Etiquette Archives

Giving and Receiving Criticism

When a person gives us criticism, he usually wants to show us that we could have done or said things in a better way. Because of our pride, criticism is not easy for us to receive. There have been times in my life when I have been criticized, and…as hard as it was for me to take… I had to agree with my critic. I could have done things better, or I could have said something in a better way. There are times in all of our lives when we must give or receive criticism.

Here are a few guidelines to help you if you find yourself in one of those situations.

Guidelines for Giving Criticism

• Wait for your feelings and thoughts to be calm before speaking.
• Know your intent. Are you giving criticism because of your pride.
• Know your desired outcome.
• Don’t criticize the person, criticize his behavior. Behavior is something a person can change.
• Avoid sarcasm, and the words like “always”, “never” or “should.”
• Be prepared for a variety of responses.
• Remain open and flexible.
• Don’t apologize for confronting the person.
• Don’t forget to compliment the person that you are criticizing.

It is important for us to plan ways to receive criticism. If we do not prepare ourselves to receive criticism, we might allow our feelings to get out of control, distort our thinking, and say things we could regret.

Guidelines for Receiving Criticism

• Say, “I would like to think about this and discuss it with you later.” This will give you time to reorganize your thoughts and develop a godly response.
• Request more information by asking questions about the behavior you are being criticized.
• Agree with part or some of your critic. Just maybe… your critic could be right.
• Recognize that your critic has an opinion. Not everyone sees things the way you see them.
• Use a little humor.
• Take time to really listen and plan your responses before you speak..
• Establish and maintain eye contact.
• Encourage your critic to tell you exactly what they expect from you.

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Texas Place Setting


Proper Place Setting

1. Salad bowl 2.Napkin 3. Salad fork 4. Dinner fork 5. Dessert fork 6. Dinner plate
7. Knife (blade facing plate) 8. Teaspoon 9. Iced tea spoon 10. Coffee cup
11. Iced tea glass 12. Water glass

If you want to make your guests feel more comfortable, place dessert forks on individual dessert plates.

If you are not going to serve iced tea, skip placing ice tea spoon next to teaspoon.

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Great Information about Modesty and Dress

Dear Ladies,

Recently I came across this article that  is full of teaching  you could use in your churches to help your women and teen girls.  I have permission to reprint a small portion of the article, but I encourage you to go to his blog and read the full article


Written by Kevin L. Howard   

If you’re a mom, don’t underestimate your influence over your girls in the way they think about themselves and your boys in the way they think about women.  The father’s role is vital too.  If fathers start instilling the virtues of modesty while their children are young, then these same fathers might not fret as much when their sons and daughters blossom into teens.  If a man already has a teen daughter, he can hopefully still shape her outlook on her body.  He must show her love, but remain firm that she isn’t free to dress like a streetwalker.  And he can have the same positive influence on his sons, teaching them to respect women and to cherish sex as a gift of marriage. Train your children now while they’re young.  Teach them not just to dress modestly but to think modestly.  After all, modesty is a heart issue.

Tips on dressing modestly

Styles come and go, but class is always in fashion.  Keep skirts at knee level, and don’t wear tight shirts or jeans.  Exposed belly buttons, backs, underwear, and mid riffs aren’t appropriate in mixed company.  Choose pants that don’t have writing on the seat, or else you’re asking men to stare at your butt.

Jeramy Clark gives some practical tips for women to test their apparel before they leave the house.

“When bending over in a loose-fitting or scoop-neck blouse, always place your hand over the neckline.

“When wearing a button-down blouse, stand sideways and look at the buttonholes in a mirror.  If they spread too far apart or gape too much, you’ll expose your chest.  Pin between the buttons if you need to.

“For all blouses, be conscious about your bra showing.  Be especially careful with the armholes or straps of sleeveless blouses.  Just the sight of your undergarments can cause a guy to stumble.

“When wearing a dress or skirt, always stand in the light and check if you need a slip.  Even a lightweight black dress can reveal your silhouette (in other words, be see-through).  Your best bet is to always wear a slip.  And if you can’t find a slip short enough for your skirt, chances are your skirt is too short!

“When wearing a skirt or dress, always be conscious of the way you’re sitting.  You may think I don’t need to mention this obvious fact, but you’d be surprised how often girls fail to sit modestly.

“When wearing a skirt, be aware that changing positions will cause your skirt to bunch or pull.  Smooth your skirt down when you sit down or stand up.

 “When choosing a bra, remember that lace and seams will show through many tops.  Choose a seamless or smooth bra whenever possible.  (And remember, it’s almost pointless to wear a bra if the material of your blouse is too thin.  I don’t have to tell you what happens when you get cold.  Protect yourself with a thicker material.)

 “The best advice I could give you is to stand in front of a mirror before you go out.  Bend over, turn side to side, turn around, and check everything.  Be aware of what different kinds of clothing can reveal.

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Do Your Part to Make Your Church Friendly?

Today many people have given up on church because  when they do attend, they don’t see a genuine love and acceptance for visitors, new members, or even each other. 

Visitors come into our churches hoping to find love and acceptance, yet in many churches all they find is isolation and rejection.   Not one person  reaches out to them. Think of the difference you could make in someone’s life if you would just reach out and welcome that visitor or new member.

 Too often we leave the job of hospitality to the pastor, who is usually already overextended.   We walk into our church, sit on our same pew,  and talk to our same friends.  The excuse that many Christians make is that “even Jesus himself had a close, inner circle of friends. We just can’t get around to everyone.  Too many Christians seem to be drawn to those who are their friends and those who are like them.

What should we be doing?

  • Be friendly to visitors: “Welcome!  It’s so good to see you this morning.”
  • Be friendly to the poor and outcast. (Even if you don’t feel like it)
  • Be a friend to a visitor.  Invite him to lunch or to your house for coffee.
  • If someone comes in alone, sit with him and make him feel welcome.
  • Sit on a different pew and visit with a different member.
  • Avoid just visiting with your clique.
  • Request phone number of a visitor; send him a friendly text during the week.
  • Next church fellowship, sit with someone you don’t know.
  • After services, go up to someone you don’t know and talk to him.
  • Don’t make anyone feel like he doesn’t belong in your church.
  • Send an encouraging email or note to a member you didn’t see last Sunday.
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Marital Guidelines for Communicating

Marital Communication Principles

  • I am always communicating – even when I am silent.
  • I must allow my words and my nonverbal actions to communicate the same message.
  • I must make our home a loving home which offers the security my spouse needs in order for  my spouse to share  his/ her innermost thoughts.
  • I must not allow troublesome relationships outside my marriage interfere with communication.
  • I must maintain close physical contact, when I am seriously communicating with my spouse.
  • I must develop my listening skills and try not to interrupt my spouse when I communicate.
  • I will focus on the problem and will not attack my spouse when I communicate.
  • I will be responsible for initiating communication.
  • I will make sure what I say is true and endeavor to communicate it in love.
  • I will be aware of my tone of voice, my inflection and volume when I communicate.
  • I will endeavor to avoid nagging and complaining when I communicate.
  • I will endeavor to use kind words and be a source of my spouse’s happiness. 

Proverbs 12:18 There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.

 Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

Proverbs 18:13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.

Proverbs 25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.

 Lord, You know I want to communicate with my spouse in a kind and loving way.  Remind me of these principles as I communicate.  I realize that You are the only One who can help me communicate properly.    

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Teaching Manners to Your Children

If you study the meaning of the two words manners and etiquette, you will discover that the two words have completely different meanings.  Manners are the way people do things, the way they behave.  Etiquette, on the other hand, is more like a set of rules to govern polite behavior. 

A person may have perfect etiquette but have very poor manners. You might have heard someone say, “Boy, is that woman rude!” The woman might know all the correct rules of etiquette, but if she is rude and not kind to others, she has poor manners.

Etiquette is not just eating with the proper utensils or putting on an act in front of other people in order to impress them, it is displaying genuine kindness toward others. Good manners and proper etiquette is really just being kind and unselfish. It is treating others the way you would like to be treated.

Matthew 7:12 says, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”

A good manner to teach a child early is: Do not interrupt other people when they are speaking. One way to teach a child this principle:

If the parent is speaking, and the child wants to speak to him, the parent should instruct his child to touch his arm. The child’s touch on the parent’s arm signals the parent that the child wants to speak, and it signals the child that his parent will speak to him after he has finished his conversation.

If a parent fails to teach his child good manners at home, he should not expect that child to have good manners in public.

The greatest manner a parent can teach a child is treat everyone with respect and dignity. 

Many times parents teach a child a lesson when a various situation arises. If his child stares at a handicapped child, the parent says, “Don’t stare! It is not nice to stare!” It seems it might have been better to teach the child in advance. The following are a few manners that you might like to discuss with your children.

Manners when he walks on the street: 

  • Do not walk in groups so that you block others.
  • Do not stop to talk in the middle of a sidewalk. Step to the side to allow people to move around you.
  • Do not stare at or make fun of anyone, no matter how strange he may look.
  • Do not be a litterbug.
  • Do not mark on buildings or other public property.
  • If you bump into someone, say you are sorry.

Manners before he spends time in another person’s home:

  • Do not open a closed door until you have knocked and waited for permission to enter.
  • Do not go through anyone else’s belongings without asking his permission.
  • Do not read another person’s mail unless he asks you to read it.
  • Do not discuss the private affairs of your family with outsiders.
  • If you make a mess, offer to help clean up the mess.
  • If you spend the night with someone, make your bed and straighten up after yourself.
  • Be sure to say thank you for a meal or if he spends the night at his friend’s house.
  • Do not listen in on private conversations.
  • Do not whisper in front of another person.
  • Do not whine, tattletale, brag, or say mean things about others.
  • Do not ask personal questions like, “How much did that cost or how much do you weigh?”

Manners at the table:  Children do not learn proper table manners overnight. It takes years of repetition and training to teach them. Constant repetition and practice of good manners are the best teachers.  The best way to teach children good manners is by example. One of the benefits of families eating meals together is that it gives parents an opportunity to teach their children good table manners.

  • Even if you have a busy family, you should find times during the week to sit down with your family and enjoy meals together.
  • Use proper settings for table even for take-out meals.
  • Give young children the responsibility of setting the table. This is the best way to begin teaching them good table manners. Put place mats, napkins, silverware, plates, cups and bowls within the reach of your children so that children can easily reach the items to set the table.
  • For small children, buy dishes that do not break. If he drops a dish, it will not matter.
  • Demonstrate to children the proper place and use for each piece of utensil.
  • Demonstrate to children the correct way to hold their utensils.

If parents begin teaching manners to their toddlers, they will have a grasp on basic manners when they get older.

The following is a list of table manners that children should know: 

  • Wash hands and face before sitting down to the table.
  • Sit down in proper seats and put napkins in their laps.
  • Do not begin eating until everyone has sat down and been served.
  • Stay in seats without wiggling in chairs, going under the table, or getting up and down.
  • Say, “Excuse Me,” and ask permission to leave the table.
  • Do not put elbows on the table.
  • Keep mouths closed while chewing.
  • Do not put large pieces in mouths; pieces should be bite sized.
  • Never reach for any food that is not directly in front of you. Ask someone to pass it using the words, “May I please” and “Thank you”.
  • If you are passing food, do not help yourself first.
  • Participate in conversations during meals, but do not interrupt others when they are talking.
  • Do not make slurping, burping, squealing, singing, humming sounds at the table.
  • It is never kind or polite to make negative comments about the food.
  • When finished eating say, “May I please be excused?”
  • Thank the Cook.
  • If your food is too hot, wait for it to cool. Do not blow on it.
  • If you put food in your mouth that is too hot, do not spit it out. Reach for water and take a quick swallow.
  • Bring your food up to your mouth rather than bending over to reach it.

Manners for formal restaurants:

  • Do not be upset if you spill something. It happens all the time. The waiter will clean it up.
  • Do not pick up your silverware if you drop it on the floor. Ask the waiter to replace it for you.
  • Spread your napkin on your lap as soon as you sit down.
  • For different courses, use silverware farthest from your plate first.
  • Do not comb your hair at the table.
  • Never place handbag, glasses, or keys on the table.
  • Never blow your nose with your napkin.
  • Do not use a toothpick in public.
  • Avoid the tendency to mix your foods together.
  • Place used knife or fork on the plate not on the table.
  • Use the tip of a knife or a small piece of bread to push small pieces of food onto fork; never use your fingers for this job.
  • If you need to leave the table say, “May I be excused for a moment, please?” Fold your napkin and place on your chair until you return.  
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When I receive a thank-you note from a child, it makes me respect his parents even more for taking the time to teach that child to be thankful.   It is never too early to teach  a child to write a thank-you note.

For many years, my mother sent each of her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren a small monetary gift  in cards for their birthdays and in Christmas cards. Because the amounts were very small, none of the children bothered to send her thank-you notes. In my mother’s later years, she lost her sight, and she could no longer send those cards. I  recently was visiting with my mother,  and she shared with me that my granddaughter had sent her a Christmas card, and in that Christmas card, my granddaughter thanked my mother for all those years that she had sent her birthday and Christmas cards. That small expression of thankfulness from my my granddaughter was a real encouragement to my mother.

I read an illustration of a woman who received a sweater from her aunt. This woman failed to send her aunt a quick thank-you note as soon as she received the sweater. Since the woman was somewhat of a perfectionist and wanted to write a perfect note, she postponed writing it. As the weeks passed, she began to worry about how to word her late thank-you. She began to think, “What will my aunt think of me for not writing sooner?” By  postponing writing the thank-you note to her aunt, she felt guilty and dreaded writing it.

Writing thank-you notes  does not have to be difficult. Sometimes we put off writing them, because we do not know what to say. Our words do not need to sound formal,  but they should express our feelings of thankfulness.  Here are a few tips to remember when writing  a quick thank-you note.

• Keep a supply of paper, cards, postcards, and envelopes near your desk.

• Hand write thank-you notes unless your handwriting is illegible.

•  Send a thank-you to someone who does something nice for you such as treating you to a meal or taking you to the airport.

• Send thank-you notes within two weeks. Even if the note is late, always attempt to send one.

• Thank-you notes do not have to be long but they should be sincere, specific, concise, clear, and positive.

• Always mention the gift and your plan to use it.

• Teach children as soon as they can write to send thank-you notes for gifts.

Always send thank-you notes for wedding gifts. (Try to send within three months)

• If someone mails you a gift, mail a thank-you within two to three days. The sender will want to know that their gift arrived safely.

• If you receive flowers of condolences after a death, always send a thank-you.

• If you receive a birthday, Christmas, or shower gift, send a thank-you within two or three days.

• Send a thank-you to someone who helps, provides food, or gives you a gift during an illness.

• When you stay overnight in a home or a mission’s apartment, leave a thank-you note in the home or apartment before you leave.

• To thank good friends or close family members after you have stayed in their home or enjoyed a nice meal, you can give a thank-you phone call or email, but it is always good to send a card.

• Leave a small gift with a thank-you note if you stay with family or friends more than one night.

• Consider sending informal cyber thank-you cards with personal notes. Although if you receive a beautiful gift with a hand-written letter, do not send a quick e-mail; respond with a nice handwritten thank-you.

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What is True Beauty?

Have you ever listened to the complaints of women around you?  “I wish my stomach was smaller-my arms are flabby-my skin is blotchy-I hate my hair-look how wide my thighs are.” Many women today focus more on what is on the outside, than they focus on what is on the inside.

True beauty of a woman is not seen in her clothes, her figure, her make-up, or her hair. True beauty is reflected through her eyes and her smiles by the Holy Spirit.   Nate Dircks said, “Beauty is when you look into a woman’s eyes and see what is in her heart.”

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross said, “People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”

If you want that inner beauty to shine through your life, here are a few tips to remember:

  • Don’t entertain negative thoughts. Practice taking those thoughts captive. (II Corinthians 10:5) If a shameful memory from the past enters your mind, realize that it was placed there by the devil.  Mentally think, “You are not welcome here in my mind.” Take that thought and escort it out the back door of your mind.  Accept the fact that you are forgiven and refuse to allow your mind to dwell on that shameful thought again.
  • Take time during the day for quiet reflection on God’s Word.  Just five minutes a day of meditating and reflecting on God’s precepts will be enough to keep you feeling refreshed and spiritually alive.
  • Stop feeding your fears. Don’t let your inner voice tell you that the worst case scenario is just around the corner.  When you are placed in uncertain and uncomfortable situations, silence those inner voices that tell you to be fearful.
  • Surround yourself with things that help you think good thoughts.  Read inspirational books written by victorious Christians who share stories of hope, miracles, and victory.
  • Listen to uplifting Christian music.
  • Spend more time communicating with spiritual friends who encourage and support you.
  • Be a person who smiles and says hello to strangers. Brighten someone’s day with a card or flowers. The world has enough angry, bitter people in it.
  • Let someone else in front of you in line at the grocery store.
  • Do periodical random acts of kindness.
  • If you’re holding a grudge or grievance against someone, let it go. Write them a letter that expresses your hurt and frustration and then tear it up. It’s a way of physically releasing someone from their crime and spiritually freeing yourself from the burden of being angry at the same time. Take a moment afterwards to reflect on that person as a fallible human being just like you are— prone to make mistakes and in need of your grace. It will help you see him or her through the eyes of God.


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Important Communication Guidelines

There are times when we can get irritated with our friends, children, spouses, relatives, church members, or coworkers. When these irritations come, we can either resort to being nasty, rude, and abrasive, or we can endeavor to be gentle, courteous, and considerate. Here are a few guidelines to follow when you must communicate under stressful and irritating situations.

1. Be a good listener. Do not answer a person before he has stopped talking.
Proverbs 18:13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.

2. Think before you speak.
Proverbs 15:23 A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!

3. Do not use silence on a person to show your anger or frustration with him. Explain the reason that you are angry or frustrated.
Colossians 4:6 Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

4. Do not become involved in quarrels.
Proverbs 20:3 It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.

5. Do not respond in uncontrolled anger.
Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

6. When you are wrong, admit your offence and ask forgiveness.
Proverbs 20:6 Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?

7. When you do forgive someone, never bring the offence up to him again. Genuine forgiveness means: I won’t bring it up to that person again;I won’t bring it up to anyone else; and I won’t let my mind brood on it.
Colossians 3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

8. If someone verbally attacks, criticizes, or blames you, do not respond same way.
Romans 12:21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

9. Try to understand the other person’s opinion.
1 Peter 3:9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.

10. Do not blame or criticize the other person. Try to encourage and edify the other person.
Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.


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Ways To Be an Elegant Missionary Woman

  • Be spiritual. Have a quiet time with the Lord each morning.
  • Be disciplined in your mind and heart. Fill your mind with God’s Word, wholesome books, good poetry, and spiritual songs.
  • Be elegant in your dress. Wear clean, neat, yet simple clothing and accessories.  Make sure your shoes are clean and not scuffed.
  • Be conscious of your hair.  If you have long hair that gets in your face, wear it in a neat bun or ponytail.
  • Be careful to keep make-up looking natural. Do not wear bright blue or green eye shadow or anything that sparkles during the day.  If you use eyeliner, apply thin lines to upper and lower lashes, smudging along the lower so lines do not  look drawn on.
  • Be  conscious of your posture. Stand  straight  and do not  slouch. Do not cross your legs or  fold your arms.
  • Be on time for services and appointments to show others that you value their time.
  • Be generous with your smiles.  Your smile will encourage others to smile.
  • Be concerned about others.  Refrain talking about   only  yourself, your ministry, and your family.
  • Be careful not to praise yourself, but generously praise and encourage others.
  • Be careful to silence your phone when having a formal meal with someone.
  • Be kind to children and be attentive to them if  they are trying to talk to you.
  • Be kind to the elderly and offer a helping hand when you see that they have a need.
  • Be humble. Do not assume that you are so important that others should bow down to you and treat you like royalty.
  • Be appreciative when someone does something kind for you or gives you a gift.
  • Be a positive thinker. Thinking positive thoughts will  show on your face.
  • Be careful to leave mission apartments and other accommodations  as they were before you arrived.
  • Be conscious to remember people’s names and pronounce them correctly.
  • Be quick to apologize when you make mistakes.
  • Be attentive to people when they are shaking hands with you. It is offensive to shake someone’s  hand and talk to a different person at the same time.
  • Be careful not to stare or look down on others who are less fortunate than you.
  • Be careful not to be a snob and ask about a  person’s brand  or cost of clothing or shoes.
  • Be careful to treat salespeople with kindness even if they become pushy.
  • Be positive in your speech.
    • Do not use uncouth or full of slang speech.
    • Do not  speak with a “I know-it-all” or “I know better” attitude.
    • Do not interrupt  a person mid-sentence or try to guess his words before he finishes speaking.
    • If you enter a  conversation with a person who talks incessantly, try to relax and let him continue chattering while you keep quiet.
    • Be friendly and remain light-hearted in conversation. Do not pour out your sorrows, disappointments, and problems except  to close friends.
    • Be careful not to speak like your are a victim, no matter how many  trials you have experienced.
    • Be sensitive to the feelings of others. If you sense  that someone is embarrassed or uncomfortable, quickly change the subject.
    • Be careful not to exaggerate about the people you have known  and the places you have been.
    • Be careful not to criticize others if they do not have your same convictions.
    • Be careful to never laugh or make jokes at someone else’s expense.
    • Be gracious if someone is rude or insults  you,  just walk away.
    • Be careful not to take offense when offended.
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