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Welcome Educators! This blog is for you, the Educators. Please ask questions, share ideas and post testimonials about your program, what you're doing in your town and what is working for you. The more we share, the more successful we all will be. Happy Educating!

Monica Irvine
President, The Etiquette Factory

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Keeping Our Mouths Clean

Hello friends. Welcome. Let’s talk trash, shall we? “Trash talk” could probably be defined in more than one way, but I think we probably would all agree that this type of behavior is not very becoming for a lady or a gentleman. Let me begin by making a confession.

Several years ago, I attended a funeral of a young 23 year old mother who had left this earth simply too soon. I didn’t actually know this young lady, but was very dear friends with her big sister. Attending this funeral was a life changing moment for me. As I sat there and listened to friend after friend, acquaintances, employers, and family members, stand and say a few remarks about this young lady, I was overwhelmed by their touching memories of her. Every single person who stood and spoke (and there were many), spoke of a young lady who they had never, ever heard speak a negative, unkind, derogatory, cynical or simply unpleasant remark about another human being. I sat there on the pew and shrunk lower and lower as each person spoke. I marveled at what strength, what courage, what love and what an example this young lady had been in her life. Those who came to know her, soon learned that this was a lady who would not tolerate inappropriate talk in her presence. Now she didn’t condemn others for doing so, she would simply respond with kindness, but with firmness, that she could not participate in conversation that placed others feelings at risk. Wow! Now, that’s a true lady.

After I left that funeral, I knew I needed to make some changes in my own life. It’s embarrassing to think sometimes of our own faults and remember the times when we were anything but a lady or a gentleman. I want to encourage all of us to rise above the world, and determine to be true examples of poise, self control and grace. What does this look like in real life? Allow me to suggest a question to ask ourselves before we speak or before we lend an ear to a conversation in question. If what is about to be said will in any way cause those we are speaking to, to think less of the person we are speaking about, then it should never be spoken. This is not easy. A true lady and a real gentleman, never speaks unkind remarks concerning others. If we hope for our children to not be caught in the snares of gossip, back-biting and ugly speaking, we must set the example. This is most definitely one lesson that above all, needs to be taught by example.

OK, so what should we do when our little ones won’t stop the “potty words?” First of all, we must not laugh or giggle when we hear our children say potty words. It is not polite to announce bodily functions. I’ve been present in one too many families that seem to believe an announcement needs to take place each time a bodily function is rapidly approaching. This is not polite in any circumstance. The only acceptable comment that is appropriate on these occasions is, “please pardon me,” and then that’s the end of it.

We must teach our children what it means to filter their conversation. We must always consider whose presence we are in, where we are and what we hope to accomplish before we speak. The dinner table is not the appropriate place to discuss subjects that cause others discomfort or embarrassment. If Dad’s boss comes over for dinner, it is not necessary or polite to inform him that we were up all night with our 2 year old, cleaning up vomit and what comes out the other end. Sometimes, parents of young children, forget that most adults really do not want to discuss these types of issues. Parents sometimes get trapped in our “parent world” and are a little too descriptive about every day occurrences. Be careful.

Lastly, may I speak a moment regarding vulgarity, obscenity, and profanity? If you are guilty of one of these etiquette violations, may I suggest you ask yourself, “What is my purpose and what do I hope to achieve by using such language?” There is no doubt that using this type of language shows a lack in judgment, a limited vocabulary, poor self control and a lack of respect and value for those in our presence, which is the opposite of proper etiquette. Our words are a direct reflection of our inner selves. May we each strive to uplift, encourage, offer love and give support to those we speak with? One day we will be described by those who knew us. I hope we will be happy with their memories.

Monica Irvine
CEO/The Etiquette Factory

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