SOCIAL SKILLS

 

April 30, 2015

Hi, Subscribers ~

After posting “Observations”, I received an enormous amount of feedback from you, which told me I had hit a nerve. You said you liked the content and hoped I would write more blogs similar to it. I hope this blog gives you what you wanted.

Also, thank you so much for your sensitive and thoughtful comments. I read every single one.

Social skills are basically good manners. It surprises me to see such a lack of them even among my friends. This whole thing may be a lost art, but I do know the lack of them can mess up a job interview, determine whether you are invited back to parties, and whether you find it hard to make or keep friends. The saddest part of this is, when people lack social skills – they don’t know it.

Here are several examples I have witnessed or heard second hand:

1. Men, always stand when a lady enters the room. Let’s say you are at a dinner party sitting on the couch and talking with people around you. The doorbell rings, the host answers it and welcomes in a woman alone or with her husband. As they enter the room to be introduced – the men stand up. This is a sign of respect and good manners. Men remain standing as they are introduced. After that, you should offer her a place to sit, even if it means giving up your own. Men sit down after the woman does.

I have been shocked to go to someone’s house and find three women dressed up for the occasion, standing there while all the guys are sitting on the couch not bothering to stand when introduced, or getting their butts off of the couch and offering these women a place to sit. I am not talking about frat parties, I am talking about the real adult world out there.

At a party, when the host’s mother enters the room for the first time, you better hop to it: smile, stand, extend your hand, say it is a pleasure to meet her. You make certain she is shown a seat and offered drink or food. A lot of sons drop the ball on this one. Then again, many sons ace it by gently placing their hand on their mother’s back as they slowly introduce her to his guests. You are supposed to be at full attention for this one. If you think your host is not going to care about or notice your lack of manners towards his mother, you are very wrong. Just think in terms of how you want your mother to be treated. And yes, it is totally appropriate for a younger woman to stand when meeting someone’s mother, or older person, whether male or female.

I am not crazy about standing because I have lost my balance a few times and practically bulldozed some poor woman or her husband. I still have to be sure I am centered when standing. Spilling red wine on a woman’s dress is not how you want to be remembered, but I am definitely on the books for this misdemeanor.

Men stand for other men and shake hands. It is a sign of respect and men are wildly sensitive to their social standing and expect this response, no matter who they are.

As an aside: this handshaking tradition started hundreds of years ago. It meant you were not bearing arms.

2. I am certain you know to stand when being met by a potential employer. It is cool if you know their name in advance, so you can use it while being introduced: “Good morning, Mr. Brown”. Put a smile on your face and enter the interrogation room.

I am so nervous at interviews, within three seconds I’ve totally forgotten their name and am praying I won’t faint.

During one of my most difficult interviews, the man’s desk was placed in front of those huge skyscraper type windows. Right behind him, there was a window washer on his scaffolding doing his thing. It was a serious challenge trying to do the interview while ignoring the window washer. Didn’t matter anyway. I misspelled a word on my resume and I told the guy I wouldn’t hire me either.

3. Please chew with your mouth closed. I had a friend who not only chewed with their mouth open, but made enough noise doing it that people actually stopped talking and stared at them. They never caught on, so party invitations dried up.

4. Do not get drunk at any parties – ever!

As a general rule, people who are known to always get drunk at parties, stop being invited.

4. Please do not interrupt me! This drives me nuts!! The people who are doing it don’t even realize it. I have to keep saying: “Excuse me, but I haven’t finished.”

5. As a general rule, ladies should not swear. It makes you sound tough and ruins the image of you being soft and feminine. I know there are definitely exceptions, but around other people, try not to do it.  It really is a turn off to both sexes.

6. Please be on time. I was going on a trip for fun with some girlfriends at college. We all knew one of them was always late. Since I was driving, I warned her we would not be waiting for her. She swore she’d be on time. She wasn’t. I drove off without her.

If you really want to screw up your social life – be late as often as you can.

Great example: My parents were having a small dinner party. The “big shot” who had been invited, was known to always be extra late and people let him get away with it while slowly starving to death.

My mother warned my father that she refused to hold up the party waiting for this guy. My dad, no dummy, agreed. The party was on a week night so the hours were 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

Guess who showed up for dinner at 8:00 and only got dessert? Guess who was shown to the door by 9:00? Yep, my mom would have made a great drill sergeant!

7. Hygiene. Believe it or not, there are people out there who are clueless that they stink. I worked for a female law professor who could clear a room in 10 seconds. Someone finally told her because she came in smelling sweet as a rose from then on.

Hygiene is basically keeping yourself clean and looking presentable to suit the occasion.

Guys ~ please keep your nails cut short, the edges smooth, your cuticles soft and your hands squeaky clean. This upcoming point is delicate, but I’ll try to give you a hint: women do not want anything below their waist that feels like a serrated knife or razor.

I’ll make the following a quick run-through. It reads more like a hygiene blog, but it is part of social skills.

(a) Brush your teeth morning and night. Then very gently pull the brush over your tongue from back to front. This gets rid of a lot of bacteria – seriously. That’s straight from my dentist. Use some mouthwash and you are good to go. Bad breath will keep many people away, no matter how wonderful you are.

I knew a great guy who always, always had gentle bad breath. I never had the nerve to tell him. See?

(b) Shower or bathe daily or every other day (depending on your profession).

(c) Wear deodorant. Lots of it. Works best after a hot shower or bath.

(d) Wear clean underwear daily. (Your mothers told me to put that in.)

(e) Keep the heels on your shoes fresh so they don’t slant and look sloppy. I knew a woman who dressed beautifully, but her heels always look messed up. Ruined the whole look. Same deal for you, guys. People think that others won’t notice. They really do and they will not tell you.

Best wishes,

Ann

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