Serving Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Conn. Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire

The Interview Meal: Keep Your Prospects Simmering

Framingham State University

December 2016 (Private)

5-Star Manners for Children

St Benedict Elementary School, Natick

In -School and  after-school series October  & November (Private)


From Hassled to Happy

Panelist for conference organized by Mary T  O'Sullivan 

This conference/workshop is designed for managers, executives, and professional who find themselves in tough circumstances. Attend this workshop and learn how to act with grace when you find yourself under stress in career, job, relationship, or personal situations.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Info and tickets:

Deborah Sampson’s 2nd Secret!

Parkview Elementary School, Easton, MA

October 7,  2016 ( Private)

Courtesy, Brazilian Style

The Olympic Games offer us easy access to a worldwide display of athleticism, talent and grit!  The Games also give us a glimpse into the culture of the host country. Below are rules that help define etiquette in Brazil:

Meeting and greeting

Men shake hands. By U.S. standards, the Brazilian handshake is lengthy; eye contact is sustained throughout.

Women kiss each other on cheeks, starting with the left.  A man and woman may shake hands, but the woman extends her hand first.

Brazilians stand close to each other when speaking .Their “comfort zone” is “too close for comfort” for many of us.  (Resist the urge to back away.)  In addition, interrupting another is common and acceptable.


 Parents teach children to clean their plates.  Leaving food in considered rude!

At a restaurant, expect to share your table with another party.

A 10% service charge (tip) is added to the bill. There is no need to add to that. Tips are pooled and distributed among the staff.

Gift Giving

If you visit a Brazilian home it is mandatory to bring a gift or send one later with a thank-you note. Candy (or any food/beverage) is appropriate for an afternoon visit or informal meal. For a formal dinner, step it up—bring a bottle of wine.

Flowers are acceptable for any occasion, with the exception of a formal dinner (go with wine).

When selecting a gift, avoid anything that is purple and black; these are mourning colors.

Late is Great!

A savvy Brazilian who is invited to a small social event to start at 6:00 knows enough to arrive no earlier than 6:30. If the gathering were to be large, he /she would arrive at 7:00. To be “on time” you need to be late!

Competition is essential to the Olympics.  Respect for the traditions of the host country and its citizens are at the essence of the Olympic spirit.






     Three Disappearing Manners Worth a Rescue


In the early days of commercial flying, decorum dictated that passengers dress up. Now that air travel is common, people dress for comfort. Manners change with society; some, however, are timeless. Below are three courtesies that are fading and warrant a rescue:

1 Training children to be comfortable calling adults by a title: (Mr. Ms. Mrs.  etc.) Calling adults by a title helps instill a fundamental respect for adults and authority. It also develops an important instinct: children learn to recognize situations in which it is important to sit straighter and choose words more carefully;these include a summer-job interview or introduction to a parent’s boss.

There is also a safety factor: calling someone by his/her first name sets a tone of familiarity. Do we want our children to perceive an adult they do not know as a friend?

Of course, there are adults, such as close family friends, in which the first-name-basis is appropriate. Parents decide this.

2 Standing to greet someone: At a recent event, I walked up to three high-school girls and introduced myself. They jumped to their feet. I was surprised and impressed. This brought to mind the fact that standing to greet someone is no longer common behavior. Doing so, when it is not disruptive, is a simple way to show respect and acknowledgment.

3 Offering Your Seat  I’ll never forget the elderly man I saw enter a packed train; hunched over his quivering cane, he disappeared into the crowd. When we later disembarked, I saw that nobody had offered him a seat! Why? Have we become so absorbed in our smartphones and to-dos that we have lost consciousness of those around us?  Four words that go a long way to showing consideration:  “Please have a seat.”

When we see a time –honored tradition disappearing, we would be wise to ask ourselves if it served an important purpose; if so, what's the replacement?.





Simple No-Cost Ways Kids Can Show Dad That He is Important


Are you pulling at your hair, trying to think of something special to give your  father on Fathers’ Day?  Try the gift of appreciation. There are simple actions you can take to show Dad that he is important. Read below to find out how Fathers’ Day came to be. You'll also see a few appreciation-gift tips:

 A West Virginia church planted the Fathers’ Day seed in July 1908 when it created an event to honor fathers. The church did this to recognize the 362 men who had died in a recent coal-mine explosion. In 1909, Sonora Smart Dodd, one of six children raised by her widowed father, tried to establish a day to parallel Mothers’ Day, already a national holiday. Presidents Wilson and Coolidge urged states to make Fathers’ Day a state holiday. Finally, in 1972 Richard Nixon proclaimed it a national holiday.

 Here are a few simple ways you can remind Dad that he is important:

  •  When Dad comes home at the end of the day, turn off the tv, put down the iPad, walk up to Dad, smile and say “Hi”. Why do I suggest this? A visiting college roommate of mine wondered how my father could come home from work in such a good mood.  After all, he was coming home, likely worn out, to the tumult of a household with eight kids! She finally figured it out—eight kids greeted him with hugs! A warm welcome can do a lot towards brightening a tired-dad’s day.
  • Ask Dad about his day. Dad likes to hear about your Turn the tables: show an interest in the comings and goings of his day—then watch him smile! 
  • At dinner, offer to pass the bowl of potatoes around the table, starting with Dad. Explain that he is the guest of honor and, thus, comes first! 
  • Show Dad that his time and efforts pay off. For example, if you are taking piano lessons, choose a song to practice and play it for him. He’ll see that the lessons mean something to you and that his money is well spent. Or maybe, he been working with you on your (baseball) pitch. Practice, practice, practice and pick this day to toss a ball to him in your new and improved style!
  • When friends come over and you see Dad, stop and say, “Hi” (or introduce them). Dad will see that you are proud to be his kid. He’ll be reminded of his pride in being your dad!’

Great gifts come in innumerable shapes and sizes. Sometimes, the gifts that mean the most are the ones wrapped with recognition and appreciation. These are gifts can be given over and over.  I wish your dad a happy Fathers' Day!



 How to Exchange Business Cards Professionally

Bus Card

In the 17th century, business cards were called “bearer” and ”calling” cards, indicators of social status. The cards later became ”trade cards”,  used as a way to identify oneself as part of an organization and provide contact information.

Today, business cards constitute a  professional staple. Below are a few rules for exchanging them with respect and polish:

  • Extend your business card face up and oriented so that the recipient can read it with a glance.
  • Do not ask a higher ranking person if you may give her (him)  your card.  Wait for that person to offer hers, then exchange. If the higher ranking person does not initiate the exchange, accept the fact that there will not be one.
  • It it correct to write on a business card? Perhaps there is a phone number that is not on your card but you wish the other person to have. Since this is your card, feel free to write a note on it before handing it to your companion. However, be careful about writing on someone else’s card! Etiquette differs with cultures.  In the U.S. it is often acceptable. However, if you are exchanging business cards with someone who is Japanese, don’t even ask!  Your companion would be insulted by the sight of you defacing his/her card!   In all cases, take the safe route by waiting until the person is out of sight  to jot down notes.
  • When accepting a card, take a few seconds to read it, then make a brief comment. This sends a message of acknowledgement interest.

Manners are tools through which we show others they are important. The way we offer and receive a business card can signal that the conversation and, thus, the person, is important to us– or not.








It’s National Thank You Note Day – I’m Celebrating with Janet Parnes!

(Marketing expert Kris K and I collaborated to write this blog for her site THE APPRECIATION FACTOR ) Enjoy!

It's’s that time of year where you may already be writing thank you notes for the generosity of those around you, but did you know there’s an actual “holiday” for Thank you notes? Yep it’s December 26th!  I think it was created as it’s a reminder to get your thank you notes out ASAP after the holidays. (hint hint)

Not to worry I’m here to help.  To celebrate National Thank you Day, I’ve recruited my friend, Janet Parnes, Owner and Etiquette Consultant at Etiquette for  I’m having her share her tips on writing a Thank you note. (I thought it would be great to have someone who counsels these tips to others already, weigh in at The Appreciation Factor. (Plus I’m excited to meet someone who values saying “thank you” as much as I do!)

Before we get to the tips, I thought I’d share a little bit about Janet.

TAF: Janet, Tell me a little bit about you?Janet Parnes Etiquette Consultant

As a child, I thought manners were rules somebody made up for parents to teach their kids. Over time, I realized that manners are powerful tools.  They bring the qualities such kindness, generosity and confidence in ourselves and others to the forefront.  Using manners also makes life more comfortable and harmonious for everyone.

I also believe that manners make up a timeless code of behaviors that lies in the bedrock of a society founded on respect for others and ourselves.  My work around this code fuels me personally and professionally.


TAF: What lead you to starting an etiquette business?   

Twelve years ago, a friend of mine adopted a 7-year-old girl. I decided to celebrate the adoption with a Royal Tea party and created the character Lady J to host the grand affair!  That tea party was the launch pad for my company Royal Tea Parties by Lady J, now called Historical Portrayals by Lady J.  At these children’s events, so many mothers asked about etiquette classes for children, that I attended the Protocol School of Washington® and developed my etiquette-consulting business.  I started with children’s workshops and have since developed workshops for teens, and college students/young adults.


My workshops are built upon the premise that everyone is rich, regardless of size of his/her bank account. That is because use we are all born with innate gems such as respect, confidence, and gratitude.  Students learn how to bring the dignity in themselves and others, to the forefront. They also discover manners are not arbitrary rules, but powerful tools they can use to shape their relationships

As a professional storyteller/character portrayer, I delight in engaging and inspiring my students with workshops that sizzle with tales of hapless mistakes, including my own, intriguing historical trivia and breath-catching tales of real–life rudeness.


TAF: It’s clear your passionate about the subject.  Can you share why you feel it’s still important to teach etiquette in today’s society? Many might say it’s out dated. 

Manners are tools we use to show others that they are important. When we make eye contact while conversing with a friend, hold the door for the stranger, or turn off and tuck away our smart phone while dining, we are silently telling others that they matter.

I believe that conduct today is becoming increasingly casual. I think technology plays a large part in this: smartphones and internet access make life easier and faster.  Texts and emails are replacing face-to-face and phone conversations; and phones have become dining companions. They are often on and at-the-ready for immediate use, causing a distraction from the people around us.

The soft skills, including proper introductions, gracious table manners, and the handwritten thank-you note are getting lost perhaps because they require more time and effort. However if one puts their “gems” such respect, consideration, and appreciation into the limelight, the rewards are substantial — others will feel acknowledged and thus, important.


Here are her 5 Tips on writing a thoughtful thank you note
Now there’s no excuse to send one after receiving that great gift/or assistance this holiday season.

 1. Electronic or Envelope? 
First we have to decide whether to say ‘thank you” via email or handwritten note. Digital thank yous are quick and relatively easy. A handwritten note is requires more of an investment (finding the paper and pen, coming up with the content and writing it legibly, putting it in the mail, etc..) as such, the handwritten note trumps the digital thank you when it comes to a thoughtful expression of gratitude. Even if the recipient does not keep a thank you note, they’ll remember receiving it. An emailed Thank-you can get lost in the In Box


2.  Select Appropriate Note Paper (Avoid the Pre-printed “Thank you” Card)
A thoughtful note scribbled on a piece of paper ripped out of a spiral notebook is absurd. The person we are thanking, and we, deserve better! Instead use note cards: plain cards or cards with a graphic: e.g., seagulls, trees, lilies, balloons—choose an image that is fitting for the person you are thanking. You can even choose a blank card for children to decorate themselves!  It is also best to avoid cards with a pre-printed Thank You on the front. We should be the ones to write it.


3.  Do Not Save Time with a Generic Thank You
“Thank you for the wonderful gift” can be interpreted as “I forgot what you gave me, but thanks anyway.”  Your gratitude factor is pretty weak here. Instead mention the specific gift and say something about it.  e.g., “Thank you for the ice cream maker!  We can’t wait to make chocolate ice cream with it for birthday party!”  Even if the gift does not leave you jumping with excitement, find something positive to say about it.  You can find additional tips from TAF here on writing a thank you note.


4. Start at the top
Many people start their notes just below the fold of the card. If the note is likely to extend onto the back, open the note and start at the inside top instead. Your note will be fully visible from top to bottom when the recipient opens it.


5. Get to it!
Do it by getting to it! Write your note within a couple of days of receiving of the gift. That way, it fresh in your mind as you write the note, and it won’t be left on a never visited “To Do” list.


I’m grateful for Janet’s insight today. I definitely learned something — I’ve always used pre-printed “Thank you” note cards!  Yikes – who knew?    If you’d like to learn more about her services, workshops, or ask your pressing etiquette question, visit her Etiquette for Today website .

(For more ideas and insights around appreciating the people and world around you visit THE APPRECIATION FACTOR).




Morse Institute Library, Janet Parnes to host holiday etiquette for children workshop

MetroWest Daily News
Posted Oct. 23, 2015 at 2:01 AM

Morse Institute Library, Janet Parnes to host holiday etiquette for children workshop

NATICK — The Morse Institute Library, 14 E. Central St., Natick, will host a workshop titled “Holiday Manners for Children” from 10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Nov. 7.

moorse libraryProtocol School of Washington graduate and etiquette consultant Janet Parnes will teach ages 8-11 why manners matter; how to introduce themselves and others with eye contact and a firm handshake, table manners including how to set a table; utensil and napkin handling; cutting technique; asking for/passing food, ways to compliment the cook; and dilemmas such as a bone in the mouth, sneezing/coughing, foods they don’t like and allergies. Attendees will practice with snacks using china and linens. General social graces such as how to respond to a compliment; holding a door for someone; offering an adult their seat; accepting a gift and writing a thank-you note will also be covered.

Suggested attire for this workshop is dress, skirt or slacks with blouse or sweater for girls and pants with shirt or sweater for boys. The program is sponsored by the Friends of the Morse Public Library. Registration is required. To register, stop into the library or call or email.

To sign up or for more information, call Parnes at 508-376-1110, email her at or visit