Etiquette Consulting Inc

Tools to help you avoid Social Faux Pas

In a world where image is everything, you must make your brand stand out in order to attain your goals.

Jules Hirst, Etiquette Expert

Facebook Breakup Etiquette

Facebook Breakup Etiquette-Jules Hirst Etiquette CoachHere is a great arti­cle where 200 teens from the Boston area gath­ered to dis­cuss face­book breakup breakup eti­quette. Par­ents now would be a great time to enroll your teen, pre-teen in an eti­quette course.… just a thought.

Late last month, 200 teenagers from Boston-area schools gath­ered to dis­cuss the minu­tia of Face­book breakup eti­quette. Should you delete pic­tures of your ex after split­ting up? Is it O.K. to unfriend your last girl­friend if you can’t stop look­ing at her pro­file? And is it ever eth­i­cally defen­si­ble to change your rela­tion­ship sta­tus to sin­gle with­out first noti­fy­ing the per­son whose heart you’re crushing?

These press­ing ado­les­cent ques­tions were part of a one-day con­fer­ence on “healthy breakups” spon­sored by the Boston Pub­lic Health Com­mis­sion. “No one talks to young peo­ple about this aspect of rela­tion­ships,” Nicole Daley, one of the con­fer­ence orga­niz­ers, told me between break­out ses­sions as teenagers swarmed a nearby cotton-candy stand. “We’re here to change that.”

Min­utes later, 15 high-school stu­dents on a sugar high con­vened for a ses­sion on “cre­at­ing online bound­aries.” The girls out­num­bered the boys, and they didn’t hes­i­tate to gang up on a charm­ing — and, until then, immensely well liked — 17-year-old named Roberto, who pro­claimed with a bit too much gusto that “rac­ing to update your rela­tion­ship sta­tus after a breakup” is a healthy behav­ior. That was just one of a hand­ful of sce­nar­ios the teenagers debated and placed into “healthy” or “unhealthy” cat­e­gories: oth­ers included “post­ing mean/embarrassing sta­tuses about your ex” (unhealthy) and “rush­ing into a new ‘Face­book offi­cial’ rela­tion­ship” (under­stand­able, but still not healthy).

“Roberto, you’re really going to run all the way to your house after school to change your sta­tus?” a 16-year-old named Lazangie asked, shak­ing her head. She knows a thing or two about Facebook-related breakups: her last rela­tion­ship ended, she said, because her ex-boyfriend couldn’t han­dle her male friends post­ing niceties on her wall.

“When I’m done with a rela­tion­ship, I’m not going to wait a day, an hour or even 10 min­utes to update my sta­tus,” Roberto told the group. “When it’s over, it’s over. I’m done with you.”

“The key word here is ‘rac­ing,’ ” another girl replied with all the con­de­scen­sion she could muster. “Is that really healthy? Break­ing up shouldn’t be a competition!”

The group’s adult facil­i­ta­tor — who wore a blue “Face It, Don’t Face­book It” pin, in a ref­er­ence to the appar­ently trou­bling trend of young peo­ple break­ing up with one another via social media — nod­ded in agree­ment and sug­gested that Roberto con­sider tak­ing a “tech­nol­ogy time­out” the next time he felt com­pelled to race home and pub­licly declare his sin­gle­hood. Roberto reluc­tantly agreed to con­sider it.

Through­out the one-day meet­ing, orga­niz­ers did their best to make the teenagers for­get they were about to learn some­thing. They were encour­aged to freely use their cell­phones (“We’re not” — the kind of adults — “who tell you not to use them!” an orga­nizer boasted dur­ing the day’s open­ing ses­sion), and breakup-themed songs, like Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone,” blasted from the main con­fer­ence room’s speak­ers. The pan­der­ing worked: I saw only one teen roll her eyes all day.

To help the young­sters envi­sion what a healthy split might look like, pic­tures and videos of sev­eral celebrity cou­ples who man­aged ami­ca­ble breakups were pro­jected onto a big screen. Justin Tim­ber­lake and Cameron Diaz, for exam­ple, were her­alded as healthy because “they’re still friends and were able to co-star in a movie together.” Their part­ing was jux­ta­posed with those of Kanye West and Amber Rose (West wrote a mean song about her) and Sammi and Ron­nie from “Jer­sey Shore” (Sammi sup­pos­edly defriended Ronnie’s friends on her Face­book page), who each exhib­ited the kind of “unhealthy” breakup behav­ior that the Boston Health Com­mis­sion hopes Mass­a­chu­setts young peo­ple will rise above.

In that pur­suit, orga­niz­ers encour­aged the crowd to eschew part­ing ways over text mes­sage or Face­book, the most com­mon teen breakup meth­ods. (A bisex­ual 15-year-old con­fessed in a morn­ing ses­sion that she learned that her girl­friend of two years had dumped her only when she changed her rela­tion­ship sta­tus to sin­gle.) Atten­dees were advised — with mixed results — to bravely con­front the awk­ward­ness of face-to-face breakups. When the facil­i­ta­tor in a ses­sion titled “Breakups 101” sug­gested that teenagers meet with “and come to an agree­ment or mutual under­stand­ing” with a soon-to-be ex, a skep­ti­cal 19-year-old nearly leapt out of her chair in protest. “So, you’re telling me that you’re cry­ing at night, you’re not sleep­ing, you’re eat­ing all this food to make you feel bet­ter, and you’re sup­posed to just come to an agree­ment?”

That sounded like wish­ful think­ing to at least one teenager, who insisted that dat­ing in high school is for suck­ers. “Who needs the drama?” she said, adding that many peers choose friend­ships or casual sex­ual rela­tion­ships over for­mal roman­tic ones. “I’ve got enough prob­lems with­out some stu­pid boy break­ing up with me on Facebook.”

Source: The New York Times

Gay Marriage ~ Wedding Etiquette

Here is an arti­cle from Sunday’s New York Times sent to us by Michele Ondre.

If you find an arti­cle that you think should be posted, send us a link to If we use your sub­mis­sion, we will send you a dig­i­tal copy of the book we co-authored, “The Power of Civil­ity.”

 Gifts for Every Occasion

Sev­eral years ago, I attended a les­bian friend’s com­mit­ment
cer­e­mony, and I gave the cou­ple a gift to mark the occa­sion. Now, she
and her part­ner are mar­ry­ing. Should I give them another gift?

Anony­mous, Vermont

Is it about the gift or about express­ing your hap­pi­ness for your friend,
now that she and her part­ner may marry? This isn’t a case of a
“second-time around” wed­ding, where one isn’t oblig­ated to give a gift,
espe­cially if a wed­ding gift was given for a first mar­riage. Even so, a
good friend often does give a gift out of affec­tion for a remar­ry­ing
friend and in honor of the occa­sion. To answer your ques­tion about your
friend’s com­ing wed­ding, I say, yes, do give a gift. It needn’t be
elab­o­rate or even expen­sive. And if they already have an estab­lished
house­hold, con­sider some­thing fun (tick­ets to an event), friv­o­lous
(Cham­pagne for after the wed­ding) or seri­ous (a dona­tion to a cause).
This is a very spe­cial cel­e­bra­tion for your friend, so join in the
spirit of the occasion.

Find­ing the Right Words

My part­ner and I plan to marry next spring, and we’re won­der­ing how
to word the invi­ta­tions. Do we use the same for­mat and lan­guage as for
straight couples?


Some cou­ples may wish to style their invi­ta­tion on the tried and true
tra­di­tional wed­ding invi­ta­tion, while oth­ers may take a dif­fer­ent tack.
There’s no rea­son you can’t be cre­ative with yours, as long as the
word­ing is respect­ful and reflec­tive of the occa­sion and con­veys the
infor­ma­tion a guest needs to know: who is doing the invit­ing, what is
the occa­sion, when and where will it take place, and how to respond.
Gay and les­bian cou­ples make many of the same choices as straight
cou­ples in word­ing their invi­ta­tions, with a few twists. Because there
are two brides or two bride­grooms, the “bride’s fam­ily first” con­ven­tion
doesn’t apply when list­ing the wed­ding hosts. The cou­ple, and their
par­ents if they are the hosts, will have to decide which names to list
first, with the sim­plest choices being alpha­bet­i­cal order or a coin
toss. The same is true if par­ents have divorced and per­haps remar­ried;
decide what makes the most sense in the sit­u­a­tion. Cre­ate the
invi­ta­tion, for­mal or infor­mal, that feels right to you and your part­ner
and informs your invi­tees of the nec­es­sary details.

A Tan­gled Wed­ding Web

I am hav­ing some trou­ble nav­i­gat­ing what to do about two guests I
have invited to my wed­ding.  They are both good friends whom I have
known for many years.  These two were roman­ti­cally involved for a while
after I left the city where we all lived.  I had always planned to
invite the woman to my wed­ding, as she is the closer friend. But
recently I have renewed my friend­ship with the man, who actu­ally doesn’t
know that I know he and my other friend were involved. They tried to
keep their rela­tion­ship a secret for rea­sons I won’t go into.  

Recently, I have been see­ing more of my male friend, and with­out
think­ing of my female friend, I ver­bally invited him to the wed­ding, and
then fol­lowed up with a save-the-date e-mail.  When I did this, I
wasn’t think­ing about their his­tory together and that she still takes
pains to avoid see­ing him. Now I real­ize that if I tell her I invited
him, she very likely won’t come to my wed­ding because see­ing him is so
hard for her. Should I unin­vite him?  I would feel awful doing this. But
she is the closer friend, and it’s really impor­tant to me that she
attend my wed­ding. She and I live in the same city where the wed­ding
will hap­pen, and she has been help­ing me plan; he would be trav­el­ing
from a city sev­eral hours away. I have thought about approach­ing her
with the prob­lem, but then she might insist on not com­ing so that, in
the process of uninvit­ing him, I don’t reveal to him that I know about
their past.  Please help!

Anony­mous, Pennsylvania

Sounds like you need a GPS to nav­i­gate this tricky tri­an­gle. The short
answer: Do not unin­vite your male friend. It would be hurt­ful to retract
the invi­ta­tion, and there is no pos­si­ble way to give him an expla­na­tion
with­out reveal­ing what was told to you in con­fi­dence by your female

But per­haps you are antic­i­pat­ing trou­ble where there might not be any.
Plenty of wed­dings have occurred against the back­drop of dicey
under­cur­rents of exes. Think about divorced par­ents who attend their
children’s wed­dings. Poten­tial mine­fields often lurk right below the
sur­face, but some­how — actu­ally on account of fore­sight — they get
through the big day. Since you are such good friends with both, it would
be nat­ural for you to invite both of them. So go ahead and do just
that. Give them each a heads up: “Matt, I’m look­ing for­ward to see­ing
both you and Saman­tha at my wed­ding!” Encour­age your female friend to
attend, and assure her you will do what you can to ease the awk­ward
inter­ac­tions. For exam­ple, if you have assigned seat­ing at the
recep­tion, seat them far from each other at sep­a­rate tables, just as you
would a divorced couple.

With care­ful plan­ning and a dose of civil behav­ior among those involved,
I’m sure you can help these two friends avoid any uncom­fort­able moments
or soap-opera drama while being with you at your wed­ding. One would
hope that they will join you and rec­og­nize that this occa­sion isn’t
about them, but about you, their good friend. Surely, they will be able
to share your joy while putting their secret past behind them.

Learn­ing to Love a Heart­felt Gift

My son and his wife recently married. My sis­ter and her fam­ily sent
them a wed­ding gift of a clock that plays music. My sis­ter indi­cated
that it was a costly gift (one I know they could ill afford). When my
son received it, he called me to say that he and his wife did not care
for it at all. They can­not return it as it was pur­chased at a store out
of town. I know they will write a gra­cious thank-you note. I have
offered for my son to send it to me, and I would take care of the
return. Unfortunately, it was bought at a store that sells only
time­pieces, and I’m not sure if they will find any­thing else to pur­chase
at that establishment. Here is my ques­tion: Should I just return the
gift, get a store credit and not say any­thing to my sister? Should I
tact­fully explain to my sis­ter that my son and his wife had no use for
the gift and ask her if she would want her account credited? I don’t
want there to be any hard feelings. 

Anony­mous, Maryland

The gra­cious thank-you note for the gift is a great start and a must.
There’s always some­thing pos­i­tive to say about a gift, even one that
doesn’t suit the recip­i­ent. “Dear Aunt Sarah, Uncle Char­lie and Leah,
We’ve just opened your thought­ful gift. Every home needs a good clock,
but we never expected one so ele­gant or tune­ful. We both appre­ci­ate your
gen­eros­ity and the care you took to find some­thing spe­cial for us. Joe
joins me in send­ing our thanks. We’re glad you could join us at our
wed­ding. It meant so much to both of us to have our fam­i­lies with us.
Love, Jessica.”

O.K., now what to do with the clock? Your son and his new wife should
keep this unique gift, even though it’s not some­thing they wish to use.
While it is gen­er­ally totally O.K. to exchange gifts when they are
dupli­cates or wrong sizes, or when the giver says, “Please exchange it
if,” that’s not the case here. It isn’t about the tan­gi­ble item itself,
but all about the effort and, as it seems in this case, the sac­ri­fice
made to show affec­tion to the new­ly­weds. Exchang­ing the clock for
another isn’t worth the chance of caus­ing hurt feel­ings or upset­ting
fam­ily rela­tion­ships. The cou­ple can keep the clock in a closet, or in a
room that is infre­quently used. They could make sure it’s in view and
in full chime when Aunt Sarah and Uncle Char­lie visit.

The “Can I exchange it?” lit­mus test says: Keep the gift when it is
one-of-a-kind (an heir­loom or a unique clock like this one), when it is
hand­made or if an exchange would cause hurt feelings.

Writ­ten by: Peggy Post
New York Times 

Flip-Flops Number One Faux Pas in The Workplace

With sum­mer upon us, a quick reminder about sum­mer work­place attire. Accord­ing to a sur­vey by Opin­ion Research Com­pany, flip-flops are the biggest fash­ion faux pas for sum­mer fol­lowed by miniskirts com­ing in sec­ond and strap­less tops third. Sure the weather is warmer and every­one wants to be relaxed, but you need to remem­ber that your clothes and how they fit are a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of you in the work­place. A good rule of thumb is to dress for the job you want not the job you have. This will help you stand out and get you rec­og­nized for your pro­fes­sion­al­ism. Other inap­pro­pri­ate arti­cles of cloth­ing include shorts, exer­cise attire, stretch pants, ten­nis shoes with holes and Crocs.

Here are a few options for busi­ness casual attire:


  • Pleated khaki trouser with belt
  • Cot­ton twill or cor­duroy trousers with belt
  • Button-down shirt
  • Polo shirt or crew­neck sweater
  • Suede or leather shoes


  • Skirt no shorter than 2’ above the knee
  • Cot­ton or blend trousers
  • Light weight sweater or blouse
  • Low heeled shoes or flats

Jules Hirst is a sought after speaker and a rec­og­nized eti­quette coach. She con­ducts lec­tures, work­shops, sem­i­nars and webi­na­rs in busi­ness and social eti­quette. Jules is co-authored Power of Civil­ity where she shares strate­gies and tools for build­ing an excep­tional pro­fes­sional image.

Jules can be reached at: or 310−425−3160

Prince William & Kate Middleton Visit L.A.:
Don’t Forget Your Etiquette

Prince William and Kate Mid­dle­ton, also known as the Duke and Duchess of Cam­bridge, have come to Los Ange­les.  Here is a brief royal eti­quette reminder on how to inter­act with the roy­als if you are so lucky.

Prince William should be referred to as “Your Royal High­ness” at the begin­ning of your con­ver­sa­tion. You may switch to “Sir” for the rest of the conversation.

You should also use “Your Royal High­ness” when begin­ning your con­ver­sa­tion with Kate Mid­dle­ton. You can switch to “Ma’am” for the rest of the conversation.

Business Cards: A Lasting Impression

Like your Amer­i­can Express card, you should never leave home with­out your busi­ness cards. Busi­ness oppor­tu­ni­ties can pop up at any time, it could be at the gro­cery store, in line at the movies or at Star­bucks. When a busi­ness oppor­tu­nity presents itself, you need to take advan­tage by hav­ing a busi­ness card avail­able. The busi­ness card is a last­ing impres­sion that is left behind after you are gone. You need to make it work for you.

The appear­ance of your busi­ness card says as much about you as your phys­i­cal appear­ance. As the tan­gi­ble evi­dence of your meet­ing, it should reflect your style, grace and class. You should never pass out a busi­ness card that looks used, torn, folded, frayed cor­ners. A busi­ness card case should be manda­tory. It doesn’t have to be a fancy ster­ling ver­sion from Tiffany’s. You need some­thing to keep your cards clean and pre­vent fold­ing and fraying.

Another busi­ness card no-no is to dis­trib­ute out­dated cards. If your cards con­tain out­dated infor­ma­tion, do not pass them out. Cross­ing out infor­ma­tion and writ­ing the cor­rec­tion is sloppy. Busi­ness cards are cheap. When your infor­ma­tion changes, buy new cards. If your com­pany is too cheap to buy them, pur­chase them your­self. Remem­ber the cards are not only a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the com­pany but also of you make your­self stand out.

Fol­low the one card per per­son rule of thumb when pass­ing out busi­ness cards. It is accept­able to give more if asked, how­ever, you look like you want that per­son to help you mar­ket your­self if you hand over more than one.

While net­work­ing, you would not want peo­ple to blow you off. It is the same with busi­ness cards. Do not hastily put a received card in your pocket or stuff it in your wal­let. This is a sign of dis­re­spect. Take a moment to review the card and use the infor­ma­tion pro­vided as another source of con­ver­sa­tion. It will show the other per­son that you care. After the con­ver­sa­tion it is accept­able to put the card in your pocket, but you should refrain from writ­ing notes on it until later.

It is accept­able to request a busi­ness card, unless that per­son is in a higher posi­tion than you. In this sit­u­a­tion, you must wait for the other per­son to offer you a card. If they want you to have one, they will offer you one.

For inter­na­tional busi­ness peo­ple, it is a good idea to have your infor­ma­tion trans­lated into the native lan­guage on the other side of your card. Do not assume that every­one speaks Eng­lish and hav­ing the addi­tional ver­sion shows you are thought­ful and prepared.

I’s hard to believe that in today’s tech­no­log­i­cally advanced world that a 3x 2.5 piece of card stock can have such a big influ­ence on your busi­ness. Yes, your busi­ness card says a great deal about you and is a last­ing impres­sion a per­son has of their meet­ing with you. Make it count.

Jules Hirst is a sought after speaker and co-author of Powerof Civility. She conducts lectures,workshops, seminars and webinars specifically designed to elevate the lives and positions of graduates as well as those new to the professional world. Fueled by her passion and commitment to excellence, her presentations are not only information packed,but interactive, practical,and impactful. She provides participants the tools to represent themselves in all areas of professional interaction. Jules' presentations educate and inspires she works with your audience for an exceptional professional image.
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