Diner En Blanc…En Pittsburgh

Diner en Blanc Pgh

DEB Sparklers

A crowd of happy people, all dressed in white, converged on Gateway Center for a chic, pop-up BYO-picnic Friday night. The sole purpose of which was to create a unique evening in the city. There was a heady spirit of community at the fancy picnic, as well as a sense of elegance.

Diner en Blanc began in Paris in 1988 by François Pasquier, who invited a few of his friends one day in June. To find one another in the park, they all wore white. The dinner was such a success that they decided to repeat it the following year and the year after that. Over the years, the number of guests grew to 1,000-plus, and the trend spread to other cities.

Demetria and I jumped at the chance to be a part of this inaugural event, as it is after all, all about etiquette and protocol. Demetria was even asked to be one of the judges and selected the table setting that depicted Pittsburgh the best !

DEB D and me

Ashley and Steven Toth of Level Green PA took home high honors for their re-purposed centerpiece & elegant table setting.

I guess our enthusiasm for this event is layered…

  1. We love the longstanding history of Diner En Blanc, originating in Paris and popping up in major cities all around the globe.
  2. We love the formalness too. In our society where everything is so casual these days, it was fun to do something a bit more elegant.
  3. We love the fact that Pittsburgh was finally selected as a city to host the event !


A long-standing Diner en Blanc tradition is the waving of the napkins to show occupation of space and kick off dinner… well Pittsburgh has been practicing that with our Terrible Towels over the years, so the towel waving was purposeful and executed with perfection !


We had 1000 people this year…I say we try to double that for next year! (You can read more about the event on the Post Gazette.)

If you need any dining tips before then please feel free to contact Mother, May I today.

Thank you Jenny Altman, Crystal Vangura and Trisha Daniel for hosting the event and Bon apetit Pittsburgh!


Lisa and Demetria

Co-Founders Mother, May I – Etiquette Experts


Take Me Out to the Ball Game, I Promise to Play Nice…

I remember going to baseball games with my dad. I remember the pleasure in tasting a hotdog (before I became a pescatarian). I remember wishing to catch a foul ball. I remember people walking out to the bleachers in sleeveless shirts on a sunny afternoon. And I remember passionate fans following their favorite player. I remember people watching the game. Think about that!…Watching the game with no interference except for the promise of catching a foul ball. No one standing up in front of you to capture a selfie with the jumbotron in the background. Or endless photographers by the front row seats.

Today, going to a ballgame is a different experience. Today, you have to be more mindful of your surroundings. Today you must make an effort to be courteous of others attending from parking to tailgating. Here are some things Mother, May I suggests we should all practice when it comes to attending any sporting event:

  • Be mindful of where you park your car. Be sure you are not parking in an illegal spot for any reason.
  • Tailgating is a great opportunity to gear up for the game, but taunting the opposing fans or leaving trash behind shouldn’t be a part of the experience.
  • Helping those in need should always be a priority before getting to your seat. Assist others if they seem dazed and confused. Or if they need serious help, like the fans that helped save a mans life during a recent Pirates game.
  • Attending a stadium is a first time experience for many. Don’t push and shove others just to be the first to see the field.
  • Sit in your ticketed seat.
  • Be courteous to those sitting around you. Offensive language is never in style so refrain form using it, and don’t cross words with a foe.
  • Wait for the play to be over before excusing yourself to grab a hotdog.
  • Exit the stadium with manners, and your left over cups and wrappers.

Manners…just like baseball, are an important part of our heritage. People will follow good behavior, so be a champion of proper behavior!  Children will follow good sportsmanship. So no arguing, no pushing, or yelling…Just a good shout out from the umpire “your safe”!!!

Lets practice our best behavior this summer at all sporting events. Share with us your favorite sports memory on our Facebook page!

How Manners Start From the Ground Up!



In honor of Earth Day this week, I thought I would talk about where good manners started to grow. Some might view proper manners as a scene out of Downton Abbey Manners of Downton Abbey  . Well they actually have a different origin…though etiquette has been known since ancient times, it acquired its classic form in the Middle Ages. Most researchers dealing with history of culture attribute the appearance of etiquette as a regulatory system to those times… the “law” you might say, that was put in place to keep order. Etiquette had the character of the law and had a very strong influence on the high society. Violation of the rules of etiquette was regarded as a crime.

So fast forward to today…bad manners won’t land you in the stocks, but could deter your opportunities to get into the school you want, or get the job you desire. Learn more about Interview Etiquette here: College and Beyond with MMI

Some, feel manners are a lost art, but we say go to lost and found and find those manners, because good manners and professional behavior will find you avenues you may not have thought existed.

So we will start by discussing the “Family Table”…


What’s that you might say?   Well as the name suggests, it is your family sitting around the table for a meal…consistently. From personal experience, that’s where it was sketched into my head: “Put your napkin on your lap” “Don’t talk with your mouth full!” “What do you say when you leave the table…oh yes…May I be excused?   Well that table talk has lost its priority and has been all but eliminated for lots of reasons:  multiple households, many afterschool activities, forgetting the importance, and the list goes on.

Our suggestion is to find that Family Table…even if it is only once a week! Treat that time as a technology free zone and go through the details of manners at the table with your family. Help create small talk during the meal by having everyone discuss the best part of their day. Hopefully they will say…this meal!

The New York Times just published an article about our up and coming youth Make Way for Generation Z . Preparing kids with the best possible soft skills, like manners, will improve their opportunities as young adults!     Good manners as a kid, turns into a positive impression, which turns into personal and professional SUCCESS throughout their lives!


Mother May, I has contributed to a podcast on Tuesday, April 21st at 10AM EST.

Please tune in at Mom Talk Podcast Mother, May I and listen to some helpful hints for kids and young adults or click play below!

Let us know how you have created a Family Table. We would love to share your successes with our followers.

Thank you and Happy Earth Day…Grow something good today!

Lisa and Demetria

Co-Founders Mother, May I – Etiquette Experts

Don’t be Cross…Learn the art of Mannerly debate!




So… I am sure most of you have heard the old adage, “don’t discuss religion or politics”.

Why is that,  do you think? I think it is because people get so passionate about their point of view, it seems very possible that the discussion may turn to fist a cuffs. We have seen throughout history polarizing religious thought processes resulting in heartache and war. But in polite conversation, managing anger and frustration is hard…and so we resist it.

Conflict, actually, can be positive or negative, constructive or destructive, based on how we approach, engage and navigate the conflict.  Workplace Conflict Solving occurs when people express disagreement without hostility and with a commitment to an effective resolution of the conversation. But in this digital age where people can weigh in on any topic behind the comfort and security of their computer screen or mobile device…well the conversation can get unproductive. Take the reactions to Governor  Mike Pence signing Indiana’s controversial “religious freedom” legislation.  Indiana’s religious freedom law

Well here are some tips to help you have a constructive conversation about polarizing topics.

  • Active listening – do not dismiss an opinion just because it is not in-line with your own( link back to our Did you know tab under Do You Understand me)
  • Never demean or belittle intelligence or character of the person you are speaking with
  • Have a conversation, respecting other’s opinions…agreeing to disagree if necessary
  • Speak your opinion in a non-threatening manner – remember your tone can be polarizing

Many a friendship, family connection and career have been lost by handling this topic without grace and proper manners.

And for you bloggers out there…if you wouldn’t feel comfortable making your comment face to face, I would refrain from posting it. It is a poor reflection on you, that could come back to haunt you.

Hiding behind Computer

In the end, disagreements are healthy. In public discourse, there are difficult problems that do not have simple solutions. It is ok to have a conversation and ultimately to agree to disagree with someone. The key word being…Conversation!

We would like to start a conversation…Agree or Disagree, Is that the question?


Lisa & Demetria

Co-Founders Mother, May I – Etiquette Experts

Fools Rush In.. Is Rushed Communication Bad?

Elvis sang the song “Fools Rush In, which talks of the hastiness of love. The same could be said for the hastiness of people’s communication. April Fool’s Day was earlier this week so we thought we would offer some non-foolish tips about mindful ways to communicate.

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There are many ways that we communicate with our co-workers and peers these days: face to face, telephone, email, text, social media, and written communication.  How do you know which is the best to use? Well let Mother, May I offer up genuine instruction on how to make the mode of communication more mannerly!

  1. Find the best way to communicate… it is not enough to just communicate, you also need to understand the most effective way to communicate. It is presumptuous to assume just because you are a texter that the person you are communicating to is one also. We suggest to simply ask the person, particularly in business, what is their preferred mode of communication? That question will save time and frustration on both ends.
  2. Communicate the urgency… sometimes it is not always productive to be interrupting a workday project every time your electronic device or phone beckons. Managing interruptions at work. For example, there are highly successful executives that only read their emails 3 times a day to avoid distractions. So the urgency of the communication may dictate the communication method you choose.
  3. 1, 2 3 strikes you pick up the phone: Have you ever have an email thread that has gone completely off topic? Well knowing when an email has become misinterpreted and knowing what to do about it is important. A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found people could only correctly interpret the tone and mood of an email half the time. Our suggestion, if it is clear in the 1st, 2nd and now 3rd email, that there may be some confusion, pick up the phone and talk through the issue. Once you have clarified via phone, write a confirming email outlining the mutual understanding.
  4. You have 2 ears and 1 mouth…try using them in that ratio. Active listening is essential to mannerly communication. So even though you think you have something to contribute, bookmark it, and try listening fully to the person speaking instead of waiting for a breath so you can get your opinion heard. Your thoughtful patience, will be interpreted as sincerity, which is essential in building a better work relationship.

businessmen talking on a homemade can phone

Do you want more advice on how to maintain thoughtful communication? Contact us…we will make you a pro at productive communication!


Lisa and Demetria

Co-Founders – Mother, May I

Upgrading Your Manners…It Will Pay Off For You!


spring-forward (2)

So… with the start of Spring (finally!) we thought it might be a good opportunity to conduct some Spring Cleaning in manners department. A refresher on some important modern manners , well it’s perfect timing!

Spring is the time when the Mother Nature rejuvenates herself…so why shouldn’t we?! Let’s start clearing out those closets of misfit manners and Spring into acting and behaving in a more professional and mindful way. In the world of business, it’s not always what you do but how you do it. With one small gesture you can impress, insult, appear cultured and educated, or simply reduce your credibility .

Here are some mannerly actions that will increase your E.Q. (Etiquette Quotient), increasing your confidence and marketability in the world!

Be on time…

Be on time and prepared….what that means in business affairs is 10-15 minutes early and google some pertinent information about the event or speaker. What can happen if you arrive early?

  1. You may get some face time with decision makers, who are typically early.
  2. You can take the time to find the best positioning for you in the meeting space.
  3. You can offer to help – offering assistance may convey your ability to collaborate, which may differentiate you from your peers.

See what this professional hockey player’s lack of timeliness has cost him… Pro Hockey player suspended for lateness

Dining Do’s and Don’ts…

Master the art of dining. It is not about eating with your mouth open or belching at the table…though those infractions are important, there is a much deeper nuance to a business meal, particularly if you want to make the right impression  More than 65% of all business is conducted during a meal of some sort. So sorting out best practices is important. So ask yourself…

  1. When do I RSVP?
  2. Where do I put my napkin when I stand?
  3. How to order or should I order a bottle of wine?
  4. When do I start that business conversation?

Salt and pepper

Learn more about Dining Etiquette with MMI.


Mindful usage of electronic devices/electronic communication. Many an opportunity has been won or lost based on how we communicate. In this 4G world the lines have gotten more challenging to navigate. So knowing how and when to communicate is critical in maximizing success. Do you know how to communicate between the multitudes of generations in the workplace ? Here are some tips:

    1. Learning how a company or client prefers to communicate is the first thing. So ask how you should be communicating, you don’t want to be texting when picking up the phone would be more appropriate .
    2. Knowing when an email has become misinterpreted and knowing what to do about it.
    3. Respecting the people around you when using your electronic devices. It’s rare to talk to a person without your phone buzzing at least once. So who is most important? That person in front of you or your electronic device buzzing in your pocket?  Brain Interrupted   

Personal space in a public place…

Being mindful of your surroundings and personal space. I am amazed the amount of people who actually take phone calls in a public restroom or in a cubicle space amongst 20 other cubicle spaces.

  1. Remember to use your indoor voice when speaking on the phone or with other colleagues in a confined space.
  2. The office refrigerator should not be considered your personal space…it is communal so treat it that way by clearing out your contributions on a daily basis. Don’t take what is not yours or you may get this note in return.

refrig letter

Do you want more advice on how to improve your E.Q.? Contact us… we will make your Etiquette Spring Cleaning a more pleasurable and profitable task!

Lisa and Demetria

Co-Founders – Mother, May I

March for that Dream Job by Using Your Manners…

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In my wildest dreams, I never dreamt I would become an etiquette expert-however I have dreamt about being an entrepreneur and about being a mother. My dream job as a mother has not been easy… Nor has my dream job as an entrepreneur. What has helped me thrive, is believing that within my dreams are opportunities. Our dreams invite us to reach beyond our present goals. If you don’t like your present job, challenge yourself to reach for that dream job. It’s hard to change, and even though you might get the opportunity to interview for that job—something happens, and we don’t get that job.

Are you wondering why?

  1. Maybe you made the wrong impression when you walked into the room?
  2. Maybe you wore the wrong clothes?
  3. Maybe you did not answer the question the right way?
  4. Maybe you did not ask the right questions?
  5. Maybe you did not maintain good eye contact?
  6. Maybe you squirmed and fidgeted in your seat?
  7. Maybe you did not smile when you said goodbye?
  8. Maybe you did not send a written thank-you and instead sent an email.?

Well, thinking about all those may-be’s would give anyone a bad dream. Let Mother, May I wake you up and offer you the right advice to make that dream job a reality. MMI did a Business Etiquette program for the University Of AZ Eller College of Management:

A candidate was disappointed that they kept getting rejected interview after interview. Upon receiving a Certificate of Completion from MMI Business Etiquette Class, that student figured out what they needed to do to outclass others in getting that job.

Here are some etiquette words of advice to help you perform better as an interviewee:

  1. You don’t have to be a saint to make a positive difference in the world. Make time to volunteer and add volunteering to your resume.
  1. There is a reason actors have dress rehearsals. Take their cue, and be sure to practice your interview by making a video tape, in a mirror or in the presence of a friend. Dry run the clothes  you intend to wear for the interview as well.
  2. Practice your elevator speech on why you want this job. If you don’t say out loud why this has been your dream job, then you won’t sound like you really want the job.
  3. During your interview, demonstrate that you are a good listener. Follow our Facebook to read about active listening tips.
  4. Be Yourself! If you are kind, sincere, and mannerly, than you are likeable. People want to work around people that are likeable.

Do you want more advice on how to make your dream come true? Contact us! We will make your dream job become a reality !!


Demetria and Lisa

Mother, May I – Etiquette Experts


Thrive Arianna Huffington

The Promise of a New Day Karen Casey and Martha Vanceburgh

Strategy and Business Spring 2015, magazine

Make an Impressionable Entrance


So the 87th Academy Awards show has come and gone and it seems that almost everyone behaved in a way that didn’t leave a negative taste in your mouth. I have an Oscar party ever year and it made me think, as people walked my handmade red carpet, what do people think of me as I travel down the “Red Carpet” of life? What impression do I throw out into the world? Most people will judge you within the first seconds of meeting you and their opinion will most likely never change. Making a good first impression is incredibly important, because you only get one shot at it.

The New York Times Best-selling book Blink by Malcom Gladwell Blink and this Princeton University study, are just 2 examples in the ocean of studies on the topic of first impressions. Princeton Study 

So I guess there is something to this notion.

So I am going to offer some helpful hints on how you can be make your first impression the best it can be!

  1. Set an intention. The most important thing to do for giving a good impression is to set your intention. This is especially important before any kind of big event where you would be meeting a lot of people — i.e. conferences, networking events or friend’s parties. Ask yourself, What do you want the outcome of this encounter to yeild.
  2. Be conscious of your body language. Body language is a crucial part of first impressions. Everything from your posture to how you carry yourself to the way you’re angling your body. Often, simply being aware of your body language can result in immediate improvements. Take a video of yourself or create a buddy system so you get real time feedback on your subconscious actions. Subconscious cues to keep in mind include noticing where you point your feet, your posture, the way you shake hands and eye contact. 

bad body language.htm

  1. Be interested and interesting. If you are truly interested in meeting people and are open to learning about who they are, they will get this in a first impression. Do some homework before attending a meeting or event so you have at least 3 nuggets of information to impart that would add to the conversation or to that first meeting. Google comes in handy for this pre-work.
  2. Think about your ornaments. Clothes, make-up, jewelry, watches and shoes are all types of ornamentation and people definitely take these into account when making initial judgments. I highly recommend getting some of your favorite outfits or ornaments together and asking friends you trust what they think of when they see them.
  3. SMILE… Putting a smile out there will get you one in return! Many wise business men trusted in that…Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, Management of Nestle USA… Shep Hyken and Mother, May I  They believed that smiling breaks down barriers and is an invitation, a sign of welcome. It says, “I’m friendly and approachable.” Even if you find yourself in a bad mood before an important event, do something that gets that smile on…mine is listening to Taylor Swift singing Shake it Off!


Whether going to an interview or a networking event, being prepared to solidify an amazing first impressions is time well spent. Because after all, you only have one time to make a good first impression!

Tell us what you do to help get you in the mood to make a great first impression..


Lisa and Demetria

Co-founders Mother, May I

Building Better Relationships…Are You Strong Enough?


strong-relationshipSo… in this digital age it seems like people take more value in how many “Facebook Friends” they have versus the actual friends they interact with on a regular basis. This holds true in business as well…many people hide behind their computer or electronic devices vs actually conducting a phone or face to face interaction.

We have all heard the definition for IQ (Intelligence Quotient) right? It is a standard that measures a person’s intelligence.

Well let’s consider an RQ… Relationship Quotient. A way to score how a person builds solid relationships at home at work at school and in their community. Would you score above or below curve on that test?

Since this is January and our theme is “Building” rather than “Resolving”, here are some measurable tips to become stronger in your relationships!


  1. Communicate! Communication in any relationship is key, and how the communication is delivered can be equally as important. Be sure your communication method best serves the message. For instance you rarely want to leave really personal news on a voicemail or even more horrifying, in a text. Divorce via text message… Really? http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2013/06/18/katy-perry-talks-about-brand-and-mayer-in-vogue/2433855/
  2. Be authentic! Trust can be severed or questioned in a minute if you are not honest and upfront. Most people want to know the truth even if you don’t think they can handle the truth. Like A Few Good Men
  3. Listen! You have 2 ears and one mouth. Try using them in that ratio. Active listening, with eye contact and sincerity goes a long way to improving and building relationships. It is a fact that an empathetic listener is more likely to be trusted and respected. Plus it is just good manners. “Being a poor listener is associated with poorer social and emotional sensitivity.” according to a study from Psychology Today. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201203/11-ways-active-listening-can-help-your-relationships

So this January as you set goals for 2015, make an effort to improve that RQ…and see where it takes you!

Mother, May I wants to help you build stronger relationships in 2015.

Call or send us an email  – we will be happy to listen!

Cheers,   Lisa & Demetria

Co-founders Mother, May I

Holiday Office Par-Tay – Is It Okay To ________ ?


So…There are many ways to fill in that blank! Is it ok to bring something to the office Holiday gathering? Is it ok for me to bring a guest? Is it ok for me to have 3 adult beverages? Is it ok to just hang out with my current office circle of friends?

Well there are many questions to answer here and these answers, if answered correctly, can give you an opportunity to shine as a memorable guest…in a Nice way, vs. a Naughty way!

We have previously posted a surprising Adecco statistic about office party behavior…40% of Americans have been a part of or have witnessed inappropriate behavior during the annual holiday office gathering. One possible outcome… Pink slips are almost as frequent as red faces. More than 1 in 10 Americans say they know someone who has been fired for their inappropriate behavior at a holiday party. This behavior may include saying something inappropriate to a colleague (7%) or boss (4%), or drinking too much (20%).  Read CBS Philadelphia’s article on ‘Inappropriate Behavior At The Office Holiday Party‘.

So how do you shine at your office party?

  1. A holiday party is a much earned time to unwind and relax, but overdoing cocktails, may tarnish your reputation and could seriously damage your credibility. You know your limit, and if you don’t, stick with the 2 alcoholic beverage rule, hydrating in between cocktails. (You will thank us in the morning!)
  2. Office party attire is typically a bit more relaxed and festive, but please remember that appropriate attire is essential. Not too short, not too low cut and not too tight. Shoes you can’t walk in? How are you going to schmooze with the VP of that department you’ve been dying to break into if you can’t even hang by the punchbowl without a colleague to lean on?
  3. Break away from the folks you see all the time at work…this gives you an opportunity to network with some of your co-workers that you do not regularly interact with. Take the time to mingle, you will never know where it might take you. Have a list of potential topics in mind that will help you get a new conversation going.


If your company is planning a Holiday gathering, they may want to include Mother, May I in the planning process… Contact us today to book your pre-party Lunch-n-Learn!

Don’t be the last person to leave. Know your limit and excuse yourself before the inevitable gaffes come from someone else. Make an appearance, keep it professional, thank the host and then depart. In this context, nothing good ever happens after midnight!

tmg-slideshow_xl (2)So Mother, May I says err on the side of caution when attending your Holiday Office Party…or any party for that matter.


                                                Don’t be this guy… bad party behavior            Or this girl…5-Holiday-Dress-5

Happy Holidays and have fun, but think…it is more important to be remebered for your knowledge and wit vs. your thoughtless behavior or attire!

Please let us know some bad office party behavior you have witnessed, no names please, on our blog or Facebook.

Happy Holidays from Mother, May I

Lisa and Demetria

Co-Founders – Mother, May I