Latest "Everyday Etiquette" Posts

Hi There! The Etiquette of Salutations in Business Communications

August 12, 2017

Envelope & Pen
A friend of mine recently commented that a large number of emails she has received over the past few months seem to begin with “Hi!” or “Hi Jane!” While that’s an appropriate salutation if you are sending a note to a friend, it is not appropriate if you’re reaching out to a business contact—or someone you don’t know personally. An email is a letter, and should be treated as such—from beginning to end.

With our ability to fire off quick emails and send texts that include short-forms of words (LOL) and fun emoticons, when writing a business letter, here are salutation tips to remember…that never go out of style.

Most of the time, in the business arena you will start your e-mail or letter with “Dear Mr. or Mrs. or Ms. or Dr. Hyde or even Dear Margaret –whichever is the appropriate way to address the recipient depending on your relationship with them. Also consider the industry norm and even the culture you are communicating with.

However you begin, the salutation ends with a colon. You know the punctuation mark that’s used in happy faces :0). (Although most people incorrectly use the semi-colon; in salutations.)

It is important to note that traditionally, “Mrs.” Was used for married women and “Miss” was used to address unmarried women. Because this distinction was made only for women—with men always being referred to as “Mr.” regardless of marital status –we now use “Ms.” in salutations to address women unless you know they are married. Most of the time, you will start your letter with “Dear Mr. or Mrs. or Ms. or Dr. ______–whichever is the appropriate way to address the recipient—followed by a colon.

Unless you know that the person you’re sending the e-mail or letter prefers “Miss” or “Mrs.,” always use “Ms.” when addressing her in a formal manner.

If your business letter or email is not being addressed to one particular person at a company, the best practice is to address the company, the department or the specific role. The more specific you are, the more likely your letter will make it to the hands of the appropriate person. If, for example,you’re sending a cover letter with your resume—and you don’t have the name of the human resources director (although it might be better to do some digging as that will probably get your letter to the top of the pile), address the letter with “Dear Human Resources Director.”

As busy as we are today, it’s highly likely that your business correspondence is being sent via Internet rather than through the post office. It’s important to note that even though it’s so easy to send a quick note to a client or business contact by email, the salutation sets the tone for the remainder of the email message.

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Posted by Margaret in Communication, Etiquette Tips, Everyday Etiquette and tagged

The Fundamentals of Photo Etiquette

July 3, 2017

camera in a cameraFacebook and other photo-sharing networks growing life wildfire, many of us have had this unfortunate experience, and the feeling that follows is downright awful! Such careless regard for others’ feelings translates to bad photo etiquette.

Remember, permission is very important, for both taking and sharing a picture of someone else.

This lesson is especially important in dealing with other cultures. All around the globe, people believe that when someone takes your picture, they trap your soul. Carelessly snapping shots of an Australian Aborigine or Native American could be considered a grave offense, and even land you in jail!

Even with your average tech-savvy person, always ask permission before posting pictures of other people online. There are many reasons they might decline, and their privacy must be respected.

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Posted by Margaret in Everyday Etiquette and tagged , , ,

A Valentine’s Survival Guide for Couples

February 13, 2017

Heart frame from red rose petals over white background

I know Valentine’s Day is here already, but here are some Valentines Day etiquette tips that will ensure a romantic and memorable evening (and keep everyone out of the dog house!)

(Note: If you waited until today to buy a special Valentine’s Day card, you might be stuck with the leftover corny Valentine’s Day cards. Think about making your own card for your sweetie. Homemade gifts are always a hit in the romance department.)

  • Turn your cell phones off: It goes without saying that you should give your date your undivided attention at all times, and most especially on such a romantic day as Valentine’s Day. Gentlemen: turn your cell phones off—and leave them off the table–so you’re not tempted to check sports scores during dinner.
  • Buying a gift: Valentines Day means different things to different people – depending on how long you’ve been together and how serious the relationship is. A traditional gift of flowers and chocolate are still time-honored traditions, and they fit into most budgets. Remember, it really is the thought that counts. Handwritten love letters are also a hit!
  • Mind your table manners: As with any time you’re sharing a meal with someone, be sure to bring along your best table manners. Chewing with your mouth open or shoveling food into your mouth is NOT romantic.
  • For the men: Remember the simple things, like opening the door for her, helping her with her coat, and pulling out her chair for her if the wait staff don’t do it for her.
  • Who pays? Many women are still looking for that knight in shining armor–chivalry is desirable. So, men, pick up the tab unless your lady in waiting has extended the dinner invitation.

Valentines hearts beat more passionately than everyday hearts

~ Anonymous

 Wishing you all a very happy (and romantic) Valentines Day!

photo credit: pixieclipx 

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Posted by Margaret in Everyday Etiquette

Flying Solo: Valentine’s Day Tips for Singles

February 7, 2017

Heart Crayon
Just because you’re single on Valentines Day doesn’t mean you have to miss out on an opportunity to do something special. Defy Cupid this year with these Valentine’s etiquette tips for single guys and gals – and make Valentine’s Day 2017 a day to remember!

  • Plan ahead – Prepare a plan of action well before the day arrives so you’re not stuck for ideas when Cupid comes to town.
  • Do something nice for yourself – Do you love flowers? Buy yourself a big bouquet. Enjoy chocolate? There are plenty of decadent chocolates to choose from! Buy yourself the biggest box! Men, pick up that gadget you’ve been eyeing since Christmas. Splurge a little on yourself this Valentine’s Day!
  • Relax – Schedule a massage or book a day at the spa. Splurge on a bottle of expensive wine, make your favorite dish and eat  in front of the TV — watching your all-time favorite movie, in your pajamas!
  • Get together with friends – Just because you’re single, doesn’t mean you’re alone. Gather up a group of unattached friends and meet for cocktails, go to a comedy show or a late night flick!
  • Host a dinner party – Invite your single friends to join you for a dinner party at your home. Good food, good wine and good company? Now you all have awesome dates on Valentine’s Day.
  • Schedule a movie marathon – Themed movie nights are always fun! Host a Casablanca night where everyone dresses like 40s screen sirens or wears a fedora!
  • Step outside your comfort zone – Think about something that you are afraid of and give yourself permission to step into doing it! Do something that challenges you!
  • Tap into your creative side – Sign up for a pottery class or explore a local art gallery. Your creative self will thank you!
  • Give back There’s no shortage of ways you can give of yourself on Valentine’s Day. Spend the day volunteering at your local children’s shelter, soup kitchen or Salvation Army.

Go beyond February 14th and participate in Random Acts of Kindness Day – celebrated around the world February 12 – 18th. Think about how you can go over and above to do something special for someone. Write a handwritten note to an old friend, bring a treat to a neighbor, hold the door open for someone, or pay the tab for the person in line behind you at the coffee shop. The Random Acts of Kindess Week website has more than 280 kindness ideas to choose from!

Valentine’s day can be a lot of fun, even if you’re flying solo this year! With a little imagination and some planning, this special day can be you will never forget!

What are your plans for Valentine’s Day this year? Share with us in the comments below!

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Posted by Margaret in Everyday Etiquette and tagged ,

Valentine’s Day Etiquette Tips for Couples

February 6, 2017

Valentines Day Etiquette tips

Some Valentines Day ideas and etiquette tips that will leave a lasting impression with your sweetie!

  • Valentine’s Day is a busy day for restaurants so if you’re planning on taking your date out for a special dinner, make the reservation now. Today. It’s not surprising that all the good restaurants book up far in advance and you don’t want to find yourself running through a drive-thru with your date. That would NOT be romantic, and it may be your very last date. 🙂
  • If you’re checking out a new place for dinner, be sure to give some thought to how you’ll get there and where you’ll park. This will avoid being late for your reservation.
  • If you’re buying flowers, red roses are classic, but to go the extra mile, consider your loved one’s favorite flower. You’ll definitely gain some points for paying attention if you arrive with a bouquet of her favorites.
  • Instead of spending hours sifting through store-bought (often-generic) Valentine’s Day cards, why not create a video message or create a Lovestegram! With a Lovestegram, you can send a Valentine’s Day photo album to your love that is completely personal.
  • Just because you’re on a tight budget, doesn’t mean you can’t plan a special evening with your spouse or significant other. Cooking together, with soft music playing in the background is very romantic.  Make the evening special by getting dressed up, lighting some candles and setting the table with your best china and a bouquet of fresh flowers.
  • If you’re looking for a special gift that costs very little, consider this handmade treasure. What better way to share how much someone means to you than a “10 Things I Love About You Jar!” Just jot down all the reasons the person is special to you (and it can be more than 10!) and put them in a jar. Fancy it up with some fabric and you will have a personal gift that they will never forget!

If you do plan an evening out at a restaurant, keep your phone turned off, or, at the very least, out of sight. If it’s out of sight, you’ll be less tempted to check it. Many times I’ve witnessed couples, seated at a beautiful table in a nice restaurant, each of them off in their own world – on their cell phones, texting or chatting with someone else! If you’re expecting an urgent call, ask to be excused and take your call away from the table, in privacy.

Another tricky question I get this time of year is around splitting the check – or “going Dutch.” The answer to this is simple, for Valentine’s Day and any time of year, “Whoever does the asking, does the paying.” And if you have a coupon deal, best to save that for a night out with your friends.

Lastly, bad manners are a big turn-off, so be very mindful of your manners from the moment you greet your date.  Chewing with your mouth open, talking with your mouth full, and shoveling your food into your mouth will not impress. Men, keep the simple things in mind: opening the door for your date, pulling out her chair if the wait staff doesn’t do it for her. Courtesy and respect will never go out of style.

Do you have a favorite Valentine’s Day memory you’d like to share? We’d love to hear it!


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Posted by Margaret in Everyday Etiquette and tagged , , ,

Don’t be that Person: How to be Smart About Your Smartphone

July 5, 2016

Phone manners

Smartphones are ubiquitous — in fact, I’d wager that many of us aren’t even aware how often we rely on these powerful little computers. Stop and think for a second: How often do you pull yours out to check the time? To pass a few minutes when you’re standing in line? To dash off a quick email between meetings?

Smartphones are convenient, to be sure, and they keep us connected no matter where we are. But in a world built on relationships, is that really a good thing? What could you gain by putting away the phone?

We’ve become so inured to smartphones that many of us have forgotten the importance of human presence. Your full attention (and your discretion in giving it) is one of the most powerful tools in your professional toolbox, and it’s one worth developing. Here are a few tips on how you can break the smartphone habit.

Set Your Own Standard. I have a colleague who once worked for a home goods company. Several times a year, vendors would fly across the country to make presentations to the CEO, president, and other key stakeholders, including my colleague. “I was always appalled when I would look around the table and realize my co-workers were using this time as an opportunity to check their messages — even the president and CEO,” she says. “And what’s worse is that the president and CEO reinforced this behavior by making it seem OK in the first place.”

It can seem acceptable to behave poorly when even your superiors are doing so. But think about the vendors giving the presentations: These moments were important to them and their businesses. They deserved better.

Ban Phones From the Table. Phone use seems particularly egregious in an intimate setting, like a meal. What better opportunity to connect with a business associate than over lunch or a quiet dinner? A few years ago, the “phone stack” was popular: After a table ordered, everyone would stack their phones in the middle of the table. The first person to reach for their phone would pick up the bill. That’s a great idea among friends, but if you’re dining out with a colleague who has a habit of pulling out the phone, make your intentions clear. Try saying, “We so rarely get a chance to talk face to face. Isn’t a luxury these days? Why don’t we agree to keep our phones stashed while we eat?”

Safeguard Your Time. What if you’re the one having a hard time disengaging from the phone? Think about what constantly checking and responding to emails says about you: You have no boundaries. If you answer emails during meetings, non-working hours, or weekends, you’re setting an expectation that the times you have set aside as important should not be important to others. And in today’s 24/7 world, people will take advantage of your non-stop vigilance.

What are your smartphone pet peeves? Tell me in the comments below! If you’re interested in learning more about developing your business etiquette skills, please contact me for more information about upcoming workshops and events.



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Posted by Margaret Page in Etiquette Tips, Everyday Etiquette and tagged , , , ,

What is Etiquette?

May 31, 2016

what is etiquette When you hear the word “etiquette,” what do you think of?  Do you relate it to fancy table manners and other highfalutin behaviors associated with the social protocol of dignitaries, royalty and “upper class?”

Etiquette is being aware of how your actions affect those around you. It’s about making others feel comfortable in your presence by the way you present yourself. It is not a standard we hold others to, but instead, a way we measure ourselves.

Having good manners and following etiquette guidelines, rather than being stuffy, serve to make everyday interactions more pleasant for everyone.

Emily Post said it best with this quote: “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.”

So, why does it matter? In business it’s a sign of professionalism and respect for others. Knowing what to do or say in business situations saves you from an embarrassing moment, but also puts the other person at ease—building trust.

With the launch of the digital age, etiquette has definitely seen some changes. Social media and new technology has altered the way we live and the way we communicate. It’s so easy to forget the basics of good manners when we can share information so easily on Facebook!

It’s more important than ever to take a step back and remember to keep to those standards we set for ourselves. Whether we’re using technology or face-to-face communication, the rules of etiquette are constant. Here are two questions to ask yourself:  Is what I am about to do respectful? Is it kind?

Turning off our cell phones when in the company of others. Thinking before we send a tweet or post a status update to Facebook that shares personal information that could be harmful to others. It matters.

Yes, the digital age has added new etiquette questions, but in the end, the answer is still the same. Etiquette is about making other people feel comfortable. It’s about doing the right thing at the right time. It’s about respecting others and yourself.

Good manners will never go out of style.

“Class is not about societal position, wealth, and status or up bringing. Class is about making other people feel comfortable in your presence.” ~ Ann Landers


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Posted by Margaret Page in Business Etiquette, Everyday Etiquette and tagged , ,

Are Canadians Too Polite?

May 19, 2016

Are Canadians too polite?Is it possible to be overly polite? As Canadians, it’s been said that we are polite – to a fault. Just do a quick search online for Canadians and the word “Sorry” and you’ll see plenty of commentary – and photos–on the subject of our apologetic ways.

I read an article recently where the author recounted this story: A Canadian ex-pat, living in New York, who was rather homesick found herself in a crowded two-room bookstore with high book aisles. From across the room she heard, “Excuse me – I’m sorry – excuse me.” She immediately went into the other room and searched up and down the aisles until she found the person she’d heard, who had been trying to make her way through the aisles. “Are you Canadian?” he asked her. And sure enough, the woman was another Canadian ex-pat. Funny story. Even as Canadians, we think we’re apologetic!

So, yes, there is definitely truth to the “stereotype” that we Canadians are nice.  Notoriously, it seems. It’s really hard to know why Canadians go out of their way to be polite. Have our British roots turned us into a nation of self-apologists?

Bruce Grierson’s essay “Polite to a fault: Canadians are world champs. And yes, we actually did invent it,” gives credit to the Canadian sociologist Erving Goffman for inventing politeness.

“Most people think of politeness as ingrained good manners, civilized bearing, the ‘momma-brung-you-up-well’ stuff,” says Goffman. “And true enough, Canadians have that kind of reflexive politeness in spades. I remember once as a younger man in a fast-food outlet catching myself saying, ‘You’re welcome’ to the garbage can, which had ‘Thank You’ stamped on the little swinging window.”

Okay, yes, that’s a little tongue-in-cheek humor on his part, but he goes on to make a very good point with: “Society is organized on the principle that any individual who possesses certain social characteristics has a moral right to expect that others will value and treat him in an appropriate way.” So perhaps Canadians are polite in the hope or belief that others will return the favor.

While this “too polite” stereotype has provided some with a laugh or two, there is something to be said about being considerate of others.

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How to Behave on Public Transportation

March 1, 2016

transportation etiquette
Whether it’s concerns for the environment, the price of gas, parking headaches or just plain convenience, more and more people are using public transportation to get from point A to point B. The increase in ridership means that a lot more people are sharing buses, trolleys, subways and boarding areas—making it even more important that we remember to use common courtesy.

Dude Its Rude

In an effort to get riders thinking about their personal travel habits, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) recently launched new passenger etiquette ad campaign titled “Dude It’s Rude.” SEPTA says the new campaign intentionally takes an edgy tone, using strong visuals and minimal content to get the message across. They don’t include any branding on the posters so that the riders think more about the message and less about who is delivering it. I think the campaign is brilliant! Some of the “to the point” messages include “DUDE IT’S RUDE…TAKE YOUR TRASH” AND “DUDE ITS RUDE, TONE IT DOWN.”

In fact, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York has taken their own etiquette campaign a step further with ads aimed at the impolite practice of “manspreading”. Have you heard of this before? It is the wide-legged stance that many men assume when they take a seat. Unfortunately, this sitting position on the subway often takes up two or sometimes three seats in the process. And that is just plain rude!

When In Rome … (or In This Case, Singapore)

In Singapore, the public transportation system may have the strictest rules I have ever come across. And if you’re visiting the country, be aware of those rules because the country is known for harsh penalties and you aren’t going to get a “get out of jail free” just because you’re a tourist!
On trains in Singapore, you are not permitted to eat, drink, or even breastfeed. Not even a drop of water is allowed. The reason? According to the country’s transport authority “… it could spill and wet seats, soil other commuters’ belongings or cause them to slip and fall. We want to prevent any accidents and make sure that everyone can enjoy a pleasant ride.”

Etiquette tips for travelers

To ensure that your next ride is pleasant for both you and the people you’re sharing space with, keep these etiquette tips in mind:

  • When boarding buses or trains, wait until everyone that wants to exit has disembarked before you get on
  • Keep doorways free and clear on trains and buses
  • Always offer your seat to pregnant women, the elderly, the disabled, or mothers with young children
  • Take up just ONE seat. Remove your backpack or large purse if you are standing and place it between your legs or directly in front of you. Gentlemen – Please avoid the selfish act of “manspreading”.
  • On escalators in North America stand to the right to allow people who wish to walk up to go by on the left
  • Avoid wearing strong perfumes when using transit
  • Don’t use your outside voice inside commuting with friends
  • Watch your language (keep it clean, people!)
  • Put your phone on vibrate and refrain from making or taking calls using it while on public transportation
  • Refrain from eating on the train or bus.
  • Sneeze or cough into the inside of your elbow—and away from people if possible
  • Turn down the tunes if you’re listening to music with earphones (yes, it’s louder than you think)
  • No smoking – this includes at the train station or bus stop
  • Never leave your trash on the bus or train

What’s your biggest public transit etiquette pet peeve? Share it with us.


Photo credit: :

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Posted by Margaret Page in Everyday Etiquette and tagged

Etiquette Tips for Your Next Barbecue

May 15, 2015

BBQ party etiquette

The Victoria Day and Memorial Day long weekends are almost here! Both holidays offer extended time to enjoy fun, outdoor cookouts with family and friends. Want to make your BBQ a great success?

Here are some tips to ensure that your outdoor grilling is a success:

For Hosts:

  • Seating – Ensure that there is enough comfortable seating for everyone attending, indoors and out. Make the seating conducive to conversations amongst your guests.
  • Food – Count up your RSVPs to ensure you have enough food and drink for everyone attending. Most people cook hamburgers and hotdogs at cookouts, so be sure to have a vegetarian option for any guests that are not meat-eaters.
  • Drink – Provide plenty of water and juice. Alcoholic beverages, especially beer, are popular, so be careful about offering too much. Ensure that any guests that have overindulged have safe rides home.
  • Grill – Make sure the grill is clean well before guests arrive. Also make sure you have enough fuel (propane or charcoal) to cook all of the food you plan to barbeque.
  • Utensils – Refrain from using any rusty or dirty barbeque utensils. Also, to keep food safe, use two sets of utensils and platters, one for raw and the other for cooked foods. Make sure not to mix them up!

For Guests: 

  • Timing – Arrive early only if your host is aware and you plan on helping to set up and prep food. Arriving a bit after the scheduled time is perfectly fine. Also, avoid overstaying your welcome late in the evening, unless you plan on helping to clean up.
  • What to bring? – Even if host says to bring nothing, bring something. Side dishes are great idea. Be sure to bring enough of your dish to feed everyone. Also, if you bring it, leave it. It’s cumbersome for you and the host to gather up your half-eaten container and half-full bottle of wine at the end of your visit.
  • What to wear? – Casual, tasteful outfits are appropriate. If it is a work-related cookout, then go with business casual.
  • Grill – Avoid touching or taking over the grill unless the host asks for help.
  • Drink – It’s easy to get dehydrated on warm days. Drink plenty of fluids, and be careful with alcoholic beverages. These will dehydrate you further and can be even more potent when you’re sitting in the sun. Avoid embarrassing yourself or your host by overindulging.
  • Clean up – Even if your host declines, it’s a customary kindness to offer help in cleaning up here and there throughout your stay.

I wish all of you fun in the sun and an enjoyable holiday weekend. Cheers!

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