Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
What inspired you to start The Protocol School of Palm Beach?
For almost six years, I was the assistant director of public relations for The Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida. While there, I was responsible for promoting the hotel’s special events…one being the Annual Etiquette Camp for Children and Adults. In 1994, I decided to participate in the Etiquette Camp for Adults and I absolutely loved it! The instructor recommended that I take her “train-the-trainer” course in Washington, D.C. so I could receive a certification and eventually teach etiquette to others and eventually start my own etiquette business if I ever wanted to. In 1995, I followed her advice and attended her school and started teaching classes to the hotel staff in my spare time. As fate would have it, my job was eliminated in August 1998 and I immediately started my business. I took my severance pay and purchased a computer, printer and fax machine and my husband and I converted our tiny attic into an office.
In your experience, what is the most common etiquette mistake made in social situations?
It’s amazing how many people talk and text on their cell phones while still trying to have a conversation with another person.
How did we end up on Planet Rude and when is the mothership coming back for us?
I am an optimist so I believe that people are inherently good…they just don’t get any credit for it. The media also places more emphasis on wrongdoings. That’s why it seems that our society is becoming ruder by the day. I also think that some people simply don’t know any better and don’t realize that they are being rude. After all, not everyone reads etiquette books or grows up learning proper manners. In my opinion, there are many factors responsible for the decline in civility and manners.
First, we have lost a sense of “community” that was once experienced by our parents and grandparents. We don’t talk to our neighbors anymore. We don’t work for the same company as long as our parents or grandparents did. We tend to relocate more frequently. We don’t sit down as a family at the dinner table anymore. Fast food has become the norm. We have isolated ourselves, using technology as a barrier or a safety net. People will often say things on the Internet that they would never say to someone’s face.
People are overworked, overstressed, sleep deprived and always in a hurry. This causes people to lash out. Long gone are the days where you can pick up the phone to call customer service and get a live voice. Where is the service in that? I could go on and on.
What’s the most fun part of your work?
I love having my own business for many reasons but the main reason is it affords me the flexibility to work at home and work as many hours that I want to work. As a result, I can spend more time with my family and friends.
I love every aspect of my business – writing, speaking, researching, product development, sales and yes, even accounting. I am an actor at heart and love being on stage. I love making an impact on other people’s lives. My work doesn’t feel like work to me. I look forward to each new day. I am truly living my passion!
You’ve met countless celebrities and dignitaries. For jet-setters-in-training who are gradually moving into more exclusive circles, what is appropriate behavior when meeting celebrities and dignitaries (assuming that we can remain conscious and don’t lose our sense of speech)?
Before I became an etiquette expert, I always thought celebrities and dignitaries were bigger than life, untouchable and were not like you and me. Quite the contrary. Celebrities and dignitaries are just ordinary people leading extraordinary lives. They are just like you and me. They just have bigger houses, drive bigger cars, have a bigger bank accounts and have bigger problems. They work all the time and most have reached the pinnacle of their success as a result of working extremely hard and making sacrifices that the ordinary person wouldn’t make. Their “real” friends are few and far between.
I find it’s easier to approach a famous person if you ask someone of importance to introduce you. That person is called a “connector.” You will be viewed as more important if someone the celebrity knows or trusts introduces you. When I was researching famous people to endorse my book, “Business Class,” I did not approach them directly. I found someone who knew them personally and asked that person to make the introduction for me. It was much easier getting an endorsement by using that approach. And once I got one famous person to endorse my book, I used their name to get the second, third and forth endorsement.
What is the best way to handle rude or snobbish people without unleashing one’s inner bitch?
First, you don’t want to give that rude or snobbish person more power by fighting fire with fire. My mother always said, “Killem’ with kindness.” This is easier said than done for most of us. For example if I am at a check-out line in the grocery store and the cashier doesn’t say hello or look me in the eye, I will oftentimes look at her nametag, greet her by name and ask her about her day. This simple technique will usually break the ice. Keep in mind that you may be the only person who was nice to that cashier all day because you took the time and made the effort.
I’m absolutely terrible with small talk. Do you have a suggestion for making great conversation with new people?
Just last night I attended a birthday party for my friend, Donny. After getting a drink, I sat down at a table with a group of strangers. As soon as I sat down, I smiled and said hello and introduced myself to every person at the table. In turn, each person smiled and introduced themselves. Before I could utter another word the woman next to me asked, “How do you know Donny?” This was an instant ice breaker! Everyone in the room had one thing in common…we were all there to celebrate our friend’s birthday. In short, it’s very easy to start a conversation when you have something in common with another person. If you don’t know what you have in common, you’ve got to ask the right questions and find a commonality. That means you ask a few good opening questions and then shut up. In other words, when you’re listening, you’re learning about someone else. When you’re talking, you’re not learning a thing.
If someone is invited to a major event, such as a ball or high-profile awards ceremony, but they’re on a limited budget, what would you suggest as appropriate attire to make a good impression?
I love to shop at consignment stores because I can always find a great outfit at an affordable price. Or if you have a friend with great taste who is your same size, ask to borrow an outfit from them as long as you pay for the dry cleaning bill. If neither one of these suggestions work for you, go out and buy a basic black suit. No need to spend a lot of money. Pair it with a colorful silk blouse and add fun, funky or elegant accessories. Get over the fact that everyone is going to scrutinize your outfit (unless you’re going to be presenting or receiving an award). Most people won’t remember what you wear but they WILL remember the wonderful conversation they had with you!
What’s your favorite travel destination and why?
This is a tough question because I can always find something wonderful to do wherever I travel. I meet more people when I travel by myself. It forces me to ask questions and make friends with strangers. Aside from that, I have to say that one of my most memorable trips was when my husband and I went to Greece on our honeymoon in 1998. Santorini is one of the most beautiful and romantic places on earth! I love the food and the culture. I especially like the fact that no one seems to be in a hurry.
July is National Cellphone Courtesy Month. What should everyone do to be more considerate of others?
I founded National Cellphone Courtesy Month in 2002 in an effort to help teach people how to be more courteous while talking on their cellphones.
Monday, July 20, 2009
If you feel like you’re still recovering from last year’s summer travel season - made memorable by incredibly long lines at the airport, long delays when traveling to visit relatives and poor service at restaurants - you’re not alone. The summer travel season can be one of the most stressful times of the year.
To cool down the heat of summer travel try these traveler’s smart strategies:
Make restaurant reservations three weeks in advance of any summer holidays. Don’t leave booking that special restaurant till the last minute. Be sure to avoid problems by confirming all restaurant reservations at least one day before. If you have special food requirements let the restaurant know this when you call to make the reservation. Lastly, plan on arriving early for your reservation, this will allow for delays caused by holiday traffic.
If your flight is significantly delayed or canceled, don’t stand in line. Instead, use your cellular phone to call the airline directly. They’ll make travel arrangements for you by phone much faster than a harried gate agent with 200 other people in line with the same problem to solve.
Get the service provider on your side. Make direct eye contact with the person helping you as soon as possible, greet them with a pleasant “good morning” or and use the word “please” within the first 30 seconds. Use “I” Statements and avoid “you” statements so the service provider doesn’t get put on the defensive. For instance, “I’m frustrated that I can’t get help” works better than “ You are not being helpful.”
Ship gifts ahead of time. If you’re visiting family this summer, why stress out yourself and anger other passengers by trying to stuff your gifts in an overhead compartment on a busy full flight? Instead save yourself the trouble by mailing all packages to your final destination at least one week prior to arrival. If you have to take last minute gifts with you, wrap them carefully and check them at curbside.
Use the knowledge of the service person to help you solve your problem. If you need help in solving a problem ask the service person “What would you recommend I do?” and then stay silent. By giving them a minute to think about it, they will often come up with a workable solution.
Always write down the name of whomever helps you . This way, if there’s a problem later on, you’ll be able to resolve it quicker when you can give the name of the specific person who provided you with the information or a promise.
Buy a copy of Time Management In An Instant the week of July 20th and receive a free license to view the Essential Email online course. To buy the book and claim your bonus, or just to buy the book go to: http://www.quality-service.com/timemanagementinaninstant
Karen Leland and Keith Bailey are the bestselling authors of six books including Time Management In An Instant: 60 Ways to Make the Most of Your Day. They are the co-founders of Sterling Consulting Group, which helps organizations and individuals learn how to fight distraction and find their focus in a wired world. For more information please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, July 06, 2009
In the June 30, 2009 issue of Wine Spectator, editor-at-large Harvey Steiman had these suggestions. Steiman recommends that, even though a screw cap reduces a wine's risk of suffering TCA contamination, it is important that the sommelier or waiter present the bottle itself as he or she would a cork-sealed wine before opening it, so that the customer can verify that it is indeed the label and vintage ordered, and that they give the customer a taste before filling the glasses, to make sure the bottle has not spoiled as a result of excess heat or light or as the result of a (very rare) misapplied cap or dent in the screw top, which could have allowed air in.
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
Recently, my husband Jon and I decided to take advantage of some miles we had and treat ourselves to a resort hotel on the Big Island of Hawaii. We were weary from work and the relentless stimulation of technology that accompanied it. Our plan was to spend a whole lot of time by the pool -- and very little talking on a cell phone, e-mailing or watching television.
By the second day, I could already feel myself getting into the rhythm of the islands as I sat ocean-side in the Jacuzzi, my head resting on a foam pillow, my hand holding a piña colada -- paradise found.
Like a scene out of a totally clichéd Hollywood movie, my eyes were closed and the sound of crashing waves washed over me. Then, a cell phone rang. The man next to me picked it up and began screaming at his stockbroker -- paradise lost.
My, how the times have changed. Remember the good old days when there was just a smoking or non-smoking section? Apparently, under the current umbrella of social correctness, you can't smoke at either pool (which I personally appreciate), but you can annoy your fellow vacationers -- at least one of them.
According to the ABC Web site, one ABC News "20/20" survey found that 87 percent of Americans said they have encountered people talking on cell phones in public places in a loud or annoying manner. Slightly less than 4 out of 10 often experience generally rude or disrespectful behavior, cursing, near-cursing or people interrupting conversations to use e-mail or cell phone.
Jacqueline Whitmore, author of "Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work" and President of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, Inc., has made a career of helping organizations and individuals master the finer points of business etiquette.
In 2002, she officially founded National Cell Phone Courtesy Month with the intent of making cell phone users more respectful of their surroundings.
"Wireless phones and other electronic devices have become so important to keeping people in touch with information they want and need," says Whitmore. "It's important to educate people about the proper way to use these devices so that they're still in touch, but not annoying those around them." According to Whitmore, wireless phone users can take these steps to avoid offending others:
1. Be all there. When you're in a meeting, performance, courtroom or other busy area, let calls go to voicemail to avoid a disruption. In some instances, turning your phone off may be the best solution.
2. Keep it private. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid discussing private or confidential information in public. You never know who may be in hearing range.
3. Keep your cool. Don't display anger during a public call. Conversations that are likely to be emotional should be held where they will not embarrass or intrude on others.
4. Learn to vibe. Use your wireless phone's silent or vibration settings in public places such as business meetings, religious services, schools, restaurants, theaters or sporting events so that you do not disrupt your surroundings.
5. Avoid "cell yell." Remember to use your regular conversational tone when speaking on your wireless phone. People tend to speak more loudly than normal and often don't recognize how distracting they can be to others.
6. Follow the rules. Some places, such as hospitals or airplanes, restrict or prohibit the use of mobile phones, so adhere to posted signs and instructions. Some jurisdictions may also restrict mobile phone use in public places.
7. Excuse yourself. If you are expecting a call that can't be postponed, alert your companions ahead of time and excuse yourself when the call comes in; the people you are with should take precedence over calls you want to make or receive.
8. Send a message. Use Text Messaging to send and receive messages without saying a single word.
9. Watch and listen discreetly. New multimedia applications such as streaming video and music are great ways to stay informed and access the latest entertainment. However, adjust the volume based on your surroundings in much the same way that you would adjust your ringer volume. Earphones are a great way to avoid distracting others in public areas.
10. Alert silently. When using your phone's walkie-talkie feature, send the person you're trying to reach a Call Alert before starting to speak. If you're around other people, turn off your phone's external speaker and use the vibration setting to minimize any disturbance and to respect your contact's privacy.
Karen Leland is author of the recently released books Watercooler Wisdom: How Smart People Prosper In the Face of Conflict, Pressure and Change and Time Management In An Instant:60 Ways to Make the Most of Your Day. She is the co-creator of a new line of Productivity Pads from Time Tamer™ and the co-founder of Sterling Consulting Group and its subsidiary Sterling Marketing Group. You can follow her on twitter at kfleland. For questions, comments or to book Karen to speak at your next event, please e-mail email@example.com.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
We’ve all been sitting in a movie, waiting in a line, or sleeping in school, only to be annoyed by a dumb ringtone. For some reason, random people across all generations think that everyone else wants to hear a Boom Boom Pow or animal sound ringer. Well, we don’t. Cellphone etiquette is necessary now more than ever and I hope to spread the word during National Cellphone Courtesy Month in July. Won't you please help me with this critical crusade?
Watch the video above and then remember to switch your ringer to a normal tone, or better yet, silent mode. Listen, everyone occasionally forgets to switch to silent or vibrate, but for the love of BlackBerry, at least have a ringer that won't embarrass you if it went off at a Presidential news conference.
Friday, June 26, 2009