Being Polite While Using Your Cell Phone

As a result of the tech-age we currently live in, a lot has changed when it comes to social interactions; however, some things should not change. Being polite during social interactions and being respectful to those around you should always be at the forefront of your mind. Seeing as we use technology, especially our cell phones, in all aspects of our lives, I am breaking down cell phone etiquette into the 3 most prominent settings – Work, Social, and General Public usage.

  1.  At Work
    • Put your phone away when you are arriving and leaving work so you interact and say hello/goodbye to those in your office.
    • Silence your cell phone when you are in the office, especially if you work in an open space or cubicles with other people. Hearing your phone ring or alerts go off can be distracting to those around you.
    • Refrain from using your cell during meetings and other people’s presentations unless you are adding things to your calendar or referring to it in order to review current events. Even with that, be cautious – it may still look like you are texting or not paying attention to the presenter.
    • Take notes with a pen and paper, not on your phone. If you do not have good handwriting, cannot write quickly, or need the information recorded to send-out immediately, use a tablet or laptop to take notes, but be sure not to have any other windows open.
    • If you work in an open space or in cubicles, excuse yourself to take a personal call on your cell phone. It allows you to keep your privacy and also prevents you from distracting your co-workers.
    • If you have a work/company cell phone, use it only for work purposes and never for personal use.
  2. In Social Settings (On a Date, Out with Friends, Visiting Family)
    • Put your phone away and give the people you are with your undivided attention. After all, you are out to be socializing with them and not with other people via your phone or social media.
    • Silence your cell phone. If your phone is continuously ringing and you keep checking it, you will likely offend the people you are with by making it seem like you are too busy to be there.
    • If you are driving with other people in your car and using Bluetooth throughout the car, make sure whoever you are speaking to knows they are on speaker phone. Unless it is an important call, let the caller know you are driving with other people and will call them back.
  3. In Public
    • If you are taking a call in public, use your “inside voice.” No one around you wants to hear your conversation.
    • Do not be on your phone when you are at the check-out counter or while someone in a store is assisting you.
    • If take a call that begins to get emotional, find a private place to use your phone or stay in your car until the call is over and you have collected yourself. This is especially true if you are “getting heated” about something over the phone. It makes people around you feel uncomfortable and quite frankly, you will embarrass yourself.
  4. All the Time
    • Do not text and drive!
    • If you are awaiting an important call and you need to have your phone with you during a meeting, appointment, meal, etc., simply let the people around you/who you are with know. When the calls comes, excuse yourself and take the call in private.
    • If you accidentally text the wrong person, simply send a follow-up text to saying, “I’m sorry, that text was not meant for you. Please ignore it.” Then, be thoughtful and add something like, “But how have you been?” if it is a friend or relative.
    • Lock your phone so you do not accidentally call someone while your phone is in your purse, pocket, etc.

I hope these tips help you to be more “Tech-Proper!”

Cheers, y’all!

AB

Time to Hit the Gym!

Happy New Year! With resolutions top of mind, it is the time of year when many people head to the gym to better their personal health. For this topic, I turned to one of my best friends, Meredith Reiber, a multi-faceted fitness and nutrition professional who manages a gym as well as owns Pure Movement and is also a Diet Doc Consultant. Together, we have put together our tips for being a courteous gym member and workout buddy!

  1. Greet the front desk staff when you sign-in for the day!
    • If you have a quick question or request, feel free to pop in to the main office, but if you have in-depth question about membership or training we suggest scheduling an appointment with a staff member.
  2. When using the locker room:
    • Be sure to leave room for others. Do not spread out all your personal belongings across the bench, counter top, etc.
    • When changing or heading to the showers, avoid being totally naked. Use a towel or at least stay in your underwear.
    • Place all your personal belongings in a locker, do not leave anything laying out, and use a lock to secure your personal items.
  3. Personal Appearance
    • Wear appropriate gym clothes.
      • While at the gym, it is tempting to show off how you great you look, but remember to still keep it classy. For the ladies, avoid booty shorts (NOTE: there is a difference between yoga shorts and booty shorts) and letting the girls hang out. A supportive sports bra is not only appropriate, but you will thank yourself later for investing in good undergarments!
      • Wear freshly washed clothes each gym visit! Stuffing your sweaty workout gear in your sweaty gym bag amplifies your hard work (AKA sweat) stench.  Do your clothes, and your gym buddies, a favor by not wearing them again until washed!
    • Use deodorant! Let’s be honest, we all sweat, but let’s try to keep the smells to a minimum.
    • The mirror in the class studio and weight-room is to check your form on exercises. Avoid checking yourself out and/or obsessively fixing your hair and makeup. Additionally, beware of adjusting your clothing in the mirrors. Gyms are covered with mirrors and you would be surprised at how many people can actually see what you are doing (i.e. picking at your underwear).
  4. Be conscious of a busy gym and/or if there is a wait for machines.
    • Do not be a “machine hog.” If someone is waiting to use the same machine as you, take turns alternating sets.
    • The gym can get pretty crowded, do not try to wedge yourself into a tiny space between people. Be sure you have enough room for your exercises, but also be aware of taking more room than you need. NOTE: This is especially true during fitness classes!
    • Leave your cell phone behind! The gym is not the place to be snapping selfies, checking emails and social media, or responding to text messages, especially when it is busy and people are waiting.
    • If you know an exercise class fills up fast, register ahead of time and arrive early to ensure your spot in the class.
    • Gym rats! Be courteous of new gym go-ers.  It may be frustrating to have to share the equipment you have been using all year but these newbies have to start somewhere, and who knows, they may end up becoming a regular, like you, by next year!
  5. Respect other people’s privacy.
    • Some people do not like to socialize while at the gym. If someone has headphones in or you can tell they are super serious about the workout, let him/her be and speak to him/her after the workout.
      • There is a misconception about Fitness Professionals being able to workout all day.  The hidden truth is that it is actually harder to workout once you start working at a gym! If you see a staff member working out, hold off on those class, billing, etc. questions until after you see them wrap up their workout and are back in their office.
    • Try to avoid staring at people or watching others workout. If you are interested in the workout someone is doing, ask him/her about it after he/she completes the workout.
    • With that being said, still be a friendly individual. Smile and/or say hello as you walk past people.
    • Keep your comments to yourself.
      • Unless you are a personal trainer or member of the gym staff, do not critique other people’s workout. Leave this to the professionals!
      • If someone is not “in shape,” DO NOT make any comments about him/her. They are there working hard to get in shape, encourage them!
  6. Control the noise.
    • Avoid dropping weights on the ground when you are done with your set. Not only is it distracting, it’s not good for the weights or the gym floor.
    • Keep your headphones to a level at which you can hear them and get pumped up, but not motivate the entire gym (not everyone enjoys the same music).
    • Limit the grunting, groaning, and other expressive noises. Your goal should not be to have everyone looking at you, take Kevin Hart’s advice.
  7. Clean up after yourself!
    • Wipe down the machines and mats you use when you are done. All gyms now have sanitary wipes ready for use!
    • Put back all the equipment you use (free weights, medicine balls, kettle bells, etc.) to where it belongs.
    • If you used a towel from the gym, be sure to place it in the hamper.

While going to the gym or a fitness class is great for most people, we know working out at home is also a popular practice. If you are looking for a way to increase your personal wellness, checkout Meredith’s Virtual Workout Subscription!

Virtual Workout

Happy workouts, y’all!

AB + Meredith

The Essential Table Manners

As the holidays approach, we will soon be gathering around the table with family, friends, and loved ones. In the spirit of enjoying such divine meals, having good tables is an incredibly important asset yet so commonly overlooked. From social to professional settings, food defines our culture and is present everywhere. Whether you are with family, friends, coworkers, a new client, or distinguished guests and dignitaries, it is always important to mind your manners, especially at the table.

This week, I am sharing my list of the essential table manners everyone should follow.

  1. Sit Properly (aka Have Good Posture at the Table)
    • Sit straight in your chair with your shoulders back.
    • Keep both legs on the ground in front of you. If you want to cross your legs, cross at your ankles.
    • Pull your chair up to the table so you can comfortably reach everything at your place setting and your legs are under the table.
  2. Use a Napkin
    • Place it in your lap when you take your seat and keep it there the remainder of the meal.
    • Wipe your mouth with your napkin, not your hands.
    • If something gets on you fingers, wipe it on your napkin. Licking your fingers is not a good look!
    • If you get up from the table, place your napkin on your chair. Only place your napkin on the table at the completion of the meal when you exit the table.
  3. Avoid Gulping, Slurping, and Playing with Things
    • Drink your beverage slowly and smoothly. Do not gulp it down.
    • Avoid playing with your straw, chewing on it, and making sucking noises with it.
    • Leave your utensils where they are until you are ready to use them.
    • Put the spoon in your mouth when eating soup or cereal to avoid slurping it off the end.
  4. Basic Manners Run Down
    • Wait to begin eating until everyone has been served and the host gestures to begin eating.
    • Use the butter knife on the butter dish to slice butter from the full stick and place it on your bread plate. Use your own knife to spread the butter on your roll/bread.
    • When eating bread, gently pull off one bite from the roll and butter that piece only. Do this for ever piece.
    • Always pass the salt and pepper together. Even if someone asks for only salt, pass them both. Think, salt and pepper are “attached at the hip.”
    • If eating “family style,” the Guest of Honor (seated to the right of the host) is served first then pass the serving dishes to your right around the table.
    • Bring food up to your mouth. Do not bend down to the plate to get food in your mouth.
    • Cut one bite of food at a time, eat that piece, then cut another piece. Repeat for the whole meal!
    • Do not talk with food in your mouth.
    • Always use your knife (not your fingers!) to get a piece of food onto your fork.
    • When eating spaghetti, use the side of your plate to twirl the pasta on your fork. It is not typically proper etiquette to use a spoon, but it is often found to be helpful for smaller children.
    • Put your phone away to ensure you enjoy the meal and your company with your full attention!

Keep these essential table manners in mind, not just during the holiday season, but all year long. These tips will truly help you in both the social and professional setting by giving you that little extra touch of polish!

Cheers, y’all!

AB

Navigating Dietary Restrictions

Like many others, over the last few years I learned I have gluten and dairy dietary restrictions. As someone who made it to her twenties with no dietary restrictions this has greatly changed the way I approach parties, work functions, and going out for meals. In an effort to not draw attention to the changes or make others unsure of how to accommodate my dietary needs, I have found the best way to navigate the situation is to plan ahead!

Here are my tips for navigating social interactions around food as someone with dietary restrictions, as well as, my tips for hosts who may encounter a guest with a dietary restriction:

  1. Research the menu/restaurant before you go!
    • With almost all restaurants having their menus online and so many restaurants aware of the common dietary restrictions, it is easy to take a look and find out what your options are before you arrive for the meal. Personally, this helps me to not feel like I am being put on the spot for taking too long to decide my order while also allowing me to know ahead of time the exact accommodations I need for my order rather thank asking a lot of questions.
    • If you have trouble finding something on the menu before you arrive, call the restaurant and let them know you have dietary restrictions. Giving the host notice allows them to let the chef know and often they will do what they can to assist with your dietary needs.
  2. Alert the host of your dietary restrictions well before the gathering. Letting your host know far in advance, allows him/her to implement your dietary needs into the menu.
    • Some individuals are unaware of how to cook for your dietary needs and as the person who knows your restrictions best, it may be better to keep the cooking in your own hands. When this is the best option, offer to bring your own dish! You may even be able to cook it along with the main meal and often times, other guests will not even realize your plate is something different.
    • When sending in an R.s.v.p. which requires a meal selection, choose the menu item that best fits your dietary needs then add a note of any accommodations needed so the chef is aware. (i.e. check “Salmon with vegetables” then add to the side “Dietary Restriction: No gluten, no dairy”)
      • When not prompted to select a meal, ensure you include your dietary restriction in the registration information for work events/conferences, travel bookings, and on all R.s.v.p. cards.
  3. Have a snack before you go!
    • I have learned it is best to be on the safe side when going to a cocktail party, sporting event, concert, or similar large scale, non-seated dining event. Try as I might to scout out the menu beforehand, sometimes I simply do not know what options will be available to me. When this happens, I find it is best to have a snack before I go. That way, if I show up and I am unable to eat any of the dishes being served, I will not be left starving; however, if there is something I can have, I am not so full that I cannot enjoy it.
    • This is also important when traveling especially to other countries. If you are traveling and experience a language barrier, you may not know how to communicate your dietary restrictions. In these cases, it is always best to have a handy dandy snack bag in your suitcase in case you get in a pinch!
  4. As the Host
    • Consider your menu and research the ways to make it fit your guest’s dietary restrictions. If you have no experience cooking in the way your guest needs, look into local restaurants, specialty stores, and bakeries who offer that type of food and special order something.
    • Offer your guest the opportunity to bring a dish, but ensure he/she knows it is not necessary. Some guests appreciate the opportunity to bring their own food and welcome sharing their cooking with others.
    • If you are having a larger party where the food is served buffet style, include a display next to the dish with the name of the dish and a note underneath as to if it fits in a certain dietary category (i.e. gluten free, nut free, vegan, etc.)
  5. Food for Thought: As someone with dietary restrictions, it is often awkward to answer the question, “Why do you have dietary restrictions?” Whether an individual is not eating something due to an allergy, medical condition, or food intolerance, he/she may be uncomfortable going into the explanation. Maybe the person learned he/she is not allergic to a particular food, but get sick every time eating it. This person does not want to have to explain his/her bodily functions to you or worse, a whole group of people.

Although having dietary restrictions can be challenging at times, I try to think of it in a positive way: Now that my foods have to be different, I have been learning to cook/bake with a lot of alternatives and trying out new dishes! I hope these tips help everyone navigate personally having dietary restrictions or hosting someone who does!

Cheers y’all!

AB

Email Correspondence: Client vs. Professional

In your professional life, you have emails down to a science, but when it comes to your personal life, do you know how to transition from the expert to the client? While we are all boss ladies (and gentlemen) in the office, many of us struggle with how to communicate as a client in our personal lives… Ever been stuck waiting to hear back on an email you sent? I think we all have. As the thought crosses your mind, “Should I email him/her again.. call instead? How long should I wait for an answer? Did I write too much?,” you start to wonder how to best communicate and follow up with others. Truthfully, this can be one of the more frustrating things we face in everyday life as part of a technology reliant society. So, here are my tips to help alleviate some of this stress!

  1. Timeliness
    • As a client, it is just as important to be responsive in a timely manner in your personal life as it is in your professional life. While you may be the client, the person you are communicating with is a professional and this is his/her business so he/she is relying on you!
    • If you know you are going to be away for a while or unable to communicate regularly, let your contact know that in advance. Anyone appreciates a heads up that allows them to know when the appropriate time to follow up will be. If you are off enjoying a vacation, no one wants to be the individual who nagged you during it! 😉
  2. Include all the details
    • Rather than bombarding someone with piecemeal emails each containing one question, send one concise email including all the details and questions you have on a topic. Be specific so your contact knows what to expect from you as a client, but also has all the tools he/she needs to do the job well.
    • If you are unsure about something, ask the professional. I guarantee he/she prefers to answer your questions ahead of time rather than be in a situation where a misunderstanding happens.
      • Side note: If you have been provided with resources from your contact, be sure to read and review them. It is very possible your questions will be answered there!
    • Schedule a call or meeting to discuss everything. While email is great for keeping a record of things, it is always possible that something will be understood differently by the recipient. Having the opportunity to talk through everything will clear-up any questions or differences of ideas!
  3. Know the best form of communication for the person you are contacting: This is possibly one of the most important factors in following up with an individual.
    • If your contact prefers email, then stick to email. Depending on the importance/deadline of what you are discussing, that will give you an idea of when to follow up (i.e. a week for something further out, two days for something upcoming in the next week, etc.). If it is an urgent matter, I highly suggest flagging the email when sending and honestly, simply call the person. Sometimes, if you need an answer, you just need the answer and promptly.
    • Despite the fact that we all have technology, it does not mean it is the way we all prefer to communicate. For some, receiving an email is simply a method to get the information in writing or have the needed documents provided to them; however, for these people, the true preferred means of communication is a phone call or in-person meeting. For an individual with this preference, send the email and then immediately follow it up with a calendar invite for a call or meeting to discuss the information. For something on a smaller scale, it is always OK to call your contact after sending the email to quickly talk through it or even to leave a voicemail explaining.
    • Similar to the individual who prefers a call, some people prefer to communicate over text message. While I do not recommend this as your primary source of communication, it can be a great follow-up tool! If you are awaiting a response to your email and you know your contact is OK with and prefers texting, send a respectful text message following up. Something similar to, “Hi Ann! Checking in to follow up on the email I sent a couple days ago. Will you let me know when you have a chance to review it? Happy to setup a call to discuss or feel free to email back with your feedback. Thanks!”

Now lets get out there and dominate the communication world on all fronts! For more information on general email etiquette, read my previous post!

Cheers y’all!

AB

Interacting with Individuals Who Have Service Dogs

Through my work, I have the privilege of interacting with individuals who have service dogs as well as working alongside facility and therapy dogs. However, a lot of people are unsure about how to properly interact with service/working dogs and/or approach their human. That inspired me to do some research and reach out to the people I know with service/working dogs. Here is what I learned along with some tips for the next time you interact with an individual with a service or working dog!

  • Service and Working Dogs serve many purposes!
    • Guide/Seeing-Eye Dogs and Hearing Dogs assist their companion in navigating their surroundings and alerting them to situations needing attention (i.e. a car coming when they are attempting to cross a street, someone at the door, the fire alarm, etc.).

    • Service Dogs assist their companion living with other types of physical or mental disabilities (i.e. Mobility Assistance, Seizure Alert, Autism, Psychiatric Disabilities, etc). These disabilities may not always be apparent which is why it is important to be sensitive to the individual’s privacy.
      • I commonly see veterans with mobility service dogs who assist them with everything from pulling their wheelchairs to acting as a “brace” for someone with a prosthetic as they stand up or use the stairs. These dogs also assist with opening doors, turning on lights, retrieving things that have fallen or the service member/veteran is unable to pick-up, and so much more! These service dogs increase the service member’s/veteran’s independence and assist with re-integration.

        Service Dog, Bravo, bracing for his veteran as he uses the stairs.

    • K-9 and Military Units use working dogs to effectively secure areas, detect bombs/drugs/etc, and search for/track individuals.

    • Therapy/Facility Dogs are used in settings such as hospitals, mental health services, senior citizen/assisted living homes, universities, and schools/libraries for companionship and emotional support. Often times, these dogs presence helps to ease individual’s anxiety and bring a calming presence to a difficult situation.

      Therapy Dog, Bobbie, visiting patients at a hospital.

      Therapy Dog, Bobbie, visiting patients at a hospital.

    • A Major Distinction Between the Types:
      • A Service Dog is specifically paired with one individual to aide him/her with his/her disability and increase his/her independence. Ultimately, the dog is meant to assist it’s companion, not to be distracted or draw attention from others.
      • The job of a Therapy/Facility Dog is to interact with patients, the public, etc. and to be pet. They are handled by a facilitator who works with the dog in various settings with the public.
  • Approach an individual with a service dog the same way you would someone without a service dog, but be aware of the following:
    • If the dog is a service dog, it will be wearing some type of vest/jacket, “backpack,” or harness. If the vest says, “Working Dog. Do not Pet.” then do not focus your attention towards the animal.
      • NOTE: K-9 Unit Dogs and Military Working Dogs should not be approached or distracted while they are “on duty.”
    • Before interacting with the dog, always ask it’s companion/handler if it is OK. Sometimes, interacting with the dog can disturb it’s focus and take away from the purpose he/she is serving for the owner/handler. If the owner/handle does not want you to interact with the dog, do not become embarrassed or upset. The owner/handler has specific needs and reasons why it is not the appropriate time to interact with the dog.
    • Do not feed service dogs unless the owner/handler has given you permission. They are specifically trained with different methods and some only receive treats at certain times.
  • It is OK to ask about the dog, but you should avoid asking about it’s purpose, especially when it is not obvious, because that is a personal matter.
    • If you are interested in the dog, you can ask questions such as:
      • What breed is your dog?
      • What is your dog’s name? (NOTE: Sometimes people will not answer this question so that the dog will not be called or respond to others)
      • How old is your dog?
      • Which organization trained your dog?
      • Have you worked with dogs in the past?
    • Do not ask personal or invasive questions such as:
      • Why do you have a service dog?
      • Is it necessary for you to have a service dog?
      • May I see the dog do something for you? (i.e. open the door, push a button, pick something up, etc.)
    • For business owners, restaurant/retail staff, etc. the only 2 questions you can legally ask according to the Americans with Disabilities Act are:
      • “Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?”
      • “What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?”
      • “Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.”
    • If you have a non-service dog with you and you come across someone who is using his/her service dog, do not let your dog interact with his/her service dog. Keep your dog under control and always ask if it is OK for your two dogs to interact prior to letting your dog have a little “freedom of the leash.”

Service Dogs are truly wonderful and have an amazing capacity to enhance the lives of their companions. Next time you come across an individual with a service dog, I hope these tips will serve you well!

Have a tail wagging day, y’all!

AB

How to Have a Friendly Debate

I recently had a difference of opinion on a “manners moment” with someone close to me. We both believed different actions should have been taken and that got us to talking about seeing other people’s points of view. As a result, we had a casual, light-hearted banter to present our own viewpoint. After our discussion, I got to thinking… How do you have a “friendly debate” without it turning into an all-out brawl where every stakeholder has dug in and refuses to agree or see another opinion?

***NOTE: This post is indeed about “friendly debates” and not about matters of great importance such as financial issues, health matters, family decisions, political debates, romantic relationships, or business deals. However, some of these tips may help!***

  1. Keep the Topic “Light”
    • A common saying is, “Never discuss money, politics, or personal life (aka sex).” If a topic you are uncomfortable with gets brought up, politely decline to engage in the conversation.
    • Ensure the conversation/debate stays on topic and does not turn into a discussion about other issues or previous grievances.
    • Laugh about things, laugh at yourself! Sometimes when you get into a debate and outlandish ideas are being discussed, you have to take a step back and just laugh at the crazy debate you have somehow ended up having.
      • NOTE: If someone is strongly expressing an opinion, be cautious about laughing. Some people get extremely offended if they feel like they are being laughed at or mocked for their viewpoint.
  2. Present Your View Strongly, Yet Democratically
    • If you are expressing something you truly care about, ensure you express that sentiment while still making it OK for the other person to potentially disagree with you.
    • Do not force your opinion/viewpoint on the other person.
    • Be knowledgeable of what you are discussing. If you are not knowledgeable on the subject, politely decline the conversation and never make up information you are unsure is true.
    • Never act like you are better than the other person’s opinion and be sure you are truly ready to hear their side.
  3. What Do You Do If Someone Offends You?
    • First, ask him/her to clarify what they meant by the comment. Sometimes, people say something without thinking about how it will come across or they simply use the wrong words. Before getting upset with someone, be sure you have the same understanding of what was said.
    • After clarifying, if what was said truly offends you, stand up for yourself. Be confident in yourself yet gracious when you say, “Excuse me, the comment you just made is extremely offensive/hurtful/unkind of you to say.”
    • Explain why. It does not have to be a lengthy or personal description, but explaining why something is offensive/hurtful in a polite way allows the other person to learn how to correct the behavior in the future.
    • If the person refuses to back-down from the comment, it is time to end the conversation.
  4. When It Is Over, It Is OVER.
    • After both parties have described their thoughts/viewpoints allow each other to ask and answer questions.
    • Once the conversation is done, move onto something else. Do not continue to rehash the same argument.
    • Do not be the person who has to “have the last word.” No one likes someone who always has to prove a point or have the last say on a matter.

Often times, you most likely will not come to a solid answer/compromise. What is important to recognize is that you have the ability to not only standup for your own opinions/viewpoints democratically, but you also have the ability respect for others who may be different than you. Many of these “friendly debates” will teach you something new and push you to think in ways or consider things you have not. Just remember to keep an open-mind and always be cordial during a difference of opinion.

Sparkle On,

Alexandra