Tell Me I Am Old School One. More. Time.

tell me i am old school one more time

Caveat: This article has generalizations that could translate to assumptions about entire groups of people That is not the intent. It is written from my personal perspective and experiences.  If you are a young person who is going to be offended by me calling you a young person and making a generalization about young people and their behaviors – stop reading or suck it up, cupcake. This is how us old schoolers roll.

I recently read an article which suggested sending a letter.  An honest-to-goodness-snail-mail letter.  One of the comments after the article was, “Man, have you heard of email? Paper mail is wasteful and dated and SLOW.”

Translation: “you are so old school”

Translation: “you are old, outdated, not cool, unhip” or whatever other phrases young people are using now.

Damn straight I am old school. And yes, I feel even older using the phrase “young people” but guess what, I am going to keep using it. Because I am old school, outdated, back in the day, uncool and unhip.

I love hearing young people bemoan ‘old school’: “that is slow, that is a waste of time, whine, cry, too much effort, sniff, eye roll, takes too long….”

I am closing in on a half century and over this time I have seen amazing transformations. I remember being all excited seeing a digital clock for the first time.  I was a weird kid, whatever.  Now I have a computer in my hand.

There are better, faster, easier, more efficient ways to communicate or do things; that is true.  Yet here is the point that old schoolers get that youngsters do not:

The communication and actions are not about the words you use or things you do, but how it makes others feel.

It takes extra time and thought to write a hand written thank you note.  It would be easier to whip off a text or email. Wham bam thank you ma’am mark that off my list.  But if someone were to thank you via text or email, how would you feel as compared to a note card in your hand in their writing?


Someone took the time, their time, to put thought and effort into thanking you.

So tell me, you young whippersnapper, that I am old-school like it is a bad thing one more time.  You want to know old school? Here are some other old school things that me and my back in the day crowd do, some being gender specific:

  •  Hold doors for people.
  • Smile and have small talk in grocery lines.
  • Keep our phones in our pockets during coffee, dinner or any other meeting.
  • Listen and engage in eye contact.
  • Not photograph every moment but enjoy them instead.
  • Ask questions, be interested in the person we are talking to.
  • Stand when a lady approaches the table.
  • Hold the chair while she is sitting down.
  • Defer ordering first.
  • Offer to help when there is nothing in it for us.
  • Sew on our own buttons.
  • Use pots and pans not microwaves.
  • Slow down.
  • Take chances, we are less concerned about looking stupid in front of our friends – they have had years to know we are crazy.
  • Laugh at ourselves.
  • Talk to our friends when we get together.
  • Encourage each other instead of compete.
  • Cherish and show respect for our elders.  That means our parents and grandparents and other people’s parents and grandparents. To you young people – elders is old people.
  • Say ‘ma’am’ and ‘sir’.
  • Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.
  • Make plans – not five minutes in advance.
  • Respect other people’s time.
  • Don’t look for ways to get offended, look for ways to make it happen for us.

I am not saying all young people do not do these things or all us old people do; this is me and the old folks I know.

You know the benefit to me of being old school? I am happy.  I love what I do, love who I am, love the experiences I encounter and the people I interact with on a daily basis. I know who I am, what I am, what I want, and am limitless because of these things.

So, yes, I am old-school. You say that like it is a bad thing.  I see it as a recognition that I still hold true to the values that my parents and grandparents taught me.

  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
  • You catch more flies with honey than vinegar
  • How you make others feel about themselves says a lot about you
  • The only time you should look down on a person is when you are helping them get up
  • Respect all people regardless of their situation, position, status or title

These are things that no technology or time-saving efficiencies can ever replace, nor the way they make others feel when we do them.


As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

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Communication via Turn Signals

turn signalMy dad taught me to drive.  In doing so he taught me to be a defensive driver – always being aware of my surroundings and anticipating what the other drivers are doing assuming they are not paying attention.


Boy was he spot on.


Overall I’m a pretty relaxed driver.  I let people merge in when they need to, I’m ok with taking turns, I give leeway to semi-drivers and don’t try to sneak in front of them at the last minute on a snail’s pace exit lane.  There are just two things I firmly believe in: turn signals are an indicator not a right and you should always, always do the friendly courtesy wave-thank you when someone lets you in.


This weekend I was coming home, driving along a stretch of interstate that within two miles the left lane turned into a separate exit merging onto a different highway.  I was in the middle lane and there was moderate traffic on both sides, but most people were playing nice and merging to the right to get out of the upcoming exit lane.




Then there was one.


I will call him Mr. “The Road is Mine.”


He turned on his turn signal and immediately began to merge into the middle lane.  The problem was – I was still there.  Apparently his turn signal was communicating two things:


1.  He put on his turn signal so that meant that everyone should clearly make a path for him.

2.  He had full right to use a strong arm tactic of merging over into a lane even when occupied was as it was an appropriate way to merge even it if meant the vehicle occupying the space he was crowding into would have to slam on their brakes thus possibly causing an accident, but he would get his spot so it was ok.


Wrong.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.


I would have gladly let Mr. TRiM over but it so happened we were passing a merge lane and the cars in the right were unable to let me over to allow him to come over and there was not enough space in front of me for him to enter and I really didn’t thing the guy on my bumper wanted me to slam on my brakes.


So I continued with the line of traffic until I could safely merge over and allow Mr. Trim over.  Oh, all while laying on my horn the entire time communicating to him that I was there, he did not have the right to attempt to hit my car and I would continue to maintain that space until I could safely – for everyone’s sake – move.


He was able to merge into the lane safely with about a mile to spare.


He wasn’t happy, but we are all alive and avoided any unnecessary accidents.


Sometimes I run across people in job searching who hold the same skewed thought similar to turn signals.  “I told you I was looking for a job so you have to help me.”


Have to.


Not please and thank you, would greatly appreciate it, but have to because I mentioned it.


Wrong.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.


First, expecting people to help you is a very selfish way to go about things.  People help you because they want to, like you or care about you – not because it is an obligation just because you say so.


Second, perhaps they are not in a position to do so.  It doesn’t mean they will not in the future, but at this very moment they cannot.  That does not make the bad or mean, just a situation of circumstance.  When the lane clears they may be more than willing to help you out.


Third, maybe – just maybe – in telling them the information you have been remiss in giving them enough information to truly help you.  Did you tell them what kind of position, in what industry, doing what types of things, in what area etc?


Just because you turned on the turn signal does not mean you have full right to the entire road.  It is merely an indication.  How you use it from there is up to you.  Your next actions will determine if those around you help you or hinder you or even ignore you.


Instead of turning it on and telling everyone I need a job now you have to help me; try turning it on, telling them I could use your help and allow them to see what they can do to help you.


And when they do – don’t forget the friendly courtesy wave-thank you!



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW


Manners Used To Be The Rule Now It Seems They Are The Exception

I really hated typing that title. Maybe it is just me, maybe I am the only one who mourns the loss of manners. Perhaps it isn’t a loss of manners it is instead the absence of manners. Either way for me it seems like a personal loss. In the last two days I have had two conversations and it just reiterated the absence/loss of manners.

Yesterday I was talking to James Ryan Owner and Chief Development Officer at Lotus Development. James is a business coach – check out his website at Our discussion was primarily regarding the lack of follow through from job seekers. This is a blog all on its own, but at one point he had stated that of six people that responded to a tweet he sent out only one followed up. I mentioned something about manners and he said that he hadn’t thought of it that way, but it would have been nice.

Late yesterday I received a call while I was on a conference call. I emailed the caller and told her that I was on the other line and would call her back. Once I hung up from my conference call I got another call which triggered several other events and by the time I sat down it was 9:00pm. The next thing I knew I woke up this morning on the couch with four dogs. The oldest doesn’t cuddle and she was glaring at me from the chair across the room.

I emailed her this morning and explained the situation. She responded that she knew I was busy and it was okay. I emailed her back and told her busy or not it was rude and I apologize. Her response surprised me. She literally said “Wow…Thanks! I’ve never had someone apologize or say it was rude.” Now, I emailed her because she is working and I do not want to interrupt her day otherwise I would have called.

I don’t think that I am in any way better than anyone else because I have this fixation with manners. Personally, I grew up with wonderful examples in my life and that helped form my behavior and thinking. Some are not so lucky, some people were never taught manners unfortunately and others, well I think some people just don’t give a damn.

My grandmother was the essence of a lady. She was intelligent, head strong, independent, loving, worldly, classy, nurturing, tough and had a shoe collection to die for! She was beautiful and carried herself with class and dignity. She could walk in a room and her presence drew admiring looks and positive attention from all. She set the bar for me in representing a real woman. I miss her to no end.

At her funeral a friend of hers who had known my grandmother for decades told me that one thing that struck her about my grandmother is she never heard her utter a negative word about another human being ever. My grandmother had a sharp wit and keen sense of humor, she had it in her; but she chose not to utilize it.

My grandmother had impeccable manners and as I wanted to be like her I emulated her to the best of my ability. My parents were wonderful examples. From my mom and dad I learned the value and appreciation of employing manners to your partner, family and friends. They were best friends and partners in crime. They treated each other with the utmost respect and never failed to use manners in their interactions. I remember growing up hearing lots of “please” and “thank you” and appreciation. We may not have had a lot but I was rich in learning the value of how to treat ones you love.

Doesn’t it make you feel better or just make your moment when someone uses manners? When someone holds the door open, when they send a follow up thank you, when they take that small extra step – doesn’t it make you smile just for a moment? I know it does for me and it’s not something that I immediately say, “Oh, they used manners”.

So if it does help make your day, why wouldn’t you do the same for someone else? It really does not take but a moment to do; however we get so lost in the business of our day that it is the one area that suffers. If you are going to carve out a few minutes today to do something, try taking a few seconds to use your manners. The results will be positive – I will bet dollars to donuts.

Apparently it is time to pay attention to one of the puppies as he just brought me a toy. Actually he dumped it in my lap and then plopped his head right next to it. And of course, I thanked him for giving me his toy.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Coach & Strategist
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.