#46 Hone Your Good Manners

The same courtesy remains even though the phones are no longer attached to the wall. If you are engaged with someone, turning your attention to a cell phone is simply rude.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#46

Hone Your Good Manners

Good manners are defined as polite or well-bred social behavior. My mother used to call them “social graces” and my grandmother preached “you don’t have to have money to have good manners”.  Simple things such as saying “please” and “thank you”, not interrupting people, not demanding attention, asking permission, and knocking before entering are the most basic manners that are recommended we teach our children.

There are others.

Emily Post

Emily Post was the Queen of manners, also known as etiquette. For more than fifty years, she taught the ‘average person’ how to behave within traditional and acceptable social parameters. Most of her advice is still valid but there are other graces she couldn’t have imagined; cell phone manners as an example. The Post family has maintained the work of their matriarch at emilypost.com and outline good manners in business, for weddings, and lifestyle.

Awareness of Others

On their website, they describe good manners as “as sensitive awareness of the feelings of others” and I couldn’t agree more about this as a guiding principle when it comes to considering how to behave. Some manners are formal (not sitting at the table before the host sits) but others are simply common sense if we are considering the people around us (not farting at the dinner table).

Changing Times

I often hear older people speak to the fact that younger generations haven’t upheld familiar manner standards. Frequently, they are talking about ‘thank you notes’ and the absence or neglect of younger people sending them. Everyone wants acknowledgement and appreciation and so when we receive a gift and/or a benefit from someone, a thank you is the least of the considerations and “awareness of the feelings of others”. Today, it is acceptable to send an email instead of snail mail.

Some Things Stay the Same

When parts of our culture change, some elements of manners will change but others continue on with adaptations. It was never courteous to jump up and answer the telephone when it was attached to the wall if you were in the middle of communicating with someone else. The same courtesy remains even though the phones are no longer attached to the wall. If you are engaged with someone, turning your attention to a cell phone is simply rude.

Good manners used to designate social class but they certainly don’t have to. Behavior is a choice and the classification of manners is available online and in library books, free of charge. There is no excuse, or reason that basic manners can’t be observed so take a look and make an honest assessment of your own behavior. If it can use more sensitivity and awareness of the feelings of others it may be time to…

Hone your good manners.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#47 Ask More Open-ended Questions

Getting in the habit of changing the way you ask questions will most likely dramatically change the answers – and therefore, the information – you receive

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#47

Ask More Open-ended Questions

How many times have you asked the question “Did you have a good day?” – receive a “yes” and then felt disappointed because you got a one word answer? Frankly, you asked a one work question and set yourself up for the disappointment. Getting in the habit of changing the way you ask questions will most likely dramatically change the answers – and therefore, the information – you receive; giving depth to your conversations.

“Tell me about your day, what was good about it?”

“What was the best part of your day?”

“What are you plans tomorrow?”

“Why are you irritated?”

Asking questions that start with who, what, where, when, why, & how are always going to require more than a one word answer and will generally give you the information you seek. They are conversation questions and when you keep them going, so too… does the conversation.

Depth

Open-ended questions require more thought to answer and generally elicit responses that move beyond the surface, deepening the connection between those who are speaking or at least, providing more detail. They are one of the keys to better communication and feelings of belonging.

Dinner Convo

I find this helpful when talking with kids – especially teens – who are short on describing activities, thoughts, and feelings; especially with parents. Dinner conversations are much more interesting when we ask “If you could redo any part of your day – what would it be?” or “What are you looking forward to tomorrow?”

We may feel as though our conversations aren’t fulfilling without conscious regard to the way we are asking questions.  A quick and simple effort to ask for information differently will dynamically change the way you interact; all because you…

Ask more open-ended questions.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

 

#48 Monitor Your Body Language

Obviously, good communication requires that we develop awareness of and take responsibility for the message we intend to send when we speak. Part of that message is delivered with our bodies.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#48

Monitor Your Body Language

Sometimes, our bodies do the talking for us. Non-verbal communication is one of the ways we get create context and emotion in our communicative exchanges . Do you know what you were saying with your body?

Generalizations

Psychologists have studied body language for eons. There are a number of generalizations about what certain body positions mean. Are you aware for example, that crossing your arms while someone is speaking typically means you are not open to receiving the message? Even if that’s not your intent, the person who is speaking may perceive that you are closed off and might develop a defensive reaction as such. When I am conducting couples or family therapy, I often hear comments such as “ I can just tell by the way he looks at me” or “when she stands like that I know what she means”.

Reading Body Movements

Most therapists receive specific training on how to posture their body so that clients will feel heard and safe in a session. Essentially, we are taught how to be aware of our body language so that it fosters an inviting atmosphere. This suggestion is designed to help you develop an awareness of your own body language. Do you stand straight-representing confidence? Or do you slump your shoulder and shy away from your environment? Do you Sit straight or slouch? Do you maintain eye contact when speaking with someone, or do you dart around and glance away? Do you roll your eyes? How does your face register disapproval?

Check Assumptions

While counseling a teenage girl and her mother for communication issues, we discovered that mom raised an eyebrow whenever she was interested in a particular topic her daughter was speaking of. The daughter, interpreted that body movement as disapproval and would often shut down the conversation. While generalizations are a place to start – do NOT make assumptions based on them. Check in with the person you are talking to… “are you thinking/feeling [this] way?”

Body gestures have been found to be genetic as well as environmental. We all know the classic… Italians talk with their hands. Twin studies have demonstrated that twins separated at birth will often still demonstrate similar gestures; often with similar meanings.

Personal Responsibility

Obviously, good communication requires that we develop awareness of and take responsibility for the message we intend to send when we speak. Part of that message is delivered with our bodies. Because so much of our body language is innate and/or unconscious, it’s important that we give someone we trust permission to highlight or identify those gestures that communicate meaning. As a side note, I would include tone of voice in the body language awareness project… Some people are perceived as yelling when in fact, they are simply expressing their message with passion or enthusiasm. Still others, seem to lack any excitement in their voice at all and are interpreted as to be unmoving, or uncaring. In both cases, an understanding of one’s tendency is important so that we are delivering our messages accurately.

Make the effort today to become a better communicator and …

Monitor your body language.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#49 Do a Science Experiment

Most of them use household items and create rather magical effects – even though they are all the result of science happening.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#49

Do a Science Experiment

I know, when I think of this heading / topic, I immediately think of my refrigerator and all of the items that made their way into the far back; the things that are currently growing various forms of mold and each qualify as hazardous substances. They are unintentional science experiments and not the kind I am recommending you try.

As many people – especially your 7th grade science teacher – will tell you, science is cool. From observing and understanding magnetic properties and chemical reactions, basic scientific principles are interesting to observe and promote our sense of wonder and curiosity – two elements that contribute to feelings of happiness.

Some science experiments are magical. There are several here in this YOU TUBE video that will make you the most amazing aunt, uncle, grandma, pop pop, or parent in the world if you can pull them off. Most of them use household items and create rather magical effects – even though they are all the result of science happening.

If you don’t have a scientific background, I recommend that you stick to those things that you can find in books or online. Attempting to mix chemicals without knowledge of their interaction can be very dangerous and there are more than one news reports of people killing themselves because the lit something or mixed something that shouldn’t have been.

Whether you get a book or go online, there are hundreds of experiments that you can do to satisfy your curiosity or perform magic at the next family party. All you have to do is gather a few supplies and practice. Grab a friend, a kid, or a neighbor and surprise them as you…

Do a science experiment.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#50 Window Shop

Merchandise design is a specialty in and of itself and consequently, we are often exposed to the newest thing when we walk past a storefront – a cleverly designed space to lure you into the shop where you are welcomed to spend your money.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#50

Window Shop

This term is probably on the brink of being obsolete as very few of us can identify at all with the notion of walking down a street lined with shops that promote their wares in the big front window. It was that stroll that identified the substance of Christmas lists of yesterday. Today, we ‘window shop’ by browsing through the ads injected throughout our social media accounts.

Inspiration

Window shopping can offer inspiration for a number of different areas of your life. It can inspire design when you see complementary colors positioned together. It can inspire a haircut you saw on a mannequin or it can prompt you to go home and recreate the skirt it was wearing. Window shopping can inspire you to cook more, read more, or exercise more just by glancing at the ‘message’ conveyed via the storefront display.

Motivation

Likewise, it can move beyond inspiration and sincerely motivate action to do any of the above. It can motivate you to clean house, organize, and redecorate. It can motivate you toward a goal after seeing something you would really like to have.

Patience

Window shopping can encourage and teach patience. When we only buy something once we have discerned it is the right time and the right price – we are acting in our best interest. Walking past a display two, three, or four times across a few days, weeks, or months may be just the amount of time we needed to make sure that our purchase wasn’t impulsive. A decision made after waiting and thinking is typically a better decision.

Staying Current

Window shopping is one of the ways that we can stay abreast of current trends and styles. Merchandise design is a specialty in and of itself and consequently, we are often exposed to the newest thing when we walk past a storefront – a cleverly designed space to lure you into the shop where you are welcomed to spend your money.

Reinvent

Since many of us don’t have a ‘main street’ to stroll down, window shopping can take on a whole new meaning. Certainly, we browse through the mall from time to time – that counts. We can also internet browse by scrolling through Pinterest and the sites of our favorite stores. I will sometimes open those ad emails that get stuffed in my inbox and peruse the sale items… just looking to see if there is something that commands my attention.

Yes, there can be a downside to window shopping… if you have no impulse control – don’t do it. If you lean into greediness or jealousy – don’t do it. If you are resentful or bitter about your financial situation – don’t do it. Generally speaking, it’s a pleasant way to spend a little time now and then. If you’re in the market for something, need some inspiration or motivation, or just need to connect with the times, all you have to do is…

Window shop.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#51 Go to Open Houses

You can attend open houses for sheer curiosity as well. Is there an architectural beauty in your town you’ve always wanted to tour? Is there a view in a Penthouse that you’ve often wished to see?

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#51

Go to Open Houses

Here, I’m specifically talking about homes and residences that are for sale and host ‘open houses’ in an effort to entice people that are house hunting.Of course, you may not be in the market for a new place to live but attending open houses can still be a fun activity with benefits.

Decor

One of the most enticing reasons to attend open houses if you’re not house hunting, is to get real time and real people decorating tips. Even when you see a couple of homes in a ‘cookie cutter’ community where the floor plans are all identical – you are exposed to different configurations and design elements that give entirely different looks to the homes.

Model homes are great for professional flavor. They have had the personal touches of interior decorators – in most cases – and offer a well thought out idea of what your home could look like. Going to open houses though, allows you to see what kind of closet space there ‘really’ is… It offers real world visions of a room when three kids and a dog take up space with their belongings.  Yes, these days many open houses are staged and a good real estate agent will have you ‘de-personalize’ the home a bit but, your experience will most likely be more ‘real’ than a model home.

Affordability

As long as you are keeping your visits to homes in your general socioeconomic bracket, you may fall in love with a place and find out that it’s entirely affordable. I’ve heard from real estate agents that a fair number of people who visit open houses aren’t actually in the mindset to move but only curious.

Scouting

Potentially helpful is attending open house in your own neighborhood. It’s always advantageous to understand the housing market where you live. Scouting out sales comps and talking with a realtor who is experienced with homes in your community is a way to be informed about the value of your own home. It’s doing the preliminary homework for selling your house, someday.

Curiosity

You can attend open houses for sheer curiosity as well. Is there an architectural beauty in your town you’ve always wanted to tour? Is there a view in a Penthouse that you’ve often wished to see? Are you simply curious about the outcome of all that construction noise you listened to all summer? Go ahead and walk through the open house. Just be considerate and tell the agent your “just browsing” so that neither of you waste time or breath.

Looking for something interesting and free to do this weekend? Use a realty app or one of those free “Homes” magazines and …

Go to open house.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#52 Check Your Auto Pays

If each of us have a deduction of $5 that really isn’t getting spent for the use of something… someone, somewhere – is collecting a pretty penny!

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#52

Check Your Auto Pays

For many of us, the days of sitting down and writing out a check for each monthly bill that comes due are gone. Electronic banking has allowed us to set up scheduled payments for almost everything that needs to be paid. We can ‘auto pay’ our mortgages, Venmo our rent, and establish an automatic payment plan to pay down the balances of our credit cards. Most of us do a fair job at keeping those things in check.

Memberships

What I’ve found that is harder to keep track of is those little $4.99 and $9.99 charges that we agreed to when we wanted something but then realized we would never use it. I’ve heard stories of $10 gym memberships that people paid for years because it was an automatic charge on their credit card and they didn’t pay close enough attention to the debit each month. I’ve personally signed up for JibJab – which, sounded fun and useful at the time – but never really used it and like others, didn’t pay close attention until it had auto-renewed for another twelve months.

Free Trials

Another way we end up with those pesky payments are from all the times we go online and sign up for a 30 day free trial – only to have to agree to subscribe to something in order to get it. Of course, if you cancel your subscription in the first 30 days – the time you used it was free. I think they count on thousands of people forgetting to log back in and cancel something they really only wanted to use for free.

Discerning Eye

The trick here is to have a discerning eye when it comes to your bank account and credit card statements. I’ve been lackadaisical too, especially since most of my accounts are now “paperless”. I’m less apt to open the account statement and give the activity a good hard look if the email gets opened on my phone versus when I am engaged at my desktop – assuming of course that it isn’t way out of whack based on what I anticipated it to be.

If each of us have a deduction of $5 that really isn’t getting spent for the use of something… someone, somewhere – is collecting a pretty penny!

Make it a goal as you prepare for your tax return this year to sit down and give your financial statements a once over… looking especially for those things that you’re paying for – but not using. I suspect you’ll save a few bucks just because you took the time to…

Check Your Auto Pays

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.