Politeness on Plane: 7 Etiquette Dilemmas Resolved

As more than 231 million passengers take to the skies aboard U.S. airlines this summer—a four-percent jump over last year’s record number of 222 million—lines are long, gates are jammed and flights are packed. (And let's not even get started on those notorious TSA lines.)

All of this means tensions are high for business travelers and leisure fliers alike. So what’s a mild-mannered passenger like you to do? Let's take a look at some of the most common etiquette dilemmas you’ll encounter when you get to the airport.

Dilemma: They’re boarding Group 2 and the "line" is a giant horde of passengers waiting to pounce when their group is called. You’re in Group 3.

Solution: You do no one (including yourself) any favors by trying to board with a group that is not your own. Be ready to step in to that "line" but in the interim, keep a safe distance, allowing each group to trudge forward as it is called. When the time comes, if you’re in doubt about the line assignment of the people staring into space in front of you, inquire of them politely: “Excuse me, are you also in Group 3?

Dilemma: The gate agent has just announced there is no more room in the overhead bins. You’ll now have to check your bag at the gate and pick it up at luggage claim once you reach your destination.

Solution: Grumbling to the gate agent will solve nothing. Neither will writing a furious letter to the president of the airline. Smile and get used to it. This is air travel in 2016. Unless you're in first or business class, any time you journey with a large carry-on, put yourself in the mindset that you will most likely have to check it. Then you can be pleasantly surprised if you don’t.

Dilemma: You’re in the jetway, which is backlogged and feeling like a sauna. As you stand in the queue, you feel your phone vibrating and see it’s your boss. You just know it’s not going to be a brief conversation.

Solution: This is what voicemail is for. No one on that jetway wants to be beholden to your work issues. Send the boss a brief email or text letting her know you are moments from takeoff and that you’ll be in contact while en-route (if your flight has WiFi) or once you land. Then immediately switch your phone to airplane mode, knowing you've done so with the business etiquette seal of approval.

Dilemma: You are assigned to a middle seat and the passengers on either side of you are using the armrests.

Solution: The one silver lining (and I mean the one silver lining) of having the middle seat is your right to both armrests. First try reason: “We have a long flight and I want to be sure we are all as comfortable as possible. Sitting here in the middle, I’d appreciate full access to this armrest if you don’t mind." You can follow that up with..."Although if you’d prefer to have the armrest, maybe you’d like to switch seats?”Once you have the armrests, forfeit them at your own risk—you may not have the chance to reclaim them later in the flight. Just be sure to keep your arms and elbows in your own space–don’t jab your seatmates.

Dilemma: The passenger on the aisle has fallen asleep and you’ve been in great need of a bathroom break for the past 30 minutes.

Solution: Unless you are in the exit row or in a row with ample clearance, do not attempt to hop over the aisle blocker next to you. This can only end badly—especially if the plane suddenly hits turbulence. Instead, tap the person gently on the shoulder and thank him or her as you exit and reenter the aisle. We’ve all been there.

Dilemma: The toddler behind you is alternating between wailing at the top of his lungs, kicking your seat and tapping on the LCD screen encased in your headrest.

Solution: Do not scold the child directly. Speak with the little one’s parent in a gentle way (“I’m so sorry to bother you with this…is there any way you could have your son/daughter be a bit gentler with the LCD screen? I’m hoping for a nap and it’s hard to do when my seat is getting rocked like this.” Do not mention the crying (this is what headphones are for—particularly the noise-cancelling variety). If the parent seems unwilling or unable to correct the problem, call the flight attendant. Explain the situation in an understanding manner (e.g.: “I realize the mother in the seat behind me certainly has her hands full, however….”)

Dilemma: You’ve finally made it to your destination and the plane had to wait on the tarmac for 90 minutes because the gate wasn’t available for your plane to park. Now that the cabin doors are open, all anyone can think about is getting off the aircraft. ASAP.

Solution: Rein in your instinct to dash out of your row before the people across the aisle from you. Let them go ahead of you and when you step into the aisle, help anyone in the immediate vicinity who is having difficulty pulling a bag down from the overhead compartment. So what if this delays your exit by thirty seconds? Practicing patience is a good thing, because you’re going to need it again very soon. Next up: the rental car counter!

Boldly Going Where No Etiquette Post Has Gone Before

It was five decades ago that a science fiction series with appallingly bad special effects (and, at times, equally bad acting) beamed its way into the hearts and minds of television audiences around the globe. Proof positive of its enduring appeal are the dozen-plus feature films in the franchise and more than 700 episodes across multiple TV iterations.  As the iconic television series Star Trek celebrates its golden anniversary this year, highlighted, among other ways, by last weekend's release of the thirteenth film in the franchise, I thought it apropos to mull five lessons we can learn from Captain Kirk and his Star Fleet successors in the realm of workplace etiquette.

1) Despite every crew member having primitive-looking "flip phones" (albeit with far better service and presumably cheaper rate plans), you would not catch the crew of the StarshipEnterprise talking idly on their communicators to pass the time. (Especially during an important briefing.)
Workplace Lesson: Put your cell phone away when you're on the job. Save the Snapchatting for when you're off-duty. That goes double for playing Pokémon Go.

2) With a crew that represented a diverse mix of races as well as episodes that regularly featured women in leadership roles (successively more so as years went by), the franchise long-ago proved itself to be color-blind and refreshingly progressive. The show's lead characters didn't always agree with one another, but the differences they did have never stemmed from prejudice.
Workplace Lesson: Embrace diversity; your company and boardroom worldview will be richer for doing so.

3) The crews of the various TV series (from the original "Star Trek" to later incarnations "Star Trek: The Next Generation"; "Deep Space Nine"; "Voyager"; and "Enterprise") were unflinchingly loyal to their commanding officers. Captains reciprocated that dedication, going to the end of the universe (often literally) to save the life or reputation of an officer under his or her command.
Workplace Lesson: Respect goes both ways. If you want your team to follow you, demonstrate with your words and actions that you have their backs.

4) One of the guiding principles of the show, known as the Prime Directive, underscored the importance of not imposing a worldview on cultures that were different (or less developed) from their own. Although the rule wasn't not always followed to the letter, the concept was still a noble one.
Workplace Lesson: Encourage your fellow team members to learn new things, but don't act as though your way is the only way. Keep an open mind and you may be the one who gains the fresh insight rather than the other way around.

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5) Appreciating the importance of conversing with alien cultures in their own language, the show's canon included something known as the universal translator—a technology that enabled species to converse in real time (and in their own voices and language) and still be understood as though they were uttering the listeners' native tongue.
Workplace Lesson: Communicating with others in a language they understand (both literally and figuratively) is essential for reaching a consensus. Technology being pioneered by Google and Skype is bringing us closer to the universal translator than ever before. In the interim, if you are working with a non-English speaker, make it your business to learn some key phrases and hire the right translator. Even if the other individual is conversant in English, your gesture will go a long way and allow you to begin a negotiation on the right foot.

What other television programs offer lessons for the workplace? Send me your thoughts on Twitter and Facebook.

Farewell to Small Talk and a Smile?

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When was the last time you waited in line to see a bank teller? I'm happy to use an app or an ATM for most of my banking needs, but for occasions when my transaction is more complex than a basic withdrawal or deposit, I've never minded queuing. Perhaps it's owing to childhood memories of being in the car with my parents, idling at the local bank's drive-thru, where the smiling teller would ask: "Would he like an "L-O-L-L-I-P-O-P"? Even before I knew how to spell—let alone spell "lollipop," (two "l's" or three?)  it didn't take long for me to realize that this scarcely disguised messaging was code for candy. Yes, please!

With or without a lollipop, a teller transaction—even to this day—is most always a pleasant experience. A smile and some small talk. About the weather. About a long week coming to an end. About a good weekend had. About a new week commencing. Pleasant, courteous and enjoyable conversation that entails two people establishing a brief connection before the customer goes on his or her way.

And yet, I wonder for how much longer tellers will serve us at banks. At the local branch of my financial institution in New York, plunked ominously in front of the wall of mostly unattended teller windows now sit two machines. They are best-described as "super ATMs." The bank purports they do just about anything a teller can do, things ordinary ATMs can't. Always stationed nearby is an earnest employee whose primary responsibility, it seems, is to direct clients to one of these monstrosities rather than a person. If you demur, the greeter will provide a multitude of reasons for how an ATM on steroids can speed you along your way, sparing you the nuisance of having to wait for a teller.

I'm all for progress. I just wish it didn't come with the price tag of stripping away yet another opportunity for genuine human interaction. It depersonalizes the banking experience. Less and less is it a place to see friendly, smiling faces, employees who are genuinely vested (and invested) in our day-to-day fortunes.  It's becoming more so a place to spend time staring at a touch screen before grabbing a receipt and dashing out the revolving door.

Efficient? Yes. Accurate? So far so good. Small talk? Not unless you count beeps and chimes. Lollipops? Not a one. Then again, I think candy for kids went out of fashion years ago—along with the umbrellas and toasters you once got for opening up a passbook savings account.

"Farewell to Small Talk and a Smile?" is the first in a series of stories on this blog that will talk about self-service in 2016 and what it means for consumers and business etiquette in general.

Cancel on Me (Please!) But Not on Your Hairstylist

Keeping your appointments is about more than keeping up appearances.

I've run six marathons and look forward to running many more. But even for those who've never crossed a 26.2-mile finish line, running around is a way of life. As we dash from meeting to meeting or drop the kids off at soccer games and ballet practices, most of us operate at high speed all day long, barely catching a breath until the day is finally through. And for that reason, when I suddenly find myself with spare time because someone has canceled business or social plans at the last-minute, my reaction is perhaps a surprising one. Typically, I'm thrilled. What may be a breach of business etiquette on the part of the cancelling party is cause for me to rejoice. It's an unexpected gift to have a spare hour or two in my schedule, one that operates at breakneck speed. Time to breathe. Time for me. Time to relax. Time to ponder.

And yet, for others, a last-minute cancellation is something to dread.

I have many friends in the service industries—from massage therapists to hair stylists, math tutors to personal trainers. For these individuals, each of whom hustles for every bit of business earned, time is money. A canceled appointment—particularly when the notice is short—has financial repercussions. They have set aside a block of time to work with a client, turning away others who might later request that same slot. In the same way a party host prepares her home for guests, service providers have prepared, too—whether putting together a fun lesson plan or gathering the essential oils their customer favors during a massage. And then, like a slap in the face, a cancellation. Or worse still, a no-show.

Even if the provider's place of work has a cancellation policy, no one wins when it's exercised. The client will typically resent paying for a service not received; the provider worries about the risk of losing the client as a result of that resentment. And of course, the tips that are the lifeblood of a provider's paycheck are notably absent from any cancellation fee.

Life happens. From horrendous traffic jams to sick kids, work obligations to unexpected free theater tickets, there are many reasons—valid and otherwise—why we might not be able to keep our appointments with a service provider. And yet, we owe it to the individuals who have dedicated their careers to improving the lives of others to afford them common courtesy when we need to cancel.

With that in mind, the following are some guidelines for canceling:

•Avoid the temptation to bail if your reason is discretionary (e.g., you're tired and don't feel like it). Remember no one likes a flake—even one who doesn't mind paying a cancellation charge. Honor your commitment to being where you're supposed to be, when you're supposed to be there.

•Cancel (when you must) as soon as you possibly can. Waiting to do so because you're dreading making the call wastes valuable time the practitioner could be using to line up another client to take your place.

•Ensure your notification gets through. Leaving a message on a machine after-hours is fine if that's the first opportunity you have, but follow-up your message with a call to a live receptionist once the business opens the next day.

•If the cancellation is last-minute, offer to pay for the cost of the service. Even if the establishment does not charge for skipped appointments, you'll be demonstrating your respect for the professional's time. Most likely, they will decline. Nonetheless, you'll have proven yourself the bigger person for making the offer.

•Apologize to your service provider the next time you go for an appointment. A brief apology and a bit of extra tip to acknowledge their hardship will go a long way.

When simply writing your expository essay, go along with these 8 basic steps

  • Find a area of interest: Be sure the subject is filter ample to really make it reasonable inside of the area of some essay
  • Compose a thesis phrase: Make sure the thesis proclamation(or phrase) conveys a maintaining concept that is neither of the two too wide nor way too distinct to end up being engineered appropriately
  • Select a technique of enhancement: Verify thru all of the solutions before you start to finally decide on normally the one that will ideal deliver your thesis:
  • characterization | example | review and compare | contribute to and results | category | system investigation

  • Set up the essay: Begin with listing the most important divisions that the body paragraphs inside your essay will talk about; then fill out the primary helps that each physique paragraph with the essay will provide
  • Jot down area of interest phrases for figure lines of a essay: Every shape paragraph, provide a subject sentence that immediately concerns the thesis sentence
  • Post the entire body paragraphs within the essay: Every overall body paragraph should really build the most crucial help discussed because paragraph’s question phrase
  • Supply a section of benefits: An introductory section will need to point out the thesis belonging to the essay, bring in the divisions in your body paragraphs in the essay, and get the attraction on the reader
  • Post a paragraph of in closing:
    • Restate the thesis and divisions of your essay
    • Provide the essay to the effective and valuable close
    • Keep away from digressing into new difficulties

When crafting your expository essay, adopt these 8-10 steps

  • Pick a matter: Make sure the topic is slim sufficiently to make it reasonable during the area of some essay
  • Create a thesis phrase: Be certain the thesis affirmation(or phrase) expresses a dealing with idea that is neither of the two also general nor also precise to get engineered productively
  • Select a strategy for creation: Take a look at with many of the solutions prior to ultimately settle on one which will certainly greatest perform your thesis:
  • characterization | situation | examine and comparison | provoke and benefit | classification | progression assessment

  • Manage the essay: Begin by itemizing the main divisions that the entire body sentences within your essay will talk about; then fill out the chief promotes that each human body paragraph in the essay will incorporate
  • Come up with theme sentences to the physical structure lines belonging to the essay: Every physical structure paragraph, provide a topic sentence that instantly pertains to the thesis sentence
  • Come up with the body sentences of a essay: Each whole body section should build the most crucial help support covered up in that paragraph’s niche sentence
  • Give a paragraph of intro: An introductory paragraph will want to condition the thesis of the essay, create the divisions in the body lines from the essay, and acquire the awareness on the readers
  • Post a paragraph of realization:
    • Restate the thesis and divisions within the essay
    • Provide the essay with an effective and powerful nearby
    • Steer clear of digressing into new conditions

How to write a research proposal

These recommendations fail to make certain a thriving explore software! They are intended to enable you conceptualize and cook a investigate offer, supplying this process plan and a timetable for one to expand. Good luck!

When trying to obtain an analysis give as well as a investigation scholarship, you might be most likely to hands with a “comprehensive and precise overview of review or investigation proposition as well as info on any recent research project or researching tasks of specified importance for a option of grant.”

Continue reading “How to write a research proposal”

Time to Put Pen to Paper!

The photo at right says it all. At one time, this box surely brimmed with letters, correspondence that chased its way downward through the floors of this downtown Manhattan office building before coming to rest in the lobby, ready to be sped on its way by an employee of the United States Postal Service. And today? Whitewashed. Barely legible, the words: "U.S. MAIL LETTER BOX." Painted over like a poster for a film that left the theaters many seasons ago.

When was the last time you hand-wrote a message to someone you love? If you’re like most, it’s been a long while (if ever). In our era, email has endangered eloquence; emojis have enfeebled expression. And yet, if you believe the hand-written note has outlived its usefulness, I urge you to reconsider. In a time marked by Tweets and texts, #TBTs and TTYLs, there is no better way to convey sentiments that will endure than by putting them down on paper.

With this in mind, and just in time for National Card and Letter Writing Month, I've partnered with the Hotel Hugo in New York City on a 30-day campaign to promote the penning of truly meaningful messages. After check-in, guests discover in their room a set of complimentary, custom note cards. The hotel and I are encouraging guests to think of a special person in their life, put their thoughts on paper, seal the envelope and bring it to the lobby, where the hotel will mail the correspondence for free anywhere in the world.

Though you may not be staying at the Hugo, you can still take part in the campaign. Write even one note this month and rediscover the joys of expressing yourself on paper. If you're feeling rusty, never fear. Here are my top tips for creating a keepsake that’s cherished…for all the “write reasons,” of course.

special edition Forever stamp issued by the usps to commemorate national card & letter writing month

 1. Penmanship counts. (And so does your pen.) In fact, the two can be closely linked. Find the implement that allows you to write as neatly as possible. Too inky and you’ll get blots. Too greasy and you’ll leave smudges. With a porous card stock, a fountain pen can be very elegant, though a felt-tip pen may provide cleaner results. Skip the ballpoint entirely, and if your handwriting is just a shade above legible, consider printed- rather than cursive lettering.

 2. Blue is not the new black. Ink the color of ebony is the appropriate choice for a formal note card. Eschew the blue and whatever you do, avoid red at all costs.

3. Be a dear. Date the card in the upper-right and start off with a salutation; invariably this will be “Dear” or “Dearest”…you’ll have more options when it comes to the complimentary close. (See below.)

4. Get your messaging down. Consider composing your note on a computer first and transcribing it to the note card second. This allows you to find the most appropriate wording without ruining precious paper in the process. You can also run a spell-check before committing, thus avoiding unsightly cross-outs. Make your message matter by being as descriptive and expressive as possible.

5. In closing. Select a complimentary close that suits your relationship with the recipient. This is also your chance to show more flourish. Some suggestions: Affectionately; Thinking of You; Love Always; Your Friend Forever; Devotedly; Gratefully Yours; With Deepest Thanks. And don’t forget to sign the card…first-name only unless the recipient won’t know you from your given name alone.

6. Stamp of individuality. Place the card in the envelope right-side up, with the front of the card facing the flap. Hand-addressing is a must—in the same ink you used for the note. Stick to a real postage stamp (as opposed to a printed label or meter imprint). Skip the ubiquitous USPS flag stamps unless the intent of your note is to be patriotic. Instead, enhance the theme of your card with a stamp appropriate to the message you’ve written. Last but not least, don’t forget to include your return address, which—if you’ve played your card right—will spur and facilitate an equally treasured reply.

Easter & Passover Etiquette

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Easter and Passover weekends are here. Do you have your bonnet ready? Have you baked a batch of hot-cross buns or saved a chair for Elijah? Whatever your traditions are this holiday, there are sure to arise some etiquette quandaries. To assist you with those questions, here are some scenario-saving suggestions usable this weekend and all the year through. For more of this advice, have a peek at mysegment this week on the Today show with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb.

SO IF YOU ARE HEADING TO EASTER OR PASSOVER DINNER THIS WEEKEND ... SHOULD YOU ALWAYS OFFER TO BRING DESSERT OR A SIDE ... OR IS A BOTTLE OF WINE OR FLOWERS ENOUGH?
Any time you are invited to dinner at someone’s home, you should always offer to assist the host by bringing a food dish. If the host declines, you can still bring something—just don’t make it a scene-stealer, which will detract from what the host has prepared. In the case of Passover, if the household you are visiting keeps kosher, make certain not to bring anything into the home that is not sealed and marked kosher for Passover.

In all cases, you should always bring something for the host to enjoy well after the party is over, such as a nice bottle of wine or a potted Easter lily.

AND AS THE HOST -- IS IT EVER OK TO INVITE SOMEONE OVER, AND THEN SAY, "HEY COULD YOU TAKE CARE OF THE SALAD??
A host should always have a ready answer for the question “What can I bring?” If the guest does not ask, and the host needs some help with the menu, she could ask the guest, “I’m wondering if you’d be able to bring that famous Waldorf salad of yours that everyone loves so much?” Don’t ask the guest to bring the main course or something that is out of the ordinary or out of his or her regular recipe routine.

LET'S TALK ABOUT SEATING -- DO YOU PREFER ASSIGNED SEATS WITH PLACECARDS -- OR SHOULD IT JUST BE A FREE-FOR-ALL AT THE TABLE?
Depending on the size of the gathering and how formal you want to make this party, place cards can be a nice touch. They are especially handy if you’ll be having guests who spend much of every meal arguing. This way, you can seat them as far apart as possible.

WHAT ABOUT DESSERT -- SOME PEOPLE SERVE IT IMMEDIATELY, BUT YOU MIGHT NEED A BREATHER!
Most certainly give yourself and your guests a bit of a break before dessert. This is a great time for a walk, a game (whether an outdoor sport or a board game) or—if you haven’t done it already—an egg hunt, which will allow everyone to work off the meal a bit. For anyone whose sweet tooth can’t wait, I like having a selection of jellybeans set out in colorful dishes around the family room at the beginning of the party.

THEN THERE'S CLEAN UP-- A LOT OF TIME AS THE HOSTESS, YOU'RE EAGER TO CLEAR PLATES, GET THE DISHES GOING IN THE KITCHEN, BUT THEN YOU’RE SORT OF ABANDONING YOUR GUESTS ... WHAT DO YOU SUGGEST?
Unless you are having your meal catered, there’s not much getting around the fact that the host or hostess is going to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. And clearing the plates is an important part of preparing for the next course. But once the last course has been served, the host should take a break from the kitchen and spend any remaining time with his or her guests. Any additional cleanup can be done after the last guests have left.

AND FINALLY, AS THE NIGHT WRAPS UP ... BUT PEOPLE ARE STILL LINGERING... HOW DO YOU POLITELY INDICATE THE EVENING IS OVER??
You don’t want to rush people out, but once dessert has been served and coffee has been consumed, a line like “We have so many leftovers…what can I give you to take home?” is a nice way to suggest to your guests that they must start rustling. If they don’t take that cue, enlist the services of a sibling or other close family member to start the exodus with a line such as “I know we all have work and school tomorrow and Sarah has been cooking all day. We should head home so she can get some sleep.”

A Farewell to Facebook?

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This week, a reader wrote to me, asking:

I find people are increasingly posting what I feel are inappropriate comments and pictures. My kids are on Facebook and they do not post these kinds of things or act this way so I guess I just don't know how to handle adults and other young adults who do feel this is appropriate. I am to the point of just shutting down my Facebook. So my question is do I just ignore this behavior or do I post a notice that I have decided to shut down my Facebook or just shut it down without saying anything?

Here's what I suggested....

The decision to leave Facebook is a personal one, of course. I appreciate your frustration with inappropriate or simply annoying posts on social media. And certainly, the upside of bidding farewell to Facebook is no more swaths of time gobbled up scrolling through your news feed and the attendant serving of seemingly endless ad drivel. The unfortunate consequence of leaving Facebook, however, is a shutting down of a pipeline that also contains welcome or important news you might not hear of otherwise. For many of us--me included--Facebook is a lifeline to longtime friends and distant family members whom I don’t often--or in some cases, ever--get to see. So I recommend the following:

1) If there are particular offenders who are also good friends of yours, I’d have a private word with them, explaining in a gentle way that occasionally, you have found their posts to be a bit offensive, and you wonder whether others might be feeling the same way. Encourage them to consider carefully anything they post, knowing that once it is out in the ether, it is difficult--if not impossible--to expunge. If they ignore your advice, follow the second part of tip # 2, below.

2) If the offenders are only casual acquaintances, you might consider “hiding” their status updates. What’s nice about this option is that you don’t need to unfriend these individuals entirely; you will simply cease seeing their updates (offensive or otherwise). If you hover over the right downward arrow next to their post, a box will appear that will allow you to stop “following” this friend. Again, the “friendship” remains intact. (See photo.) Your contact will be none the wiser.

3) If the offenders are casual acquaintances and are being truly awful, the time has likely come to unfriend them entirely. No explanation needed. They are not worth your attention.