Guest post by Susan Tolles
My good friend Jan Goss, Founder of Civility Consulting in Austin, recently shared her great tips on “surviving the holidays with grace,” etiquette to get us through parties and family gatherings. Here are some of my favorites, which really should be practiced year round.
At the table:
- Enter and exit your chair from the right side
- When excusing yourself from the table but planning to return, leave your napkin folded in your chair. When leaving the table without returning, leave your napkin to the left of your plate, unfolded.
- At a buffet dinner, when three or more people are seated at the table, you may begin eating.
- Treat each meal with reverence. Make it a special time and take things slowly. Engage in positive conversation. All these things help you digest your food better—Jan said she was helping our thighs, too!
Dressing for an event: it is better to be overdressed than underdressed. Reflect your best self when selecting your outfits, and feel confident in expressing your unique personal style.
When entering a room through a closed outside door, do not close it with your back to the room! The first few seconds you appear will leave a lasting impression on others, and you don’t want them looking at your backside as they size you up. Enter with confidence and grace and with a smile, then gently shut the door while facing the inside of the room.
Keep your hands at your sides. The “figleaf” (clasped in front) or “weapon” (clasped behind you) conveys that you are not open to the person you are talking to. As uncomfortable as it may feel to you, open arms relaxed at your sides will make others feel at ease.
SHAKE up your holidays!
- Smile—a smile will make others feel comfortable and welcomed. Smiles are contagious and can cause a chain reaction of good.
- Hug—if you know the person well, then go ahead and give them a warm hug. Hug protocol: use the left side of your body for a closer “heart to heart” hug. From Shirley Norwood: if you don’t want to hug someone who is “coming at you,” then simply grasp their hands as they are moving toward you and make eye contact. You can also use this technique when you are not sure if your guest wants to be hugged.
- Attitude—be positive, encouraging, uplifting (whether you feel it or not!)
- Keen sense of hearing—be on the lookout for the ones who are detached from the group, those who may feel uncomfortable or who are not participating in the conversations. Spend time listening to those people and encouraging them to join the crowd.
- Eternal—keep the right perspective on the little things that happen. Ask “Will this matter 10 years from now?” Don’t let frustrations of burned rolls or a messy kitchen drag you down—they really don’t matter “in eternity.” Focus on what really matters: family, friends and celebrations.
Excusing yourself from an uncomfortable conversation
- Say, “Excuse me, I need to go…….” (there’s always that potty break!).
- Say, “There must be something positive we can say about this.”
- Say. “It has been good to talk to you. Please excuse me.” Don’t just disappear, be gracious, even if you are agitated about the conversation
- Shirley gave us great advice on avoiding unpleasant conversations at family gatherings: Set clear expectations beforehand. With a greeting about an upcoming family reunion she was hosting, Shirley said, “We will not be discussing religion or politics” like had ruined previous family dinners. That set the tone for the event, and everyone enjoyed talking about family memories instead.
From Jan’s book Protocol Power, “The more you give from your heart, the more good comes back to you.”
Wishing you a gracious holiday season!
Susan Tolles is a Certified Dream Coach™ and founder of Flourish Over 50. She lives in Austin, TX, and has been married for 31 years, with three incredible children who are now successful, godly young adults. Susan began blogging, and from that she began dreaming big dreams, and Flourish Over 50 was born.
Flourish Over 50 is a community of women who are connecting with each other for support, inspiration and insight as they begin the best chapter of their lives. Your life after 50 is a time of rediscovery, a time to reinvent yourself to live life to the fullest. You can share your journey with other women who are experiencing the same joys and challenges of aging with grace and vitality. Now Susan Tolles, as the “new and improved me,” has created a community of women who can draw inspiration from one another, and find a wealth of insight and information through her site. You can learn more about Susan at www.flourishover50.com.