Use It, Don’t Abuse It.

There is no denying that the cell phone was a great invention. Cell phones give people the opportunity to connect and communicate with each other no matter where one finds herself. But along with its convenience came a lot of really rude people. It seems like as soon as you put a cell phone in someone’s hand they completely forget all their manners. Just because you are on the phone, doesn’t mean you can neglect the actual people around you. If you are in a private setting, do as you please but if you are in public- be considerate of others.

*Talk normally. There is no need to scream into the phone. If you have a bad connection, you probably shouldn’t be talking to that person, call them back when you have better service. I promise the person on the other side of the line will still understand what you are saying if you talk a few decibels lower.

*Censor your public conversations. The person behind you in the Starbuck’s line doesn’t care about your wild weekend, your most recent breakup, or your latest fight with your best friend. Keep your personal problems for private conversations.

*Don’t interrupt face-to-face conversations to answer a phone call. You will get a chance to call that person back once your actual conversation with a real live person is over. If you sense it is an absolute emergency, politely excuse yourself and apologize after.

*Don’t check your phone at the movies. Turn your phone off and leave it in your purse or pocket. You probably won’t be in the movies for more than two and a half hours, I think you will survive.

*If you are having an in-person conversation with someone, don’t text someone else. It makes it seem like you don’t care what the other person is saying or that you aren’t listening.

*There are just some places that it is inappropriate to talk on the phone such as libraries, lines, offices, museums, restaurants, places of worship, or public transportation (especially when it’s really crowded).

Let’s not abuse a great thing. Think before you act. Survey the area around you and if you need to take a phone call in public, try to get to the most secluded area available to you. Make an effort to be polite and courteous, people will appreciate and take notice of your effort.

Now, go practice your ‘lipstick confidence’!

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math- OH MY!

If someone asked me, at the beginning of high school, what I pictured my college career to look like the words “all women’s college” would not have come out of my mouth. Many high school girls won’t even consider looking at an all women’s college and it’s really a shame. With less than two months left till graduation I can honestly say that my choice to attend an all women’s college was the best decision I could have ever made. The sense of community, pride, and passion is completely overwhelming (in a good way). In your most vital years, you are granted the opportunity to grow and develop the skills necessary to succeed in a male dominated world in an environment where women are the focus. In a co-ed world there is nowhere else you will ever get that experience.

On a blog search about a month ago I came across this blog entry that particularly caught my attention. There were two things that I loved about this blog. One, it is the AAUW (American Association of University Women) blog. AAUW has been in existence for 130 years. With 100,000 members/donors, 1,000 branches, and 500 member institutions AAUW works to break down educational and economic barriers to help women have a fair chance at success. There are so many awesome things that AAUW does that I couldn’t possibly mention it all here, so check out their website for yourself- I dare you.

Secondly, this blog entry also talks about STEM. This program encourages women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. I will be the first one to tell you that I’m definitely not science/math inclined but I have always deeply admired people who are. There is no denying that these fields are male dominated. AAUW tries to encourage women to break into these fields by providing graduate fellowships, grants, and conducting research to diminish these barriers. Check out more information about STEM here.

I absolutely love that there are organizations out there that are encouraging women to be ‘lipstick confident’ because we could use all the help we can get. A little support and encouragement goes a long way.

Now, go practice your ‘lipstick confidence’ and remember to follow my blog on Twitter, @lconfidence.

Smooth Talker

Starting a conversation with someone you don’t know isn’t easy or comfortable for anyone. You run the risk of being rejected, embarrassing yourself, or creating an awkward moment. No one likes to willingly put themselves in vulnerable situations but sometimes there is just no way around it. Knowing how to start a good conversation with strangers is a skill that you can’t avoid learning because you are bound to be put in a situation with people you don’t know at least once in your life (and probably a lot more than that). Starting and holding conversations with people is one of my biggest challenges so I really enjoyed researching for this week’s post. I hope this helps you improve your conversations as much as it has helped me:

*Just be friendly. You don’t need to impress the other person within the first thirty seconds of meeting them. Be relaxed, informal, and open.

*Smile and hold eye contact (click back to my post from a few weeks ago).

*Breathe normal and have open posture. Don’t close your body off from the other person, sit/stand facing whoever you are talking to.

*Make sure to introduce yourself/explain why you are at the event.

*Ask open ended questions that require more than a one word answer.

*Talk about topics that interest you, you will have better and more natural conversation this way. Don’t try to talk about things just because you think that is what you’re supposed to be talking about.

*Not sure what to talk about? Have a few conversation starters ready. Ask them about their job, compliment something they are wearing and ask where they got it from, or ask them why they are at the event/who they know there.

Just like everything else, the more you do it the better you will get at it. Don’t be afraid to practice, talk to as many people as you can. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to fail.

Now, go practice your ‘lipstick confidence’!

Love is in the Air

Ok, I’m just going to put it out there: I love weddings! I actually have a wedding this weekend and I’m really looking forward to it; it’s a great night out. I am also engaged and although we have not started planning our wedding yet I find myself thinking about it more then I probably should. I know a lot of people who have recently got engaged or will be getting engaged soon, meaning there’s a lot of weddings in my future and I couldn’t be happier about it!

Whether you love going to weddings or dread it, everyone feels a little awkward and unsure of themselves at these events. Especially at the very beginning, before things really start to get rolling. Everyone tries to feel out the vibe of the event in order to act appropriate to what is expected of them. No one wants to ruin anyone’s big day by doing something wrong or disrespectful. Below I put together a short list of basic wedding guest etiquette guidelines to help ease those wedding jitters:

*Respond promptly to your invitation, that way you won’t forget to RSVP (and plus, the bride and groom really do need to know how many people are coming). If you need to cancel last minute, make sure to call one of the parents or the bride/groom.

*Don’t assume you can bring a guest. Only bring the people that the invitation is addressed to, if it says “and Guest” then by all means, bring whomever you’d like.

*If you accept an invite to a wedding, you must send a gift. It’s always safest to stick with the registry and it’s best to just send the gift to the designated address on the registry. You don’t want the bride and groom to have to worry about lugging a bunch of gifts home after the wedding (they have other things on their mind).

*If you don’t accept the invite, you aren’t required to send a gift but it’s highly practiced and encouraged. At the very least you should send a congratulatory card.

*Make sure you dress hour and season appropriate. Day weddings are more casual. Night weddings require cocktail attire unless otherwise noted. In the spring/summer, lighter pastel colors work well and for fall/winter go for some darker hues. It’s ok to wear black; it’s totally classy (I am wearing a black dress with bright red pumps this weekend). But you should stay away from all shades of white; don’t steal the spotlight from the bride.

*It’s really, really important to be on time to the ceremony.

*Don’t be obnoxious with your picture taking (especially during the ceremony). Stay out of the way of the professional photographers, there is a reason why they are there.

*Don’t bypass the receiving line. Make sure to sure to say your congratulations to everyone in line, shake hands/hug, and say thank you for inviting you to the wedding.

*At the reception, sit in your assigned seat. Introduce yourself to the people at your table if you don’t already know them and make sure to talk with new people. The bride and groom probably sat you all together because you have something in common.

*Usually the bride and groom are the first ones to dance, but after that the dance floor is all yours (and that’s usually where you will find me).

*Monitor your drinking. No one likes a drunken wedding guest.

*Don’t skip the bouquet toss (and make your male guest(s) do the garter toss). If you aren’t a big fan of the tradition, just stand in the back of the group but still participate.

*Stay until after the cake is served. Before you leave, find a parent and thank them for inviting you and try to find the bride and groom.

Enjoy yourself! Be honored that the bride and groom wanted to spend their special day with you and just have fun.

Now, go practice your ‘lipstick confidence’!

Lost in Food City?

At some point, every person will find themselves questioning their table etiquette, mostly out of nerves and desire to make a good impression. It’s inevitable, whether it’s a meet-the-parents dinner, a night out with your roommate’s parents, or a business dinner. It’s going to happen, so embrace it.

You’re not alone. Dining etiquette is certainly nerve-racking. There are so many different manners and rules that we start to over analyze everything we do (and we all know the end result of that is never good). The rules that you follow heavily depend on the setting of your dining experience and who you are with. My goal below is to outline general dining etiquette that you can use anywhere whether you are dining informally, formally, or at a friend’s house.

*Soon after sitting down, put your napkin on your lap.

*When you are ready to order, close your menu.

*If you need to use the bathroom or make a phone call, excuse yourself. There is no need to explain where you’re going (you can if you want) but a simple, “Excuse me, I will be right back” will do the job.

*You really shouldn’t groom yourself at the table (i.e. put on lipstick, etc). If you are in an informal setting or just with friends it’s perfectly alright to do so but in all other circumstances you should excuse yourself to the bathroom.

*If you are in a formal setting in which it seems like a hundred utensils line your plate and you have absolutely no idea what to do, work from the outside-in. Use the outermost fork for your first course, etc.

*If you are at a small table (of five or less people) wait for everyone to be served before you start eating. If you are with a larger party or in a business setting wait for everyone to be served or until the host or head of your party tells you to start eating, whichever comes first.

*If you are a guest in a family’s house, clear your own plate at the end of the meal.

*Remember posture! (Review here)

*We are all familiar with the no-elbows on the table rule but the truth is this only really applies while you are eating. While you are waiting for your food to arrive it is perfectly appropriate to have your elbows on the table.

*Cut small, easy pieces to chew. No slurping, playing with your food, or drinking/eating while talking. Yes, I’m going to say it: Don’t chew with your mouth open!

*Don’t lean past the person sitting next to you to reach for something, ask them to pass it to you.

*If a cough or sneeze is unavoidable, make sure to cover your mouth/nose. If you sense beforehand that you are going to sneeze/cough or if you are having a fit, try to leave the table.

*My biggest problem: eat slowly. Savor your food and the conversation. Don’t make it seem like you are in a rush to get home to your pajamas.

*Always say thank-you when you are served something. (Review here)

The best thing to do: don’t double guess yourself. If you seem confident in your actions, no one will notice if you are doing everything exactly right or not.

If you want to be completely overwhelmed with really awesome and useful dining etiquette for all occasions check out this great website I found, Etiquette Scholar.

Now, go practice your ‘lipstick confidence’ and treat yourself to a nice dinner.