Talking Etiquette with Corinne Gregory

This interview was originally written by Patty Lamberti and published in the February 2010 issue of Rotarian Magazine. It's as relevant today as it was back then, but I would of course broaden this title to "Etiquette and Ethics" because of how "etiquette" is really about the action of how we treat one another whereas character and ethics are about the motivations.


Talking Etiquette with Corinne Gregory

by Patty Lamberti
The Rotarian -- February 2010
A s Corinne Gregory’s children got older, she noticed that kids with manners were the exception, not the rule. She decided to do some
research. “I found out that many children didn’t have behavior problems,” she says. “They lacked social competency, awareness, and
consciousness.”

In 2003, she developed SocialSmarts, a program
available to public schools that teaches children from preschool to high school about manners, values, and ethics.
Gregory, a member of the Rotary Club of Redmond, Wash., USA, has been interviewed by Katie Couric for The Today Show, and her advice has been featured in TIME, Parents Magazine, and the Seattle Times.
The Rotarian: Why are kids’ social skills worse than they were 10 years ago?
Corinne Gregory: There are a hundred reasons. I don’t want to place blame solely on parents. But
we’re so busy running around that we don’t want to be the discipline police.
TR: Why is this a problem for schools?
Gregory: Too many kids come into schools unprepared for the classroom environment. They don’t
know that they need to sit down and keep quiet. Teachers spend their time on discipline, not
teaching.

TR: What does SocialSmarts focus on?
Gregory: Initial classes cover basic manners. We move on to respect for peers and respect for
things, like the environment. We teach meeting and greeting skills, presentation skills, the concepts
of trustworthiness and integrity. We show students, whether they are toddlers or teens, that if you
behave better, you’ll get more of what you want and less of what you don’t. We ask them, “What
impression do you want to send people?” Kids don’t want to be drug dealers. But they don’t see the
map to success.
TR: Where do ethics and manners intersect?
Gregory: We use a social skills pyramid. At the top of the pyramid is etiquette. We teach students
about the rules of conduct and engagement. The next level is manners, which is more about
behavior. At the very bottom of the pyramid are motivators like respect, compassion, and integrity.
Ethics is the line between the motivators and behaviors. In order to behave ethically, you have to
think ethically.
TR: What about The Four-Way Test?
Gregory: Once you internalize The Four-Way Test, it’s always there. Lesson eight in SocialSmarts
is about honesty. Regardless of a student’s age, it always comes back to the first tenet: Is it the
TRUTH?
TR: How do you know SocialSmarts works?
Gregory: Schools that use our program have conducted studies comparing themselves with
schools in the same district that don’t. The schools with the program see a 10 to 13 percent
improvement on tests. Teachers also report that they spend less time on behavior issues.

TR: How can clubs get involved?
Gregory: First, identify a school. If a Rotary club wishes to sponsor the school, we’ll donate our
program fee every year the school stays in the program. The club must cover the cost of materials
and oversee the funds to make sure they are properly administered.This is a way to expose students to Rotary and to the idea of Service Above Self. We talk about The Four-Way Test and encourage kids to learn more about Rotary. Imagine if every child practiced
the tenets of The Four-Way Test. Imagine what our world would be like.

Dear Corinne …
Rotarians are a mannerly bunch. But because your mother probably never taught you about e-mail
etiquette or other modern dilemmas, Gregory offers these 21st-century takes on social graces.
On thank-you notes: The old rule was that if the giver was there when the recipient opened the
present, then the recipient didn’t need to send a thank-you note. But imagine you are on a business
trip and you give someone a gift. You are there when the person opens it, but you still get a note a
few weeks later. Imagine the impression that leaves.
On wedding gifts: You have a year. Wait until the dust settles, then ask the couple, “What did you
really want that you didn’t get? Have you thought of something else?” If you plan on waiting to give
a gift, you still should give them a card at the wedding.
On RSVPs: Let someone know one way or the other if you are coming to an event. When you don’t
RSVP, you’re saying, “I’m waiting to see if I get a better offer.” Every once in a while, you may
honestly forget to send regrets. But you can still call and patch that up.
On e-mail: We are so inundated with different forms of communication, like texting and tweeting,
that we sometimes forget to respond or to close the loop in an e-mail conversation. If you’re too
busy to send a lengthy e-mail back to someone, write back and say so. Be honest.
Copyright © 2010 Rotary International

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The MOST Important Question is….?

As part of the process of my writing "Character Counts: Bringing the Rotary Four-Way Test to Life," I had the occasion to pose this question to my Rotarian email list and the Rotary International group on LinkedIn: Of the four questions in the Four-Way Test, which one do you think is the most important and why?  I have to admit that it's been very exciting to see the responses you come up with. Not just because Rotarians have shared their individual thoughts with me, but because it seems it's sparking conversations at the Club Level!

I've already had three separate conversations with Rotarians around the world who have shared this question with their own local members and they've reported back what their club has shared!  I shared the first set of responses in my email follow-up. You can see some of the detailed replies in the email here.

Overall the numbers I came up with based on the responses to my original question were as follows:

Q1 Is it the TRUTH  57%
Q2 Is it FAIR  29%
Q3 Will it build GOODWILL 14%
Q4 Will it be BENEFICIAL  0%

Subsequently, I heard back from Jack Butcher from the Federal Way Rotary. He had raised my question at his club and reported back what their findings were.  Again, you can click here for the details, but their numbers were a bit different:

Q1 Is it the TRUTH  51%
Q2 Is it FAIR 18%
Q3 Will it build GOODWILL 3%
Q4 Will it be BENEFICIAL 28%

Now, I've heard back from another club, Rotary E-Club of South Africa One. After hearing from their members, the results shook out like this:

Q1 Is it the TRUTH 35%
Q2 Is it FAIR 20%
Q3 Will it build GOODWILL 15%
Q4 Will it be BENEFICIAL 30%

What I found particularly interesting were some of the explanations for why members had chosen the question they voted as "most important."  Here are a few of them...

Continue Reading »

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Taking a stand for Character – the Rotary Character Counts! Campaign is LIVE

Last week I pre-announced the crowdfunding campaign for my new book, "Character Counts: Bringing the Rotary Four-Way Test to Life." I'm pleased to announce that the campaign is launched and contributions are coming in.  In the pre-announcement, I mentioned how much positive feedback I received already from Rotarians and more. I'm particularly excited to see that even non-Rotarians are contributing to the campaign.

Many thanks already to those of you who have been involved, have promised support, and are considering helping. I can't do this without you! I see every dollar raised as an endorsement, not of me and my mission, but of YOUR belief that Character Counts!

Another exciting bit of news: I had a conversation with an influential Rotarian, and he brought up the idea of my becoming a "Roving Ambassador" for evangelizing the mission of Rotary, particularly with the plan of engaging younger members. Clearly THAT is right in line with what the book is designed to help with.  I consider that a great opportunity and honor.

For those of you who haven't seen the campaign yet, you can access it by clicking on the image, or if that doesn't work, the link is here: https://igg.me/at/CharacterCountsRotary

There are a number of great rewards I have set up as a way to say "thank you" for your support.  Every contribution helps, but if the message inspires you but you are unable to participate financially, would you consider sharing it with others who might have an interest?  As one Rotarian shared with me recently, "We may be reciting the Four-Way Test every week at meetings, but do we ever really stop to think, anymore, what it means and how it challenges us to be?"  I hope "Character Counts" will be a resource for just such dialog.

Also, if you'd like to be notified about updates to the campaign or general topics related to the book or Rotary as a whole, feel free to Subscribe by clicking on the button.

 

Again, I thank each and every one of you for your encouragement and support. As I said in the video, together, we as Rotarians can change the world, for the better. We already do! And, to my non-Rotarian friends...I appreciate your believing in the value of Character!  Let's rock this campaign!

 

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