Phillipa Morrish’s Ettiquete Boss: think before you speak

February 6, 2013 Phillipa Morrish
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YOUR BEST INVESTMENT: Etiquette for Children

Speech Etiquette

Had I been taught today’s lesson as a teen, I could have avoided a faux-pas that still stings my memory. My parents told me “quiet speech is a sign of refinement,” but they forgot to include: (a) never ask a question and imply its answer in the same sentence; and (b) never presume a relationship.

My question, “Is this your grandmother?” created embarrassment and tension as my school friend responded, “No, she is my mother.” It could have prevented a young newspaper distributor from telling my friend that he had spoken the previous day to her “son,” who turned out to be her husband. Her self-esteem suffered a terrible blow.

This transgression is not limited to the young. My sister-in-law was not amused when asked, “Is he your husband?” as she took her dad to the hospital.

To ask a question without implying its answer, it is better to say, “Are you related?” or “Who is this beautiful young lady?” I thought a Floridian waiter got it just right when he asked with a brilliant smile, “Are you friends or kinfolk?” as he gave menus to my friend and me.

YOUR BEST APPEARANCE: Get rid of marionette lines

‘Laugh lines’ are no laughing matter. A friend called me in deep distress as she suddenly saw her first marionette lines.

Parentheses belong in grammar, not on our faces. They cause the onlooker’s eye to go downward instead of across the face, thereby promoting a tired look.

The only natural way to get rid of them is to tighten the underlying muscle by exercise. (1) Sit on a chair and tilt your head backward. Look toward the ceiling while making chewing movements. Do twice per day for 10 minutes each time for the best results. (2) Tilt your head back as in the first exercise, but this time purse your lips in a kissing motion. Kiss 10 times and return head to normal position. Repeat five times once or twice per day.

Phillipa Morrish is the president of Etiquette Training International.

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