Customer service from our end

When something goes wrong, instead of saying “Can you help me?” the dissatisfied and demanding customer just keeps on complaining about the same thing. As part of good customer service, write down what they say so you don’t have to ask again. When you get a word in edgewise, acknowledge the problem. Say, “Let me repeat what I heard you say to make sure I understand this correctly.” Let them know you want to solve their problem...

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Take pride in your job, whatever your job is

Take pride in everything you do – if not, ask yourself: why am I doing it? Standing in line for coffee. Long line-up. Finally it is my turn, and instead of serving me, the woman starts to clean up the counter, wet cloth and all, starts a new coffee pot, and totally ignores the last one in the line-up. So I make an executive decision and start walking out. “Can I help you?” “Not any more.” This is a lose-lose. I lost a coffee; she lost...

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Those were the days…

50 years ago today I arrived to Toronto, Canada. I had been accepted to the University of Toronto, not because I was that good a student, but because the Swedish Baccalaureate was deemed so high worldwide. And then I forgot to go home. I remember the first Good Friday – you had better fill your car with gas on Thursday, because everything, but everything was closed on Good Friday. It was a Christian country, and quite British I might add....

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Let’s Celebrate Christmas

A few words on office parties, charities and comparable events. Do show up Remember that you have to see the same people again on Monday morning Having your spouse/partner accompany you is, of course normal, but, if you are dating, does your date represent you well? Put your phone on ‘silent’, not ‘vibrate’ Watch your alcohol intake and don’t drink on an empty stomach Keep your right hand ‘un-messy’ for handshakes Put only small...

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Having lunch with your smartphone?

Some time ago Jaimy Ford wrote an article titled “Smartphones are the Real Enemy”. Smartphones, cell phones, Facebook, Twitter are seriously hurting our relationships. If you have lunch with someone, stay focused on the person who bothered coming to spend time with you. It is not just disrespectful, it hurts. It clearly tells that the device is more important than the person with whom you are apparently having lunch. Practice this during the...

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Accepting others for who they are

A few months ago I had a pre-teen seminar: three students – one Muslim child from Egypt, two Jewish children born in Canada.  We were together all day.  The course included how to enter elegantly, all the way to international etiquette. We learned about the shell fish fork and about toasting, and how to decline alcohol elegantly. They had a blast. Four persons, three major religions. Nobody stepped on each other’s toes, all...

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What is in your heart?

My last newsletter dealt with political correctness (of course, now we say Happy Chinese New Year because that’s what the Chinese celebrate) but oh, not Merry Christmas at Christmas time. My penultimate newsletter dealt with random acts of kindness and I had so many comments for both – I would like to share them with you now. I am also letting you know about my upcoming teen (March 5) and adult (March 19) etiquette workshops in case you...

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Merry Christmas

The definition of Christmas given by the Oxford Dictionary is ‘the annual Christian festival celebrating Christ’s birth, held on December 25 in the Western Church.’ It does not mention ‘holiday tree’ anywhere. Let’s see: Happy Diwali. Happy Kwanza, Happy Hanukah – this is what we wish to people who celebrate whatever they celebrate. We are a multicultural country, and proud of it. Why have we become so...

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Random Acts of Kindness

It is the tiny courtesies: holding the door open for someone, offering to carry, picking up when an elderly drops something – these are the things that might make another person’s day. “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.”– Mother Teresa Random acts of kindness must come from within, but I can steer you in the right direction. Here are my autumn workshops: Kidiquette Saturday, October 24 10 a.m....

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People deserve a Thank You

In an earlier newsletter I have written about my pet peeve “No problem” to be replaced by “You are welcome”, or “My pleasure”.  This time let’s look at acknowledging people for a job well done. Some of these are adapted from Thank-You Phrases for the Workplace “Thank you for completing the sales report on time” “Wow, you did a great job on the proposal” “I so appreciate...

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The Art of Conversation

To be interesting, be interested. Dasha from Lioness Gazette writes: We all appreciate a good stimulating conversation, and we love those people we can talk with and listen to for hours. In fact, we all strive to be like them, to be able to sustain a meaningful conversation and articulate our thoughts. But how do you become an engaging conversationalist? Never stop learning and never lose your inborn curiosity. The art of conversation is about...

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Taking a telephone message

Throughout the years we dealt with phone manners, cell phones, what to say, but never what not to say. Here is an e-mail I received from an old friend, a retired nurse: Dear Adeodata, There is a little story I would love to tell you. My first job as a medical secretary (I understand the term ‘secretary’ is now obsolete) was working for a seventy year old doctor in his house which served as a medical office, examining room and waiting...

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What bosses don’t like to hear

Some bosses are so great and trustworthy that they make you feel like you can tell them anything. However, as Megan Malugani explains, if you expect to advance in your career you should never utter these statements to your boss: “It’s not my fault.” “I hate working with so-and-so.” “I got trashed last night.” “That can’t be done.” “I don’t know.” “That’s...

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And so it is Christmas

The definition of Christmas given by the Oxford Dictionary is ‘the festival of Christ’s birth celebrated by most Christian churches on 25 December, devoted especially to family reunion and jollification’. So, in the minds of most individuals, this whole month of December is devoted to three main activities: shopping and preparing to party; partying and doing more shopping; and then dealing with the effects of shopping and...

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Etiquette on public transportation in Europe

Funny we were addressing the back-packs in my last newsletter.  I just got back from Europe, Budapest to be exact, and since the alcohol limit is zero, I took public transport throughout, unless someone gave me a ride or I took a taxi. This is what I have found: Their transportation system, specifically the subway is so much faster and more efficient than ours here in Toronto. They do have some rules, clearly written both at the platform as...

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Back-packs on crowded streetcars

This is a short two-part newsletter. Thought for back-to-school: Your back-pack does not have eyes in the back. I have traveled a lot on street-cars this summer. I can’t believe how many times I have watched people being inconvenienced because of huge bags which people carry on their back. Passengers don’t think of lowering their bags either. And they don’t even realize when their back-pack hits someone shorter in the face. And...

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Right handed – Left handed

Spiral staircases in medieval castles are running clockwise. This is because all knights used to be right-handed. When the intruding army would climb the stairs they would not be able to use their right hand which was holding the sword because of the difficulties of climbing the stairs. Left-handed knights would have had no troubles, except left-handed people could never become knights because it was assumed that they were descendants of the...

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Constant Lateness

Constant lateness is disrespectful. Let’s see how different conductors handled latecomers for choir rehearsals. Dr. Ouchterlony would make you stand and wait on the side until an appropriate moment, and then say loudly and very politely, “DO sit down”, and you felt absolutely awful for being late. John Tuttle would start on time. 7 pm is 7 pm, not 7:03.  All students learned that; nobody was ever late. The worst is when a...

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Cell Phones

We have touched on cell phone etiquette a couple of times in the last fifteen years; but this time I would like to share with you an interview clip that Global 3 TV in Toronto aired last month.  I stressed that the moment you pull up your phone, you make the person you are with secondary.  The funniest of course, is when the girl walks into the pool. The interviewer:  Alexandra Abdelwahab The camera man:  Don Curran Here is the link:...

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Making an Assumption

Assuming is never good. Up-sell is:  ”would you like fries with that”? Now let’s see a couple of great no-sells: About ten yeas ago, I am walking through the Eaton Centre in Toronto. I had just finished a speech, so I was dressed, manicured, made up. I am coming around a women’s dress store on the second floor, and I am checking out the sale items. As I proceeded further into the store, a clerk said to me “you...

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How do you wish to be contacted?

During my great-grandparents’ time you approached someone by knocking on their door. The telephone had not been invented yet. Now we can use snail mail, call the office line, the landline, or the cell phone. We can send e-mail, a text message or use the Blackberry, blueberry, raspberry. At a networking session in Oakville many years ago Donna Messer from ConnectUs mentioned this topic, and Jodi Blackwood, an etiquette teacher from out West...

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What are you doing on Friday?

Jodi Blackwood is an etiquette trainer in Vancouver, USA, and we often exchange thoughts. We both found the answers tricky to a question like “What are you doing on Friday?” One does not want to say “it depends on what you had in mind”. If you say that you are free and then find out what the other one wants, it is quite hard to come up with a quick excuse why you suddenly don’t have time, after all. If you issue...

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The Handshake

The simple handshake really is simple, but there are a few rules to follow. If both are of the same sex, wait for the older person to reach his or her hand out first. If they are of opposite sexes, the man should wait for the lady to reach her hand out first. In a business setting, the subordinate should wait for the person in the higher position to reach out first. In most of Europe and North America, people grasp each others’ hand, make...

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The Resolution Solution

I am sure we have all made our usual New Year?s resolutions. Yes, yes, this year we shall lose some weight. By the way, how much have you lost since last year? If we all resolved to be kinder with each other, and to ourselves, resolutions would be much easier to keep. Let me tell you about a random act of kindness. It ties in with my last newsletter and your very kind comments. On December 22nd I was lying in bed at the Etobicoke General...

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Christmas is coming!

I was at the Bank of Montreal and in big letters a sign said, ?Happy Diwali.? Last year on Rogers TV we were met with greetings of Happy Kwanza ? over and over. And it is fine. If I meet a Jewish client at this time of year, I would wish him Happy Hanukah and he would wish me Merry Christmas. Why have we become so afraid of saying the word Christmas? It is what we are celebrating, isn?t it? Non-Christians get an extra day off for no particular...

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Being on Your Email List

Jodi Blackwood, an etiquette teacher in Vancouver, USA, is a lady I correspond with often. I told her that my newsletters are strictly opt-in, while I so often receive unsolicited e-mail. She said she had just written her own newsletter exactly on that subject. I am allowed to forward it to you. Possession does not mean permission. Have you ever exchanged business or contact cards with someone, thinking she might be a good person to follow up...

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Pregnant or Something

It is amazing, that when we see an expectant mother, the strangest and most unintentionally impolite things come out of our mouths. Some of the quotes below came from John Daly, President of The Key Class: - Was it planned? - Do you want it? - How long have you been married? - How did he react when you told him you were pregnant? - Were your in-laws pleased? - You’re awfully skinny for someone so far along. - How much weight did your...

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Throat Clearing

There have been a number of issues raised on etiquette and speakers’ chat rooms, and on LinkedIn regarding people constantly clearing their throats. Several suggested that it may be simply a bad habit or nervousness, and that the person does not even notice. Listening to it of course is quite irritating, especially if you clear your throat on the phone, right into the listener’s ear. There were people who swore by some medication,...

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