What the #@$%! Happened to Our Manners at Work?
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What the #@$%! Happened to Our Manners at Work?

Because of pandemic rust, a generational shift or something else, the working world is getting ruder, many say.

By CALLUM BORCHERS
Mon, Sep 12, 2022 10:20amGrey Clock 4 min

Workers, where are your bleeping manners?

You’re cursing more and handshaking less, quitting on shorter notice and waiting longer to answer emails and texts.

At least, that’s how it feels to the self-appointed etiquette police among your co-workers and business associates. Politeness is tough to measure, and, sure, certain norms are overdue for updates. Still, I keep hearing from business people who swear (as in attest, not cuss) that the working world is getting ruder.

Hiring managers lament that job candidates skip cover letters whenever possible, seldom follow up on interviews with thank-you notes and can’t be counted on to show up once they’ve accepted offers.

Job seekers, for their part, complain that computers screen those cover letters, anyway, and that too few recruiters are considerate enough to send rejection letters, leaving hopefuls to wonder for weeks about where they stand with potential employers.

Many workers, particularly younger ones, claim they aren’t interested in bonding with colleagues and act accordingly. Happy hour? Hard pass. That’s not so much about being cold or uncivil, these people say, as it is about maintaining a private life away from work.

Others’ interpersonal skills are rusty or underdeveloped, owing to limited opportunities to practice during much of the past couple of years.

One glimmer of hope, or a sign of self-awareness: LinkedIn reports August enrollment in its two most popular business etiquette courses was up 127% year over year.

Those mourning the supposed decline of business etiquette blame the pandemic, a tight labor market, Gen Z and the internet.

“In the last three or four years, it has become much, much worse,” says Steve Landrum, a sales executive who lives near Atlanta.

His No. 1 gripe is “ghosting” from potential clients, which he says is more common now than at any time in his 30-year career. Like a dating-app match who suddenly stops answering messages after flirting, some sales leads show initial interest only to cut off communication without explanation.

When that happens, Mr. Landrum sends a short “breakup” email—“I’m going to assume that you’ve gone in a different direction,” he writes—if only for his own sense of closure. He tells me those who aren’t courteous harm their own reputations, though he concedes that bad form doesn’t dog people as it once did.

The bigger shift in recent years might be that rudeness has become less costly.

Left your job abruptly? In this economy, there’s bound to be another one around the corner—for now, anyway—and companies aren’t checking references as often as they used to.

Underdressed for the big meeting? Let she who is without stretchy Zoom pants cast the first stone.

Ignored that question a co-worker asked you on Slack? In a hybrid workplace, you might never cross paths with the co-worker and have to suffer the awkward consequences. Or if you do, you can claim having turned off notifications accidentally.

Just don’t try that excuse on Phoenix Normand, chief of staff at a tech company in California.

“Waiting all day to return a Slack inquiry is pretty much the most disrespectful thing you can do,” he says.

A close second: mucking up written communications with wayward punctuation, misspellings, abbreviations and emojis. If Mr. Normand sees a “your” that should be “you’re,” he’s gonna be, like, WTF? Amirite?

“The English language is being butchered to the point where it’s almost embarrassing,” he says.

He adds that workers often don’t realize their informality can land poorly, at least if someone like the 53-year-old Mr. Normand is on the receiving end. A recipient might conclude that the writer doesn’t know basic grammar and syntax or take offence. A sloppy email can inadvertently suggest that the person in the “to” field isn’t worth the time it takes to proofread.

Toni Purvis, founder of the School of Disruptive Etiquette in Washington, D.C., recommends erring on the side of formality in writing. It can be safer, she says, to buck traditional notions of “professional” appearance because many companies have come to realize that rules governing attire, hair, tattoos and other aspects of personal style can marginaliae certain workers.

Still, it remains important to consider how others perceive the way you present yourself, she adds.

For instance, the red suit that Ms. Purvis wore on her first day as an intern at an investment bank in the aughts sent the wrong message. In an industry with its own dull palette—banker grey—it looked as though she was trying to be the centre of attention, she says.

The outfit was a hand-me-down, and Ms. Purvis was oblivious to the unofficial dress code because she was the first person in her family or circle of friends to enter the corporate world. Her school aims to help others who don’t grow up learning etiquette by osmosis avoid missteps.

Daniel Post Senning, author and spokesman at the Emily Post Institute, notes that many traditional standards can be traced to wealthy, white society in the Northeast. He agrees with Ms. Purvis that contemporary etiquette is evolving to be more inclusive.

“Being true to who you are and where you came from is an important part of being honest,” he says.

That doesn’t mean authenticity always goes over well.

Cole Wiser, the creative director at a marketing agency in Dallas, says addressing a client as “y’all” once prompted a private scolding by a manager who thought the term was too informal. Ever since, Mr. Wiser says, he’s been self-conscious about a contraction that’s just part of how he talks.

When he slipped a “y’all” into a video call with a client recently, he asked his LinkedIn network to weigh in. The advice ranged from use it to don’t use it, to use it only with fellow Texans. “Read the room” was a popular tip.

The mixed feedback wasn’t especially helpful, but he posted thank-yous, anyway. It seemed like the proper thing to do.

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: September 8, 2022.



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Clocking out to Turn Back Time—Vacations That Will Help You Live Longer
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Booming demand for wellness tourism shows no slowing, with travel related to health and well-being projected to have reached $1 trillion last year and to hit $1.3 trillion by 2025, according to the Global Wellness Institute, a nonprofit based in Miami.

Curated wellness travel programs are especially sought-after, specifically holistic treatments focused on longevity. Affluent travellers not only are making time to hit the gym while gallivanting across the globe, they’re also seeking destinations that specifically cater to their wellness goals, including treatments aimed at living longer.

“I believe Covid did put a spotlight on self-care and well-being,” says Penny Kriel, corporate director of spa and wellness at Salamander Collection, a group of luxury properties in places like Washington, D.C., and Charleston, South Carolina. But Kriel says today’s spas are more holistic, encouraging folks to understand the wellness concept and incorporate it into their lifestyle more frequently.

“With the evolution of treatment products and technology, spas have been able to enhance their offerings and appeal to more travellers,” Kriel says.

While some growth is connected to the variety of treatments available, results and the digital world are also contributing to the wellness boom.

“The efficacy and benefits of these treatments continue to drive bookings and interest, especially with the support of social media, influencers, and celebrity endorsements,” Kriel says.

While genetics, environmental factors, and lifestyle choices such as regular exercise, a diet free of processed foods, sufficient sleep, and human connection play essential roles in living well and longer, experts believe in holistic therapies to help manage stress, boost immunity, and ultimately influence length and quality of life.

Anti Ageing and Beyond

“For years, people have been coming to spas, booking treatments, and gaining advice on how to turn the clock back with anti ageing and corrective skin treatments,” Kriel says. However, today’s treatments are far more innovative.

On Marinella Beach in Porto Rotondo, on the Italian island of Sardinia, guests at the five-star Abi d’Oru Hotel & Spa can experience the resort’s one-of-a-kind “longevity treatment,” a unique antiaging facial using one of the island’s native grapes: Cannonau. The world’s first declared “Blue Zone”—one of five designated areas where people live longer than average, some into their 100s—Sardinia produces this robust red wine varietal, the most widely planted on the island.

Known as Garnacha in Spain and Grenache in France, Cannonau supposedly contains two to three times more antioxidants than other red-wine grapes. By incorporating Cannonau, Abi Spa says its unique 50-minute longevity session increases collagen production for firmer, younger-looking skin.

Maintaining a youthful appearance is just one facet of longevity treatments, which range from stress-reduction sessions like massage to nutritional support and sleep programs, Kriel says. Some retreats also offer medical services such as IV infusions and joint injections.

Keeping with the trend, Kriel is expanding Salamander Collection’s existing spa services, such as detox wraps and lymphatic drainage, to include dedicated “Wellness Rooms,” new vegan and vegetarian menu items, and well-being workshops. “Sleep, nutrition, and mindfulness will be a big focus for integration in 2024,” she says.

Data-Driven Wellness

Skyler Stillings, an exercise physiologist at Sensei Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort—an adults-only wellness centre in Lanai, Hawaii—says guests were drawn to the social aspect when the spa opened in November 2021.

“We saw a huge need for human connection,” she recalls. But over the past few years, what’s paramount has shifted. “Longevity is trending much more right now.”

Human connection is a central draw for guests at Sensei Lanai, an adults-only and wellness-focused Four Seasons Resort in Hawaii.
Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort

Billionaire co-founder of tech company Oracle Larry Ellison and physician and scientist Dr. David Angus co-founded Sensei. After the death of a mutual close friend, the duo teamed up to create longevity-based wellness retreats to nurture preventative care and a healthy lifestyle. In addition to the Lanai location, the brand established Sensei Porcupine Creek in Greater Palm Springs, California, in November 2022.

Sensei has a data-driven approach. The team performs a series of assessments to obtain a clearer picture of a guest’s health, making wellness recommendations based on the findings. While Sensei analyses that data to curate a personalised plan, Stillings says it’s up to the guests which path they choose.

Sensei’s core three-day retreat is a “Guided Wellness Experience.” For spa treatments, each guest checks into their own “Spa Hale,” a private 1,000-square-foot bungalow furnished with an infrared sauna, a steam shower, a soaking tub, and plunge pools. The latest therapies include Sarga Bodywalking—a barefoot myofascial release massage, and “Four Hands in Harmony,” a massage with two therapists working in tandem. Sensei Guides provide take-home plans so guests can continue their wellness journeys after the spa.

Sensei Lanai, an adults-only and wellness-focused Four Seasons Resort in Hawaii.
Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort

Sanctuaries for Longevity

Headquartered in Switzerland with hotels and on-site spas across the globe, Aman Resorts features an integrative approach, combining traditional remedies with modern medicine’s advanced technologies. Tucked behind the doors of the storied Crown Building in Midtown Manhattan, Banya Spa House at Aman New York—the brand’s flagship spa in the Western Hemisphere—is a 25,000-square-foot, three-floor urban oasis.

Yuki Kiyono, global head of health and wellness development at Aman, says the centre provides access to holistic and cutting-edge treatments benefiting physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being. Aman’s customisable “Immersion Programs” consist of a three- or five-day immersion. “The programs encompass treatments and experiences that touch every significant aspect to create a path for longevity, from meditation and mindfulness to nutrition and movement,” Kiyono explains.

Banya Spa House at Aman New York.
Robert Rieger

The spa’s “Tei-An Wellness Solution” features 90- to 150-minute sessions using massage, cryotherapy, and Vitamin IV infusions. Acupuncture is also on offer.

“With its rich history of Chinese Medicine, modern research, and the introduction of sophisticated electro-acupuncture medicine, acupuncture has been proven to assist with problems and increase performance,” Kiyono says.

Resetting the Mind and Body

Beyond longevity, “healthspan”—the number of years a person can live in good health free of chronic disease—is the cornerstone of Mountain Trek Health Reset Retreat’s program in British Columbia, Canada.

Kirk Shave, president and program director, and his team employ a holistic approach, using lifestyles in long-living Blue Zones as a point of reference.

“We improve our daily lifestyle habits, so we live vitally as long as we’re meant to live,” Shave says of the retreat. He built the program from an anthropological stance, referencing humans as farmers, hunters, and gatherers based on their eating and sleeping patterns. Food includes vegetable-centric meals sans alcohol, sugar, bread, or dairy.

Guests wake at dawn each day and have access to sunrise yoga, several hours of “flow” or slow hiking, spa treatments, forest bathing, calming crystal singing-bowl and sound therapy sessions, and classes on stress reduction—one of Mountain Trek’s primary goals. The program motivates people to spend much of their time in nature because it’s been proven to reduce cortisol, the stress hormone that can lead to inflammation and disease when elevated for extended periods.

While most guests aren’t aware of how immersive Mountain Trek’s program is when they arrive, they leave the resort revitalized after the structured, one-week program. Set in the Kootenays overlooking its eponymous river, the resort and adventure promise what Shave calls a “visceral experience of transformation.”

“They’re interested in coming to be in nature,” Shave says of the guests. “They hit a wall in their life and slipped backwards, so they know they need a reset.”

Banya Spa House at Aman New York provides access to holistic and cutting-edge treatments benefiting physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being.
Robert Rieger

This article first appeared in the Winter 2024 issue of Mansion Global Experience Luxury.

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