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.



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?



Why is etiquette important?

Happy Wednesday everyone! Today we ask (as you can see in the title of this post), why is etiquette important? A reader who agreed with yesterday’s post about saying please and thank you (to which we say thank you for reading, commenting and agreeing!) shared a link to his blog Middle Man. In it he writes:

“Manners, good and bad. Etiquette. Class. They have been much in the news recently. I am not entirely sure why this is newsworthy when there is a war on in Iraq and Afghanistan and a maniac gunman is massacring students in American universities. But, newsworthy it seems to be.”

To which I rambled on and on and on replied:  

… I’m convinced that if we keep spreading kindness, it’ll eventually catch on. Pollyanna-ish? Maybe, but I’m OK with being called that name — I’ve been called worse! As for the seemingly sudden interest in etiquette and manners, especially when there are so many more important things going on in the world, maybe because hate, war and all around sadness dominate the headlines, we are searching for goodness in ourselves and others. Also, as our respective countries become further  entwined via the global economy and our various ethnicities, cultures and religions clash and meld, we are compelled — or should be — to search for ways to get along socially and in business.

As Emily Post, the grande dame of etiquette said, “Etiquette is the science of living. It embraces everything. It is ethics. It is honor.” I couldn’t agree more.

Dear readers, if you know me at all, you know that this I believe (where’s Ira Glass?) with all of my pollyanna-ish heart. Please be kind  — maybe even learn to use the right fork, but that isn’t as important — and maybe, just maybe we can all just get along. Come on friends, help me spread good manners! I promise, it won’t hurt and, it might even help.

In unrelated business, happy Shark Week!

From the Preppy Princess

The Preppy Princess (master of fun photo finding) shared this on her Facebook page and we couldn’t resist reposting. We wish someone would do this to our office building. Sigh.



Please and thank you

“Whether one believes in a religion or not and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn’t anyone who doesn’t appreciate kindness and compassion. “ Dalai Lama

When you ask for something say “please.” If you get it or if someone does something nice for you, say “thank you.”

It really is that simple.



New places, new faces

During our recent travels through the South, we met scores of wonderful new people. In Mobile, we attended a magazine launch and visited several art galleries, gathering memories and business cards along the way. In New Orleans, we met fellow travelers, locals out on the town and locals working in the cafes, bars and restaurants, gathering more memories and names and e-mail addresses scribbled on scraps of paper and napkins.

Call us old-fashioned, but when we get a number or an e-mail, we follow-up with a thank you and an “it sure was nice to meet you.” We may or may not have the pleasure of ever again seeing our new friends and acquaintances, but either way, who doesn’t like to get a call, note or e-mail of hello and “thanks for the laughs” or “the suggestions of things to do and see” or “I hope to see  you again in September” from a person whose company you enjoyed? Also, it’s a great excuse to use the new fountain pen and paper you bought during your travels (see yesterday’s post).

Finally, if you don’t just want to be a lovely person leaving a trail of kindness and good will in your path, think of it as networking. One never knows where the next great opportunity might lie.



Etiquette shmetiquette

We recently took a poll on Facebook asking our friends what comes to mind when they hear the word etiquette.

For some, it conjured images of the grand dame of the genre Emily Post and for others, visions of charm school and being chastised for elbows on the table.

At it’s root and using Ms. Post’s philosophy, good manners is not about which fork you use, as much as it’s about being able to glide into any social situation and feel at ease. Also, it’s about making those around you comfortable. Etiquette is about ethics, honor and kindness, not rules and snobbery.

Here in these pages, we hope to explore the many ways etiquette can simplify our lives, help us get along and lift us to a higher standard of treating our loved ones and neighbors with kindness.

Those are things that never go out of style.


When you say I do, don’t do this …

In the world of wedding etiquette, there are a lot of do’s and don’ts. We could literally write volumes, and likely will over time, but since you are probably reading this at work, we’ll narrow this particular entry down to the top do’s and don’ts every bride should memorize.

For this task, we consulted with the lovely and talented Denise Silverman CEO of CLINK, a full-service event production agency that designs and coordinates special events, such as weddings. We’ve turned to Denise on myriad event issues over the years and she always has the answers.

So brides, take Denise’s advice and your wedding is sure to go off with the only hitch being the new one between you and your groom.

Denise Silverman’s top three do’s and don’ts of wedding etiquette:

1-Do: make it about your guests. It’s your wedding and it should reflect your tastes and style. But make sure your guests are comfortable and happy. Fabulous and plentiful food. Comfortable accommodations. Great music. etc.
2-Do: write your thank you notes in a timely manner.
3-Do: double-check all spellings for your invitations. How embarrassing it would be to spell the name of your venue wrong?
4-Do: Check Crane’s Blue Book for all modern invitation etiquette. Don’t make up your own wording without checking on modern rules of etiquette.

1. Don’t: put “children not welcome” on your invitations. The names on the envelope indicate who is invited (and not invited) to the wedding. You can also spread the word by word of mouth. Finally, if someone responds and puts their children’s names in the response, you may offer up some names/numbers for reputable babysitters.
2. Don’t: include your gift registries on your wedding invitations. This is TACKY.
3. Don’t tell your caterer you have fewer guests attending in order to pay less money. Running out of food is tacky and makes you and the caterer look bad.

Thank you for sharing your expertise Denise!



Monday manners moment: Crossing guard

In this day and age, one would think the last thing a lady needs to worry about is being judged by the cross of her legs. That said, the way you sit can say a lot about you.

We all know that when wearing a skirt, we should keep it classy and avoid anything that could be remotely compared to that Sharon Stone-in-a-white-dress-move from “Basic Instinct.”  Even crossing at the knees however can prove too revealing, for example, in the thigh area, depending on the length of the skirt.

The safest stance in the leg-crossing arsenal, for any occasion and any outfit is to either move both feet to the side, knees closed, with both heels on the ground or with heels crossed. The most important thing to remember here is to keep your knees closed part, otherwise you may end up revealing a little too much about yourself.

Some things are better left a mystery.



Charm, style and grace (kelly)

The other day, while perusing the newsstand at Barnes and Noble, I was struck by the cover of the May issue of Vanity Fair. Peeking out between magazines featuring Tiger’s mistresses and Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton (“People” and “Newsweek,” respectively), was the cool, controlled gaze of Grace Kelly.

From http://www.vanityfair.com: Grace Kelly for “Life” magazine wearing the gown designed by Edith Head that she wore to the 1955 Academy Awards. © Philippe Halsman/Magnum Photos.

Few women in the world, now or in the past, (even January Jones, who is practically Kelly’s twin in AMC’s “Mad Men”) personify the charm, style and grace of Kelly. And if ever there was a time that we needed a role model who stands for elegance, manners, self-possession, sensuality and sheer class — in this post Emily Post America, where scandal, vulgarity, incivility and gossip reign supreme — it is now.

With all due respect to Jackie O, the beyond reproach Audrey Hepburn and our ever-stylish and gracious current First Lady, Michelle Obama, I vote for Kelly.

Perhaps our feminist friends would disagree, but we at Re-find would go so far as to say Kelly was a very modern woman who was ahead of her time. She broke the mold in her conservative Irish-Catholic family to pursue acting (against her father’s wishes) and she remained in control of her career, class, finances and fame when many actresses around her succumbed to the pitfalls often associated with life in Hollywood.

Click here to read more in the excellent VF piece on Kelly’s life, career, marriage into Monaco’s royal family and untimely death.

Something we could all learn from Kelly is her innate sense of quality over quantity. Whether it was the amount of skin showing through the neckline of her dress or a suggestive kiss with the leading man in one of her movies, she always left people wanting more.



Hemline v. Handbag

On Saturday, M, the Mister and friends enjoyed a lovely day at the races, in honor of the Kentucky Derby. Sam Houston Race Park was bustling with people from everywhere, wearing everything. It was truly an anything goes type of day, as it should be.

Our merry band opted to don full Derby regalia. Hats and dresses for the ladies, seersucker for the gentleman. We smiled and nodded to our comrades in chapeau and appreciated the creative, the classy and the humorous throughout the day. One gal however, bless her heart, was a little too stingy with her hemline.

As she strode in front of the rail, we saw a tiny girl, with a giant bag and lots and lots of leg. Lest you think the Re-find gang is prudish, we should mention that we are in favor of a lady highlighting her best features. That said, one must use a bit of restraint where the showing of skin is concerned. While a little leg is lovely, to avoid seeming to be sans slacks or skirt — gasp! — one should consider either a bag that doesn’t cover the hemline or a hemline that falls below the bag.

Words to live by.