WTF: Text Etiquette Arrives!

ae_wtfThere’s a proper way to text. Local Shelly Seeger shows people how
LOL. OMG. WTF? Gd 2 C U! OMG is right. These dreadful ways of texting have become the norm for many respectable adults who   have taken on teenager slang in their texting relationships. It’s embarrassing. And not just hideous text language, but unreturned texts, eating with your mouth open, not offering guests first dibs on the bread basket, business meeting snafus, taking cell phone calls in restaurants … the list goes on and on in terms of bad etiquette. And in a society where etiquette seems to have been displaced at the same time the Internet took over the world, it might be time for Americans to re-learn “modern etiquette.” These aren’t old-fashioned behaviors, but polite and considerate things to do when you’re eating, hosting, traveling, texting and so forth. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Making these simple lifestyle changes can feel empowering, give people a new sense of confidence and be fundamentally thoughtful gestures offered to other people.

That’s where local etiquette maestro, Shelly Seeger, of Modern Etiquette, comes in. The company, which she recently established with her husband, offers genuine etiquette lessons to people of all ages. It certainly arrives at the perfect time. When was the last time you saw children running around in a restaurant, a teenager licking his plate, your uncle eating and talking at the same time, a friend sawing away at their steak like the cow was still alive, a mother leaving her child’s food all over the floor at a guest’s house because she’s “just too busy,” to pick up the kid’s mess, or your BFF who never ever texts you back, or when she does, it’s with a caveman grunt, “yes.”

These are just a few of the samplings that the Seegers—and all of us—have seen over the years, and such behavior would be considered by most to be rude, and yet people get away with these social disorders because Americans are moving at a break-neck speed, making plans on their cell phones, working two jobs and so on. We’re busy people, so we don’t always think about the simple act of how we behave around others, how such actions can benefit ourselves, and how these gestures of courtesy can make a difference.

These are just some of the reasons why Seeger recently attended a bona fide etiquette school, the Etiquette Institute of Saint Louis, Mo., where she learned a wealth of knowledge and became a certified Etiquette Consultant. Some of the additional reasons why she does this work include, as mentioned in her press materials: “Feel comfortable and relaxed in any social situation; put others at ease through your thoughtful, gracious actions; gain the respect of your colleagues.”

Now, she’s offering a handful of enlightening classes that include: “Refined Diner,” a three-hour workshop, which includes an hour of instruction and a two-hour, five-course dinner at Shadowbrook. In this class, participants learn copious amounts of tips and techniques for imparting consideration to others while dining, and, at the same time, following etiquette. Some of the topics include use of the napkin; salt and pepper; conversation when you have food in your mouth; protocols for passing dishes; table manners; how to split a bill; what to do when some diners did not consume alcohol, and more.

Other classes include “Polite Child” which touches on topics including social skills, dining and entertaining; “Confident Teen,” which deals with subjects such as conversing and sending thank you notes; and, finally, “Astute Professional,” which deals with etiquette issues surrounding business people.

So, how about some tips from Ms. Manners herself, particularly on texting etiquette, which certainly needs attention these days. “Do keep it light and simple,” Seeger says. “No one wants to read long messages on a text device. No one wants to have an entire conversation with you by texting when you could just call him or her instead. The medium is meant for short and sweet, so keep it that way. Verizon Wireless states that anything over 160 characters should be an email or a call.”

She adds that regardless of whether you feel like it or not, respond to all text messages in a timely manner, and be aware of your tone. She also suggests, “Do spell correctly. Texting allows for some great cheat words, but overdoing it can lead to confusion and extreme annoyance.”

As for some don’ts: Don’t send a text when you are with someone else, Seeger says. She adds that you shouldn’t rely on text messaging to sustain a relationship. And finally, “don’t text message anything confidential, private, or potentially embarrassing.”

So what’s a person to do to become savvy with texting and etiquette in general? Of course, take a class in such things, but if that’s not an option, at the very least read up a little bit on the subject matter. There is a wealth of resources in books and online that can offer simple techniques to help you boost your confidence level. Or, simply, have a cup of tea with Seeger, and you’ll find that you’ll walk out of a meeting with her with better posture, a greater stride, and you might even offer some polite gestures to a passerby. And, of course, you’ll return your text messages and not sound like a teenager. Sounds GR8.

For more information about Modern Etiquette and Shelly Seeger, visit modern-etiquette.com or call 295-1192.

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