Wednesday, October 14, 2009


There is nothing more challenging than going to a party alone and the only familiar face is that of the host’s cat that looks exactly like the one you had as a child.

Most people will know their host but that isn’t a guarantee that you’ll have someone to keep you company during the party. No decent host worth their cheese puffs would spend the whole time with one guest. So, how do you do, ‘How do you do?’ when you don’t know anyone?

First, go to the bar, get a drink and move around the room. Keep moving, don’t find a comfortable chair and own it for the rest of the party. If you catch someone’s eye, introduce yourself and whatever conversation follows, make it about them – “I love that color you’re wearing.” “You remind me of a friend of mine who comes from Boston, do you come from Boston by any chance?” Questions like these lead to conversations. Try and avoid the dull and common, “How do you know so and so?” This could be taken as, “How did you get invited here?” It can also be intrusive. What if a guest doesn’t want you to know that she and the host met at rehab? And whatever you do, don’t ask, “What you do?” What if they respond, “I sell copy paper?” Then what? It’s always much more interesting when you allow others to do the talking. It may never get around to what they do and that’s okay, you will have learned so much more.

Yvette loves art. If there’s one painting or photograph on the wall she’ll strike up a conversation with someone nearby and say something, “I like that painting.” She swears that it’s always a conversation starter. “Everyone likes to play critic,” Yvette said, “you’d be surprised how much people have to say.”

Go to the party and promise yourself a new friend, not as in girlfriend or boyfriend, just a new person. It’s usually the woman or man standing quietly away from the rest. Probably shy, they can usually turn out to be social treasures. They will most likely be smart, observant and ready for interesting conversation. And they’ll gladly come out of the corner with an offer of a drink at the bar or a promise of the best crab cakes on the other side of the room.

Once you’ve brought them into the fold, don’t turn your back on them. Introduce them and engage them in other conversations. You’ll be surprised, they weren’t the ‘losers’ of the party after all, they were the winners and now you’re one of them too.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


When we’re not feeling, all we want to do is feel better. We’re so busy minding our health, we forget about minding our manners.

H1N1, depending on with whom you’re talking, is coming our way with a vengeance along with the seasonal flu. Now, more than ever, is the time to go into germ control wherever you are, especially at your place of work.

If you’re climbing up the ladder, slow down during flu season. You won’t get high marks when you and your germs show up in the office, just cold stares from colleagues as you go about sneezing, coughing and touching everything in sight.

“I have to come to work, I have no more sick days,” is a common cry. Dip into vacation days, it may not be a day at the beach but at least if you take care of yourself, you’ll be around to take a vacation. (Excuse the scare technique; we’ve been watching a lot of cable television.)

If you don’t mind, we have some tips:

• When you get to the office, don’t go straight to the kitchen for coffee and dig into the donut box. The coveted donut is always at the bottom.

• If you use the microwave, ‘nuke’ the panel with a sanitizing wipe before and after.

• Before you pick up the phone, touch your mouse or keyboard - give everything a good wiping.

• Don’t play doctor see a doctor; if you’re working you must have some sort of insurance even if it does need reforming.

• Employers should encourage people to stay home if they’re sick and employees shouldn’t feign illness, not healthy for your karma.

• If someone extends their hand, don’t recoil in fear, shake and wash hands soon after, especially if it’s a client.

• Don’t fuel the discussion of flu shots with anymore misinformation. There's already plenty available.

Stay well! At least, try.