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Louise Elerding: Etiquette — embarrass you and me no more

You've Got Manners

Posted: February 25, 2010 10:11 p.m.
Updated: February 26, 2010 4:55 a.m.
Embarrassment - let's talk about it now and get it behind us.

We've all known those times of being in the midst of mortifying or very awkward situations. No one wants to be the one to have to deal with an embarrassing issue.

Today is the day ... we're going to explore how to be real and deal with sticky issues - and get through it with tact and kindness. Then we'll all exhale.

We don't even like saying these words out loud - or reading and writing them. But here we are...and here's the list:

Body odor - Let your friend or co-worker know that you value their friendship enough to want them to not be at any disadvantage in work or in life.

For this reason you want to let them know that their body odor is strong enough to be attracting attention. Offer or share solutions and products, and also inquire if there could be a medical problem, in which case they could consult their doctor.

"Jim, you're a good friend and I want to tell you something that will feel awkward for both of us - but it could save you your job. It's about your body odor. People around us are noticing it, and no one wants to say it. I've got a foolproof deodorant - and it could be that you've built up a resistance to yours; that does happen over time.

"Here's also the name of a body scrub that is good for the skin and leaves a very fresh scent. I use it daily."

Finish by saying that you would appreciate them being candid with you in any similar situation, because we are all here to help each other, no matter how uncomfortable the conversation could be.

Pass the parsley ­- Using the same tactic of friendship and concern as mentioned above in the body odor paragraph, you may add that parsley is a natural diffuser of bad breath and it's helpful in its fresh form from the market.

Eat it daily, or in capsules that can be found in drug stores.

Offer any other good products you know of.

Clothing malfunctions - One common view to us all, is an open pant zipper. Smile and say: "XYZ."

If you get a puzzled look form the person with the open zipper, just say ‘Examine Your Zipper" - and you've done your job.

If a woman's blouse is unbuttoned in the front, or some part of the clothing is unknowingly revealing, do the favor of telling right away, saying, "Because I would want to know if it were me ..."

High octane or low? - What is the price of your gas today?

If you are the unknown soldier passing gas - with no smell or sound, you're off the hook.

If you need a smell solution - read on ... your smelly flatulence problems may be over. Look for Subtle ButtTM online.

They are disposable gas neutralizers. Each 3.25" square filter is made of soft fabric with an antimicrobial treatment on the side touching the skin.

The fabric is impregnated with activated carbon, which faces the underwear or the pants and has a vast surface area for bad odors to adhere to and get neutralized.

Two adhesive strips are strategically placed so you know which side is which. And at around 1/32" thick, you will never know it's there.

If you're unable to stifle the sound factor - then you need to make a quick and simple verbal apology.

Volcanic burpruptions - Belching and burping may be the sign of a good meal you've just enjoyed, but they need to be muffled and apologized for.

What if the person doing these disrupting sounds, is unaware he/she is doing them? You can tell them with a kind and helpful tone, that this is not going over well by the people around them, and you're here to be helpful to everyone involved.

At the least, muffle your burps with a thick, folded napkin.

Chewing cud - Smacking, crunching, chewing like a cow ... all of these are annoying sounds to the people in proximity to the noisy, open-mouth eater.

It's best to address this issue to the ‘doer' at another time, away from table, in private.

Explain the value of good table manners: repeat invitations, displaying self-confidence, job hiring and job promotions; also mention the opposite - job firing.

Note that this conversation is all done because you want the best for this person. If it feels right, offer to be his coach, making a subtle signal each time he begins this noisy habit again.

Forgetting - Everyone does this ... forgetting the name of someone who has just entered the room - and you feel you should know it by now. Always come straight forward with "I know your name so well, and feel badly that I need to ask you to repeat it today."

People will understand and will be flattered that you care enough to want to address them personally.

Yellow tape: No Entry ­- Boundaries are your natural right.

Always honor this concept, and never feel obligated to answer any question that is posed to you, when you are not comfortable answering.

Suggested responses to an invasive question: "It's nice of you to be concerned, but it's a subject I am not discussing right now." Or: "I am curious why you would ask me this question; it's not something I am going to talk about yet."

Tone and timing are everything in communication. To help you speak up about the most embarrassing situations, keep this in mind:

You can say anything, to anyone, at any time, with a caring and neutral tone, and well-selected timing.

It's good to know that you can overcome these awkward moments, be a helpful friend, and defuse embarrassing scenarios.

Everyone will be grateful you took the initiative, and thank you for it - big time.

Louise Elerding, is a Manners, etiquette, and personal appearance coach, and the author of "You've Got Manners!" - an illustrated series of children's books. For information on table manners classes held at the Salt Creek Grille in Valencia, and to submit questions for the "Ask Louise' column, call 1-800-326-8953 or e-mail Website:


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