‘Tis the season to say thanks and to acknowledge those who have provided you with service throughout the year. Every year at this time people ask about holiday tipping—a tradition that’s been around for a long time.
As you consider who you would like to tip, figure our just how much you can give this year and then share it out amongst those on your list. Most importantly, people should not feel obligated to give holiday tips if it’s simply not within their budgets to do so. The real importance of the holiday tip is saying thank you. A card with a heartfelt message is a perfect alternative.
The Emily Post Institute offers guidelines for holiday tipping, but I’ve often wondered who actually makes the holiday tip list and what they receive. So, The Emily Post Institute and SurveyMonkey conducted a holiday tipping survey in early December. The results are in and show most of us are still quite conscious of seasonal gratitude in the form of holiday tipping—61% of us, to be exact. We’re not spreading pre-recession levels of tipping cheer just yet, but we are intent on bestowing a little extra on those who help us throughout the year, be it a monetary tip or homemade gift or simply a hand-written note of thanks.
Specifics from the survey:
- 61% of respondents give holiday tips.
- 39% don’t tip, for a variety of reasons, including lack of awareness of this long-standing tradition, or because they have no essential service providers in their day-to-day life.
- 27% of non-tippers say the reason why is because they tip regularly during the year.
- 25% of non-tippers say they simply can't afford it.
The most tipped professions include:
- Barber/beauty salon staff: 57% with the majority (46%) tipping $1-$25
- Mail carrier: 46% with the majority (42%) tipping $1-$25
- Newspaper Delivery: 38% with the majority (35%) tipping $1-$25
- Trash collectors: 25% with the majority (21%) tipping $1-$25
- Housekeepers: 23% of respondents tip and the majority (9.4%) tip $26-$50
Not all holiday gratitude is expressed with cash:
- 7% of respondents don’t tip monetarily, and say that instead they give or make a gift.
Whether it’s cash, a card, or a gift, I encourage you to take a moment to say “thanks” this holiday season to those who make your life more pleasant or run more smoothly throughout the year.
With the approaching gift-giving season, I often get asked how a person should approach the process of deciding who to give to and what to give.
The most important consideration in deciding the who and the what is first to determine just how much you can afford to give this year. The answer should not include borrowing or credit card debt in order to give gifts to family, friends, colleagues, or those who provide service throughout the year. With that caveat in mind, each person has to decide for him or herself just how much they can afford to set aside for gifts.
Next, make a list of the people you to whom you want to give gifts. If the list gets too big, you may have to prioritize. Then slice up your gift-giving budget among those people. Now you have a place to start, whether you shop online or in bricks and mortar stores.
What to give? I like trying to think about what interests the person has and what gift I can find that reflects those interests. Gift cards are another perfectly acceptable way to go. I like them because even if you haven’t found a specific gift, you have directed your gift giving to a particular interest of the recipient. Cash, while not at all personal, is almost always appreciated by service providers and nieces and nephews alike.
You may find yourself in a tight budget situation. In that case consider a gift that includes some effort on your part but which may go a long way in allowing you to give a gift while staying within your budget. It may be something you make yourself that is a gift of your time and talent: a food item like cookies you bake, something you’ve grown in your garden that you’ve preserved, a gift certificate of your time to baby sit a niece, nephew, or friend’s child. As long as you think it is something the recipient would enjoy or appreciate, a homemade gift or a gift of your time has value and meaning.
I remember when I was a kid growing up, I saw advertisements for cameras that were so small that you could use one without others knowing their photos were being taken—spy cameras. Or, on the back of bubble gum wrappers, a camera that would let you see through a person’s clothes to the skeleton beneath. I always wondered what kind of scam those cameras were. Ever since the days of the portable and compact Brownie, cameras have had the ability to invade others’ privacy, to be used without the subject knowing they were being photographed.
Fast forward to the advent of the cell phone camera. Again, here’s a camera that is small, inconspicuous, and can be used secretively. My advice regarding cell phone cameras is that they shouldn’t be used in places where people don’t want to be photographed or don’t know they are being photographed, such as restrooms. You couldn’t be sure if the user was talking on the phone or shooting a picture of you during a private moment. Then, too, phones are being used intentionally to catch people in compromising positions. Think Michael Phelps.
Fast forward to today and you have the capability not only to take photos surreptitiously, but also to post them virtually immediately for the whole world to see. And that’s when you run into the problem of whose “rights” to privacy supercede whose.
- Should we expect a certain level of protection against being “caught” or is it the right of the photographer to catch us unawares anytime, any place?
- Is it reasonable for an establishment to ban the use of a device simply because it is possible for that device to be used to embarrass or image people without their acquiescence?
And therein is the conundrum faced at Lost Lake Café & Lounge in Seattle recently. A patron entered wearing Google Glass. He was asked to remove the Google Glass or leave the café. He chose to leave.
The owner saw a difference between using a camera—cell phone or otherwise— that other patrons could see being used as opposed to the Google Glass camera, which can be used to take photos or videos without others being aware they are being photographed.
While the jury is out on Google Glass etiquette, regardless of the kind of camera, the thoughtful, considerate thing to do is to let the subject know you are taking their picture and, if they object, then not to take it. In addition, before posting any image of somebody online, take a moment to ask if they mind if you share the image. If they do, then keep the photo to yourself or delete it.
I was attending a University of Vermont men’s hockey game Sunday afternoon. The second period was only a minute old. Action on the ice was fast and furious. Then, suddenly from my left I hear, “Excuse us, excuse us.” And my view was blocked as this couple was trying to work their way across our row to get to their seats. All of a sudden my view was blocked and my attention was diverted from the game to trying to accommodate these latecomers.
“Unbelievable,” I thought to myself as I tried my let them pass as quickly as possible.
Seriously, they couldn’t wait for a whistle to blow and the action to come to a stop? That’s the considerate, fan-appropriate behavior. Whatever the sport, wait for a break in the action before crossing in front of people who have gotten to their seats on time. Better yet, make a real effort to get to your seats before game time.
The problem of late arrivals isn’t just limited to sporting events. I hear the same complaint from people attending concerts, the movies, a play, a wedding, or the opera. At some events, once the program has started ushers will keep latecomers from going to their seats until there is a natural break just so people already in their seats aren’t disturbed.
Regardless of the event, if you arrive late be considerate of the people already seated and wait until a break in the program before making your way to your seats.
By the way, when you do climb across in front of people already in a row at the movies, the theatre, or a stadium, you should face away from them. It’s one of the few times it’s okay to have your back to someone. That way if you do stumble, you don’t fall right into a stranger’s lap but instead can catch yourself on the back of the seat in front of you.
I was driving down the fairway at my local golf course last week when I noticed something that didn’t belong there. One of the things about golf courses in general is they tend to be relatively litter-free. The closer I got the more it became apparent that the object was a cigar butt.
I have been known to smoke an occasional cigar and I have even tried smoking one on the golf course. Frankly, I found it disruptive to my concentration on the course so I’ve stopped. But when I did smoke one, I, as well as the others in my group who smoked, took great pains 1. to extinguish it completely, and 2. to deposit it in an appropriate receptacle. Cigar butts, and for that matter cigarette butts, should not litter the golf course.
If you do want to enjoy a cigar or cigarette on the course here are seven tips to make sure your enjoyment doesn’t come at other peoples’ expense.
- Before lighting up, ask the others in your foursome if they will mind you smoking. It is especially important if you are sharing a golf cart to ask your fellow rider if he or she minds.
- If you are sharing a cart, you might consider walking while you indulge yourself.
- Pay attention to where your smoke is blowing. Try to position yourself downwind of others so your smoke doesn’t waft across them as you puff away. In particular, puffing away while standing upwind of someone who is about to make a shot is the height of discourtesy.
- If you decide to hold a cigar or cigarette in your mouth while you make a swing, be careful that you don’t inadvertently end up burning a hole in your shirt or sweater.
- Take care with where you deposit ashes. Special attention should be taken to avoid dropping them on the green.
- Don’t drop your lit cigar or cigarette on the green, either.
- Always dispose of butts safely and in an appropriate receptacle.
By the way, the advice for on the course is a good starting point for any time you light up a smoke: Ask first, position yourself so as not to bother to others, take care with your ashes, and extinguish and dispose of it appropriately.
I first came across what will hopefully be a relatively short-lived phenomena while reading a Huffington Post blog, “The 8 Selfies You Must Absolutely, Positively Never Take.” I had seen the title in a news item and decided to follow the thread.
And then I saw the first item: The Funeral Selfie. “You have got to be kidding me,” I thought to myself. People don’t really shoot a selfie of themselves at a funeral and then post it.
Sure enough, they do. Right there in the copy was a link to Tumblr where a post titled “Selfies at Funerals” shows a whole series of examples.
The girl in the first one posts a sincere message, “You never appreciate what you have until it’s gone. R. I. P. Grandpa, you will be missed.” Unfortunately, her selfie seems at odds with her message. Her short shorts seem out of place for the seriousness of the occasion and her expression is dubiously sad, but at least the message is sincere.
“Maybe,” I thought to myself, “I’m being quick to judgment. Maybe funeral selfies really are thoughtful, heartfelt tributes to the recently deceased. So I scrolled down to check out the others.
As I scrolled down, I spied the third selfie in which the writer seems more concerned about her hair than the funeral she is attending: “Love my hair today. Hate why I’m dressed up. #funeral.”
By the time I got to the “On our way to a funeral selfie” I thought I couldn’t be surprised by anything anyone posted in this genre, but again I was wrong. Tongues wagging out of gaping mouths lack any semblance of respect. The message: This is all just one big joke We’re here because we have to be.
The funeral selfie is simply outrageous. It is not about respect for the person who has died. As the term implies, it’s all about the self, the person shooting their own picture, and that is the antithesis of the purpose for attending a funeral or expressing one’s condolences. The title of the Huffington Post blog was right on: the funeral selfie is one selfie you absolutely positively should never take.
"We're frankly tired of feeling like 'hall monitors' when it comes to this issue," Laura Glading, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, said in an article titled “FAA loosens rules for electronic devices during flights” in USA Today on November 1.
I’ve often wondered how the flight attendants felt about having to enforce what was a seemingly foolish directive. It’s readily apparent that the devices don’t affect the aircraft in flight. All one had to do was look around at nearby passengers and see how many devices were simply closed rather than shut down to realize planes have been flying safely with devices turned on for years.
I applaud this common sense change. The next step is for the airlines to certify that their planes will not be affected by devices being on, and I’m pleased airlines are moving quickly to get FAA acquiescence to change their in-flight passenger directives, and let people use their devices throughout the flight.
Along with privilege comes responsibility: responsibility on the passengers’ part to use their devices in a manner that does not negatively impact those around them. Here are four guidelines to make your use of your electronic device pleasant not only for you but also for your fellow passengers.
- Make sure content on your device won’t offend your seatmates or passengers walking up the aisle who may see your screen.
- Be careful about showing confidential information on your screen. You should assume the people next to you and near you can see anything on your screen.
- Use ear buds or headphones to listen to a show, movie, or music.
- Put your device down while the cabin crew makes its safety announcement at the beginning of the flight and take a moment to identify your closest emergency exit. That one moment of precaution could save your life.
Even though Halloween is only a couple of days away, stores are already setting up displays for the Christmas and holiday seasons. I walked into a Lowes the other day and there, large as life, were fake Christmas trees for sale. And all sorts of other holiday stuff.
At the Emily Post Institute those displays can mean only one thing: an influx of holiday-oriented questions from around the country. Among the first will be questions about holiday greeting cards, so for those of you organized types who are getting out your address books, here are some of our top tips:
- Plan ahead. This is my personal failing. If you start now you might actually get that card with a picture of your spouse and/or children or pet printed up and ready to send before Valentine’s Day.
- Make a list, check it twice. Make a list of recipients so you’ll know how many to order or purchase. This is also a good time to update addresses, too.
- Not their holiday. You can send a greeting card to a person who doesn’t celebrate your holiday, but be mindful of the message and send a seasonal rather than a religious card.
- Electronic or traditional in the mail? There’s no one size fits all here. Digital cards may look great on the screen, but printed out on twenty-pound white printer paper, they may look pretty dull and uninteresting compared to the traditional cards hanging next to them in a person’s home. You may choose to send a digital card to people whom you know will enjoy hearing from you that way and send traditional cards to digitally challenged individuals. Review your list (tip 2 above) and see if your recipients are better served with a digital or a traditional greeting.
- Bag the brag. Beware the long message detailing all your and your family’s accomplishments during the past year. It’s a greeting card, not an in-depth accounting of all your activities.
- Do you have to reciprocate? No. But remember, if you don’t, you may find yourself not receiving a card in the future. It’s a good idea to order a few extra cards in case you would like to reciprocate with someone who sends you a card for the first time. As the sender, send to whom you want and don’t be annoyed if someone doesn’t send one in return.
- Work or home? If you want to give a greeting card to a work colleague, send it to his or her home or give it outside of the office. That way you avoid the possibility of others feeling unappreciated.
Typically, you wait until the event actually happens before you offer condolences. At least that’s what etiquette says. Offering condolences before a person actually passes (weird how we use the word “passed” rather than “died”) is definitely like putting the cart before the horse.
There’s an etiquette question: Is it more appropriate to say “passed” rather than “died” as in “My uncle passed last week.” Somehow using the word died has a harsh reality to it that “passed” avoids. Even so, I’m really not sure that one is better than the other. I think it depends on the individual and his or her comfort with the words.
There’s one silver lining in this black rain cloud for me: Kudos to Google for being up front about its plans. They’ve given us a year or more to prepare. But honestly, who prepares? Certainly I haven’t.
Well that’s not entirely true. I googled “alternative to iGoogle homepage” a few weeks ago. I even clicked on one or two alternatives. But nothing got me excited. So as is wont with all things Internet, when I wasn’t instantly satisfied, I blew the whole effort off and haven’t made any attempt to find an alternative since.
And now the end is fast approaching. And there really is absolutely nothing I can do to change the outcome except to say, “Thank you Google, for being my gateway to the Internet all these years. I’m sorry to see you go.”
Lets consign the oyster fork to dust bin of dining history. Here’s why I say that.
I ate oysters and clams this weekend. On the half shell. Fresh out of Katama Bay on Martha’s Vineyard. Nestled in ice. Consumed as soon as they were opened. Simply beyond compare.
I’ve been opening and eating clams and oysters on the half shell pretty much my whole life. I have movies of my father wading in knee-deep water at a secret clamming spot, finding clams with his toes, picking them up, opening them right then and there, and slurping them down. Frankly, as a youngster, I had no idea there was any other way to eat them other than squeezing a little lemon on the freshly opened clam and then picking up the half shell of pure ambrosia and sliding that luscious morsel into my mouth.
Whenever I’m out and anyone orders oysters, I see them look at the oysters and then at the oyster fork and hesitate. I can see them thinking: “That fork is there for a reason so I better use it.”
Have you ever tried eating an oyster or a clam with an oyster fork? It’s messy. You try to spear it, and maybe you succeed. But still it dangles from the fork most unappetizingly, and then you drip all that good clam or oyster juice onto the plate, your napkin, or maybe your blouse or shirt as well.
And still, my advice is if you’re out at a restaurant with your boss or someone else equally important to you, in spite of your reservations about using the oyster fork, do it. Try your best to balance that slippery devil on the fork or spear it and get it to your mouth without making a mess.
But if you’re the boss or the important person, or you’re with friends, I hope you might recognize the ridiculousness of the situation and alleviate the oyster/clam eater from his or her misery. “John (or Mary or Dan or Betty), please go ahead and pick up that oyster on the half shell and enjoy it the way it should be eaten.”
There is something exquisite about the flavor of a fresh oyster on a half shell. It is the taste of the sea. Everyone who was eating them with me this weekend commented on that special flavor. And they all enjoyed them on the half shell the way they should be eaten.
Etiquette does change over time. Take, for instance, the issue of looking a person in the eye. The Emily Post Institute’s etiquette advice has been pretty consistent: Look a person in the eye because it is the way you connect and show your honesty and sincerity.
A recent report on NPR.org shed new light on the issue of looking a person in the eye, which gives an interesting twist to our advice.
According to the research, if you are dealing with a person positively, if you are in agreement with the person, if you are trying to radiate feelings of love or appreciation, then looking a person in the eye is to your benefit. But, if you are trying to change a person’s mind about something or if a person disagrees with you, then looking him or her in the eye seems to reinforce your differences rather than bridging the gap.
The study in the NPR story had forty-two university students view videos. The result: The students "who saw videos with content they disagreed with, who looked at the speakers' eyes changed their attitudes less than the people who looked at the speakers' mouths. They also said they were less interested in hearing more about the views presented."
One can only conclude, contrary to the etiquette advice we’ve offered for years, that if you are in an argument and you hope to change a person’s mind, then you might actually be better off looking at the person’s face in general, and focusing on the person’s mouth.
As a practical matter, what does this really mean? When you meet someone and shake hands, when you are in an interview for a job, when you are enjoying an evening out with friends, the etiquette advice holds true: Look ‘em in the eye. It’ll help you build the relationship. But when you get in an argument or disagreement with another person, then perhaps averting your gaze just slightly to another part of the person’s face might just help you convince him or her of your position or point of view.
Just the other day a friend in New York City asked me if it’s unacceptable to stare while at work. It seems a co-worker had been staring at people in their cubicles as he walked by, and people were feeling very uncomfortable about it.
By no means is staring just a business problem. I first became aware of it as a gym etiquette issue when I was writing Essential Manners for Men (Harper 2003, 2nd Edition 2012). I heard repeatedly from women about the annoyance and even anger they felt when a guy stared at them as they worked out. Gym clothes can be baggy or they can be tight fitting and not leave much to the imagination. Then there are tattoos. I’ve always thought that if a person has a visible tattoo, that they should expect other people to take a moment and look at it.
My first experience with the tattoo came in a yoga class. The young woman in front of me had a large tattoo on her back which was partially covered by her top. As an art history major in college, I was familiar with Matisse’s The Dance. There it was, or so I thought, squarely on her back. I looked, several times. But that’s the real point here: I looked. Discreetly. When her back was turned to me. I even thought about it and made the effort not to let my look turn into a stare.
What’s the difference? When you look at something or at a person as you glance around, your focus stays with you and what you are doing. When you stop thinking about what you are doing and your eyes and your conscious mind focus like a laser beam on the person you are looking at, your look becomes a stare. And the other person? She (or he) realizes she is the object of your stare. And that’s when you’ve crossed the line.
For my friend in New York, she’s right: The person walking by the cubicles is staring, not looking. His focus is on the person in the cubicle and he is making that person uncomfortable. Time to stop staring and start looking.
I wandered into the Damn You Autocorrect website. Funny stuff. My guess is we’ve all been the victim of autocorrect gone wild at one time or another. The point I like to make in talks about digital technology is that whereas autocorrect can be funny though embarrassing at times, it’s cousin, autofill, which works its magic on the TO field in emails, is downright dangerous.
I got talking about autofill one day at the Emily Post offices and heard a story that drives home how careful everyone should be, not just with the text and subject lines of an email, but with the intended recipient as well.
A young gentleman was introduced to a prospective employer at a job fair. The employer was impressed and asked the young man to come to the business for an interview. It turns out the young man’s good friend, Hazel, I’ll call her, worked as the employer’s administrative assistant. So he sent her an email asking her for any insights she might have to help him in the interview. She wrote back to him explaining in detail that her boss was a slob who was puffed up with his own self-importance. Except for him she really liked the place.
And then she filled in the TO field, or rather, autofill did it for her. Unfortunately, her friend and her boss had the same first name. She typed the first couple of letters, autofill did the rest and she hit enter and then send.
Big mistake. The email went to her boss rather than her friend. She was out of a job by the end of the day.
Autofill—it’s great because it speeds up typing and avoids misspelling names or email addresses, but it requires constant vigilance on your part not to make the same mistake as Hazel.
I was watching the BMW tournament on Saturday afternoon. As sure as the sun rises in the east, I could hear a fan shout “In the hole” a fraction of a second after a shot was made. I marvel at the ability of the pros to completely ignore such inane outbursts.
But then, within the space of about forty-five minutes a couple of boorish fans went over the limit. Sergio Garcia was the first victim. Right in the middle of his backswing on his second shot to the par 5 18th hole, a “Go Tiger” resounded across the fairway, clearly meant to rattle Garcia. Garcia mishit his shot, and then he looked for the perpetrator off to his left. To his credit, he just shook his head and started up the fairway.
The second incident occurred when Zach Johnson was putting on the 18th green. He missed his putt and as he walked to mark the ball, Johnson looked up all of a sudden and started scanning the crowd. Clearly, someone had said something to get Johnson’s attention. While you could not hear what the fan said to him, later reports indicated it went something like “Zach, you suck!” Johnson then sunk his tap-in putt to finish the round. His playing partner, Nick Watney, then sunk his putt, shook hands with Johnson and started pointing at a person in the crowd. As they left the green the two of them went over to the stands and pointed again. Then Johnson and Watney had what appeared to be words with the offensive individual before heading out to sign their cards.
So the question is: Does a ticket to attend a sporting event include the right to shout insults at the athletes?
When is enough, enough? When such behavior is condoned because nothing is done about it, then the perpetrators will assume, quite correctly, that the behavior is acceptable and continue to do it.
Johnny Miller, the preeminent announcer/analyst in the game, has commented that the best way pros can deal with this kind of idiocy is to do what Garcia did: Ignore it and move on.
But what about the PGA? When is it going to decide to hold fans accountable for their rude behavior? As long as these loudmouths aren’t sanctioned for their actions, they will continue.
What do you think? Is a ticket to an event a ticket to shout insults at the athletes? If not, what should be done to deal with people who do?
Labor Day just passed us by and with it a dictum that has confused people for decades: Do you have to stop wearing white after Labor Day?
Not so surprisingly, that question has come up in conversations several times in the past week. Frankly, I’m used to getting asked etiquette questions even when I’m not in an official Emily Post etiquette capacity. A person learns that Emily was my great grandmother, and then there always seems to be a question. And at this time of the year that question inevitably is about when it’s appropriate to wear white.
So here’s the answer: Anytime. That’s right, you can wear white before Memorial Day and after Labor Day. That said, as with anything etiquette, temper the “rule” with a little practical reality. The whole wearing white during the summer season was always more a question of fashion than etiquette. White jeans in the winter, Why not? They’re warm and comfortable and as long as they’re clean, no problem. But thin linen pants of any color on a blustery, snowy day in Vermont? Get real. So the real issue with clothes, any clothes isn’t some date centric rule, it’s about wearing what makes sense.
Clothes are a way of showing respect for the people you are with and the event you are attending. Much more important than the issue of wearing white is whether the clothes you choose are clean, wrinkle free, and scentless. By choosing clothes that reflect the event as well, you are showing respect not only for the people you are with, but also for the other people there as well. If those clothes are white, clean and fit the occasion, then you can rest assured they are appropriate anytime.
“A manager at a large utility company recently had to teach his young employee what a dial tone was and explain that desktop phones don’t require you to press ‘Send.’” Wall Street Journal, August 27.
I was driving through Boston when I heard a news report on WBZ about millennials having trouble with real office desk phones at work. I had to find out more so I Googled “millennials won’t use phones” and up popped an article by Anita Hofschneider on the Wall Street Journal website.
It turns out there are people—millennials primarily—who don’t like to use office phones because they think a phone call is an interruption. The Wall Street Journal article expanded on this notion: “The company (Paperless Post) says not having individual phone lines in open-plan areas protects people from unwanted calls, which can interrupt conversations.” There’s a novel idea: We’re in business, but we don’t want to receive phone calls that could be business because we want to protect our workers who are having a conversation from being interrupted.
Following the logic that unplanned calls are an interruption, the article goes on to introduce a 32-year old technology officer at Technossus a business software company, who believes an email before a call is the way to go. I hope he doesn’t call me, or tons of other people I know who don’t drop everything every time an email comes in just to read it. Talk about interruptions—email may well be the single biggest interruption in a business day. If a person lets his email notification chime every time a new email arrives, he will waste untold amounts of time interrupting what he is doing to look at the email. The alternative is to batch process emails at regular intervals during the day, which cuts down on the interruption significantly. Batch processing also means if you email me to tell me you’re going to call me, I very well may not see your email before you call me. So now you risk not only interrupting me, you’re clogging my email box with useless emails. Hmmmmm.
The point here isn’t that phone calls are an interruption and communicating by email or text is more considerate. The point is that the successful businessperson knows how and when to use every communication option and does so to his or her advantage. Phones and phone calls are not going to go away, and the person who simply unplugs the phone on the assumption that the call isn’t important or that people who have something important to communicate should do it via email is going to miss out on opportunities. Knowing how to use phones—including a real old-fashioned desk phone with buttons and multiple lines and a handset you pick up and even a dial tone—is a basic skill people in business need to have. Similarly, knowing when to email and how to email appropriately is a basic business skill. Likewise texting is becoming mainstream in business just as email is.
Communication is a two-way street. The smart businessperson recognizes that different people communicate better or worse with different communication tools. Client A may use email while for Client B a phone call is by far the best communication method. Not respecting their differences in communication styles can end up having unintended consequences: like lost business.
What percentage do you think is reasonable for tipping at a restaurant?
15%? 20%? 25%?
How about 2336%? That’s right: two thousand three hundred thirty six percent.
That’s what a $5,000 tip amounts to on a $214 bill. And that, according to a story on the Huffington Post, is what the lucky bartender(s) at Brewskis Bar in Ogden, Utah enjoyed a few days ago. The big tipper didn’t stop there either. He went on to another bar, ran up a $49 tab and left a $1,000 tip. Maybe he was feeling a little less generous because that tip only amounted to 2040%.
In a similar incident in May, The New York Daily News reported that a waiter received a $5,000 tip from a couple who wishes to remain anonymous. He works tables at Rice Village restaurant in Texas. A couple he had served for years knew he needed a car—it turns out his car had been totaled during a bad storm in Houston. Interestingly, while he appreciated the gift the couple gave him in the form of a tip, “To me, it would be more of a gift if it was a loan.”
Now, I’m not suggesting we start tipping the way these people did. Their tips were acts of kindness and generosity that transcended the traditional tip. But in today’s world just how much is a traditional tip? For a long time tipping advisors suggested 15%. But, frankly, the math was complicated for many people: figure ten percent of the bill, divide that in half and add it to the ten percent to get the fifteen percent tip.
Most everyone I speak to about tipping says they now tip twenty percent. “Why?” I’ll ask. The answer is, “It’s easier.” Simply double the bill and whack off the right most number. For instance, the tip on that $214 bill is easily figured: 214 doubled equals 428, so the twenty percent tip is $42 or you could round up to $43.
Prince Charles has a patch. On his suit. And he’s even worn the suit, with the patch, seven times, at least according to The Telegraph. Photos, dates, places—they’re all there for a Web surfer to see.
It all started on July 3 when Prince Charles visited BBC Roath Lock Studios in Cardiff. I can easily see how this happened: On the way to the event, a snag leads to a tear and a quick fix is accomplished.
But then on July 12, the suit appeared in public for a second time at the Big Connect event in Islington. And then the sightings continued throughout July: July 22, July 23, July 28, July 29.
One might wonder if the Prince has only the one suit. Or maybe it’s a favorite suit. Or maybe he’s showing a thrifty side of the royal family.
Regardless, the question is, is it okay to wear clothing that has been patched? Certainly, it has been acceptable for men to wear sports jackets or blazers with patches on the elbow. After all, why toss a perfectly good jacket if the only wear and tear is on the elbows, where wear and tear happen first?
What are the guidelines for wearing clothing that’s been patched?
First, the patch should be unobtrusive. It took me a couple of minutes and looking at several pictures to be sure that the spot on Prince Charles’ jacket was in fact a patch and not just some wrinkles.
Second, you should take care as to what event you would wear the patched clothing. A job interview: probably not. Dinner with friends: okay. A visit to a flower show: works for me, and clearly it worked for Prince Charles. Where your goal is to look nice and have a good time at a casual event: great. But if your goal is to truly impress and the outcome really matters: consider something else.
Regardless of patch or not, more important is that the clothes be clean, odor free, stain free, and fit well.
Bravo Charles. He likes his suit; the patch is unobtrusive and he’s displaying a kind of thrifty attitude, which I think reflects well on the monarchy.
What do you think? Patches okay or not okay? For Prince Charles? For you?
I often counsel people to be especially careful about what they post online as it reflects on themselves. Post a picture of you over-enjoying beers at a beach party and it may have a negative impact on you when you seek a job.
Or if a friend posts the picture and you object, what can you do about it? Untag yourself from the photo, sure; but can you remove the photo? No, the only way to get it removed is to ask the person who posted it to remove it.
All these possibilities lead to one over-riding rule for posting photos online, especially photos of other people, double especially for photos of children. When you take the photos, let the people know you’d like to post them, and ask their permission, or ask the permission of the child’s parents. (The easiest time to do this is right when you take the photo.) You could save a friendship.
But what about photos you’ve posted? Is a photo you post on an Internet social media site fair game for anyone to copy and use; is it in the “public domain?”
Chelsea Chaney, was a high school senior at Starr's Mill High School in Fayetteville, Georgia when a photo she posted of herself in a red bikini appeared in a slide show her school prepared and presented titled, “Internet Safety.”
ABC News, along with other news media, reported that Chelsea was suing her school district for $2,000,000 for having used the photo without her permission.
But, you say, she posted it online. Doesn’t that make it in the public domain and usable by anyone? Certainly, Chelsea doesn’t think so. And neither does her lawyer: "The photo was used without Chelsea's permission, and it was chosen because she is a very attractive girl who was in a bikini, something that can be easily twisted and used as an example of how one humiliates themselves on the Internet," said Pete Wellborn, Chaney's attorney.
In an article on the Texas Center for Community Journalism website Chip Stewart, Assistant Professor at TCU Schieffer School of Journalism, explains that a photo you shoot and put up on the Internet is protected by copyright. “Why shouldn't the person who took that photo be entitled to the same kind of protection that, say, a professional photographer should if somebody used his or her work without paying for it?” And, Stewart goes on to point out, “People who feel hurt will find ways to hurt you back, and they have all the legal rights they need if you violate their copyright by reposting a photo. So don't do it.”
If you do want to post or repost a photo someone else has taken, your best bet is to contact the photographer and ask permission. And get the permission writing. Otherwise don’t post it. Legalities aside, it’s the polite thing to do.
We’ve all seen them, those crazy stories in the sidebars of internet news pages. Recently, I was reading a CNN.com story online when I noticed a list of “More from CNN Video” which included:
- Diver: I saw two mountains in the water
- Neighbor tipped off police to smell
- The woman Anthony Weiner was sexting
- Crocodile bites down onto trainer’s head
- Airline passenger gets TOO comfortable
“What crazy thing has happened on an airplane now?” I thought to myself as I skipped over the possibility of seeing the person Anthony Weiner was sexting.
People do some amazing things on airplanes. It turns out a woman sat down in a seat next to a man and quite quickly not just nodded off, but her head landed in his lap.
He tried getting her to sit back up. No luck. So of course he did the next best thing: he filmed a video of the situation with his phone, maybe to prove it really happened or maybe to see how many views he could get because he posted the video on YouTube. Somehow the video made its way from YouTube to CNN. It turns out that after a few attempts to get her out of his lap he finally succeeded. She solved the problem for him by promptly tilting over into the lap of the guy on her other side.
With all the time in the world to think about it, my Monday morning quarterback decision would be to push the call button and get a flight attendant to help get the lady out of my lap and recline her seat so she could continue her nap without spending the flight in my lap.
Flying is an adventure for sure. It used to be glamorous. Passengers dressed up, flight attendants served mini but elegant meals with real cutlery and cloth napkins, and Pan Am would make up your berth for your overnight flight. Not so today – where the closest thing to a berth is the lap next door. What stories do you have about the unbelievable, amazing things you’ve seen airline passengers do? Leave your story in a comment below.
Congratulations Kate and William on the arrival of your baby boy!
That’s what you say to a couple who have just enjoyed the birth of a new baby.
But what other baby arrival etiquette is there? Surprisingly, there are several things you should be aware of.
Pre-arrival, a relative or close friend of the parent(s)-to-be may arrange a baby shower. Here’s what to remember about showers and gift-giving:
- The mother-to-be shouldn’t host or plan her own shower. That’s like asking friends to give you a gift. Very tacky.
- If you are invited to a baby shower and plan to attend, you should definitely bring a gift. If you’re not sure what to bring, ask the hostess for some suggestions. She should be primed and ready with several possibilities in a variety of price ranges. Remember, the gift should be within your budget, not something you really can’t afford.
- If you don’t plan to attend then you are off the hook for giving a gift, unless you would like to anyway.
- If you’re not invited to a shower but want to give a gift, that’s okay, but it may be better to present your gift when you first visit with the parents and new arrival. Giving it at or near the time of the shower may appear that you are miffed you weren’t invited.
- People always ask us; so, yes, it’s okay to have a shower for subsequent babies.
Post arrival, what other issues should you consider as you arrive for the first visit or call to offer your best wishes?
- Call first to schedule your visit at a convenient time.
- Don’t ask questions about the details of the delivery. Focus your questions instead on the baby and how the parents are doing.
- Don’t relate the story of your horrendous experience at any time. This isn’t about you; it’s about the new parents and their baby.
- Regardless of your opinion of the name of the child, be complimentary.
- Keep your visit or phone call short.
It’s the height of summer and people are taking to the roads for summer holiday trips. My wife and I left on our vacation trip on Sunday, and we were quickly reminded of three driving actions that can end up testing your patience if not triggering road rage.
- Failure to focus on the road. We were driving along a four-lane road when the car in front of us drifted into our lane. My wife, who was in the passenger seat, let out a yelp as she thought she was about to make the lady’s acquaintance. The yelp was followed by an expletive (not her usual style) as she noticed the driver of the other car was talking away on a cell phone, completely oblivious of the near accident she had almost caused. Of course you can up the ante to the even worse cell/smart phone crime: texting while driving. It’s gotten to the point now that almost every time I see a person driving a little erratically, I realize the person is talking on a cell phone. Put the phone away, have a passenger talk for you, or pull off to use your phone. As the sign in Vermont says, “Hang up and drive!”
- The “I-can-be-anywhere-I-want” driver. This person plunks himself down in the passing lane, drives slower than the traffic and makes cars go around him on the right. On the Interstate in northern Vermont this person isn’t much of a hazard as there are few enough cars on the road. But on Interstate 95 going around Boston (or any other urban area) with people peeling around this person in obvious frustration, not signaling and cutting off other cars, the likelihood of an accident increases immeasurably. Leave the passing lane open for drivers to use to pass.
- The “I’ve-never-heard-of-a-four-way-stop” person. Since we have been in kindergarten, we’ve all been taught to take turns, and four-way stops are the epitome of that lesson. Yet, routinely, people don’t wait at a four-way stop but barge through when it’s not their turn. You can sense the collective deep breath, as the other drivers suppress their annoyance. One more uptick on the road rage trigger.
I get it: It’s hot; the roads are crowded; you’re in a hurry; you have to catch a plane, or make a ferry reservation, Almost all the rules in the Driver’s Ed manual are based on courtesy for other drivers and your passengers. Courteous driving leads to safety for all of us. That little extra courtesy, that little extra bit of awareness and attention could make the trip more pleasant, could prevent an accident could save a life. Maybe even your own.
I got an email just the other day. There, at the end, was a smiley face: (:
The weird part was the smiley face was backward. When I key it instead as a semicolon followed by a closed parenthesis mark, I end up with ☺.
But I digress. I understood that the writer really intended a smiley face. Maybe it was just a typo.
“Thank you for letting me know what you think (:”. That’s how the writer closed the email, and I’m okay with it. In my book, the smiley face passes muster:
• at the end of an email,
• as a way of ending on a positive note,
• in a friendly email (preferably not a business email).
I wouldn’t recommend it all the time, but once in a while its upbeat message resonates with me. Kind of like finishing a conversation and making sure that as you say “Thanks,” you also smile. After all, that’s what I would recommend a person should do at the conclusion of a conversation. Smile.
But what about using the old smiley face in the body of a message? There, it seems to me, they take on a different meaning: “Hey, in case you missed it, what I just wrote was a joke, a bit of sarcasm, and I want to be sure you know that’s how I meant it.”
Oooops. When you write something and then have to put a qualifying symbol on it to make sure the recipient doesn't misinterpret it, that’s when you should probably go back and reread what you’ve written. Ask yourself if maybe your note needs editing or deleting. Humorous writing is hard to do. Dave Barry does it. Carl Hiaasen does it. David Sedaris and Steve Martin do it. But they’re the exceptions to the rule.
So, next time you think about using a smiley face to convince the recipient about the intent of the tone of your writing, put it aside for a few minutes and then reread it before sending it. Better yet, if you still need the smiley, pick up the phone to deliver your message. You may just save yourself a big headache.
I fell victim to a classic male syndrome last Thursday: I didn’t want to ask for help finding my way to someplace.
Now, in my defense, I had input the destination on my iPhone and carefully followed the message prompts to the address. Unfortunately, the address turned out to be a private residence and not the business I was looking for. Later, the people at my destination explained that I was not the first person to be led to the wrong location by a map app. They also noted that the other people had then called the company for directions.
That’s what I should have done; but, no, I was determined to find the place on my own. So I spent the next half-hour becoming more and more hopelessly lost. Luckily, I didn’t have an appointment at a fixed time, or I would have compounded my error by being inexcusably late. Finally, I broke down, pulled over to the side of the road, and called.
I was on Interstate 84 heading east at exit 41 I explained. “Turn around, get on 84 going west and call us after you get off on exit 39.” I pulled aside once I was on exit 39 and called again. In my earlier wanderings, I had actually been right there at exit 39 but turned left when I should have turned right. My hubris tripped me up, but at least now I was heading in the right direction and had my client’s (not my phone’s) reassuring voice guiding me to my destination. A few minutes later I arrived.
My lesson: Call as soon as something is amiss. Cell phone directions are great when they work and that cheery voice has navigated me efficiently and correctly to numerous destinations. But when it fails, I need to swallow my pride, pull over, and call right away. I don’t even think about trying to correct the problem while driving, not even with Siri. That’s a fast way to have an accident. Better yet, call your destination ahead of time and get directions straight from the source.
The handshake isn’t just an abstract symbol of greeting or congratulations. It is a real interaction—a moment of physical connection through the actual touching of hands. That contact serves to ever so briefly create a bond between the people shaking hands. It reinforces the message being communicated through speech. That’s why it is so important when we greet each other.
Typically, Americans aren’t touchy-feely people. Studies have shown that we really get uncomfortable if a person stands closer to us than eighteen inches. So it stands to reason that the physical contact of a handshake is a moment in which we impinge on that comfort zone and assure each other of our trust and pleasure at being together.
Besides greetings, handshakes are commonly used when we offer congratulations. One of the most recognized moments of congratulation occurs during graduation ceremonies, only in this case the person doing the congratulating doesn’t do it just once, he or she can be on the hook to shake hundreds if not thousands of hands in a short period of time.
Does the handshake at graduation matter and is it worth the possible discomfort the president or chancellor or whoever will experience after so many handshakes? The LA Times examined the question in a June 19 article Graduations can be a real handful. It seems the congratulatory handshake is still perceived as an important part of the graduation ceremony: “UC Santa Cruz Chancellor George Blumenthal attended seven graduation ceremonies over three days last weekend — shaking about 3,500 hands. He's averaged that many for the last seven years, he said. 'Some years my hand has been sore, one year my shoulder hurt, but I was in pretty good shape this year,' he said. 'I'm honored to do it. Every hand I shook, those students worked hard for four years and accomplished a lot — that's what keeps me going.'"
As you attend graduation ceremonies this year, enjoy the moment that has arrived and is a culmination of years of work. Appreciate the moment when your graduate receives a diploma and shakes hands. And then, as you watch the procession of hundreds or more cross the dais, take a moment to appreciate the person doing the handshaking, too.
About the author
Since 2004, Peter Post has tackled readers' questions in The Boston Sunday Globe's weekly business etiquette advice column, Etiquette at Work. Post is the co-author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business" and conducts business etiquette seminars across the country. In October 2003 his book "Essential Manners For Men" was released and quickly became a New York Times best seller. He is also the author of "Essential Manners for Couples," "Playing Through–A Guide to the Unwritten Rules of Golf," and co-author of "A Wedding Like No Other." Post is Emily Post's great-grandson. His media appearances include "CBS Sunday Morning," CBS's "The Early Show," NBC's "Today," ABC's "Good Morning America," and "Fox News."