Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hockey Etiquette

Ok, I know that sounds like a complete contradiction. I can hear my male readers shouting "It's a hockey game, Grace, not a garden party!" I know that. But in every, ahem, arena there are codes of behavior, aka etiquette, that should govern people's conduct. Yes, even hockey games.

Alas, the recent bouts between the Flyers and the Penguins have not demonstrated the best examples of that.

To my dismay, I reluctantly acknowledge that fights are part of the game. But Sunday's game saw gratuitous and excessive violence which resulted in two Penguin players receiving suspensions. Good, say I.

But that's not what has really chipped my polish, Gracious Sports Fans.

It's that mouthpiece of mean, that blaster of brutishness, that utter, utter Grunt Sydney Crosby.

When asked about his less than sportsmanlike conduct, particularly in regard to his smacking away Flyer Voracek's dropped glove as Voracek bent to retrieve it, he responded thus: "I don't like any guy on their team. So [Voracek's] glove was near me, he went to pick up and I pushed it. Was I supposed to sit there and pick up his glove for him?"

Well, Sydney, a Grant would have. But clearly expecting exemplary behavior from Crosby would be optimistic to the point of idiocy. I get that in the heat of a competitive, hotly contended, and supremely important game emotions run high. I also get that some of these players have been knocked on the head a few too many times and maybe their impulse control is impaired.

But it doesn't take a tremendous amount of brain power to shut up. And that, Graces and Grants, is what really smeared my lipstick (no, not the hockey mom/pitbull kind, just the normal, tasteful tint that Graces wear for that extra little glow).

Fine, Sydney, we get that you're mad. We accept your antipathy. We even understand your need to 'diss' our guys on the ice. But for Graces' sake, don't make yourself sound like a petulant child after the fact.

That's all, Graces. Now I'm off to put on my orange and black in preparation for tonight's game.

Go Flyers!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Rudeness in the Office

A question came in about office rudeness, so of course Michael Scott sprung to mind.

Dear Social Grace:

I need some advice on how to handle a difficult coworker.

What's a Grace to do when:
1. My office mate keeps interrupting me, both when I am on the phone and when I am speaking to someone in person?
2. This same office mate bad-mouths a co-worker... (namely me) to the point of sending text messages to a client advising this client to go directly to the boss without passing through the secretary?

--the secretary

Grace Says:

Oh, dear.

Let's start with question #1. Try this: When the interruption occurs on the phone, point to the phone, gesture that you'll be with her in a minute, and ignore further interruption. If the colleague continues to interrupt, politely say to the customer, "Excuse me Ms. Customer, would you excuse me for a brief moment." Then turn to Jabber Jane and ask if there is an emergency. When she says there is not, then tell her you are in the middle of something and will deal with her issue when you are through. If this occurs a few times, JJ should get the hint. If not, this might be a job for Human Resources.

As to question #2...This is a bit more complicated. But, you can never go wrong with either of these two options:

1. Take no action. To paraphrase an oldie but goodie, "Doing well is the best revenge." If you do your job well to the benefit of the organization, that will speak for itself. (But it might be wise to keep a documented record of the sabotaging acts that your colleague commits in the event that things escalate down the road.)

2. Ask for help. You can either do so via your boss or the HR Director of your company. Let him/her know that you and Jane have had some issues and you want to do your best to iron them out. Request that he/she assist with the discussion. What you really want is a reasonable third party who Jane will have to respect to serve as mediator and more importantly, witness. What you don't want is to come across as a tattletale, so be sure not to trash Jane, no matter how much she deserves it. You need to convey a desire to help the company by heading off a potential personnel problem, not a desire (no matter how fervent it is) to get Jane into trouble.

A third option is to confront Jane directly, but I don't recommend that; she sounds unreasonable and if cornered she might retaliate in more destructive ways.

Good Luck!

Accepting Compliments

Some people say thank you....Just ask the late, lamented cast of Will and Grace:

It seems that we as a species have trouble accepting compliments. I've been asked about this informally before, and I just received an email from a new reader about it. So, it seemed a ripe time to address it generally.

I've riffed plenty on the insulting comments before: "Jane, you look so nice I almost didn't recognize you!" or "Bob, what a cute little diamond you gave your fiancee". Those are complicated; you don't want to make a scene (Graces abhor scenes) but neither do you want to take abuse. However, that is a topic for another day.

Straightforward compliments should be received exactly as they are given--in a straightforward way. A simple thank you is all that is required. If you wish, you can add "it was nice of you to notice" or "how kind of you to say so."

What you must never, never, do is dispute the remark. Not only do you look foolish and inappropriately self-disparaging by denying the value of your new haircut/effective sales pitch/delicious dinner, but you may appear disagreeable and argumentative. If someone tells you that your sweater is lovely, don't say, "this old thing? it's a rag!" By doing so, you essentially insult the admirer by implying that their taste and judgment are lacking.

Many of us are hardwired toward self-effacement. This can be sweet, endearing, and downright hilarious. But like everything, Graces, there's a time and a place. Great to invoke when a friend is feeling embarrassed about a mishap at work--DO share the fact that you attended a business event with your pants ripped and your undies fully exposed like I did last week. It will both make her laugh and make her feel better about her snafu. Not great when your friend is attempting a diet and you carp on about how fat you are--particularly as she outweighs you by a good 20 lbs.

So next time your supervisor commends you for a job well done, thank her. Two little words that will never fail you.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

How to Deflect Unsolicited Advice

Dear Social Grace,

I recently ran into a well-meaning former colleague who shared with me that his son, like mine, has special needs challenges. As our kids are about the same age, it was clear from the conversation that we've both been dealing with these issues for, well, a long time. Throughout our brief encounter, he repeatedly pressed for me to have lunch with him so he could give me his "valuable insights" on the subject. I did not convey any need for such insights, nor do I particularly want his. I was wondering if there is a graceful way to handle his repeated entreaties to have this "very instructive lunch".

I don't mind meeting the guy for a sandwich, but I don't want to dwell on on this topic. Is it completely gruntish of me to set parameters before I meet him?

Grace Says:

Oooh, I loathe opinionated know-it-alls. Especially ones who don't respect boundaries.

No, in this case it's not Gruntish. What is Gruntish is this chap's repeated desire to impart his, um, wisdom to you about a highly personal and sensitive subject. My suspicion is that he is seeking just the opposite; he undoubtedly feels isolated under the circ's and is hoping to connect with someone in the same situation. But that's not your problem. You are more than entitled to retain your Grace status and avoid this uncomfortable conversation by simply saying:

"Fred, I'd be delighted to have lunch with you. You mentioned that you are eager to share your experiences about your son, but I tend to try to keep personal and business separate. Different strokes for different folks, I guess. I'd really like to hear about your new job. It's been awhile since we worked together, and I'm interested in your career path since we parted ways. Let's meet at Joe's Deli and we can catch up."

If you don't think he'll abide by that, then plead the pressures of work and tell him that your dance card is full in the foreseeable future.

Good luck and thanks for writing!