It was thick with beads of sweat hanging off of it, but not too many. The thickness was of ravishing buffalo or cattle that could not escape. The red, wagon wheel and limp, transparent accessories were smashed together with oozing yellow, red, white, and orange all over—a mess of tangy, tongue, tantalizing sauciness—or with the perception of a visual artist, a delightful smattering of mixed colors like paint. A side of salty, soft sticks, still not touched were splattered with red, indicating their fate. 1500 or 2500 is about what it registers, and at the register shift the decimal—food for the palette for the mere price of $2.50.
What a great expense it is, to a person with more beads, not being able to escape the messy tongues and sauciness of the workers who splatter red upon one’s reputation, with thousands influenced, and at such a cheap price.
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Scene 1: In a conversation at work and there is another bomb being flung. Take smoking out of the workplace, and you still have the toxicity of profanity and gossip. Well it’s overtime to clean that up, but how, if the people in the workplace don’t find it important? Taking a quick look and checking the watch for the 4th time this hour, Sally still has not arrived at work or called to say she is going to be late. It may be because all last week the latest careless catch phrase was about her, and although it violated HR policies, no one seemed to care. Most people are hiding in their office and prefer to text interoffice rather than say hello and as a result team spirit is at its usual all-time low because no one knows each other, let alone cares to know each other. Cliques are common between small groups of 2-3 people and for associations that is about it. Co-workers love to talk. It’s safer to be an outsider. It shows potential for management or something…
Scene 2: A customer walks into a business, “What a lovely day it is, maybe I will buy something.” Entering the store, she passes by an employee, and is ready to flash a quick smile hello, but then is puzzled by the insulting, sarcastic greeting which was said addressed to her. Ignoring it at first, what was said sets in and her eyes open wide in concern as it was about her. She continues through the store, grabs the items she came in for, and heads to the register. As she waits in line, the cashier is overheard spreading gossip to the person in front of her while checking out. Now, next in line, the cashier greets her with the standard, “How are you today?” The truth is, the sunshine has fallen considerably since she entered the store and now she is being attacked again at the register. Is the store really paying this employee?Are they this oblivious that this employee has their own agenda fed by the community to slander an individual? And to make matters worse, it is one of their customers? How on earth does this support the business? What would the CEO say? After filling out countless receipts at this store and other businesses, obviously the managers do not see it as a concern. These employees still manage to keep their jobs, while creating a discrimination issue that has caused significant loss not just with being publicly humiliated, but with her own employment search, and in many other facets of life including housing. Having communicated this to several, it seems to have no impact.
Scene 3: “Praise God!” Isn’t that what church is about? Now it is like walking on eggshells. Going into any church, any verbal hate bombs can be heard at any time by random people, entire rows of people, those who strategically choose to intentionally sit right behind where you are, those serving, and leaders. Within an entire area of church communities and religions this hate, gossip and name-calling has become acceptable—and shunning for good values, not even bad ones. Is this the new trend for Church… Suddenly, the ‘Body of Christ’ takes on an entire different meaning. Since when was going to church about chanting sexual loyalty and requirements rather than about worshiping God? All parts of the Body of Christ [people] are important as part of the body although different. While there is a degree of acceptance within church communities, you have to think what people are really coming for and who is reading and living it and who is whipping it out differently with other agendas. Looking at the cross, it was the same for Him wasn’t it? People don’t seem to have changed much in 2000 years.
Scene 4: “Whahahahahahahahha”, she twirls around the pencil in her hand as she debates her next hurl of words with the next guest, disposing unwanted information. With the front desk as her stage to be able to say anything, the books are a back seat for horror and murder. The fellow co-worker shelves it as a means to pass the time. They should be booked but for some reason this is the way customer service even at local libraries is now-a-days and is acceptable to stay employed.
Scene 5: “Well good morning!”, greeting the co-worker with a big smile. “Thank you for letting me know the editorial is running a little bit behind schedule so we can plan to adjust the workload to meet deadlines. This will affect everyone on the team and I know they will all appreciate the update.”
“Does anyone want to go to lunch today? I think we should celebrate that we were able to get that last project out the door despite all the hurdles and it turned out great too!”.
“We will be sure to copy everyone who needs to be included on this project.”
“I am happy to assist you today. Please take your time and let me know if you have any questions.”
“Yes, ma’am. Thank you for shopping here today. We look forward to seeing you again soon!”
The company’s mission and motto are priority but politeness, consideration, and respect makes the team successful. Everyone is a winner because each brings unique skills to the table to contribute with. As a result, customers enjoy the business, and it breeds loyalty naturally as a good business, simply because it doesn’t foster gossip but is one that radiates positivity and customer service.
No one knows the experience of a service or product better than the buyer who just purchased. Today it is common to allow the customer the option to fill out a follow-up survey after a purchase. Business may offer an incentive to customers if they provide feedback. While businesses receive all kinds of feedback, negative feedback can be the most valuable to a business. Rather than seeing this as an attack, they can use this information to improve their business. It can bring to the forefront problems they were unaware of that need to be addressed which can identify destructive factors or help increase revenue.
Customer feedback is shared online, through email, telephone, and on forums. It is important to respond to feedback and especially negative feedback as soon as possible. Customers need to know they are heard. Generally, those customers who are submitting feedback ‘offstage’, through email or phone, are seeking the chance to vent, are searching for answers, and want resolution. Those submitting comments ‘on-stage’ are wanting to also be heard, but are looking for an audience to share their complaint publicly to. Responding with a short reply of empathy and assurance followed by an offer to further discuss by phone, is the best way to handle onstage communicators. By taking these public posts offline with a phone call, businesses can further address an issue and handle concerns.
While most corporate level representatives provide customer service placing value on the customer, such is not the case in many retail environments. Retail employees have brought the culture of ‘me-ism’ to the workspace. Rather than fostering a basic level of respect, gossip spreading about customers and insults to customers are common. Bending over for the customer is unheard of most of the time. Repeat customers who should be valued are shunned with propaganda fed in by people outside the business. If approached about this, associates deny what was just said. Ethics standards are not upheld by managers. The employees stay employed with very little correction.
One has to think what is really being marketed. Why do customers not see this as tarnish to the reputation of the business doing this? Who would want to continue to shop at a store where employees are rumor and gossip hounds trying to gain popularity for their store by damaging the reputation of someone? This should be discouraged. It adds to the digression of our culture, affects business standards, besides just not being kind. Are there really this many ill-informed minds in retail? Yes. Without correcting it, it will worsen. The best solution is to fire these types and have stronger management.
If management is unethical and allows unethical practices, the business will be unethical in all kinds of matters. It may yield short term success, but is guaranteed failure over time. It is overdue that corporate gets involved in cleaning up the politeness and respectfulness in stores by enforcing it. Without valued customers, the business would not exist. Although retail stores may not offer the big bucks, most pay high enough to expect politeness and appropriateness from employees. After all, it is a job, not an inconvenience to the employee to be employed and receive a check.
If retail employees may be bored and feel the need to gossip, then give them more work. If they are angry at their position, then reiterate that this is what they agreed to, or the door. Managers need to be more firm with employees who are destructing their front line. There are plenty of people ready to replace them. By hiring more polite, trained, part-time employees as backup to replace them, quality can exist and the trash taken out. Regardless, clean up is needed. There is a lack of accountability that exists from keeping employees who are impolite and damaging to the business. Training programs on customers service are built into many businesses, but if they aren’t enforced, they are useless. Being able to hire employees who truly believe in the value of customer service, is hard to accurately screen for, but managers should be able to identify if an employee is using their position in a damaging way. Those who place business matters first, are of value to the company and help build business with happy customers.
This applies to those in corporate environments as well. There is a need to enforce a greater level of respect in any workplace. A culture of kindness and respectfulness breeds a positive work environment, higher productivity, and business success. Letting rudeness become the standard should be frowned upon. It is everyone’s business to clean this up, not necessarily all the time through verbal correction, but through example. Each person is in essence their own business too. If we all maintained our business at a higher standard, what a better place it would be for everyone.
Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.” —Emily Post
Culture and Kindness Through the Ages
Learning rules for etiquette and how to be kind usually come from our parents. The word ‘etiquette’ and rules for etiquette were first established within the French royal court between 1600-1700. Etiquette has since manifested to the unwritten rules for etiquette which we have today. Some of these still are in place, while overall etiquette, in many ways, has become much less formal.
How far does society go before it is realized that offensive words and actions really are inappropriate? Tolerability becomes acceptance and then acceptance becomes the standard. Eventually, the standard becomes engrained in culture, far removed from the initial level of what was acceptable. “Is acceptable now” and “was acceptable before”, if compared side by side would make the differences between the two more obvious—so much so that we might even instantly correct ourselves. It is not often this is reflected on. Perhaps looking at the masters of politeness, today’s experts on manners and respect, can serve as new-found consciences to help hone in on etiquette practices which have fallen away and are relevant to today’s culture. Today’s speech and actions may seem preferred because they are casual and candid, but the truth is, they are often times more damaging and unkind. There is a digression of culture in respectfulness toward one another that has been caused as a result of this.
The understanding of common etiquette has been contributed to by many world cultures over the course of human existence. As far back as 2400 BC, the Egyptians had rules written in a book including how to interact with superiors. Small polite phrases such as “Bless you” originated as early as 590 AD when Pope Gregory ordered that each person who sneezes be blessed, because of the Plague. In 1290 AD, a Milanese monk, named Bonvicino da Riv, wrote a book called, Fifty Courtesies of the Table, which covered manners at the table while eating. Many of these same manners we follow even today such as eating with a closed mouth, not picking your teeth, and turn your head when coughing and sneezing.
Establishing practices for good manners and politeness was even more in place in France at the time of King Louis XIV. In the 1600s, at Versailles, King Louis XIV’s gardener was working in the garden. The garden has signs in place to indicate where not to walk as he was working. These signs were called ‘etiquette’ in French, or ‘place cards’. Despite having these signs in place, the aristocrats walked where they pleased. King Louis XIV ordered that the etiquette boundaries must be observed. Following this, the word ‘etiquette’ became the phrase for boundaries within the court.
Wisdom can be found from lessons of etiquette and manners formed over the course of history. Practicing good etiquette is always the best policy for kindness, politeness, and respectfulness, which improves the culture of society. When speaking, here are a few easy suggestions to remember for practicing good etiquette:
• Speak softly • Always answer when someone speaks to you • Remember to use “Excuse me”, “Please”, and “Thank you” • Be sincere in giving and receiving compliments • Respect the personal space and beliefs of the other person • Realize the human dignity of all people and be respectful
Q: I am concerned about a stranger, and want to help, but I am not sure of the best way to approach the person to find out how I can help. What do you suggest?
A: There is a difference between prying and sincerely wanting to get involved to express concern and help someone. First, start with a basic question. Listen and watch for indications of how the person is reacting as you converse. If the person is open to the way the conversation is progressing, continue with further investigation asking more specific questions. If the person becomes hostile or abrupt, then back out of the discussion and change the topic. You can try to come back to test the waters again later if the person seems more receptive. It is always a good idea to be sincere and warm in your approach. People can usually tell if you are being nosy or if you truly care. Once you are able to determine what the situation is, express compassion and ask politely how you can help. It is kind and thoughtful to follow up later if you are able to.
Q: What is the proper way to confront gossip?
A: While confrontation is typically not recommended, when it comes to gossip it is best to confront the gossiper and address it. By ignoring and not addressing it, the gossip being said results in being represented as being truth.
Q: How do you politely ask someone to stop swearing or using inappropriate references?
A: Ask the person to please stop using language around you. Tell them that the references being made are highly offensive and inappropriate.
Q: What is the best way to address emotional relationship issues?
A: Emotional relationship questions and conversations can be delicate situations. Follow the rule of 3 C’s. Current, Concise, and Continuity. Focus on what is current, not the past. Be concise. State a continuity plan of what you would like to see moving forward. Plan for a quiet place to have a private conversation and be honest, welcoming open communication. Always ask questions with kindness and respect.
Q: How do you effectively ask someone to stop gossiping or spreading rumors?
A: If a person is igniting gossip, there is usually something missing within that individual, such as a lack of self-esteem or a desire for popularity. Try to compliment the person and build them up, countering their negativity. Ask the person to stop, explaining how the gossip is damaging and not appropriate.
Q: How can a person communicate with the highest level of dignity to a person?
A: The best way to communicate to someone with the highest level of dignity and worth is speaking directly to the person with sincerity, respect, and value.
Q: Is there a checklist of questions I can routinely ask myself to make sure I am being kind to myself?
A: No matter what your state in life is, there is a responsibility to take time to care for yourself. Being kind to yourself means fulfilling your basic needs, as is necessary to human existence, and making time for yourself. Think of how you can rejuvenate your energy and spirit. Take time for yourself by treating yourself, taking a break, making time for a nap, relaxing, spending quiet time in meditation, or doing something you enjoy. Taking care of yourself on a regular basis makes being kind to others easier.
Q: How does a person state a complaint about something which is offensively affecting others?
A: The kindest and most polite way to address this is to start with a comment addressing the oblivion, stating what the offense is resulting in, followed by the request. For example, a person may be wearing a strong scent. Rather than responding with a rhetoric statement or dramatic remark, you could say, “I don’t know if you realize how strong that scent is—you might consider using it more sparingly.” or “There have been some complaints from people who are having a reaction to that—and I’d appreciate if you’d cut back.”
Q: I am not in agreement with how someone believes. I feel strongly about this and want to say something. Normally, I blurt my opinion out unsolicited. How can I state what is on my mind in a more kind manner?
A: It is considered impolite to tell people “You should do…”. No one has the right to tell someone how to live their life. The best way to state your opinion, or complaint, is to first state what does work and then follow by saying what doesn’t work. This is considered constructive criticism. Invite open discussion if you are able to. This is the most kind and considerate way to address personal and professional matters of differing opinion.
Q: What is the correct way to respond to a rude statement?
A: Treating offenses as accidents, rather than offenses, shows you believe the best in a person. It is a polite way to give the offender a way to back down. Politeness usually has a higher success rate than responding to rudely to rudeness.
Q: Is it polite to give advice to someone even if it is for improvement?
A: In most cases, no. However, if the advice is welcome from someone who you are already close to, then it should be done with humility and with tactfulness.
Q: How do you respond to let someone know that a question is not welcomed?
A: Respond to unwelcome questions by thanking the person and then stating an appreciation that they asked, without satisfying them with an answer. For example, you could say: “Thank you, I know you mean well.” or “Thank you for taking an interest.”. Another way to respond is with an irrelevant reply. A long pause before responding to indicate disapproval is also a way to responsd. These responses should suffice to indicate that the question is not welcomed. Keep in mind that there is no need to humiliate the person for being nosy. However, it is not out of line to state that they should have more consideration in the future from asking such an invasive question.
Q: I am often asked questions which I do not know how to respond to based on the circumstances. Do you have any suggestions?
A: Try non-verbal responses such as raising your eyebrows or giving a mysterious look or smile.
Q: When a conversation is beginning to turn into gossip, what is a way to stop this?
A: Two replies you can say to counter gossip are: “Does that person know you are telling me this? Because we are good friends and I wouldn’t want to have that person think I am talking behind their back.” or “Please do not put any ideas about that person in my head. I will not carry around a conclusion about another person without sharing it with them.”
Q: What recommendations are there to responding to anger with kindness?
A: Giving a person or yourself time and space to cool down, is an effective and kind response to anger.
Q: I have noticed that people have differing views on privacy of others. How can there be more sensitivity to the kindness of privacy of human lives and relationships?
A: It is not just unkind, but extremely rude to intrude on another person’s privacy. Privacy comes in many forms. Having individual privacy or privacy within relationships is a necessary part of life. Intruding on this ruins intrinsic joys, and the very essence of the human spirit. Examples of privacy could be a new friendship, a couple kissing, buying a present for someone, having a conversation with a family member, praying, being creative, writing, expressing love for another, or other personal moments in a person’s life. Responding with sensitivity to these private moments means averting the eyes, asking permission before taking the liberty to join in, and declining to trespass given the opportunity. When noticing someone violating the privacy of another, be sensitive to this by encouraging them to kindly stop out of respect for the other person.