Meetings made easy: Think before you talk

Etiquette column
Mar. 16, 2013 @ 05:19 PM

Fred and I are in San Francisco,California for a short vacation. We have visited the major attractions on our list that we wanted to see. One was a class at Tante Marie’s cooking school.

Our class has about 25 eager students. We’re here in March and on this particular day, it’s misting rain. A perfect time to be inside.

The chef who taught us is a whole recognized pastry expert. We quickly became fans of his. We’re not fans of some of his other students, however. One had a loud voice and continually interrupted during the class. She got on our every last nerve.

I’ll admit in this column, but not to Fred, that my hearing has deteriorated over the years – but not to the extent that this one participant needs to shout at that decibel.

I’ll call this person “Mrs. Blabber Mouth.” She suffers from explosive diarrhea-of-the-mouth disease. She acts entitled to take up our time and space with her loud chatter.

Repeating what the chef just said in a loud voice is annoying. Bragging about subjects that are common knowledge and taking up class time is, too.

The chef graciously had to repeatedly cut this person off.

Her lack of consideration for others and the disharmony it caused can be remedied.

“Staple her teeth together,” said Fred.

“No, that procedure is reserved for mothers-in-law and teenagers,” I replied.

I know a much easier way. All you have to do learn some appropriate manners, what some now call soft skills, and you’ll be good to go.

 Johns Hopkins Professor Dr. P. M. Forni states: “The traditional rules of manners, civility and politeness are a time-proven, very effective code of relational skills.”

Throughout his writings you read that good manners are the cornerstone of a successful, productive society.

It’s not difficult to learn how to be nice to other people in a group setting, a meeting or a class.

My tips include:

• Be aware of yourself and your actions.

• Think about the image you present.

• Listen to the tone and timber of your voice when you speak.

• Think before you open your mouth.

• Are you contributing to the class or are just running your mouth to hear yourself speak. 

• Call attention to yourself when you really have a meaningful contribution. 

As Dr. Forni further states: “As a general rule, better manners mean more harmonious relationships and thus an increased quality of life.”

Learning and practicing good manners will certainly help any meeting or class.


Monroe resident Jeanne Howell teaches etiquette to business and private groups. She can be reached at 704-221-1905 or at