Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Reviving the Art of Etiquette with Ellen Lubin-Sherman

Sometimes the only way to get past that dreaded mid-week slump is to start the day with something marvellously special!
Today my friends, we will greet Wednesday morning with a touch of fabulousness in the form of Ellen Lubin-Sherman, author of THE ESSENTIALS OF FABULOUS: BECAUSE “WHATEVER” DOESN’T WORK HERE ANYMORE. Ellen spends her days schooling the big-wigs of the corporate world in the art of fabulousness and she has been ever so kind to share a few of her thoughts with us on the joys of good manners. (To say I am tickled pink would be an understatement since Ellen is an author and blogger that I have ardently admired for her humor and wit ever since reading her book, I know you will adore her as much as I do!)

One of the joys in life is to spend time with someone who has mastered the art of etiquette.  It’s one thing to know which fork to use or to fold your napkin when the meal is concluded. That’s a given.  As I write in The Essentials of Fabulous, I admire “the people who are always looking for opportunities to be gracious and considerate.”  Those are the people that are unforgettable.
And while we’re on the subject of manners, may I interject a comment about our children?  Ladies, let’s not kid ourselves.  They don’t teach manners in school – our kids learn manners at home and from example.
Please allow me to tell you a story:  When my sons were small, I noticed that when we went out to dinner they forgot to remove the napkins from the table and place them on their laps.  I dislike being the hyper-critical mother but it bothered me and I knew that one day they would have an important lunch date and they would leave the napkin on the table. And maybe, wipe their hands on their pants.  Oh, it was too much to bear.
So I went to Target and bought eight inexpensive cotton napkins (one dollar apiece).  We used up the paper napkins then we switched to the cloth ones.  When you think about it, it’s really inexpensive to do this since you throw the napkins into the wash.  Anyway, the first few months I had to remind them about the napkin and then one bright and sunny day, they did it without a prompt.

I have always believed that good manners will take you anywhere.  So let’s review some of my top tips to ensure that you’re the one that everyone reveres for your great panache and finesse no matter what the occasion:
Handwritten notes for a gift, a dinner party, extending condolences or an interview is mandatory.  This gesture establishes your savoir faire as well as your attention to detail.  While everyone else is doing the minimum, take the path of most resistance because the payoff is a life filled with admiration, opportunities – perhaps even a little envy at the way you conduct yourself.
I consider myself independent but I still appreciate when a man walks closer to the curb or stands back and lets the ladies go first when the elevator opens.  I know, I know, terribly old-fashioned but I always think the man’s mother did a fabulous job.
Weak handshakes are devoid of any kind of flair.  In less than two seconds, we might think you’re passive, lackluster or afraid of forming a strong relationship based solely on the strength of your handshake.  Since both men and women can initiate a handshake, here are the essentials:  First, you must make eye contact with the person whose hand you’re shaking.  Then extend your hand and grasp the other person’s hand so your two hands are web to web.  It’s important to match the strength of the other person’s hand so you don’t break any bones.  While all this grasping and holding hands is being done, maintain eye contact.  Once you’ve determined the color of the other person’s eyes, let go of his/her hand.
Multi-tasking has swept the world and some people think it’s appropriate to place an order for food or coffee while carrying on a conversation.  It’s not appropriate.  It’s horrible.  I’m embarrassed when someone treats people as if they were robots.
And finally (there are a lot more tips in my book), “The Good Lord created knives so that you wouldn’t use your fingers to push food onto your fork.”

Ellen Lubin-Sherman literally wrote the book on how to be fabulous.
The Essentials of Fabulous is available on AmazonKindle, iTunes and select shops across the country. To find out more about Ellen, go to The Essentials of Fabulous, connect with her on FacebookTwitter and you can always drop her a line right here at


Silver Strands said...

Thanks for this post. Love the suggestions - the "weak handshakes" thing: I AGREE!

Sandy at Ooh La Frou Frou said...

WOW ... this book sounds ... well, fabulous! I've always been one to believe that good manners should be looked upon not as a "nice touch" you choose to use on occasion, but something that should be expected everyday. How wonderful is it when a man opens a door for us or stands up to offer his seat? My heart melts. I also believe in old-fashioned notes for no occasion ... I recently received one from a friend that I hadn't seen in a while, along with a little packet of pink "Paris is Always a Good Idea" notebooks ... for no reason but to say "thinking of you." The sweet feeling of that special thought stays with me. We all get so busy and think it doesn't matter much ... but it certainly is noticed when we take the time!

Illustrator Sandy M
Ooh La Frou Frou

JMW said...

Love the title of her book "Whatever doesn't work here anymore." Everything she said is spot on. Table settings and the like are easy to learn, but it truly is about being a gracious and decent human being to others. I will have to try the cloth napkin trick with my kids. I'm constantly fighting that battle at home!

Second Hand Rose said...

A great read, I think we all forget etiquette daily! XxxX

Lena at A Crimson Kiss said...

This is, in a word, perfect!

LINDA said...

Great post! ♥

Linda from