Manners to Tame Mall Mayhem

This month's Mannersmith Monthly is penned by Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting's Marianne Cohen.

If you are like me, the thought of holiday shopping any time after Thanksgiving makes me queasy; from finding a parking spot within view of a door, to fighting for the last perfect scarf for my aunt... all the while being so ravenous while I shop that I snack on sight. A week ago, after exiting a mall lot and at a four-way stop sign, my dad's voice resonated in my head: the person to the right has the right of way. So when the driver on the left unexpectedly went first, it made me angry. Did this person even realize what they were doing? My professional training as an etiquette consultant kicked in and I began to ponder the situation. How can we all behave in a way that makes shopping an enjoyable task while maintaining our holiday spirit? By considering the following advice, maybe together we can make this shopping season a bit more pleasant.

Is that a Bird? ~ Trying to find a parking spot within a mile radius of any store can agitate anyone. Have you ever vultured a shopper to a car and waited patiently as packages got loaded only to have the car back out in the "wrong" direction, allowing the driver opposite you to whisk in and snatch the spot? This year, please be aware of those around you and be courteous to those who have been waiting. If someone does take your spot and you are alone in the car, focus on deep breaths and positive thoughts that there will be a closer spot. If there are young ears, make sure you monitor any colorful language or hand gestures.

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting ~ Every register you find will have a line a mile long, your kids will be whining, and your stomach will be grumbling as you (patiently?) wait your turn. What can you do? Turn your waiting into a game with your children. Playing "I Spy" is perfect - think about the treasure trove of items in a store you could use. Or see how long your kids can stand on one foot before they tip; be creative. If you have a smartphone, feel free to catch up on your moves in Words with Friends or search for the best deals at your next stop. Sometimes multi-tasking while waiting will play in your favor.

Smiles are Contagious ~ Have you ever been a bit cranky as you are shopping and someone randomly catches your eye and smiles? You automatically smile back... and feel better. So if you see someone who is just not feeling the holiday spirit as they are rushing by with their hands full of bags and children in tow, catch their eye and share an empathetic smile. Smiles are contagious and maybe they'll realize the reason they are shopping in the first place.

Patience Truly is a Virtue ~ The holidays are supposed to be about spending time with those you love while exchanging gifts and good will. Sometimes that happiness is elusive as we rush from one party to another, run to get that last minute Yankee Swap present, or search for the perfect gift for your child's teacher. Slow down. Enoy the smell of the cinnamon sticks. Sing along with "Frosty the Snowman," or enjoy the beautiful lights that someone hung to celebrate the season. Enjoy the simple delights the season brings.

Elevator/Escalator Etiquette 101 ~ It is easy to get lost in your own thoughts as you run through the mall to your next destination, but that does not mean that common courtesies should be ignored. Remember to let those already in an elevator out before you enter; move to the back after you have pushed your desired button; and hold the door open for the person running to enter. For escalators, take small children by the hand, stand to the right, pass with courtesy to the left, and do not attempt any daredevil feats like carting a baby carriage up a moving staircase! Better to take the time to find the elevator - manners matter, but safety first.

Magic Manner Words ~ Please, Thank you, You're Welcome, I'm Sorry and Excuse Me. These 5 magic manners phrases should always be remembered and used... especially when shopping during the holiday crush. Just like smiles, being courteous is contagious. Your actions serve as an example to your children and other customers. You may even make a sales person's day by simply saying a sincere "Thank you for helping me today."

Even though I think I have most of my shopping done, I am sure I will need to make few more trips to the mall. With a deep breath, a smile on my face, and thoughts of sugar plum fairies dancing in my head, I know I will manage just fine.

The Mannersmith Team wishes you and yours successful shopping expeditions and a happy holiday season.