- How does a naturally polite person draw the line between being courteous and being a pushover? Is there a polite way to say ‘no’ to someone? Do you say yes when you really mean no? Some people are born pleasers, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing as long as you don’t let others take advantage of your kindness. No is a tiny word and can be very hard to say and makes so many feel uncomfortable. If you have difficulty saying no, you’re not alone. There are a thousand ways to say no, yet too often, we say yes. Saying no takes a great deal of courage, but saying it can be liberating, and like anything else, it takes practice.
- Is there a right or wrong way to compliment someone? When we pay a compliment, we feel better about ourselves by making another person feel better about him or her. When we accept a compliment gracefully, it works the same way. Giving a compliment is much easier than receiving one. A good rule is simply telling another person whenever something complimentary about that person pops into your head. Sometimes we think the other person knows how we feel or what we think, but putting it into words is the important thing. How you give a compliment is almost as important as what you say. Eye contact is key when giving a compliment. Without it, you might as well pay the compliment via Facebook. It’s all about face-to-face contact. Looking the other person in the eyes will speak volumes about you.
- What are three universal rules polite people follow when they visit someone else’s home or attend a party/event? Be on time and never walk into a party empty-handed. A hostess gift is your way of saying thank you for being invited. Don’t be a wallflower. Mingle with other guests and make your host feel happy that she invited (then you’ll be invited back). Always be prepared to “sing for your supper.” Never ask for special favors such as, “ I don’t eat caviar; I only want caviar; or if the champagne isn’t French, I’m not drinking it.” It’s one evening of your life. You can always eat when you leave or grab a sandwich before you head out for the evening. Lastly, a great guest always says thank you twice: call or email the next day and then mail a handwritten note.
- How might a naturally polite person approach gossip both in the workplace and In their personal life? Etiquette is a code of behavior in polite society. Even if someone is gossiping, that doesn’t mean you need to lower yourself to their level. Acknowledge it, then move on by changing the subject. It’s a bit like shaking someone’s hand without pulling away: you just gently let go. Gossip can be a ticking time bomb, and there’s nothing worse than a rumor mill. Plain and simple, words matter. Because gossip can be damaging, never engage, rather avoid gossip in your personal life or around the water cooler.
- “Think before you speak.” In this day and age, it’s more like, “Think before you text or email.” We’ve all made the mistake of putting something in writing only to regret it later. If you put it in writing, sit on it, send it to yourself, and give it 24 hours as you may have a change of heart or at least a change of kinder words. I have been guilty of not doing this and with deep regret. It’s important to use filters when speaking in person and online. What we say and how we say it can have a lasting impact on our relationships. If you don’t have anything nice to say, keep your thoughts to yourself, which does not include your social media pages. The end goal of etiquette is how you make people feel. If they walk away feeling like a million bucks, you’ve done your job. If you say something to offend them, they may not be your friend in the future. It’s very difficult to backtrack once you’ve already crossed that line.
A long, long time ago with my former boss Charlotte Shultz, San Francisco Chief of Protocol, one of the most polite people I have ever met.