House-train your children

Since it’s Friday, the weather is gorgeous and we are struggling to concentrate on anything whatsoever, we decided to let David Brooks do all of the heavy lifting and wordsmithing today.

In his most recent column in the New York Times, “The Facebook Searchers,” Brooks offers his point of view on the new Aaron Sorkin movie, “The Social Network.” Referring to the heroically intelligent character based on Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, Brooks writes:

What he is lacking is even more striking. The Zuckerberg character is without social and moral skills. It’s not that he’s a bad person. He’s just never been house-trained. He’s been raised in a culture reticent to talk about social and moral conduct. The character becomes a global business star without getting a first-grade education in interaction.

See dear readers, this is what we’ve been telling everyone who will listen: please house-train your children!

In some cases, also please house-train yourself and your better half if it didn’t happen growing up. It’s never too late to grow social graces and good manners and it will make life easier for everyone involved, whether it be in business or in social realms.

Have a happy weekend and cheers!

M

 

The etiquette of politics: oxymoron?

Some say one should never discuss religion or politics in mixed company. Or at the dinner table. Or on Facebook. Or with anyone you may actually ever want to remain on speaking terms. In some cases, we would agree, however there is a way to discuss these things without starting World War III with your uncle/friend/coworker/high school math teacher on Facebook — civility.

It seems many in our society are a bit hazy on the meaning of the word civility, so here is a little help from Merriam-Webster:

ci ● vil ● i ● ty
noun \sə-`vi-lə-tē\ 
Definition of CIVILITY
a : civilized conduct; especially courtesy, politeness b : a polite act or expression

Now that we are all on the same page, let’s discuss how to put this into thought and action with a few do’s and don’ts:

Do

Listen with an open mind and a closed mouth

Politely ask questions

Don’t

Interrupt

Attack

Name call

Ben Franklin used to employ the questions method when debating his foes. By imploring, almost playing the part of an uninformed seeker, you get to the heart of the other person’s knowledge on the subject at hand. In most cases, his or her background information is rather on the surface and after a few pointed questions, they will fizzle out or back down. As stated in “The Autobiography of Mark Twain”:

“In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”

(We don’t advocate telling people their opinions aren’t worth a brass farthing, but we giggle when Mark Twain says it.)

Consider yourself warned that if you use Ben Franklin’s technique, as much as most people will falter when asked to fully develop their ideas and opinions, if the person knows their stuff — and you listen to the answers to your own questions — you might just learn something.

If all else fails and you are dealing with a truly warped and ill-informed ninny soul, change the subject.

Cheers!

M

Tuesday turnaround

Happy Tuesday readers! Today, we decided to turn things around and ask you about your top etiquette pet peeves. From people eating with their mouths open and oversharing to bad hygiene and bad FB habits, let’s gab about what makes you gasp. For example, people who drink too much and behave badly. Exhibit A:  

Image courtesy AMC Mad Men

Mad Men’s Don Draper is smart, charming, elegant and mysterious, but we all know when he drinks too much, he is a naughty boy. OK, he’s bad with or without the booze, but you get our meaning.

So, post your comments here, on Facebook or Twitter or shoot us an e-mail at charmfinder@gmail.com and tell us what offends you or what society could do to re-find its style, sophistication and respectability.

Cheers!

M

Oops, we did it again

As you know, we at Re-find could do without oversharing. We first posted the below entry on May 6, 2010 and have vowed to continue periodically posting it until people get the message. So, in case you haven’t heard …

There is a disease spreading across America. It’s a silent killer of friendships and co-worker relationships. It strikes when you least expect it: at the grocery store, in the office, on Twitter. This preventable disease is commonly known as: too much information.

If we at Re-find could be known for only one good deed, we’d pick curing TMI. A lot of people like to blame the spread of TMI on the Internet and sites such as the above mentioned Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites, but we all know that oversharing has been around for a very long time.

Unfortunately, we’ve all been within earshot of some stranger’s loud cell phone call, in which, for example, he or she is describing in detail the lancing of a boil. Similarly, we’ve been approached by a colleague who insists upon informing us of the argument he had with his wife or partner the night before or worse, about the makeup relations they had after the fight.

There are two ways to begin the process of eradicating TMI:

1) Lead by example — There is something to be said for mystery. By keeping some areas of our lives (the bathroom, the doctor’s office, the bathroom) to ourselves, not only do we allow ourselves to move through life with a bit more dignity, but we allow people to get to know us over time. Friendship is a process and if we divulge too much too soon, our relationships don’t develop organically. Also, especially in the workplace, we need to maintain a certain degree of professional distance, so that our co-workers can continue to respect us and our work and are not distracted by our latest crisis or unpleasant outpatient medical procedure.

2) Removal — When someone is oversharing  with you, there is no reason you can’t politely remove yourself from the offending conversation. Just say, “Would you please excuse me for a moment,” and go to the powder room or tend to a task. Also, you can change the subject. If that doesn’t work, shoot me an e-mail and we’ll come up with a solution specific to your problem.

Let’s do our part to cure TMI.

Cheers!

M

Speak up about speakerphones

Yesterday a reader posted the following on the Re-find Facebook page:

“Please post some proper speakerphone etiquette. I would always like to be asked for my permission before someone (who obviously cannot give me their full attention) puts me on speaker.”

The quick response we gave is that one should always let the other party know when they are on speakerphone, especially if others are in the room.

To expand on that a bit, if you are in the middle of another task, rather than put the other party on speakerphone, ask if you can call them back when you are able to give them your full attention. This will make them feel more appreciated during the later conversation and will allow you to focus on the task at hand. Just don’t forget to call back.

In our experience, most people don’t like to be on speakerphone at all, so avoid it when possible, unless you are including someone else in the room on the call — with the knowledge and permission of the person on the other end of the line, as mentioned.

Another occasion that gets the Re-find speakerphone hall pass is if you or the other party uses hearing aids, because the hearing device can produce feedback when it’s against a phone. This one is close to our hearts, because the speakerphone option has allowed us to have much better — and quieter — conversations with dear old Dad.

Finally, if you need to go hands-free in order to perform a task that must be completed during the phone conversation, you may ask, “Is it OK if I put you on speakerphone for a minute, so you can walk me through the process of defusing the bomb?”

So, to recap, 99 percent of the time, it’s better to forgo the awkward speakerphone business and just tell your friend, parent, the guy from Verizon offering you an upgraded plan, child, neighbor or whomever, that you will call them back in a minute, after you’ve finished changing that diaper; strength training; tweeting; watering the plants at the office; driving; or whatever it is that you do instead of listening intently to the person on the other end of the iPhone. 

When you are done with your chores, pour yourself a lovely glass of wine or coffee, sit down in a comfortable chair and return the call — no speaker phone required. Doesn’t that sound a lot more pleasant?

Cheers!

M

TMI: A race for the cure (revisited)

(First posted May 6, 2010 — and we will keep posting, thank you very much)

There is a disease spreading across America. It’s a silent killer of friendships and co-worker relationships. It strikes when you least expect it: at the grocery store, in the office, on Twitter. This preventable disease is commonly known as: too much information.

If we at Re-find could be known for only one good deed, we’d pick curing TMI. A lot of people like to blame the spread of TMI on the Internet and sites such as the above mentioned Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites, but we all know that oversharing has been around for a very long time.

Unfortunately, we’ve all been within earshot of some stranger’s loud cell phone call, in which, for example, he or she is describing in detail the lancing of a boil. Similarly, we’ve been approached by a colleague who insists upon informing us of the argument he had with his wife or partner the night before or worse, about the makeup relations they had after the fight.

There are two ways to begin the process of eradicating TMI:

1) Lead by example — There is something to be said for mystery. By keeping some areas of our lives (the bathroom, the doctor’s office, the bathroom) to ourselves, not only do we allow ourselves to move through life with a bit more dignity, but we allow people to get to know us over time. Friendship is a process and if we divulge too much too soon, our relationships don’t develop organically. Also, especially in the workplace, we need to maintain a certain degree of professional distance, so that our co-workers can continue to respect us and our work and are not distracted by our latest crisis or unpleasant outpatient medical procedure.

2) Removal — When someone is oversharing  with you, there is no reason you can’t politely remove yourself from the offending conversation. Just say, “Would you please excuse me for a moment,” and go to the powder room or tend to a task. Also, you can change the subject. If that doesn’t work, shoot me an e-mail and we’ll come up with a solution specific to your problem.

Let’s do our part to cure TMI.

Cheers!

M

Hello Facebook friend. Who are you?

Recently, a Facebook friend brought up his annoyance with people he doesn’t know who send a friendship request, but have all of their information blocked, so that he can’t learn anything about them or learn a connection. He responds by clicking ignore.

At Re-find, we make it a point to send a message along with the friend request. This way, we can either remind our acquaintance of our connections or mention our reason for wanting to network. We liken this to introducing ourselves to strangers at a party or any other gathering. Even if we’ve met the person one, two or even three times in the past, we can’t assume they remember us or our names.

A brief intro or re-introduction can go a long way face-to-face or on Facebook.

Cheers!
M