By Diane Gottsman
Growing up in today’s world can be challenging because the guidelines for girls are somewhat murky. In business, women and men are expected to be treated the same, but at home some girls are still taught that “boys stand and girls stay seated” when being introduced to others. They are also taught that there are “girl handshakes and boy handshakes” and the list goes on. I hope to dispel the confusion and get parents united.
Times have changed. Your daughters will one day be running the local bank, be active in politics, be a CEO of a Fortune 500 company or heal the sick. It is imperative to give her the social tools she will need to help her along the way.
1. Stand up for all introductions.
2. Boys and girls, woman and men, should all shake with the same grip. Not too weak and not too aggressive. Practice this with your daughter.
3. Dress with respect. Too tight, too low or too revealing sends the wrong message for girls and women at any age. This not only applies to teens but to younger girls, as well. Parents must use good judgment when buying clothing for their young daughters. Just because it is in the stores or in the magazines does not mean it is appropriate.
4. In the business world, men often see the word “No” as “Not right now.” Teach your daughter to say “No” and mean “No” – to drugs, to alcohol and anything else that goes against your value system.
5. Also, teach your daughter not to accept “No” as an answer. If she wants something in life and it is not available the first time, (think like a man) and continue to work for it, research, study and persevere. Don’t give up and don’t settle for less.
6. Select friends with like values. Parents can contribute to this effort by getting to know the parents and foster relationships with families that share your views.
7. Teach your daughter that she doesn’t have to be close friends with everyone, but she does have a responsibility to be respectful to everyone.
8. Avoid making an excuse to decline an invitation. Your daughter is not obligated to say yes to every invitation she receives. However, an RSVP requires a follow-up phone call and a request for a date requires an answer.
“Thank you for the invitation, but I am going to have to decline” is better than “Um, sorry I am out of town this weekend” and then the other person sees her out at the movies with her friends. Both are difficult, but one answer has integrity.
A few more etiquette reminders include:
• Be a good friend by not gossiping.
• Avoid using bad language, even if others are doing so.
• Verbally stand up for others if they are being wronged.
• Be attentive in class, church and at special events.
• Be a good sport – both when you lose and when you win.
• Be kind to siblings.
• Respect the views of others, even if they are different from your own.
• Avoid repeatedly correcting or criticizing others.
• Holding open the door for others if you get there first, even if it is a boy or man.
• Pay attention to how you speak. Replace “hafta” with “have to,” “doncha” with “don’t you,” “gonna” with “going to,” etc. Avoid saying “like” every other word.
These small steps are a few of the building blocks to what will become a lifetime of success and good character.
Diane Gottsman is an etiquette and protocol expert who leads programs for children and adults. She is the author of Pearls to Polish: An Etiquette Guide for Today’s Busy Woman.