Category Archives: Please and Thank you

Off with your kit

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Is this going to be the theme of my next dinner party… How to follow the etiquette of nude dining?

For the Huffington Post 18 Mar 2014

by by Ruth Wertzberger Carlson

Once upon a time, etiquette was important: One needed to know which fork to use, which glass to sip from. Those days, my friends, are over. Now, questions of etiquette mainly revolve around how many Instagrams each guest is allowed to take during dinner.

But there remains one corner of the world where table etiquette remains a vexing and important issue: at nude resorts. And it’s a problem for a growing number of people.

“We’re seeing a rise in ‘nakations,’ especially among people in their thirties,'” says Sue Nerud, spokesperson for the American Association for Nude Recreation. Exact statistics are hard to come by, however, since many nudists prefer to remain anonymous. (In fact, several nudists in this article spoke only on the condition their names not be used.) And while Nerud said recent studies show that nakations are great stress relievers, there remain those pesky etiquette issues — which we are about to solve for you!

1. Towel On: “Naked butts at the table are a big no-no,” says travel writer and photographer David Lansing, who likes to take off his press hat (and everything else) at nudist resorts around the world. For reasons of basic health and safety, everyone brings a towel to sit on. More proof that, as fans of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy know all too well, a towel is “the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker” — or hungry nudist — “can have.”

2. Just Because We’re All Naked Doesn’t Mean We’re All Friends: “You should wait to be invited to a table,” says Lansing. “This isn’t like going on a cruise; even though there may be eight or 10 people at a large table, they usually all know each other, and there will be a very uncomfortable pause in the conversation if you just sit down at a table uninvited. That said, nudists are some of the friendliest people I’ve met and invariably you’ll be asked to join one group or another for lunch or dinner. But do wait to be asked.”

3. Listen to Your Mother — Use a Napkin! “As a matter of etiquette,” says advice columnist April Masini, “covering your private parts with a napkin while at a nudist event is good manners the same way not chewing with your mouth open is. We all know it’s there; we all know what’s happening; we don’t need to see everything at dinner. Just because you take your clothes off doesn’t mean you should strip yourself of manners.”

4. Some Don’t Like It Hot: “Most nudists resorts will hold traditional barbecues, and first-timers need to be careful around the ‘weenie roast,'” says Tom Mulhall, who owns the Terra Cotta Inn in Palm Springs, California, and blogs about nudism on The Huffington Post. Nor is the grill the only danger — the dinner table, too, can be hazardous. “Don’t allow your waiter to serve you a bowl of hot soup. He can spill into your lap,” notes photography instructor Eugene Louie, who visits clothing-optional resorts for self-reflection.

4. Listen to Your Mother, Part 2: “Sit up straight,” says Masini. “Good posture at the dinner table is always a way to show good breeding and good manners, but when you’re nude, slouching and elbows akimbo are not only more noticeable — they create a silhouette that is less attractive than if you have clothes on. Sit up straight!”

5. No One Will Pardon Your Reach: “Don’t reach — even if you think it’s not a reach,” says Masini. “Nude or naturist dining requires a greater margin of coordination and control. Without a bra, and with a well-endowed chest, reaching — even a little — may result in your breasts in the marinara sauce.”

6. There Is Such a Thing as Too Casual. “Casual dining doesn’t mean you can put your ankle across your knee, or your feet up on the coffee table — even if it’s an outdoor barbecue with paper plates,” says Masini. “Reconsider the view others will have while eating.” Of course, if you keep a napkin in your lap, this won’t be an issue.

7. Eyes Up Here, Buddy! “I’d say the most important table etiquette for nudists is no staring,” says Lansing. “It’s not unusual for nudists to just wrap a gauzy sarong around them as they go straight from the pool (or beach) to the table, so you want to try really hard to maintain eye contact.” Instead of discussing people’s bodies, it’s safer to talk about the food.

8. Food Porn, OK. Real Porn, No Way! Go ahead and Instagram your dinner if the resort allows it, says Nerud, but don’t shoot other guests unless they sign a photo release form.

9. Chill Out: If you’re nervous about dining in the buff, don’t be. The resort owners I spoke to all said concerns about being naked usually go away after 15 minutes. Nude dining seems naturally relaxing: You don’t have to think about what to wear (or dry-cleaning bills), and you never have to loosen your belt if you overeat. Although, actually, I can’t think of a better motivation to lose weight than the fact that everyone can see your gut (and everything else).

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Hey! Are you talking to me?

on the phone marilyn

So, earlier today, I was chatting on the phone with one of my dear friends Sarah H-W. Sarah and I were engrossed in interesting and poignant topics, the likes of which women get drawn to when they should be busy doing something else, but can’t resist stealing some time to get some “girlfriend chatter” into the day. This can be as simple as a ten minute catch up, to swap advice and stories and make practical plans for forthcoming events, or it can develop into an altogether lengthier conversation, that requires a cup of tea, planting yourself in your favourite chair, and solving all life’s mysteries…

Mid-way through our conversation together, Sarah and I found ourselves addressing a nasty habit that we would (naturally) never do to another. It starts off innocently enough, of course. You’re on the phone with a friend, or anyone for that matter, and you’re both entirely focused and engaged in conversation……or so you think. Then all of a sudden, you can hear through your earpiece the click clack of a keyboard being used. Sarah and I agree…. this is very very rude. How can it not be rude? It sends a clear message that the other person is multitasking, and not giving you the undivided attention expected when making phone calls.

Where things got more complicated however, was our discussion around what might be the appropriate way to deal with this situation. Should you call them on it immediately by saying “hello, I can hear you typing…”?! Or would this seem a strange admonishment to one who thinks it perfectly acceptable to type and speak at the same time. Are these sorts of people  a different species, or have they simply not yet read “etqt-modern etiquette” to realise that others might disagree with their behaviour?

It got us thinking, then: just what type of multi-tasking is acceptable?

We came up with a very short list: when kids are involved, it’s important to keep children’s safety as a top priority, but that does not include allowing your child to interrupt you during a phone conversation just to tell you they want you to make them a sandwich.

Perhaps also acceptable is to proffer a caveat before starting a conversation: as a chef, I’m often baking when my phone rings. I may be putting cakes in the oven, or watching chocolate temper… If I see that a friend is calling, then I’m happy to chat, but will preface the conversation that I might be a tad distracted due to the cooking.

But what about the phone call from the car phone? I still haven’t decided if it’s rude, or just practical, to take, or make, calls from my car phone. It does offer a bit of “quiet time” when my day can be so filled with other distractions at work or at home. But on the other hand, it also sends a message that because I couldn’t fit you into busy day, so I’m just cramming you in whilst I’ve got nothing better to do. Rarely do I have long phone calls with friends when I’m driving, but I am definitely a culprit in calling my parents to work out family logistics, and absolutely use car phone to make most of my life’s appointments, including hair salons and doctors visits.

So, how do these differ from the phone call when you absolutely know that the person is doing something completely distracting… Is the message they are sending you that they don’t care enough about you to show the right etiquette? Or are they just believing that the modern world is full of multi-taskers like them and that there is nothing impolite, inconsiderate or discourteous about such behaviour? Or maybe, they actually believe that you can’t actually hear them typing anyway?

As with so many etiquette conundrums, it seems, there is no absolute consensus of opinion around multitasking. However, after some research (and discounting the obvious solution – to buy a silent keyboard  which merely makes the culprit more clever but no less devoid of etiquette!) I discovered the following “Do’s and Don’ts” from Good Phone Etiquette in the Home Office

When the telephone is your business lifeline, good phone manners count.

By Laureen Miles Brunelli, About.com Guide

  • Don’t read texts, email or instant messages while talking on the phone. If necessary close these programs or turn off your monitor, so you aren’t tempted to read.
  • Don’t type while on the phone. Your caller may be able to hear you typing.
  • Don’t multitask excessively when talking on the phone. This would include surfing the web while talking. You may be able to do some simple tasks that don’t involve reading or writing, but it’s better not to.
  • Do try to keep the caller on the subject at hand. Your attention is more likely to wander when your caller goes off on a tangent. Tactfully guide the subject back and/orend the call professionally.
  • Don’t allow others to interrupt you while you are on the phone. Other members of the household should know your ground rules regarding interruptions. Put the caller on hold briefly (and only one time) until you can give him or her your full attention.
  • Do ask to speak to the caller at a later time, setting a time for when you or the caller will phone again.

Today’s article is co-written by Sarah H-W and Ursula Z.

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To tag, or not to tag?

tagged

 

At a fun dinner party last night, the topic of Facebook was raised. My friend, who must remain nameless, was recounting how she had been photographed in an unflattering pose during a recent holiday with close friends.

She is an avid horse rider, and after a long ride, she was resting on a log, with her legs relaxed, but slightly laid apart, and her hair, though clean, had helmet head, her friends decided to take some photos, as souvenirs.

All of this did not bother my friend in the least, but what did bother her, is that on returning home from her weekend away, she switched on her computer and decided to see how the rest of her world was faring on Facebook, only to find this less than elegant photo of her, and her friends declaring how fantastic a weekend they had had.

Though my friend has a very relaxed nature, she was taken aback that such a photo could so easily be published, without her approval, let alone without her acknowledgement.

Her name had been tagged, so she did have the option to untag herself, but that left her wondering how many photos there were of herself that she didn’t even know about. And also why a friend of her would publish photos that were not attractive.

This got me thinking about how people do easily publish photos of friends, or family, without their consent, and even if we do tag them, we feel we have ownership of those photos, so have every right to do whatever we please with them.

I’m definitely a culprit of this behaviour. I’m always taking snaps with my iPhone whenever I want a souvenir. I also use Facebook as a means of sharing my life’s activities with my friends, family and their extended friends. I’ve set up the privacy controls to limit strangers from accessing my page and photos, but, to be honest, I don’t really know if the privacy extends to those who I tag in my photos.

So, I decided, that I’d better check the correct etiquette when it comes to publishing photos and tagging on my social networks like Facebook, tumblr, Twitter,  instagram, etc.

On doing research about Facebook, and how it differs to other social media, is that we consider Facebook profiles our portrayal of ourselves. We upload status’s and photos in the hope to define ourselves to others. We choose how much, or how little, we want to share. Some people like to share their social experiences, whereas, some don’t. Some, like me, have many friends in distant countries, and who like to publicise to their friends what’s going on, in a way to keep the geographical distance seem less distant. And the level of privacy varies amongst individuals just as much as any other factor with communication in our lives.

Having said that, it’s still considered bad form to tag friends in photos without their prior consent. If the circle of communication were closed, it might be more tolerable, but given that it’s impossible to contain the reach of anything on the internet, it is just considerate, thoughtful and yes, the right etiquette, to leave all parties untagged until they do so themselves.

I have just checked my daughters Facebook page, and it’s not surprising, but still disconcerting, to see how many of her friends (of which I have met about 25%), have tagged her in photos. Thankfully, I do know where she is at any given time (she’s 13 years old), so I’m never surprised by the parties, but I am surprised by the number of tags to other teenagers Facebook pages.

Tumblr and instagram posts seem to be driven by the account holder. Yes, comments can always be made that may upset you, but typically you are the one to instigate the conversation, so you have the control of what people see about yourself.

Twitter is more like a news feed, and also typically driven by you, the author. It does seem to be more about getting information about others, or just sharing snippets of information about yourself. Less weighty than it’s cousin Facebook.

Maybe it’s generational, and maybe there are variations to this issue that I need to consider. I’m sure that in a year of two, there will be media coverage of some famous person who’s privacy is invaded to such a degree that laws will be implemented to protect the rest of us.

Till then, keep discreet, stay considerate, and keep tuned in here. Above all, if your friend is in your photo, let them know, and let them tag themselves if they feel inclined.

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“He loves me… He loves me not.”

he loves me he loves me not

I love flowers. And receiving them even more. They are a simple way of making the recipient feel special, whether for a special occasion or just because you can.

You will never offend anyone by sending flowers.

I recently celebrated a birthday. My daughter raced to the florist in the morning, and brought home a bunch of magnificent white lilies. I don’t care how many people say that they expect receiving them, it still makes you feel happy.

Today, Valentine’s Day, is collectively the one day where flowers outdo any other festive gift. It surpasses even the chocolate of Easter.

So, I thought it just apt to write about flowers, and what type of flower suits what type of occasion.

Roses, red roses in particular, are the flower of love. Though all roses denote love, the red rose symbolises romantic love.

Yellow roses are to be sent to friends or co-workers. Pink roses are more about a secret love. White roses are for an innocent love, for family or family occasions, or even for funerals.

I discovered that carnations are for young love, though I’d say that it’s far less common nowadays than in the eighties, when carnations were at the height of their popularity.

Daisies are for loyal love and ideal for Mother’s Day. And giving your daughter lilies seems to denote purity and sweetness. And chrysanthemums are for the bonding of friendship, though probably not ideal for romantic loves.

In the British Debrett’s Guide for the Modern Gentleman, 2009, reprinted 2012:

Flowers are the perfect impromptu present, but follow these basic guidelines to ensure that you get it right;

MIXED BOUQUETS can look cheap if they aren’t of a decent size and well-styled. Instead, buy just one type of bloom, or go for just one colour.

GREENERY is also important – it’s there to bulk up the bouquet and complement the flowers.

DON’T PANIC and just pick the first blooms you recognise. Consider her tastes and style. Classic or contemporary? Minimalist or vintage? Talk to the florist. Explain the style you’re after and the occasion.

BE PREPARED to spend – you can never economise on flowers.

BUY HER FLOWERS on her birthday, on Valentine’s Day on your anniversary and on no particular occasion.

USE THE CARD that accompanies the bouquet to its full potential. For example, include details of a surprise date: “See you in the bar of the ABC Hotel at 7pm”; tell her something you find hard to say: “Thank you for being there for me’; state the obvious: “I love you”/

NEVER ORDER cheap arrangements online; never buy bunches from the supermarket or the garage; never buy carnations or chrysanthemums (the kiss of death); never send flowers as an apology without some verbal backup.

If you want to offer flowers to the host of a dinner or party, it’s best to have the florist deliver them earlier in the day of the event, so that the host has time to arrange them, so as not to be distracted when her guests are arriving. As to the arrangement, it is ideal to ask the florist what is appropriate. They will arrange something either by colour and/or by what is available for that season. Of course your budget also is a big factor, but these days to send a lovely bouquet of flowers, you would be spending about $100 (Australia dollars, or USD). It’s very easy to spend more than this. You can check if the florist has pre-prepared arrangements, as they will tend to be a easier for the florist to pack, rather than arrange on site, and may have a reduced price by the end of the work day.

Online sites for flowers are also becoming very popular and easy to use, and terrific for ordering flowers as gifts for long-distance or international deliveries.

Or going to the local flower markets is always fun, and something of a novelty if you get up early to see the action.

I once picked lavender in a field and was heady from the scents and had to mind all the bees swarming around the pollen. It was lovely to make my own lavender pouches for my dresser drawers.

If my partner came over with a bunch of flowers he picked himself, either from the flower market, or even just as he was walking home by the side of the road, I would be tickled pink… or red. But really, any colour would be wonderful.

Happy Valentine’s Day from the romantics at ETQT.

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Hey kids, what’s with the middle finger!!!

middle finger

I have a thirteen year old. She is a contemporary. She has diverse interests, and also mainstream addictions with her mobile phone and apps like Instagram and Facebook, and lots I can’t recall. Last night she hosted her first party. Yes, she’s had lots of birthday parties, but most of them included lots of parents, lots of entertainment in the form of clowns, pets, rides or bouncy castles. This was her first party where none of these would factor. We did hire a great DJ, but otherwise it was all very simple.

They had a fantastic time. She invited 70 boys and girls, who stood around sheepishly in their respective gender corners for about an hour, and then miraculously merged into a sea of dancing bodies for another two and a half hours. There was lots of soft drinks, pizzas and junk food. Perfect combination for sugar zealots. Parents were not asked to join in, but to stay a safe distance in the front of the house.

She melted into her bed afterwards with a smile stamped on her face. This mum was pleased.

This morning we perused her photos. There were over 800 taken (phew!). Most of the photos were of happy faces. Young teens enjoying themselves without a care in the world. 450 of these photos made their way to a Facebook album.

But why, oh why, do these kids need to stick their middle finger up for the photos?

I just don’t get it!

I know these kids. I see them every day. Not once have I seen them strike these gestures out in the street. Nor when they meet each other, nor when they speak with anyone for that matter. I didn’t see them use this gesture amongst themselves during the party. And yet, one in every four photos included that dreaded middle finger. Most often it was the boys doing so, and yet, there were a few girls who repeatedly offered it up too.

I got to thinking what is it that makes people, including kids, behave like this. The correct etiquette is obvious… but just in case, it should never, under any circumstance be done. Or should it? On further research, I started looking at various hand gestures, and which ones are acceptable, which one’s aren’t. As with most rules of etiquette, it really depends on culture and geography.

etiquette 101 gestures 4

It’s quite amazing how many gestures have more than one meaning. Above image taken from a past issue of Conde Naste Traveller’s magazine.

I’ve discussed this with my children at length. I’ve explained to them that gestures like these are disrespectful. It is likely that most people make these gestures after being provoked. But, nevertheless, it’s much more appropriate to remain silent. Silence has much more impact. It also gives you time to gather your wits, and if necessary speak more specific and deliberate words.

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Class and etiquette

class

Is class synonymous with etiquette?

I was invited to a terrific christmas lunch yesterday, where the host and I got into a heated discussion about class.

He defines class as someone who shows generosity beyond their means, or if fortune has found you, then you are classy if you make efforts to bridge the divide with those less fortunate. I shared with him that I didn’t agree with his definition, and said that class was irrelevant of wealth. That class is defined by many attributes, like humility, courtesy, consideration, and etiquette. Generosity is not about class. I know many people without means who have class, and many more with huge wealth that are class-less.

He was determined to contradict me, so I, being a guest in his home, agreed to disagree, and left it at that.

Obviously, it did get me thinking about the differences between etiquette and class.

Etiquette are the rules and guidelines to behaviour between two or more parties, or manners that one has in society.

Class is a state of being. In any given situation to act with class is to be humble and generous in nature, polite and somewhat refined in your behaviour.

I think it is natural to think that people with class live with etiquette.

But some people who use correct etiquette have little or no class.

So, maybe they’re not synonymous after all.

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The gift of giving

gifting

As we lead up to the days before Christmas, I have been asked to write about the art of giving gifts.

How many times have you received a gift and wondered, “why did I get that?”

I do believe that the giving of a well thought out gift is nearly impossible these days. People have access to everything, all the time. So, how do you determine if we’re all just jaded and spoilt, or if we can shift our perception and return to the source of giving?

It really is the thought that matters.

I recall when I was about 10 years old, my father gave my mother an iron for her birthday. I thought he was being very practical and thoughtful as he had noticed that mum’s iron was on the verge of dying. As you can imagine, mum did not find the gift pleasing at all. She actually threw the boxed iron at my father and declared him a heathen.

To this day, I don’t understand how a practical gift, or a sentimental gift, is deemed more or less appropriate? I may be a little odd, but I actually enjoy ironing. When my father asked me last year what I wanted for Christmas, I actually asked him for the latest, fancy steam iron. Go figure!

A girlfriend asked me recently if I thought it was acceptable to offer a child a charitable gift; a goat for an impoverished third world village, for example. I actually thought that it was a fantastic gift for children who “have everything”. Not only does it make the giver feel good, it should be a warming gift to the child, who can now also consider himself benevolent, but, at it’s very core, it is giving the gift of  life to the villagers. Obviously, it does show that the gift giver isn’t so close to the child, as it isn’t such a personal item. But nonetheless, they are generous and thoughtful enough to give a gift at all.

Another gift that has made me think is when my daughter was given a bunch of shares after her birth. I thought it very generous a gift, but every year receive statements telling how much money/shares she has. It has grown somewhat, and that’s fantastic, but it did always seem quite impersonal. Until recently, when the giver asked me how those shares were doing. After sharing the update, she was happy to admit that she originally gave those shares to my daughter so that when she was 18 or older, she could use that money to buy herself a car or maybe choose to use the funds as the deposit for something even more important. All of a sudden I thought this a terrific gesture. Well thought out and less practical than thoughtful.

I don’t know how personal or appropriate gifts are these days, so I thought I’d do the research. I’m about to offer one of my best friends a face cream that I’ve enjoyed because it minimises my wrinkles. Is this a no-no?

Well, after extensive checking, it seems that logic and thoughtfulness are the right way to choose gifts. The closer you are to the person, ie, your best friend or family, then the gift should be of a more personal and thoughtful nature. The further away you are from that person, the more generic can be the gift.

I’ve always thought that homemade gifts were more about the giver wanting to show her talents in basket weaving, than about the giving. But then, I have been known to knit a scarf or two and then pass them to friends for a lovely winter gift.

As to re-gifting. It appears that most reputable sources declare that re-gifting is a big no-no. I can’t think of anything more silly. How is it rude to give a lovely gift to someone that you’re never going to use yourself. It wouldn’t bother me in the slightest if my friends forwarded one of my gifts.

Giving makes you feel good. Receiving a gift makes you feel good. Does it really matter what it is as long as you feel good?

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