Mood and Manners

Mood and Manners

I was recently inspired by the quote above. It got me thinking about how our manners should be a thoughtful reflection of our overall character. While we all of course experience our “off days,” we should not let these affect our overall attitude toward others and our manners.

Whether it is a coworker, loved one, or a stranger, do not take out your frustrations on them.

  • If a waiter gets your order wrong or store clerk gets you the wrong item, do not get angry at and embarrass them. Instead, be polite and kindly ask them to re-do your order.
  • Traveling and way-finding in new settings induces stress on many people. When asking for assistance or checking-in with security or travel personnel, ask for things politely and always thank them after. Avoid a demanding tone and short response.
  • Loved Ones can be an easy target for taking out frustrations – If you know you are in a bad mood or have had a rough day, let them know you may not be in the best of moods and ask for their understanding to help you. If you know you need some alone time, simply let them know that.
  • Taking things out on coworkers can be detrimental to your career, professional appearance, and overall office/team moral. If you are having a bad day, keep your composure and breathe before responding to situations. It is better to wait and think than to react inappropriately and have to apologize later.

And always remember – Even when you are having a tough day, smile at others as they pass you and offer a kind greeting. You may not always get a smile or greeting in return, but at least you will know you presented a friendly face to another individual!

Sparkle On!

Alexandra

Say Yes to the Dress: The Entourage

SYTTD

Image Credit: marrygrams

I recently had the opportunity of going with my cousin to her bridal appointment. To say it was an exciting event is an understatement! On my way to meet her, I started to think of how the appointment would be and what type of interactions and feedback the bride would want from those of us attending. It was my first time attending a bridal appointment so here are the tips and etiquette dos I learned!

  1. Allow the Bride to have the first say on a gown:
    • When you are looking at gowns in the showroom, ask the bride her opinion of a gown before handing it to the consultant or putting it in the bride’s room.
    • When the bride comes out to show you a gown, let the consultant get her in front of the mirror and allow the bride to see herself before making any comments. This will allow her to express her honest thoughts without being swayed by your immediate feedback.
  2. Remember your place:
    • Whether it is spoken or not, we all know there is a “hierarchy” within the attendees.
      • Mom, sister(s), and grandmothers come first – This is an important bonding moment between a mom and a daughter and/or between sisters, allow them to have the most interaction.
      • Maid/Matron of Honor – You are who the bride will lean on most so start practicing your best dress “fluffing” skills and be ready to test out those “Maid/Matron of Honor duties” early!
      • Bridesmaids, extended family, and friends – Take somewhat of a backseat to allow the others listed above to have a moment with the bride and share their feedback before sharing your own.
  3. When it is your turn to speak up, keep the Bride as your focus!
    • Some brides want a lot of feedback, while others are more personal – allow this to dictate how and when you give your feedback.
    • Be thoughtful in the comments you give. While honesty is always the best policy, honest feedback given in a kind manner is the most appreciated.
    • Similarly, some brides want a lot of excitement around their appointment (think matching shirts and big signs) while others do not like to be the center of attention. Ensure whatever you do makes the bride feel comfortable!
      • For example, if you have an understated bride, it may be best to leave the pom-poms, voting paddles, and other accessories at home.
  4. Remember the other elements of the wedding
    • Several factors come into play when picking out the perfect gown. Keep in mind:
      • Location of the wedding: A beach bride will probably be looking for a dress style different than a wedding taking place in a conservative place of worship.
      • Date of the wedding: Time of year plays a big factor in dress design and material.
      • Budget: Always be respectful of the bride’s budget.

Simply remember the end goal is to have a happy bride choose the dress SHE loves for HER big day! If you keep this and the bride in mind, you will be on the right path to ensuring she has the best bridal entourage in the studio!

Sparkle On,

Alexandra

Moving Day, Grab the Crew!

Moving Day

With a large number of individuals relocating during the summer, the ever popular “moving season” is upon us! Moving can be a stressful time with a “To Do” list that seems to grow by the second. To help reduce some of the stress, many people will hire movers to help with the process. How can you use movers to have the best move possible?

  1. Be Organized
    • If you have elected to have your movers pack your belongings, be clear about what you want packed and have those things organized. As the movers are packing the boxes, this is not the time to start throwing things out. Schedule time for yourself to “de-clutter” prior to the day the movers arrive to pack your boxes.
  2. Be Ready
    • If you are packing yourself, have everything packed and staged for the movers prior to their arrival. If the movers arrive and you are still packing boxes, this will delay their work and be an inefficient use of their time.
    • Ensure you provide the moving team with the correct address for both locations. Also, if there are special instructions for parking, loading dock location, or elevator usage, ensure you provide this to the team ahead of time.
  3. Be Courteous
    • Everyone is nervous about moving (mainly hoping nothing breaks), but this does not mean you should hover over your moving crew. If you have boxes or items that are fragile and need special attention or packing instructions, let your movers know this ahead of time and be sure to point out those items on moving day.
    • Have water and/or sports drinks to hand out to the movers, especially if they will be working in the extreme heat of the summer.
  4. Should I tip the moving team?
    • Tipping your movers is much like tipping waitstaff at restaurants, you base it on job performance. If you are happy with the job, tip the team. If you are unhappy and had problems throughout the job, you do not have to tip.
    • How much should I tip the movers?
      • In contrast to tipping waitstaff, it is more popular to tip movers a flat amount rather than a percentage of the moving cost. However, this amount will vary based on the extent of the move.
      • Suggested tip amounts (for each mover) are:
        • Short Move (less than 4 hours): $10 – $15 per mover
        • All Day Move (8 hours): $20 – $30 per mover
        • Extended Move (more than 12 hours): $40 per mover
        • Remember to individually thank and tip each mover! Do not hand an overall sum to one mover.
      • In lieu of tipping your movers, you can treat them to lunch. If you decide to do this, ask them their meal order!

 

To everyone moving this summer, enjoy your new homes!

Sparkle On!

Alexandra

Hey there stranger!

and

Hey y’all!

After moving into a new position with USO-Metro, I thought I would take a little time off to focus on the new role. Well… That hiatus ended up taking on a year (plus) life of its own. I have FINALLY had some time to work on new and creative pieces which I am excited to share with y’all.

As I continue to work on new material and pull from the experiences I have had, I am also looking to collect more ideas from my readers. What questions do y’all have and what do y’all want to know more about in the world of protocol and etiquette? Send me your questions and suggestions! You can submit them to my “Contact Me” page or comment directly on this post. I love being able to write posts directly focused on my readers and I look forward to seeing what y’all are interested in knowing more about!

Keep your eyes out for a new post next week!

Sparkle On,

Alexandra

Formal Etiquette: Time to Get Gala Ready!

Today, I am taking a bit of “writer’s freedom” and subscribing to the #ThrowbackThursday movement.

At work, we are preparing for Project Cinderella (click to read about last year’s program)! With everything from a protocol and etiquette seminar to a dress boutique, this is a wonderful program which helps female military spouses and female service members prepare to attend balls/galas, formal ceremonies, and other high-visibility military events.

In conjunction with this event prep, I am re-sharing my 2 articles on Military Ball/Gala protocol and etiquette:

Additionally, there is a way for YOU to get involved! As a part of Project Cinderella, each attendee visits the Dress Boutique and is able to take home a gown! To grow our dress boutique, USO of Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore is collecting new and “like-new” dresses/gowns, shoes, and accessories for cocktail, formal, and black tie events. If you have a gown (or a few!) to contribute, please do so at your closest USO-Metro center/lounge!

Project Cinderella - Dress and Accessory Collection

Sparkle On,

Alexandra

The Contents of a Great Email

Email Etiquette

Photo Credit: Inspired by This

In today’s day and age, email keeps us far more connected than ever before. Rather than picking up the phone or walking across the office building, we continuously send emails to our colleagues, friends, and family regarding matters from business to social plans and everything in between. So, how do you know if your email gets read or better yet, how do you know if your email actually served its purpose?

To ensure your emails are getting the attention they deserve, and by that I mean the right kind of attention, here are my tips for the contents of a great email:

  1. Subject Line
    • Use the Important Information Only. I once was working with a hospital director’s executive assistant on multiple visits for distinguished visitors and the aide asked, “For visit requests, please put Date of Visit, Name/Title of Visitor, and Meet Time in the subject line so I can see the main points quickly. Once I see that, I will know exactly what I am looking for in regards to planning and level of importance.”
    • Do Not Write the Message in the Subject Line. The subject line serves as a preview to the contents of the email, it should not read like a sentence or go on past the viewing pane.
    • Stick to the SubjectIf you need to discuss multiple topics that are unrelated with the recipient, I highly suggest doing so in different emails. This (1) ensures all your topics will be seen equally and (2) reduces confusion when answering questions by eliminating bunching responses together. If you do decide to include everything in 1 email, use an overarching subject line.
  2. Reply vs. Reply All
    • If you are placed on a group email thread and need to ask just the sender a question, reply only to the sender. There is no need to clutter everyone else’s inbox.
    • If you are sent a group invitation for an event, party, etc., submit your R.s.v.p. to the sender only. If you would like to know if other people are going, simply ask them yourself.
    • Only “Reply All” when all those on the message traffic will benefit from you sharing the information and it is pertinent to them. If you are the only person on the “To” line and the other people copied all need the information or are waiting for your direction then a “reply all” is appropriate.
  3. “To,” “CC,” and “BCC.” Always pay attention to which line your name is placed on in the email.
    • “To:” This means the email is directly to you and it is your responsibility to reply to the sender.
    • “Cc:” You are copied on the email for your awareness, but it is not your responsibility to take action. Allow the person on the “to” line to take action and send the first reply. If you need to comment or add information, do so after he/she sends the first reply.
    • “Bcc:” You are blind copied on this email, meaning it is only for your awareness. You should not reply, especially reply all, because the other recipients do not know you were included. If you need to discuss something from the email with the sender, seek out that individual only, most likely in person.
  4. Marking Something with “High Importance”
    • Only use this flag if your email is truly of high importance and needs someone’s attention quickly. Overuse of this flag will result in people skipping your emails because they will believe nothing is actually “highly important.”
    • If something is truly important and you do not receive a response in an appropriate amount of time, call the person rather than sending him/her another email.
  5. Greeting
    • Always include a greeting to the recipient at the beginning of your email. The type of greeting you use will vary based on the email being sent (formal, professional, personal/informal), but no matter what a greeting is always important! Here are a few examples:
      • Formal: “Dear,” always followed by the proper form address (Dr., Mr., Mrs., Military Rank, etc.).
      • Professional: “Good Morning, Good Afternoon, or Good Evening” always followed by the proper form address (Dr., Mr., Mrs., Military Rank, etc.).
      • Personal/Informal: “Hey, Hi, Hey there, etc.” followed by however you address the person in your personal life.
  6. Closing / Signature Block. Yes, you need one! Do not ever send an email without signing it!
    • Use a proper closing that reflects the relationship/type of email you are writing:
      • Formal: “Sincerely,” “Very Respectfully,” “Respectfully,”
      • Professional: You can close with something that reflects your personality yet is still appropriate. For example, “Best Wishes,” “Cheers!,” “Many Thanks,” etc.
      • Personal/Informal: This type of closing is completely up to you and the relationship you have with the recipient!
    • Clearly identify yourself. Use your full name, title/position, and company affiliation in your signature block.
    • Include your contact information. Your signature block should include your office phone number, email address, and company/organization web address. Be sure the signature block template is company/office-wide!
  7. Review your email before hitting send!
    • Check your email for grammar and missing words (when you type fast, it is bound to happen).
    • Remove any uncommon abbreviations or text message lingo/short words.
    • Be cautious when using emoticons. Emoji’s are appropriate in informal emails or internal correspondence (between coworkers), but should not be used for professional or formal correspondence.
    • Ensure the email is addressed to the appropriate people on the appropriate recipient lines.
    • If you stated in the email you included an attachment, be sure it is attached before sending.

By incorporating these extra touches into your emails, it will ensure you have proper email etiquette leading to your email receiving the type of attention and replies you desire.

Sparkle On,

Alexandra

My Experience as a USO Elf

USO_LOGO_Project Elf_Script-01

This article is not related to protocol or etiquette; however, I found this experience so special, I knew I had to share it.

This Holiday Season, I had the privilege of being the Program Manager, or “Head Elf” as some affectionately referred to me, for USO-Metro’s Project Elf. Project USO Elf supports military children of junior enlisted service members, E-1 to E-5, by pairing them with Corporate and Community Wish List Donors who sponsor the children. These Wish List Donors buy the children gifts from their Wish List for the Holiday Season. This year, I am very proud to say USO-Metro supported over 1,200 military children in the Washington-Baltimore Metropolitan region!

While this program was quite an undertaking, coordinating 1,200+ Wish Lists between 2 distribution locations from hundreds of Wish List Donors proved to be no small feat, it is one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. Planning for the program started as “Christmas in July” and gained momentum throughout the Fall. The build-up to the program was amazing!

On October 1st, the “North Pole” began receiving Wish Lists from children. The notes I read honestly made my day several times. One of my personal favorites was for a 6 year old girl, “She is girly and happy go lucky, very artistic, loves play dates and gymnastics! She has asked for: stuffed Hello Kitty doll, silver pageant crown & wand, ribbon baton twirler, Frozen Anna dress, sparkly silver Mary Janes, Melissa and Doug craft projects. She also likes Chick-Fil-A, My Little Ponies, and fun sparkly colors of Zoya (nontoxic) nail polish.” How adorable is that?! That is just one of the over 1,200 Wish Lists I received that reminded me of the pure joy and excitement the Holidays bring to children. Come November, Wish Lists were distributed to Donors and they were set loose to hit the stores while I stayed at the North Pole organizing the program logistics!

As soon as December 1st hit, I spent the first week of the month on “Sleigh Stops” visiting our Corporate Wish List Donors and receiving hundreds of Wish Lists from several companies. The level of excitement I saw in these donors and the giving atmosphere the companies built around my program was incredible. One company even had so many employees want to give to the program, that the employees started buying popular gifts for us to add to other children’s gift bags saying, “the more the merrier!” Once all the Wish Lists were collected, my amazing volunteers set-up and decorated the distribution sites.

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Project USO Elf Distribution Site #1 with over 800 Wish Lists ready for service member pick-up!


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Project USO Elf Distribution Site #2 with more than 400 Wish Lists ready for service member pick-up!

When distribution night arrived, I was instilled with an overwhelming sense of calm. That day, I knew all the hard work and long hours I put in were about to pay off – big time! Seeing the smiles and hearing the words of appreciation from service members who received gifts for their children was the only “Thank You” I needed. Realizing we (I would be remiss if I did not thank my amazing USO-Metro teammate and our HUGE volunteer corps. Without the volunteer hours put in by these dedicated, patriotic individuals, my job would not have been possible) had really made a difference in the lives of others was incredible.

This year, the Christmas spirit has not quite “taken hold” of me in my personal life. However, today I realized when over 1,200 military children wake-up tomorrow morning their Christmas wishes will come true thanks to so many generous citizens who wanted to give back and say “thank you” to our service members. Personally, the opportunity to play Santa for these military children has been a privilege and truly an honor. This year, Christmas took on a new meaning for me. I hope to continue to pay it forward to those so deserving of this special program.

“Merry Christmas to all and to all, a Good Night!”

Project USO Elf “Lead Elf”

To learn more about Project USO Elf, please watch Elizabeth Prann’s Fox News coverage of Project USO ElfFor additional photos from Project USO Elf, please visit the USO-Metro Facebook album.