Sunday, May 31, 2015

“Life is short, but there is always time enough for courtesy.”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, May 24, 2015

For Crying Out Loud

“Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners” -Laurence Sterne

Sunday, May 17, 2015

For Crying Out Loud

Treat everyone with politeness, even those who are rude to you — not because they are nice, but because you are. ~Author Unknown

Sunday, May 10, 2015

For Crying out Loud

Courtesies cannot be borrowed like snow shovels; you must have some of your own. ~John Wanamaker

Friday, May 8, 2015

Charm School Fridays : How to walk Properly

Great Clothes without a great walk is a disaster!

I have a friend who was always identified as an American woman by the local men when she traveled abroad to Italy and France. Curious as to how the always new she was American before she ever spoke to them, she asked them how they knew, "American women walk like men, not women," they replied. Wow that's very telling! This got me to thinking, is how we walk just as important as our focus on walking to get were going? I decided to dig through my old charm books from a bygone era, and see what they have to say about a woman's walk and I wonder if we can  still apply these techniques today with or without books on our head? The following information I found in a charm school book from 1962. 

As pointed out by a friend, undergarments like corsets and girdles affected how women walked. When this book was published, however, corset or not, I strongly feel we need to amend how we walk today because there is something to be said for a woman walking gracefully while getting to where she needs to go.

Chart For Correct Foot Position

One could use a piece of chalk or a strip of tape to create a straight line for practice

Top 10 Tips for a graceful walk

1.The body must be correctly aligned with the back as straight as possible. To start, the knee bone should be over the ankle bone, the hipbone over the knee bone, shoulder bone over the hipbone and the head over all. Maintain this torso alignment while the legs are in motion.

2.The step should be no longer in your own foot so that the distance between the heel of the forward foot and the toe of the back foot this not exceed the length of the foot. Do not reach for your steps and do not mince along.

3. The toes should point straight ahead or be turned slightly outward as models and dancers walk.

There should be no perceptible change of weight from one foot to the other. This can be best achieved by keeping the weight on the balls of the feet and by "pushing off" with the ball of the back foot.

5. The knees are kept flexed so that they may act as the "spring" for the body to give a smooth, glide appearance.

6. One foot is placed directly in front of the other on one line. This method gives a feminine look and when done with balance and grace night be called "showgirls walk."

7. The legs swing forward from the waistline so that the hips also move forward and forward. They do not move from side to side, nor do they undulate. This avoids hosiery rub. When the right leg comes forward, the right hip comes forward.

8.The arms move in opposition to the feet for balance so that when the right foot is forward, the left arm swings forward and vice versa. The hand should swing forward to the toe and backward to the heel. The more vigorous the walk, the more vigorous the hand swing.

9. The arms should swing relaxed from the shoulders with the elbows held fairly close to the body but not tight. They should remain relaxed should not bend as the arm comes forward.

10. Float from the waistline up, Walk from the waistline down. They head, shoulders and upper torso move forward smoothly as though disconnected from the rest of the body. The control of the walk comes from the mid-driff, and the leg moves forward from the waistline.

From here on out, your success will depend upon practicing the foregoing techniques until you have a "naturally" beautiful walk.

Your walk tells a great deal about you. It reveals carelessness, timidity, shyness, aggressiveness; for it can bespeak the loveliness of you. It is worthwhile to learn "to walk in beauty."

From the Book, University Beauty College Guide to Beauty Charm Poise

Sunday, May 3, 2015

For Crying Out Loud

Good manners are just a way of showing other people that we have respect for them. ~Bill Kelly

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Reader asks "Can being right be wrong?"


Hi Ms. Usher,

My girlfriend reads your blog and suggested I write you for some advice about a situation at my job. I work in an office with a bunch of guys and it's pretty laid back. There's a  guy on our team who seems to go out of his way to piss some of  us off. Whenever we talk about stuff, he has to find a way to make himself the top dog in the discussion and the rest of us look like idiots.  If one of us  says a basketball player missed about 18,000 shots in his career, he will jump in the conversation and ,say "this basketball player actually missed 17,285 shots 5,253 of which were  free throw misses." He does this all the time to the point of arguing like there is a prize if he wins, but one situation had us all ready to let this guy have it. One of the ladies in our IT department just came back from her honeymoon in Hawaii. She was showing pictures  to everyone and he started in on her about how Maui is a popular honeymoon location, what's the big deal, people go there all the time, it is not really an exotic place. He really upset her with all of his "stats" about her honeymoon destination. Do you have any advice on how to deal with this guy? We have to work with him everyday and he does his job but this one thing makes us want to take him outside and pound him. We are not always right (no one is) but we are not stupid either and we are really tired of his bulls***.


Dear Ty,
Thank you for your question,  I understand people wanting to set the record straight , but when a person is always in the mode of correcting people or having to prove they are "right", it can do more harm than good sometimes. I am not sure what your co-workers motive is perhaps he just wants to feel important and knowledgeable, unfortunately it is at the expense of others  and he  has no idea he is isolating people. I agree with you, nobody likes to be made to feel like a prized idiot by a self appointed know-it-all. My suggestion would be to acknowledge his contribution but do not argue  or debate with him. Some suggested responses are as follows:

"Thanks I will keep that in mind."
"That's interesting."
"I see."
"Oh, OK"
"Thanks  for sharing that."

These responses offer no agreement with  him but it is a polite way of recognizing what he said and you can redirect the conversation back on course.
(though you may want to still pound him). 

I hope that your co-worker will see how counterproductive his behavior is and stop doing it and hopefully the suggestions I made  will be a helpful aid in doing so.

Best of luck,


To my blog readers:

There is nothing wrong with bringing correction where there is error. However, a person should ask themselves three questions, "Is this the right time?" , "What will be gained by me saying something?" and "Is it really about me wining or expanding understanding?"

Dale Carnegie, the author of the classic book, "How to win friends and influence people" Shares a story in his book that for me drives the point home:

I was attending a banquet on night given in Sir Ross’s honor; and during the dinner, the man sitting next to me told a humorous story which hinged on the quotation “There’s a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will.”The raconteur mentioned that the quotation was from the Bible.  He was wrong.  I knew that. I knew it positively.  There couldn’t be the slightest doubt about it.  And so, to get a feeling of importance and display my superiority, I appointed myself as an unsolicited and unwelcome committee of one to correct him.  He stuck to his guns.  What?  From Shakespeare?  Impossible! Absurd! That quotation was from the Bible. And he knew it.The storyteller was sitting on my right; and Frank Gammond, an old friend of mine, was seated at my left. Mr. Gammond had devoted years to the study of Shakespeare.  So the storyteller and I agreed to submit the question to Mr. Gammond.  Mr. Gammond listened,  kicked me under the table, and then said: “Dale, you are wrong. The gentleman is right it is from the Bible” On the way home that night, I said to Mr. Gammond:  “Frank, you knew that quotation was from Shakespeare.”“Yes, of course,” he replied, “Hamlet, Act Five, Scene Two.  But we were guests at a festive occasion my dear Dale.  Why prove to a man he is wrong?  Is that going to make him like you?  Why not let him save his face?  He didn’t ask for your opinion.  He didn’t want it. Why argue with him? (Pgs. 115,116)

 Though it was wrong for Mr. Gammond to agree with an error and even though Dale Carnegie was right, what could he have gained by winning? Nothing of importance and Mr. Gammond knew that.  His need to be right would have embarrassed the man in front of other guests, the man would have been humiliated, felt foolish the rest of the evening and what would always remain fresh in his mind would not be the correct information, but that Dale rebuked him in the presence of others by exposing his ignorance and making him fell small.

When we are "right", if the motive is not to bring out the best in others, then it can be for all intents and purposes be "wrong" This does not mean we co-sign with a clear error or lie, but how we present  the truth can make a difference in how it is perceived and received. I have a dear friend who is truly a man of few words. In group conversations, he quietly listened and would every so often share something that made us think and consider and sometimes his humble suggestion brought "correction".

To appear well informed, I am sad to say I have made the mistake of being more motivated to be right than to share out of humility and sincereity. I have learned to use the phrases I shared with Ty more often, especially if it is not the right time or place to discuss it further or the person is not open to  what I have to say. I have come to realize that I  gain nothing by making the other person feel foolish even if I am "right".