Preview of Manner Monday: Words to Live By

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Preview of Manner Monday: Words to Live By

I think it’s pretty safe to say that to get respect, you have to give respect.  Giving and showing respect can be as simple as choosing the right words.  When you’re out and about this week, take note of not only the words you choose, but also the ones chosen by those you interact with, whether it is in a customer service setting, a professional exchange, or a chat with friends.  I bet you’ll be surprised.


‘Please’ goes a long way when making a request!

  • “Hand me the pencil.”
  • “Will you hand me the pencil?”
  • “Will you please hand me the pencil?”

You’re Welcome

When someone says, ‘thank-you’, the proper response is “you are welcome” or “my pleasure” (as Chick-fil-A has perfected).  So often you hear the response, “no problem”, which implies that what the person just did for you could have been an imposition or caused you trouble.

‘Yes’, ‘No’

Enunciate and speak clearly with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.  Not ‘yeah’, ‘yep’, ‘nope’ or ‘nah’.

‘Excuse Me’ and ‘Pardon Me’

These are great multipurpose phrases.

‘Excuse Me’ can be used to ask ‘forgiveness’, to politely announce to someone that you need to ‘pass by’ or ‘squeeze through’, or to leave an area.  ‘Excuse Me’ can be used on numerous occasions such as:

  • when you accidentally bump into someone.  Immediately make eye contact, offer a sincere smile and a genuine ‘excuse me’ to the person you bumped.
  • a polite way to exit the dinner table during a meal. 

‘Pardon Me’ is a polite way of asking someone to repeat what they just said, or asking for someone’s attention.  It’s also a polite way to disagree with someone; “’pardon me’, but I think you’ve misunderstood what I said.”

When using the phrase as a way to ask someone to repeat themselves, refrain from using the slang version ‘do what?’  For someone not familiar with the term, they’re left scratching their head wondering ‘what’ not to ‘do’?

‘Hello’ and ‘Good-bye’

Wassup?  What’s up?  Yo?!  When greeting someone on the phone, don’t start ‘just talking’, even with caller id, the technology may have failed and the caller does not know it’s ‘you’.

Always remember to say ‘good-bye’, or ‘have a great day’.  Just as you say good-bye or ‘see you later’ when speaking to someone face-to-face; when talking on the phone, don’t forget to say something to signal the end of the conversation.  Don’t just hang up abruptly.

‘Thank you’

We’re such a multicultural society, we find ourselves interacting daily with people from other countries.  Take the effort to learn to say ‘Thank you’ in a new language to someone you interact with this week.  The effort extended will be well worth it when you see the smile on the other persons face!

When someone does something for you – don’t forget to make eye contact and say to him or her ‘thank-you’.  Acknowledging a kind deed is the right thing to do.

Here are a few to help you get started:

  • Spasiba:  Russian
  • Mauliate:  Philippino
  • Sagol:  Turkish/Cyprus
  • Grazzi:  Maltese
  • Dank schön:  German
  • Merci beaucoup:  French
  • Cheers:  England
  • Tusen Takk:  Norwegian


Speaking and enunciating clearly is an easy way to extend respect to others, and people gravitate towards those who are respectful.

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CareySue Vega

Carey Sue Vega is a business and youth etiquette expert. For ten years, she honed her skills with an international audience as Cruise Director for the Norwegian Cruise Line. Vega has been featured in numerous radio and television shows and magazine articles, sharing her etiquette expertise.  She’s also social savvy with social media. Connect with CareySue.


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