiquette pet peeves.

Cheers!

 

Common courtesy makes you uncommon

Hello, readers. Today, let’s discuss common courtesy. It’s the little things that matter, such as listening, saying please and thank you and as we’ve said 8,352 times, essentially, just being kind. This is particularly important in business.

Yesterday, we read this blog post on Peter Shankman’s blog (he’s the social media entrepreneur/author/all around adventurous guy). The post is called, “Five things people don’t do — that you should,” and we agree 100 percent with everything on this list, not only for business, but for all areas of life.

Tips such as “pay attention,” and “know when to shut up” can go a long way and, as Shankman mentions, help you stand out from the crowd both professionally and personally, because frankly, most people don’t do either one.

If we only did those two things, imagine how much more people would want to be around us and work with us. Read the entire list, it’s good stuff.

Cheers!

M

Mr. Telephone Man: The new phone etiquette

Hello! Today, we’d like to discuss telephone etiquette. Who actually calls anyone these days, right? Which is why we feel a little refresher course is in order.

No calls after 10 p.m.

Recently, a reader told us the harrowing tale of 1:30 a.m. call from a hammered merrymaking friend. During the work week. No, it was not, as she worried, an emergency, which we both agreed is the only time adult humans should call one another at 1:30 a.m. Otherwise, consider the “cutoff” 10 p.m. for the childfree and 9 p.m. for parents, unless you literally just left that person after cocktails, dancing or some other event or you’ve been told specifically by the other party that calling later is A-OK. (Enjoy this clip from “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” where Larry thinks the “cutoff” is 10:30 p.m. and he gets a lesson from Julia Louis-Dreyfus).

This morning, we received a lovely text message at approximately 7 a.m. (CST) from a much-loved family member in the Eastern timezone, where — if you don’t want to do the math — it was around 8 a.m. Normally, we’d be against any form of communication at this hour, but we’ll give him a hall pass, because he knows what time the Re-find gang gets movin’ in the  mornin’. Typically, one should refrain from calling until after 9 p.m. in the timezone of the other party.

Please note that the same rules apply for texting, because many people keep cell phones near the bed for reasons we can’t fathom, other than perhaps they don’t own an alarm clock.

Additional things to note:

When you call, ask “Is this a good time?”

If you are the caller, it is up to you to end the call in a timely fashion. The recipient is at your mercy, don’t make it awkward for him or her.

Try “setting an appointment” first, so that you can ensure that it’s a good time to chat and that the person isn’t caught off guard, because quite frankly, the telephone is an interruption, no matter how cute the ringtone.

Speaking of ringtones, go with the least annoying type and keep it on a low volume. Don’t be “that person.”

Speaking of “that person” don’t have private conversations in public, where others can overhear; don’t talk loud, you aren’t that important, even if you are that important; don’t talk or text or FB or anything involving your phone at the dinner table or when you are supposed to be socializing with the people in front of you.

And breathe.

If you want to read more about phone culture, read this fun story from the New York Times, “Don’t call me, I won’t call you.”

What’s your biggest phone etiquette pet peeve?

On that note, have a great day! We’ll call you later.

Cheers!

Gossip girls

We have a confession to make to you today kind readers. We are absolutely the worst gossips on the planet here at Re-find. We aren’t proud of it, but alas it’s true. Thankfully, our affliction doesn’t cross over to telling things told to us in confidence, so your secret truly is safe with us. But we love to dish with friends about celebs and — we’re so sorry — regular folks in our orbit. Why are we confessing it? Because we are resolving to stop so much darned gossiping in 2011.

"Gossip" by Norman Rockwell

We blame it on being a reporter, but we know that’s just a convenient excuse. Gossip at its best is frivolous and at its worst, unkind and you know how much we dislike unkindness. That said, we came across this really funny quote about gossip while preparing for this blog entry:

“It’s perfectly monstrous the way people go about nowadays saying things against one, behind one’s back, that are absolutely and entirely true,” Oscar Wilde

We are shaking our heads at ourselves as we type!

Interestingly, studies over the past five years have yielded interesting results, such as that men gossip more than women and that gossip is only about 5 percent malicious, which you can read more about in a 2009 article from the N.Y. Daily News.

Are you a gossip? Would you, could you give it up? We promise, we won’t tell anyone.

Cheers!

M


Resolve to avoid digital mistakes in 2011

Today, we offer up some excellent advice regarding digital resolutions for the New Year. On the CNN site, in 7 Digital Mistakes to Avoid Brenna Ehrlich and Andrea Bartz of the blog and book Stuff Hipsters Hate (and also news editors at Mashable.com and Psychology Today, respectively), give us a few tips for keeping the online embarrassment and bad net-and-etiquette to a minimum in 2011.

We are especially partial to 1, 5, 6 and 7.

(CNN) — Ah, 2011. A new year and a prime time to make resolutions — a word that stems from the Latin word resolutio, which roughly translates to “intense self-flagellation followed by structured reflection on the things you hate about yourself.”

Allow us to aid you in this endeavor.

Now that you’ve finally finished reading dozens of surprisingly obnoxious top 10 lists, we’re going to start the year off with a review of seven equally obnoxious netiquette faux pas to avoid in ’11.

Think of it as a quick precis of all the dumb moves we tried to shake out of you in 2010 (research, after all, shows that refreshing your memory at spaced-out intervals is key to remembering stuff long-term).

No reverse-order countdown, though. After all, this isn’t a moment of Joose-fueled chanting in Times Square.

Say it with me, now. In 2011, I will not …

1. … send an unspeakably rude e-mail to one of my employees or co-workers.

“?!” alone does not an e-mail make. Forgetting your “pleases” and “thank yous”? Just as bad. Carpal tunnel syndrome be damned, make this the year you actually tap out respectful missives to those in your midst.

2. … chase a messy breakup with sad-clown Facebook statuses and hours of sob-wracked ex stalking.

Quit squeezing lemon juice on your wounds. Apps like Avoidr and the Ex Blocker (which, yes, we inspired by sighing loudly and whining, “Why can’t someone make my loser exes disappear?”) make moving on … well, not as easy as it was in pre-digital times, but fairly comparable.

3. … waste everyone’s time with inane tweets.

Yes, Twitter can be a repository for banal thoughts and stomach-churning overshares. It can also be a useful tool for sharing links, connecting with online and real-life friends, and adding to the general conversation.

(Hey, don’t laugh — remember how the Library of Congress deemed this all archive-worthy? Five hundred years from now, they’ll be like, “Whoa, those 2010-era plebeians were really into laser cats. That must mean something.”)

Aim to give each tweet a bit of value: a tip, a crowdsource attempt, even a little zing to get your followers to :).

4. … keep my wedding photo as my Facebook profile pic for five months or more.

That’s really great that you got married. However, my congratulatory spirit wore out approximately 4.5 months ago. Time to go back to being a Person With a Personality instead of just a Bride, mmkay?

5. … leave offensive, sexist, childish or straight-up stupid comments.

Actual responses and commentary are the lovely nerve network of Web 2.0. As for the trash: Yeah, instead of bothering with the noncontribution, we suggest you check out the billions of other things you could be browsing on the www this very minute. Problem: solved.

6. … drunk-text.

Or drunk-tweet. Or drunk-e-mail. Or drunk-update-le-Facebook-status.

It’s 2011, folks — of course the coders who hand you such digital Tommy guns have figured out how to add safety latches. Apps like Mail Goggles and the social media sobriety test mitigate the damage.

If only you’d done some sober installing before your big NYE open bar, the decade might’ve begun on a much less sloppy, indelicate foot.

7. … peck away at my smartphone during dinner.

Or brunch, or really any moment involving real-life interaction — because it’s incredibly impolite and likely detrimental to your ability to enjoy a tender interaction or a crisp walk through the park.

Look, if there’s one addiction worth breaking this year, it’s your clinically significant dependence on regular CrackBerry checks. Because let’s face it, the whiskey binges and late-night Cheetos you swore off on 1/1/11 aren’t going anywhere.

These are resolutions we can get behind here at Re-find. Do you have any tips to add to this list?

Cheers!

M

Use your words

Yesterday, we discussed starting off the year by writing thank you cards to those who gave us an unexpected gift during the holidays. Today, we offer another resolution: Why not resolve to leave the locker room talk in the locker room? A dirty mouth just isn’t pretty. Exhibit A:

Dirty mouth!

We’ve touched on this subject in the past, but feel it bears repeating. There was a time when those of us at Re-find didn’t mind f-bomb laden discourse. After all, we’ve worked in newsrooms for years. We’d wave off apologies from the men who normally tried to watch their mouths around a lady, but let a dirty word slip. We’d laugh when our girlfriends let the four letter words fly. In fact, we confess, we’d jump right on into the gutter with everyone else.

But, as the years roll on, we are trying to clean up our language. Old habits die-hard, but we know the impact of words and we think it’s important to be mindful of what we say — especially in mixed company. Also, we find ourselves becoming slightly put off when the men in our world see fit to talk like sailors, with no regard to the fact that they are in the company of ladies. Frankly, we think men are probably put off as well when we revert to our potty mouth ways. Let’s face it, cursing is just not becoming for either sex.

At the heart of the matter, don’t we all want to be treated with respect in thoughts, words and actions?

This year, let’s use our (clean) words.

That said, don’t let us put words into your mouth, however clean. What do you think about cursing? Does it matter? Do you feel disrespected or put off by it? Ladies, is it a way in business to show that you can hang with the boys? Gentlemen, do you care if your lovely lady has a dirty mouth?

Cheers!

M

Celebrate kindness

Hello and happy 2011!

After a short hiatus, we are back and ready to celebrate the many ways we can spread kindness and good manners.

First, let’s bid adieu to 2010, with this symbolic photo:

 

Bye-bye 2010

 

Now, it’s time to tackle the etiquette, style and grace issues of this brave new year. The No. 1 order of business, thank you notes.

We are fortunate enough to have received gifts from a few friends and acquaintances from whom we didn’t expect a thing. It’s so important to acknowledge these kindnesses, whether or not you intend to reciprocate. To make this task more enjoyable, we recommend you pour a cup or glass of your favorite bevvy, find the pen you most enjoy using and dig out that lovely paper you have tucked away for just this sort of thing. You might even want to light a scented candle, who are we to judge?

Simply thank the giver, tell them how you have used or intend to use the item and sign it with your usual salutations. For example,

Dear Sally,

The gorgeous scarf you gave me for Christmas is an absolute hit! It complimented my various holiday ensembles so well, I wore it to nearly every fete. Thank you so much for thinking of me amidst the hustle and bustle of the season.

With love,

Jill

It’s really just that simple and what with your delicious couple of glasses glass of wine, it was also a treat.

May your 2011 be filled with many treats and even more reasons to say thank you.

Cheers!

Melanie