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Today, where we see every form of fashion on our streets, the question of men and shorts still produces uncertainty among many. There is a reason for this that is embedded in our DNA, and to fully understand we need to explore a little history.

“What are the main table manners children should know?” A common question I am frequently asked. Yet I have a tough time narrowing my answer. I pick my top three, then a fourth pops into my mind. Then a fifth. We may not all attend black-tie events, but we do all eat. Your children will one day be placed in a situation where they need to skillfully know their way around a dining table.

As we approach Mother’s Day, I would like to take a special look at the precious women in our lives that hold the title of Mother-in-law. 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.

I recently asked a group of college students these questions showing them the same photos. I had them shout out adjectives for the pictures they were viewing. For the home I heard: beautiful; wealthy; cared for; loving family; a place I want to live. For the broken-down home they said: old; no curb appeal; I wouldn’t go near it; scary; unstable.

“Rules without reason equals rebellion.” -Cynthia Grosso, Charleston School of Protocol. This could be my motto! I have a stubborn streak that can serve me well, but when it gets me into trouble, I just blame it on my DNA. No matter the reason, I am not the best rule follower unless I know why a rule was created. 

Remove your hat! Don’t set it on the table! Never let someone see the lining! Women, keep your hat on! Women, take your hat off! Ahhh…..I’m so confused!!! The old rules of hat etiquette were so straight forward, and everyone knew what to do. A gentleman removing his hat inside a building was as second nature as brushing his teeth. In today’s changing society, there is much confusion about hat etiquette, for both men and women, so let’s solve this mystery by starting with the “why” of hat protocol.

Do you find your spouse often saying, “Are you listening to me?” Or maybe you feel your child is not being an active part of the dinner conversation. If this resonates with you, it might be time to brush up on the finer points of being a good listener, while teaching your family to do the same. Below are 11 tips to help you get back on track so you can start enjoying deeper and more meaningful communication with those you love.

“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” (Proverbs 19:11 ESV).

 

When I am tired and my mind does not seem to focus on a deep study of the Bible, I will flip to Proverbs to keep focused on God’s Word in a more simplistic way. Yet, every time I read this book, I walk away amazed at the power it brings and thankful for the renewal I feel. The verse I read today really resonated with me.

As a stay-at-home mom to 2 toddlers, a large part of my day is spent in the kitchen preparing food. Meal planning at the beginning of the week is essential to ensuring my family is well fed with home cooked nutrition (I give myself a break on the weekends)! If you get overwhelmed with meal planning like I used to, try these tips to sooth your soul:

As a wife and mother of two rambunctious toddlers, it is a challenge to get a home-cooked dinner on the table at a reasonable time. Pulling the children away from their toys, getting them seated at the table, cutting up their meal, blowing on food that is too hot, and calling my husband away from his work can be exhausting.

Sometimes you just need to re-post tips that were great to read. I find myself saying this quite often when it comes to The Gottman Institute. They are some of the leading relationship experts in our country, and the research they did on trustworthiness is very informative.

Meeting friends for dinner after work, grabbing coffee with your girlfriend or just ordering pizza on a Friday night with neighbors. We all have a deep desire to be connected in a world that often forgets the importance of relationships. Many of us have the desire to entertain, but we let our circumstances keep us from extending hospitality. Often it revolves around our lack of confidence in our ability to host events. I get this!

A perfect entertaining year for me would be hosting a different themed party each month! Will I do that? No. Will I dream about it? Yes! If I cannot have a party every 4 weeks, I can at least help my Lisa Lou family with ideas so hopefully a few of you can carry the torch of hospitality for the rest of us.

You are not allowed to complain about not getting something that you never asked for. Read that again.

You are not allowed to complain about not getting something that you never asked for.

You are not allowed to complain about not getting something that you never asked for. Read that again.

You are not allowed to complain about not getting something that you never asked for.

  • Lisa Lou

Create Small Talk Like A Pro

Updated: Oct 29, 2021



“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 a person 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 one of these guests by providing a much-needed referral for a job.” Or, “Tonight, I am going to help one person 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 you saw?” 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 the most obvious point of connection is you 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 WITH 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