Comfort Trumps Style, Why Etiquette Is Falling By the Wayside

by Jacqueline Whitmore

Are you tired of seeing people wearing their pants around their knees? Do you think people dress too casually in public? What ever happened to style and self-respect? Click the video to see what I have to say on WPEC CBS 12 News. What are some of your pet peeves?

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How To Say ‘No,’ Nicely

by Jacqueline Whitmore
Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

The other day a young boy knocked on my front door. He looked to be about 14 years old and was dressed in a white, button-down shirt, a pair of blue jeans and sneakers.

He introduced himself and told me that he was trying to win a trip to Disney World. His goal was to sell enough candy bars to earn the trip. Since I didn’t need the extra calories, I gave him a small donation instead.

A majority of us are people pleasers by nature and can’t stop ourselves from accepting every request for help – whether it’s volunteering for the neighborhood association picnic, serving on a committee, or buying candy bars or Girl Scout cookies.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, people will say “yes” to a request simply because saying “no” makes them even more uncomfortable. This is especially true when people have to give their answer face to face, rather than by email.

So why is one tiny word is so hard to say? It’s because one of our most fundamental needs is for social connection and a feeling that we belong. We worry that saying “no” will change the way the other person views us.

In the case of the candy bar peddler, I said ‘no’ and gave a donation instead. It was the least I could do to help this young man out without disappointing him or jeopardizing my waistline. To avoid the guilt, here are my five top tips on how to say ‘no,’ nicely.

Plan ahead. Rehearse saying ‘no’ ahead of time, just in case you think you might be asked to participate or purchase something.

Delay your response. If a request takes you by surprise, reply by saying, “Allow me to check my schedule” or “Let me think about it.” If you delay your answer, the person asking the favor is more likely to ask someone else.

Start with a positive statement. Always preface your answer by saying something like, “I’m honored that you would ask. However I have another commitment on that day.”

Don’t promise what you can’t deliver. Resist the temptation to add, “Maybe next time,” unless you mean it.

Stand firm. If a person refuses to take “no” for an answer, stand your ground. Repeat your polite refusal as often as necessary.

Click here to watch my interview on HLN Weekend Express on “How To Say ‘No’ Nicely.”

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The Etiquette Expert Meets Miss Manners

by Jacqueline Whitmore

Jacqueline Whitmore and Judith Martin (Miss Manners) at the Beach Club in Palm Beach, Florida.

Today I met Judith Martin (a.k.a. Miss Manners) at the Beach Club in Palm Beach during the Palm Beach Fellowship of Christians and Jews Annual Luncheon. She gave a 15-minute speech about the lack of civility in our society. She peppered her talk with her unique brand of humor and a touch of sarcasm.

I observed her closely before the luncheon and was quite surprised that she didn’t do what most etiquette experts do and walk around the room and talk to people. She simply sat at her table (all by herself) and waited for people to approach her (which I did). I think I was the only person bold enough to ask her if I could be photographed with her. She was polite, reserved, and did most of the listening while I did most of the talking.

Fortunately, I remembered to bring a copy of her book, Miss Manners Minds Your Business, and asked her to sign it. I also gave her a signed copy of my book, Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals. We had a private book signing, just the two of us.

During our brief conversation, she asked me how long I had been in business and referred to me as a “colleague.” A true compliment coming from her!

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Baby Shower Etiquette: Is it Bad Manners to Have a Shower for the Second and Third Child?

by Jacqueline Whitmore

Gwen Stefani The summer is right around the corner and more babies are born in the U.S. during the summer season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This means that there will be a lot of baby showers in the coming weeks.

So is it appropriate to have a baby shower for the second or third child? Celebrity mom-to-be Gwen Stefani thinks so. She recently celebrated a baby shower for her third son with her closest friends and family in Beverly Hills.

Many people would disagree, however, and say that a baby shower is not a good idea after the first baby is born. Some say the purpose of a baby shower is to help furnish the necessities of a first baby.

If you are thinking about having a baby shower for your second, third, or even fourth child, keep these tips in mind.

Let your friends host a shower for you. It’s poor etiquette for the parents-to-be to host a shower for themselves.

Consider your baby’s gender and age difference. If there is a large age gap between your babies, or if the new baby is a different gender, it’s appropriate to have a shower.

Accept gifts during other occasions. If close friends and family want to give the new baby a gift, they may want to send it upon receiving the birth announcement or on the occasion of the Baptism or Christening.

Donate your gifts. If you have plenty of everything and guests still want to send gifts, think about giving some or all of the gifts to charity for expectant mothers in need.

Host a party. Host a potluck dinner or a baby “meet-and-greet.” This will allow the guests and their little ones to meet the baby once he or she is born. And no one has to play those tacky baby games.

Try a themed shower. If friends and family insist on hosting a shower for the second or third child, consider a “back-to-basics” shower. The host would ask guests to bring basic items for the new baby such as burp cloths, bottles, wipes and diapers. After all, you can never have too many diapers!

Photo Source: Pacific Coast News

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day

by Jacqueline Whitmore

My husband, Brian, and my two pups, Abigail and Cooper, would like to wish everyone a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


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Flu Etiquette: How to (Politely) Avoid Getting Sick

by Jacqueline Whitmore
Flu Etiquette Tips

Image credit: mcfarlandmo via Flickr

It’s that time of year again. Spring is around the corner, but there are still another four to six weeks of winter left – and the colds that come with it.

That means that you invariably will be faced with someone hacking, sneezing and wheezing in your personal space. But how do you politely tell someone, “Don’t stand so close to me?” Here are three simple tips:

1. Sitting next to someone on the plane who won’t cover their mouth as they cough.

Instead of trying to impart the basic rule of “cover your mouth when you cough,” it’s more productive to ask the flight attendant if you can move seats. To avoid offending your sick plane mate, you might want to say something like, “It sounds like you are really battling your cold. I hope you don’t mind but I’m going to ask to sit in another seat.” 

2. You are standing in line at the grocery store and the guy ahead of you is having a sneezing fit.

In this situation, simply move away. That’s really the only thing you can do. If you advise this person to use a tissue or cover his mouth, you run the risk of offending him. In this day and age it’s like telling someone they are being rude on their cell phone. Sometimes it’s best to avoid saying anything to avoid confrontation.

3. You can’t reschedule a meeting, presentation or conference during the height of your cold.

Even I’ve been in a situation where my own sniffling has prompted someone to give me a tissue. If you’re lucky, you work in an environment where your boss says, “You sound awful, take the afternoon off.” However, if you’re like me and work for yourself, you may have to tough it out since your commitments can’t be rescheduled, regardless of the number of tissue boxes you’ve gone through that day.

If you find yourself doped up on cold medicine at a big meeting, presentation or conference, be forthcoming about it (as if they couldn’t already tell). If you’re sick and can’t reschedule a speaking engagement, don’t shake hands or get too close to anyone. If someone tries to shake your hand, say, “I would love to shake your hand, but I’m getting over a cold.” People will thank you for not passing your germs along to them.

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Happy Valentine’s Day

by Jacqueline Whitmore

Cooper & Abigail wishing you a Happy Valentine's Day from The Etiquette Expert Jacqueline Whitmore

Cooper and Abigail want to wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Dear Etiquette Expert: How do I clean my wine glasses?

by Jacqueline Whitmore

wine glass
Do you find it difficult to keep your wine glasses looking sparkling clean? If so, here are some tips I picked up from my friend, Virginia Philip. Virginia owns the Virginia Philip Wine Shop & Academy in West Palm Beach, Florida.

  1. Rinse your glasses immediately after using them.
  2. Wash with warm water and a small amount of dishwashing liquid.
  3. To remove lipstick marks, scrub gently with a dishcloth.
  4. Dry with a lint-free cotton or linen towel.
  5. To polish, steam the glasses over a pot of boiling water. Hold the glass by the stem and carefully rub with a micro fiber towel or flour sack cloth.

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10 Tips for Being the Perfect Host this Valentine’s Day

by Jacqueline Whitmore

Valentines Dinner
The best rule to keep in mind when planning a party is the five Ps: prior planning prevents poor performance. If you’re planning a party for Valentine’s Day, here are 10 tips to help you entertain with ease.

1. Prepare ahead of time. Plan your menu to avoid any of your guests’ food allergies or dietary restrictions. Alternatively, serve a buffet with a wide variety of foods from which to choose. Choose to prepare familiar recipes. It’s not the ideal situation to try out a complicated dish for the first time.

2. Make a master grocery list. Include every item each recipe calls for, even staples like butter and salt. You don’t want to discover you only have one egg in the middle of preparing a meal.

3. Offer many types of beverages. Keep a few bottles of both red and white wine as well as nonalcoholic drinks like soda and bottled water.

4. Put out snacks as your guests arrive. Nuts, chips, dip, cheese and crackers are all-time favorites. Choose appetizers that are easy to eat in one bite. Large hors d’oeuvres can be messy and difficult to handle — especially while mingling with friends and family.

5. Do as much as you can the day before. Complete small tasks early so you can focus on entertaining on the day of your party. Clean and polish any serving pieces, fill the salt and pepper shakers and set the table.

6. Iron your linens. Provide linen cocktail napkins or holiday-themed paper cocktail napkins when serving beverages and appetizers. For dinner, linen napkins provide an elegant backdrop for your meal.

7. Set out candles. Easy and inexpensive, candles are a great way to set the mood and make your home feel warm and inviting. Place only unscented candles at the dinner table; fragrant items can overpower food aromas. Light the candles throughout your home 15 minutes before your guests arrive and light the candles at the dinner table just before everyone sits down.

8. Preset a party playlist. Music sets the tone of any party. Program your iPod, iPhone or CD player to play classic holiday music or your favorite tunes throughout the evening.

9. Prepare coffee and tea service. Set up your coffeemaker about an hour before your guests arrive. Put coffee cups, saucers, teaspoons and a variety of teas on a side table. Place cream, milk, sugar and sweetener in decorative containers.

10. Schedule time for yourself. Set aside time to shower, get dressed and look your best. Take a moment to relax before you greet your guests. Take advantage of each moment with your friends and family and enjoy your holiday party.

What are your plans for Valentine’s Day?


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Super Bowl Party Etiquette: How to Be a Well-Mannered Guest

by Jacqueline Whitmore

Photo by Shutterstock

It’s Super Bowl Sunday, and you know what that means. It’s party time! But that’s no excuse to forget your manners if you’re planning to watch the big game with friends and family.

I recently polled my Twitter and Facebook friends and asked them for their best Super Bowl etiquette advice and here’s what they had to say:

  • Never come to a Super Bowl party empty handed.
  • Speak to your host in advance to find out what you can bring.
  • Smile and be a gracious guest. Don’t show up to the party early and don’t be the last to leave.
  • Don’t eat in line. Serve yourself then take your plate to your seat.
  • If you touch something on the buffet, take it.
  • Don’t double-dip.
  • Clean up after yourself. No one likes to tiptoe around a mess.
  • Pace your alcohol consumption and don’t get sloppy drunk.
  • Refrain from using offensive or fowl language.
  • Remember to call or send your host a handwritten thank-you note.
  • Offer to help the host clean up at the end of the evening.
  • Try not to talk off topic. Be mindful of those who want to watch the game.
  • Be polite and respectful to guests rooting for the opposing team. It’s only a game after all.

Many thanks to the following friends who took the time to share their tips:
Gina DeLapa, John Daly, Tim Lawhorn, Gloria Auth, Jennifer Richardson, Megan Glass, Susie Dishman Verdier, Maryanne Parker and Michelle Donatto.

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