Tag Archives: Friendship

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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Friends with an Ex

friends

Yesterday, I attended the memorial service of a very famous sports icon. It was a moving event and heart-breaking watching his young children speak of him with such dignity and grace.

I had done the research on the appropriate etiquette, so participated with a silent and sombre air.

During the service, I sat, unbeknownst to me, next to the divorcee of a very well-known Australian entrepreneur. She waved to many people, and at one point giggled how one particularly famous man she waved to had physically gotten out of shape since their relationship over fifteen years prior. She was a bit disturbed that he waved to her, and declared that she would prefer that they both pretend that they didn’t know each other. She then asked me if I thought it was possible to remain friends with an ex… an ex-husband or an ex-boyfriend?

I have been very fortunate that I have remained on exceptionally good terms with my ex-husband. It seems we actually have put our children first, and been able to let go of our ego’s and get on with our respective lives; it would seem that we are the poster-children for The Modern Family!

I seem also to be happy to continue building, and not dissolving, relationships with ex-boyfriends. Don’t get me wrong, there are some who have been banished from the face of my world. They seem to be the ones who have too much ego, and lack kindness. Does make you wonder why I dated them at all.

Back on track… I figure that just because I can’t have a romantic relationship (meaning with all the loaded expectations and tiptoeing of beginnings, and negotiations of disappointments, etc.. you get the picture, ie a monogamous, committed relationship), doesn’t mean that I don’t like and enjoy facets of our friendship and connection.

I have one friend in particular that I dated about three years ago. Yes, after our break up (if you can call it that – we had only been dating a short while), we did have a cooling off period. There does seem to be a quieting of the senses for a while, akin to recovery, or maybe a little postmortem mourning that’s necessary. But once that was over, it seemed such a shame to lose all contact with him when we had so many things we liked to do together or discuss. We started going to the theatre together, or attending functions when we didn’t have a date. We didn’t talk about other dates. I think that was more out of respect for each others feelings than for any hope that we might rekindle our romance. But I’m thrilled that I have such a good male friend.

But when is it impossible to keep a platonic friendship with an ex? It seems that if there is residual resentment, it’s unwise to try to continue any connection or friendship. And if either party still fancies the other, then it’s probably hurtful to that person. Sometimes the kindest way to end things, is just to end them completely.

But back to the gorgeous woman I met yesterday. She insisted that it’s impossible to have a real friendship with an ex. I discovered that she is one of the most prominent, and successful, divorce lawyers in Australia. I imagine that her career, as well as her much publicised romances, and divorce, must have led her to only keeping girl friends.

Well, then there’s always Taylor Swift…. I wonder how many of her ex-boyfriends want to remain friends after she writes songs about them?

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Loss, and the etiquette of Loss

funeral

I am at a loss. Yesterday a friend lost her husband to cancer. I am close enough to her to want to show her how sad I am for her and her children, and that I am available for her to ask me to help her or her children with anything, but not close to her husband, and don’t know what is the right behaviour in the coming days and weeks.

I trusted my gut instinct and called her this morning, and thought I’d get her voice mail. To my surprise, she picked up the phone. She was, understandably very sad and emotional. I couldn’t hold back the tears. I was so moved that she even picked up my call. We shared the injustice of his illness, and how he was taken so quickly, and she shared with me how fortunate she was to have spent 30 years with this man.

But what happens next? It is such an uncommon occurrence, so I just don’t know what is the right protocol. Again, I lean on those who know, and find myself guided by their experience, and then want to apply my sensitivity and closeness to her and her family.

Yes, I have experienced loss before. Mostly when I was much younger as aging relatives died, and was mostly guided by my parents behaviour.

Now, I must firstly check their religious faith, as I don’t know what is customary; does one wear black, or should I send flowers, or do people select worthy causes for donations?

Secular ceremonies have various forms of honouring their family and friends, and this note by no means aims to standardise mourning and loss. But, after doing some research, it seems that there are changes to some of the past behaviour that I thought still in practice.

It seems that it is no longer expected to wear black to funerals. Tasteful attire, covering up shoulders (though bare arms seem acceptable), and skirt or dress length need be at least above the knee or longer. Pants are acceptable, though shorts are not.

Offering up condolences are acceptable, and it seems that as long as the message is sincere and thoughtful, then it can be by phone, by mail, in a condolence card or note, or even by email. It’s not wise to send a condolence by text.

It’s important to reach out to people you may know that are close to the family of the departed. They will let you know if there is a funeral, which is often kept for close family and friends, and if there is a memorial service for the extended friends, colleagues and other people who want to show their sympathy.

Gifts, such as wreaths and other flowers, are still thoughtful gifts, to add gaiety and colour to the ceremony. If a donation is preferred, the family will let you know in the lead up to the service.

It is however, considered most important to attend the service, whether at the funeral, the cemetary, memorial or the wake, and to offer a kind word to the family of the deceased. Though they will be wrought by sadness, they will still appreciate the kindness of those around them.

Rushing to catch up with friends you haven’t seen in a while after the service should be muted to a respectful murmur.

From the UK etiquette experts – Debrett’s – taken from http://www.debretts.com/etiquette/rites-of-passage/death/miss-debrett-on-funerals.aspx

Miss Debrett’s Top Tips

  • Take your lead from the chief mourners and never outdo them.
  • Switch off your mobile, don’t whisper during the service and maintain an air of dignified discretion.
  • Keep your behaviour sober and restrained at the post-funeral gathering; remember this is a wake, not a party.

Loss in death is the worst grief one experiences in life. Offering up any small gesture of kindness will aid the grieving process.

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