Trick-or-Treat Etiquette for Children

Trick or treaters on the porchHalloween is a great time to teach manners to our children and how to be both gracious and grateful to others. Parents: role-play the steps below with your children. Have them ring your own doorbell and provide a little coaching.


  1. Ring doorbells or knock on doors once, then be patient as you wait for the door to open. Don’t pound on doors or ring bells repeatedly.
  2. Make eye contact with homeowners when they open their door and smile as you say “Trick or Treat”.
  3. When the candy is dropped into your bag, be sure to say “thank you”, making eye contact again and smiling—even when it’s candy you don’t like. 🙂
  4. If you’re told you can reach into the candy bowl yourself, take one piece, not a handful.
  5. If they compliment your costume, say “thank you” again!

© Jill Bremer 2016

Practice Safe Text!

textingTexting is here to stay and quickly becoming the preferred method of communication by all ages in all places. But like every other form of techno-communication, usage far outpaced the rulebooks and etiquette for using it. So, what are the best ways to text so that we don’t cause confusion or hurt feelings?

  • Don’t text someone while also having a conversation or a meal with someone else. It’s rude to suggest that anything is more important than who you’re with face-to-face. If you must check an incoming message, explain first to your companions what’s happening and why. (“Excuse me a sec, I just got an update from the airline.”).
  • Avoid texting at odd hours. Remember time zone differences. Just because you’re awake doesn’t mean they are on the receiving end. And do you really want your clients to know that you’re up and working at 3:30 am?
  • Emojis can be very helpful in texts to add the emotion we’re trying to communicate. But don’t send them upstream in your workplace unless the higher-up has used them downstream first.
  • Limit your use of group texts. From time to time, they’ve made us all feel like we’re part of a hostage situation. Keep the group small and the topics short.
  • You already know you shouldn’t text while driving. But it’s also rude—and dangerous—to text someone you know for a fact is behind the wheel themselves. Don’t tempt them into responding. It’s actually better to call.
  • It’s also dangerous to text while walking, drinking, or walking and drinking! You don’t want to fall off the curb and/or send the racy text you meant for your sweetheart to your boss instead. And while we’re at it, double-check every message and the recipient’s name/number before you hit “send.” We’ve all seen those bizarre auto-corrected messages that were sent by mistake!
  • If you’re texting someone who may not have your number, it’s polite to also add your name – “Hi, it’s Jill…”
  • With apologies to all the English majors out there, periods are becoming a thing of the past, especially in short or one-word texts. Periods can be perceived as having an emotional charge, like an emoticon, and can communicate insincerity, snarky-ness, even aggression.

© Jill Bremer 2016

8 Table Manners You Need to Know & Show

table settingIt’s important to know how to handle yourself during a business meal. Over the course of your career, you’ll go to hundreds of lunches, dinners, receptions, banquets, and networking functions. You may interview for a job over a meal, be considered for a promotion, or use the setting to build new business. Knowing how to dine properly can allow you to concentrate on what’s really important—building relationships and, eventually, business. Here are 8 tips to help you make a good impression.

1. Keep phones out of sight and on silent. It’s important to project that nothing is more important than who you’re with right now. If you’re expecting an important call, share that upfront, then take the call away from the table.

2. Decode your place setting correctly. Think “BMW”—Bread, Meal, Water. Your bread plate is on the left side, entrée will be in the center, your water glass is on the right side.

3. If you start something around the table, like salt/pepper or the bread basket, help yourself last. If you want to bend that rule, offer it first to the person on your left, then help yourself second, then send it on around.

4. The bread plate at the upper left corner can also be used to gather any trash you accumulate during the meal, like sugar wrappers or creamer cups.

5. When eating bread or rolls, first tear off a 1- or 2-bite morsel, butter only that, then eat in successive bites. Never rip the entire roll open, butter it completely, then munch on it throughout the meal.

6. Never flip cups or glasses upside down when you know you won’t use them. Better to leave them as is, then decline any beverage you don’t care for. And if it is served to you by accident, just ignore it. You weren’t going to drink it anyway.

7. Don’t use your napkin as a tissue for your nose. Napkins are for your mouth; tissues are for the nose. The wait staff thanks you!

8. If you’re served something you don’t like or can’t eat, simply ignore it. Or better yet, mess it up a little. No one will notice you didn’t actually eat a bite.

© 2016 Jill Bremer

The Four Facets of Executive Presence

Executive Presence is a hot topic these days, but few can actually define what it is. In the past 30 years, I’ve been hired by many companies to coach an employee’s EP and most will tell me, “I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, but I’ll know it when I see it!” So I developed a four-facet model for Executive Presence—Communication, Confidence, Charisma, Image—and those that want to convey a strong EP should work to develop all of these areas.

Speak to Influence – Today’s leaders must be able to listen effectively, ask the right questions, distill key points, and build consensus—and do it all with grace and gravitas. How well do you share your ideas, drive the discussion, and move others to action?

Master Your Nonverbal – Body language is a dominant force in your communication and can be more persuasive than words. Those with EP have mastered their nonverbal messages and use this silent language to convey confidence and influence those around them.

Present with Impact – Doors open to those who can stand (or sit) and deliver a good presentation. EP masters know how to tailor their content and deliver it in a way that keeps their audiences engaged.

Be Authentic – A strong EP aligns the inner self with the outer expression. Are your beliefs, values, and principles reflected in your behavior? Are you authentic, empathetic, and able to show vulnerability and humility to others?

Act with Integrity – When you have EP, you have the courage of your convictions and are able to stand your ground in the face of opposition. You’re able to speak assertively and truthfully, as well as take responsibility for your failures.

Command the Room – Those with EP have excellent “people skills” and are able to develop rapport quickly and easily. Their ability to connect and share their vision helps them build a strong network of relationships that will be valuable to them both now and later

Project Social Savvy – How you treat others demonstrates EP and can set you apart as someone with class and sophistication. You understand the finer points of business and social etiquette, including client/colleague courtesies, techno-etiquette, and dining skills.

Manage Your Reputation – How are you perceived by others? Do people think of you as credible, reliable, consistent? Do your words match your actions? Those skilled at EP are able to craft and control the stories people tell about them and, as a result, develop a reputation that will serves them well.

Dress to Impress – A strong EP means you’ve learned how to package your appearance so that you always look appropriate and polished. Your wardrobe and grooming choices are appropriate to your industry, role, and corporate brand.

If you’d like to learn more about Executive Presence, click here to receive “Seven Strategies to Develop Your Executive Presence.”

© 2016 Jill Bremer

Free Speech + Civility = A Good Combination

BusinessMeetingDebate061411iStock_0A big dose of civility is what America needs right now, especially when our freedom of speech is under as much fire as it is these days. A civil society encourages dialogue and creates an environment where people feel free to express their views and not be silenced because of them.

Incivility is rampant in our current political process, along with our workplaces, sporting arenas, and roadways, but I’m even more troubled with what I see happening on America’s college campuses. They used to be places where free speech was celebrated, where a diversity of ideas was welcomed, nurtured, shared, and debated. Protests and civil disobedience were not unusual occurrences where a big, messy marketplace of ideas was available to all. Yes, I realize they didn’t always end peacefully, but these voices weren’t shot down by dissenters before they even started. People were given the opportunity to learn and then make their own decisions.

Now, many universities are either being forced to change their policies or have jumped on that bandwagon willingly—cancelling speakers that might have a different worldview, silencing student groups, and turning free spaces into “safe spaces”. Many campuses now have “bias response teams” to investigate claims of students’ feelings being hurt. When did we develop such thin skins? When did we lose the ability to hear others’ opinions and not be personally violated? It’s been reported that at one Big 10 university, resident advisors are being pressured to coerce students into signing an overly-broad “civility pledge” which, when combined with their new “Inclusive Language Campaign”, can lead, in my opinion, to administrative overreach and senseless investigations. Please—do not tarnish the magnificent concept of civility by attaching it to something that borders on intimidation.

Wouldn’t it be better if we encouraged free speech and exposed students to all ideas and worldviews? Wouldn’t it be better if we taught the art of civility which teaches people how to listen well, ask insightful questions, seek to understand, and then ultimately respect the other person’s opinion—even when it’s different than their own? Wouldn’t it be better if we had the skills to handle a diversity of viewpoints and disagreements ourselves, instead of running off to administrations, HR, or the government to step in and regulate it?

I agree with John Marshall, Vice President of Student Services at Colorado Mesa University, who said, “We need to help challenge our students. You don’t have a right not to be uncomfortable. We don’t always need to create these ultra-sensitive responses. We want [students] to think critically and deal with each other with respect and civility.” And I applaud the recent event at the Aspen Ideas Festival, where professors and authors spoke up about the failure of college administrators to respect free speech.

Civility is not about silencing other’s views or even successfully convincing them of yours. Civility has nothing to do with coercion, regulation, or pointing fingers. It is about encouraging a marketplace of ideas, where diversity of thought and worldviews is encouraged, and interactions and disagreements with others are handled with respect and grace.

If you need more civility in your workplace, please check out

© 2016 Jill Bremer

7 Reasons to Put Pen to Paper

thank youThe impact of a handwritten note is often overlooked in today’s “why-write-something-when-I-can-email-it” world. A note written promptly and sincerely is more impactful and appreciated than a phone call, email, or text. Yes, we have a lot of technology at our fingertips, but just because we can do something that way doesn’t mean we should

Handwritten notes and letters are a rarity, which makes them that much more meaningful and cherished by the recipient. When you take the time to write a note by hand, it shows the other person that you cared enough to pull out the stationery and choose your words without the conveniences of the grammar tool, spellchecker and auto-fill! Written notes are also permanent, which means they’re often saved by the recipient and even shared with others.

Before you begin, you’re going to need nice stationery. Business letterhead or a fold-over note card with the company logo on the front are fine to use for relationships that are just getting established. Once you have a closer working relationship with that colleague or client, you can switch to personal stationery.

Here are the 7 along with suggested reasons to send:

  1. Thank You – for the meal, opportunity, gift
  2. Letters of Congratulations – for reaching that work milestone, winning the election, getting married
  3. Good News – for the new job, being promoted, for their child’s accomplishment
  4. Complimenting Someone – for the great presentation, negotiation success, work performance
  5. To Consolidate Contact –you enjoyed meeting them at the conference, you’re looking forward to working together on the new project
  6. To Encourage – if they’ve come through a difficult time or crisis
  7. Condolence – for a death in their family

Do you really want your “thank you” email to be buried within the 300 they’ll receive that day? Your words will have real impact and you’ll stand out as someone with class and sophistication if you put pen to paper!

© Jill Bremer 2016

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