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Mother’s Day is quickly approaching! As a busy mom, Mother’s Day can sneak up on you with the chaos of end of the year school activities, home projects, and travel plans. Moms have a heart of gold and do not have expectations of presents, but we still love the gesture of gifting to make the day special and show our appreciation for everything she does for the family.

“We read a lot of articles and books about how to get through the engagement process, but no one ever talked to us about what it would be like the first year of our marriage. I wish we had known what to expect,” said one of the couples my husband and I mentor. This is a common comment, and if you find yourself having similar feelings, do not fret! You are not alone. The first year of marriage is fabulous, but it can also be difficult. Two people learning to become one does not happen overnight.

We all like to think we have good manners in marriage, but with the people that are closest to us, we can sometimes find ourselves slipping a bit. As stated by Cindy Grosso of the Charleston School of Protocol, manners are not about a bunch of rules. Manners are the outward manifestation of the condition of our heart. If we have a heart that loves, honors, respects, and cherishes our spouse, then these traits will show in how we behave.

Society is opening and people are resuming long overdue vacations. This is great news! I recently posted some tips on making your travels successful, but let’s focus on dos and don’ts of traveling with friends.

 

1. Boundaries: When traveling with others, set guidelines, boundaries, and expectations before leaving town. If you know you and your husband want one night to yourselves, express this up front. If a quiet breakfast in bed is necessary to start your day, see if this fits with the group’s schedule. 

The world is opening, and it is time to celebrate! One of the first things people are doing as they exercise their recaptured freedom is heading out of town to new destinations. I thought a few refresher tips on travel might be good for all of us.

Walking into the room, my husband pauses in front of the TV. Turning to me with a spoiler alert about my favorite Hallmark movie he says, “Hey Lisa…they get married.” And you know what? He’s right! The girl found her prince charming, and the couple has a happy ending, every time.

How many mornings have we left home in a state of utter chaos? Breakfast was late, children were crying, and we hurriedly throw on clothes from the night before only to realize how wrinkled we look. This mad dash makes for an unpleasant parting from our family and it is usually caused by a disorganized approach to our routine. So much of the bedlam we experience at the beginning of the day can be avoided if we are willing to implement a few tasks the night before.

The mamor (mother-in-law) and damor (daughter-in-law) relationship is meant to be beautiful and strong. In parts 1 and 2 of our series we learned why women in these roles might have certain feelings in their new family dynamics. Once we learned the “why” we then explored practical steps we can take to strengthen these special bonds. As we bring our series to a close, I want to impart some words of wisdom we all need to hear, and be reminded of, to ensure we create a healthy, life-long bond between the mamor/damor.

In part one of our series on the mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship we learned why the women who find themselves in these roles often experience emotions ranging from pure joy to hurt and sadness. Once we discovered the answers, our understanding of this special relationship came into focus. We had an “aha” moment which makes our path forward easier to navigate.

Do you remember the movie Monster-in-Law? It starred Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda in a romantic comedy centered around the tumultuous relationship between a bride and her future mother-in-law. If you have not seen it, you should. It will keep you laughing but, sadly, may hit closer to home than you would like to admit.

As Texas plunged into single digits with multiple days of a windchill below freezing, millions found themselves stranded with no power or water. Living along the Gulf Coast we have weathered hurricanes and endured power outages for much longer periods, but somehow this seemed different. Maybe for those of us close to the shoreline it was the unusual sight of snow we experienced as opposed to the natural disasters we usually face that arrive with rain, wind, and sweltering heat.

Our son and daughter (in law) were finally able to take a long-overdue honeymoon to St. Lucia in December. Cecelia interned one summer for a travel agent so naturally called the company to book their trip. What an incredible experience they had, and I was reminded WHY using a travel agent is worth the expense. Fees range depending on the service, but most charge between $300-350 to plan a vacation somewhere in the Caribbean Islands. 

Q: I will be a new mom soon, and I have been preparing for life “after” a newborn. There is a lot of information on raising babies, and how dads can support mom, but I cannot find much on how moms can support dads. A lot of my mental preparation has been around my marriage. Specific questions: How do I preserve my marriage? How do we embrace the changes? How do I maintain my husband as a priority when we have a tiny human demanding everything? How can I help my husband bond with our new child?

Want to set your children up for success? Then look no further than the habits of successful people you know, whether that be in the corporate world, media, or within your own circle of friends. Experts agree that there are certain common traits all successful people possess. This is great news because it means we can emulate those leaders that have come before us. 

Many of us grew up learning multitasking was a hallmark of a productive person. While sounding good in theory, this practice has proven to be incorrect. Studies now reveal that multitasking is nothing more than switching back and forth between tasks and it lowers our productivity. Below are 5 points that deal with the facts behind project hopping and the lack of performance that occurs when we allow seemingly innocuous interruptions to occur in daily life.

  • Lisa Lou

Create Small Talk Like A Pro

Updated: Aug 25, 2020



“I don’t know what to say when I enter a room full of strangers!” I encounter this fear often when mentoring other women (and men!). Knowing how to engage in small talk is an essential tool we need to increase our social knowledge. Being able to engage others will instill confidence enabling us to thrive in all social situations. But before we learn these tricks, we need to change our psychology.

1. Realize others in the room feel the same way you do. Instead of making yourself the focal point of your internal feelings, turn those feelings around and say, “Today, I am going to rescue someone at this party.” Look at each guest and tell yourself you are the only person who can save them from feeling awkward and alone. Find someone standing by themselves and introduce yourself. Usually you will see a sigh of relief in their body language that screams, “I am so glad someone came over to talk to me!”

2. Some people advise to “keep things light” when speaking with someone for the first time. I do not always agree. When I converse with someone that is “small talking” me with shallow stories and information, my immediate reaction when they leave is, “That was a waste of time.” Studies show people prefer deeper conversations that are rewarding. I am not suggesting you dive into your solution for the world’s nuclear crisis. I am suggesting you put on your counseling hat and say, “Tonight, I am going to help someone by providing a much-needed referral for a job.” Or, “Tonight, I am going to help someone make a connection within my sphere of contacts that they might not have access to.”

3. People love to talk about themselves, so ask questions. By being the instigator in the conversation, this also takes the spotlight off you. Open ended questions work best, because the other person cannot give you one-word answers. Instead of asking, “Did you enjoy the movie you saw last night?” Say, “What did you enjoy most about the movie last night?” The first question will give you a one-word answer. The second question requires the response to become a discussion. My favorite conversation starter with someone I do not know is, “Tell me a little about yourself.” This has endless possibilities and allows the person you are speaking with to take the conversation in any direction they wish.



4. Find common ground to start your discussion. If you are both at the same social gathering, then you obviously each know the hostess. Your first question might be, “How do you know Suzy?” The answer to this simple question will provide you with enough follow up questions to successfully small talk your way to the next person. A normal progression for this type of conversation might look like this:

Person A: “How do you know Suzy?”

Person B: “We went to college together.”

Person A: “Oh, where did you attend school?”

Person B: “State University down the road.”

Person A: “I had several friends that attended school there. There was a favorite restaurant everyone went to called Spanky’s. My best friend, Kristi, worked there.

Person B: “I know Kristi! We became good friends because I always went to Spanky’s!”

5. People love to feel like an expert, so seek the expertise of the person you are engaging. Out of professional courtesy, I am not suggesting you ask the doctor you are speaking with to diagnose the pain in your leg. Rather, if you learn their children go to a nearby elementary school, you might say, “My husband and I have been considering that school for our children. Have you been pleased with your choice?” Or: “If we decide to send our children there, we will have to move into the area. What do you find are the pros and cons of the neighborhood?”

6. Use your body language to show you are interested. We have all been in conversations where the person is speaking TO us but not fully engaged IN us. They continue to glance around the room or take quick peaks at their phone. This inevitably makes the recipient feel undervalued as though they are a place holder until someone better comes along. When you speak with someone, make eye contact, and do not allow yourself to be distracted. Learning to listen effectively is a skill that needs to be mastered.



Here are some tried and true small talk questions that will give you confidence to enter any conversation:

1. What brought you to your current company?

2. If you know they have children, ask how old they are, where they are in school, etc.

3. Are you originally from (name the hometown where the party is being held)?

4. When you are not working, how do you like to spend your time?

5. What is the most enjoyable theatre performance you have attended?

6. Are there any books you have read recently you would recommend?

7. What is the best vacation you have taken? Why?

8. If you could only take one more vacation, where would you go?

9. Did you participate in any extracurricular activities in college?

10. And my favorite, “Tell me a little about yourself.”

Together with you,

Lisa Lou