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Public Displays of Protocol – November 2011

Here is where we take a brief glance at the month to see who went wrong where. We get to look at our favorite (or not so favorite) celebrities and public figures and decide whose faux pas had them failing and who was winning with exceptional etiquette and protocol. Scanning November:

Kim Kardashian Photo Credit: Eva Rinaldie

ENTERTAINMENT

Kim Kardashian – Airing on Kourtney and Kim Take New York this month, is an episode in which Kim hosts a yoga session for her firends at her house, in which a male yoga instructor leads the class in the buff. What made her think a prancing naked man was a great welcome home scene for her straight husband is beyond me. However, even if she wasn’t 100% sure what Kris Humphries’ reaction would be, proper protocol within a relationship is to take your partner into consideration. Kim should have asked Kris if that would be okay with him. And because she didn’t ask, this month she is LOSING!

Plaxico Burress Photo Credit: Jeffrey Beall

SPORTS

Steve Johnson scored a touchdown in a recent Buffalo Bills vs. NY Jets game. Good for him. He then proceeded to do a touchdown dance that included a mockery of Plaxico Burress shooting himself in the leg. It’s all good to have a little fun and friendly rivalry, but if you and dude aren’t cool and you get called on your shenanigans then you need to step up with an apology. Don’t give a half hearted sorry my team suffered. No, if you’re bold enough to taunt someone, be bold enough to give a sincere, direct apology. For his poor sportsmanship this month, Steve is LOSING!

Herman Cain Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

POLITICS

Herman Cain. [Shaking my head.] OK obviously it is disrespectful to cheat on your wife with a bunch of women. Obviously if you’re going to run for president you must be prepared to handle your scandal. He broke relationship and business protocol, and for that no one wants him as our next president. So he is LOSING!

Michele Bachmann Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Jimmy Fallon had Michele Bachman as a guest on his show this month. As she walked on stage, the band – the Roots – broke into a rendition of the song “Lyin’ Ass Bitch” by Fishbone. It was completely inappropriate and disrespectful in its implications. Within the same week both Fallon and NBC released public apologies to Bachmann for her public embarrassment. Although Bachmann needs to learn how to accept an apology, NBC and Falon were spot on with their responses. They are WINNING!

We can all learn from our friends in the public eye. November’s lessons:
1.  Give sincere apologies
2. Play nice
3. Respect our significant others

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Thanksgiving V.I.P. – Maintain Your Guest Status

It’s turkey time and lots of us will be spending the tummy-stuffing holiday at a home other than our own. As guests, we want to be on our best behavior and make the host’s job a little more enjoyable. So here are some quick tips to make you into the guest they’ll welcome back next year:

1. Bring a thoughtful gift. Traditionally, you would bring a dish to add to dinner or a pretty bouquet of flowers. However, now we have many more options to choose from. What does your host(ess) like? Try to find out a little about his/her hobbies or interests ahead of time. If they like music, make them a holiday mixtape. If they’re into technology, get them a subscription or app for the latest tech magazine. Do they love fashion and beauty? Give a gift card to their favorite clothing store or online boutique. Maybe they have a pet. A new chew toy to keep their dog busy would be perfect. Not only will they adore you for bringing something they find useful, but it will be a great, easy conversation starter.

2. Help do something! Don’t just offer to help once and then glue your bum to your seat as soon as they decline. Unless the dinner is catered or your host(ess) really does not want you getting in the way, it is only polite to help them with some aspect of the gathering. You know what you are good at doing, so don’t offer to help cook if you were a contestant on “Disaster Chef Season 2.” Help set the table, wash the dishes, keep the children out of the kitchen, or even set up the dvd player for the after dinner movie.

3. Keep your foot out of your mouth. You probably know too much of their business already. This is not your opportunity to blurt it all out while they’re shoveling pumpkin pie in their mouths. Even if they raise some of their personal issues, (yes, even if they ask for your input), keep your comments limited and respectful.

4. Show gratitude. After all, that is the whole point of this season. Remember to thank your host(ess) for having you join them. Compliment them on something about the evening. It doesn’t have to be anything formal or grandiose. A simple, “Thanks for everything. Dinner was great!” works just as well as, “I appreciate you inviting me to share this day with you. You are a divine chef and host.  This was truly delightful.” Make note of your setting and who you are addressing in order to decide how spicy your “thank you” needs to be. If it is an all out Thanksgiving dining extravaganza or an especially heartwarming affair, you might want to consider sending a nice thank you card afterwards. If they put that much into the evening, you can put a little extra into your thank you.

Now you’re off! Happy Thanksgiving to you all!
Remember to mind your manners and check back in for more holiday etiquette tips.

Expecting? Expecting What?

Photo: Beyonce Baby Bump StraightfromtheA.com

With Beyonce’s baby bump and the excitement about welcoming little baby “Jeyonce” or “Bey-Z,” there’s lots of baby chatter circulating.  But before we knew whether or not Beyonce was expecting, there were lots of rumors floating around.  People were even bold enough to come right out and ask the couple if they were having a baby.  Which brings me to the big question:  Is it appropriate to ask a woman if she is expecting?

Well there really is no hard rule.  The thing is, it can be ridiculously embarrassing if you ask a woman if she’s carrying a bun in the oven and her response is a resounding “NO.”  Now she thinks you’ve just called her fat.  Implying that a woman is bigger than you recall… I am pretty sure there is a social etiquette rule against that one!  Bottom line – Unless you want a handbag upside your head, do not acknowledge the mid-section bulge.

Now the truth is, there are instances where it is just fine to speculate or assume.  It’s just not okay to vocalize it.  For example, you are sitting in a crowded area and a woman walks in sporting a mini bump.  You can’t tell whether she is pregnant or just had a big lunch, but she looks tired and you think you saw her do a bit of the pregnant lady waddle.  The polite thing would be to offer her your seat …without mentioning that she’s carrying low and her tummy bears an uncanny resemblance to a basketball.  On the other hand, let’s say it is an acquaintance that you suspect is expecting.  You might feel closer to her and more inclined to inquire, but that might make the situation even more sensitive.  From my experience, I would suggest that you still don’t come straight out and ask.  If your curiosity gets the best of you, offer her a glass of wine and see if she refuses.  You might not get a solid answer, but you’ll be one clue closer to solving the baby bump mystery.  Regardless, don’t forget your manners.  Remember to help make the possible mom-to-be (or not) feel more comfortable if she looks like she could use some pampering.

Chivalry CPR: The Sexy Comeback

Ever since girls got the idea that they could run the world, it seems boys have been deciding they no longer have to follow common chivalry.  Clearly if a woman can earn a college degree, found an organization, incorporate her own business, or sit at the head of the board room, then she can also open her own doors, flag her own taxis, pull out her own chairs.  Right?  I suppose so, but a lady is still a lady at heart.  As independent as she wants to be, she can’t deny the special flutter she feels when a gentleman puts her needs and safety first.

I wave my independence flag and single lady finger as much as the next girl.  I feel empowered knowing I’m making my own way in this world.  Yet, last night a gentleman humbled me in my stride.  As I approached the bus amidst the hustle and bustle, he stepped aside pulling a younger guy aside with him and signaled for me to go first.  Pleased as punch, I nearly curtsied.  Surely someone would have knocked me over if I tried that, so I settled on a grinning thank you.  That one small act carried the reminder that chivalry does not have to die.  We can resuscitate it.  Not only does the return of chivalry present opportunities for the most delightful interactions, but men should know it takes them a lot further in professional and social aspirations with just about any lady.

So perhaps we can update chivalry a little to suit the world we live in now.  Maybe a man can back off from ordering dinner for his date.  She knows what she likes and she can state it.  However, he can most certainly take her coat, pull out her chair and even wait for her to be seated before he takes his own seat.  Maybe he doesn’t need to run in front of his female coworker to yank open every door for her, but he can definitely let her enter the elevator first instead of knocking her over to beat the crowd.  If he sees his female neighbor struggling up the steps with a hundred bags of new shoes, well it is most appreciated if he offers to carry a few of them the rest of the way and not rush past like he didn’t see her little head peeping out for help.  Oh yes, and if it starts to rain, he racks up serious points for holding the umbrella over her head.

Sounds like extra work for the new age man to do for the new age woman?  I’d bet it’s a lot less tedious and way more effective than the other methods used now to grab her attention, to leave her with a lasting impression, or to simply convince her to disclose her Twitter handle.  Go on, try it!  Let us know what happens.

Check it out… “Take the Interview Enhances Job Candidate Screening With Video”

New trend?  Take a look… Take the Interview Enhances Job Candidate Screening With Video  by Sarah Kessler  *Featured on Mashable.com*

If this Take the Interview video service takes off as a tool for employers, then job candidates will need to step up their game and improve their images before they can get a foot in the door!  What does it mean?  It means it’s time to take a closer look at our weird habits that show up on screen and adjust accordingly.  No worries!  Get a friend to capture your interview spiel on your camera phone.  Practicing on camera before the video interview is the best way to catch and correct any inappropriate, annoying or awkward mannerisms.  As the saying goes, “Practice makes perfect.”

Clean, Fancy, Fresh …Before You Step Out

Hygiene care, primping and polishing have got to be top-of-the list priorities every day before you make it to work …or play.  Most of us get that, and the rest of the world appreciates it!  We all prefer sitting next to the well groomed, sweet smelling, fresh faced stranger.  Those are the best.

What we don’t apprecia-te is when Stranger X plops down beside us on the train and proceeds to clip and paint nails, brush and flick hair, apply makeup, roll on deodorant and squirt cologne, or pick teeth.  Come on, who really wants to see that?  Yes, we see you — you do not become invisible when you stick your finger in your nose.  Worse yet, who wants your shedding hair and dandruff sprinkling into their morning coffee or nail clippings whizzing by their ears?  The whole thing gets to be unsanitary, unbecoming and even dangerous.  I mean refreshing chapstick or lip gloss is OK, but smearing full on foundation and poking out your eye with the mascara wand during rush hour commute is not cute.

Then there is the unexpected.  You are rushing to an interview, or a client meeting, or some funky fun birthday bash and you think you can save time doing the finishing touches in the elevator.  The person next to you is clearly uncomfortable, unbeknownst to you — head down, sniffing underarms, tucking in shirt, buckling belt.  Then you arrive at your destination and Elevator Riding Partner is your interviewer, client, or hottest partygoer, who you now can’t look in the eye.  Ah shucks!

So to present your best self from the very start (and to make the rest of us feel better), let’s handle hygiene and bodily care at home, in a restroom, or a private location of your choice.

Welcome! Please come in and take a look around.

Many of us are out there trying to maneuver our way through professional and social settings with at least a modicum of the social graces.  Mom gave us some great training through the years with classic etiquette tidbits, but times change.  Do business men still pause to let business women through the door first?  Should you use your knife and fork?  Do we still differentiate between “outside voices” and “inside voices?”  Should the youth still guide the elderly cross the street?  If a pregnant woman enters the room, do you offer your seat?  Can a woman pay the bill without posing a threat to her date?  Is it rude for us to assume her date is not another woman?

While trying to figure out if and how such social mores have shifted, an entirely new world of social outlets crept up on us.  Now we are left to decode the proper protocol for engaging with others in online social networks and blogs, chats and messengers, tablets and smart phones, and on and on.  Sometimes we can all use a little help with this.

The Little Lady Blog is here to explore with you and guide you through the world of modern protocol and etiquette.  Hopefully, each of you can find something of value in this blog to help you put your best image forward at each event, in different settings, amongst all types of people, every day.