infertility_etiquette“When are you having a baby?” “Don’t you want kids?” “Have you thought about adoption?”

With one in eight couples in America struggling with issues of infertility, these are questions far too many couples and single people have likely heard from well-meaning friends and family members.

In observance of National Infertility Awareness Week, I recently sat down with relationships expert Andrea Syrtash on “Good Morning Washington” to discuss the delicate manner in which all of us should approach conversations of family planning.

My first tip for the inquisitive among us: Take a pregnant pause. More specifically, if you’re thinking of asking a woman if she is now pregnant–or hopes to be in the future–don’t. The sting of these questions is anything but innocuous.

For more tips, check out the segment below:


wedding_bandsPrince William doesn’t wear one. Nor does President Trump.

With public figures including Jay-Z and actor Will Smith opting to go out in public without a wedding band on their left hands, you’d be forgiven for pondering whether this a movement that will trickle down to the general population.

While traditions vary from culture to culture, the concept of a woman wearing a ring as a sign of betrothal and fidelity is ancient. For men in the West, it is a more recently adopted practice, one with its popular beginnings in the mid-twentieth century. What began as a reminder of one’s spouse for enlisted men away at war, today has become an accepted and commonplace means of signaling a male’s marital status.

Although men who eschew wedding rings have a variety of reasons for abstaining—from their dislike of jewelry to workday hazards to their desire to appear available, from an etiquette standpoint, I think it’s ill-advised. The best rules of etiquette exist to prevent confusion and mixed messages. Going ringless may not matter for a man who is widely known to be married due to his presence in the public eye. For the rest of the married-male populace, the facts are not so apparent. (Although, as previously indicated, that may in fact be the goal.)

With that said, it is for each couple to decide, and providing both individuals are comfortable with one or both partners not wearing a ring, that is their prerogative. Of course, going ringless is going to leave countless men across America with one less thing to fidget with, i.e., no more ring to remove and spin like a toy.

Lastly, unless married men not wearing a wedding ring truly becomes the rule rather than the exception, they had best be prepared to do some explaining when the topic of relationship status comes up with new acquaintances.


Dryers in the LaundromatAccording to estimates from the Coin Laundry Association, roughly seven million families in America visit a laundromat weekly. That makes seven million reasons–if not more–to put communal laundry room behavior through the heavy-rinse cycle. With that in mind, here are some of my tips for coming out with clean clothes–and a clean-bill of health for your manners, too:

*Patrons have a duty to remove their clothing from the washers and dryers quickly after those respective cycles are done. Leaving wet clothes in the washing machine for hours on end is inconsiderate.

*You have zero right to feel angry if you return tardy and find your clothes have been removed to make way for the next customer. Snooze, you lose.

*If you are extricating the clothing of the person whose washer or dryer load preceded yours, use every precaution to ensure the clothes are removed gingerly, in their entirety and placed as close to their original location as possible.

*When doing your own washer loads, if you spill detergent or bleach, be sure to wipe it up. And don’t leave behind empty containers or used dryer sheets.

*Remember to clear the lint filter after using the dryer so it’s ready for the next customer.

*Last but not least, don’t hog the folding table. Spreading out and leaving no room for others is inconsiderate.

Remember…bad manners always come out in the wash.


networking_gratitude

Good networking in business is about give and take. And the best networkers give more than they take. Sadly, there are far too many who practice the exact opposite.

I could fill a book with the names of people who have asked me to review their résumés, write them recommendation letters, serve as a reference, grant informational interviews or make introductions on their behalf. In nearly all cases* I’m happy to oblige, even when to do so impinges on my own workload. I also delight in being a connector—fixing up my acquaintances (often unsolicited) when I think there could be a mutual benefit from their knowing one another.

Which is why I struggle with personalities who are not shy about asking for favors but neglect to express their thanks after the fact. No matter how busy you are, you have zero excuse not to thank someone who has gone out of the way to grant you a solid. Like walking through a door a stranger has held for you and not saying “thank you,” accepting another’s goodwill and then forgetting all about it has wide-ranging repercussions. As in: The giver is going to think twice about repeating such generosity in the future. Whether for you or for someone else.

With that in mind, here are my best practices for asking for (and accepting) the benevolence of others in business:

1) Don’t Be Pushy
Just because a person has the ability to grant your request does not equal obligation to do so. If the other party is too busy, unwilling or unable to comply, you can’t allow that fact to tarnish your relationship.

2) Offer More than You Ask
Requesting big favors and never offering any of your own will quickly earn you a reputation as a taker. (And perhaps even a friendship faker.) Be a giver…think of it as building your credit score. The higher your score, the more likely it is you’ll get “loan offers,” i.e.—connection opportunities—without even asking.

3) Make it Easy
If you want contacts to write you a letter of recommendation, provide them with any background information they need to do so. Give them plenty of time, too. Asking for favors at the last-minute is inconsiderate, and will likely deliver inferior results. Also, if you’re offering up someone’s name as a reference, be sure you have cleared it with the individual before passing along any contact info.

4) Be Thankful
Not every favor granted calls for a flower arrangement, a cookie basket or a thank-you dinner, but at the very least, it calls for an expression of genuine thanks. (And no, a text message that reads “Thx” does not cut it.) Be certain you don’t leave your contact in the dark! If the connection has resulted in something positive for you (a business deal, a job, a foot in the door), keep the favor-granter posted. What greater joy than to know the efforts have borne fruit.

5) Pay it Forward
With apologies to Taylor Swift, the “Takers gonna take, take, take, take, take.” So last but not least, don’t be a taker; aim to give twice as much as you request. After all, tis better to give than to receive.

*There are instances when I decline providing a recommendation or connection, such as when I don’t believe in the abilities of the person doing the asking or when I don’t think the connection would spell mutual benefit for both parties. I work hard to build a trusted network of contacts, and I know you do, too. Maintain the integrity of your list by respecting that sometimes, a connection is simply not meant to be.