Alyssa J Freitas

January 10, 2018

Relationship Argument Etiquette

When I cover etiquette topics, I generally use hypothetical situations and talk about principles relating to one specific area. Today's post is quite different; I received an email from a reader asking for advice on how to handle an etiquette quandary and I thought it would be great to share my response on the blog so others can benefit too! Thank you to this reader for giving me permission to share her story.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Arguments can be a major challenge in any relationship; here's how I answered a reader question for the etiquette in her situation

Dear Alyssa, 

I know this is a little off the beaten path but it's in the realm of etiquette and manners and I thought you might have some good insight on this situation. My 17 year old son has been dating a lovely young lady for the past few months. Her birthday was last week and he completely forgot about it. When she told him about it, he responded with something like “Oops, I’m sorry I forgot. Let’s do something next weekend since I have plans with the guys this weekend.” I know, cringeworthy to say the least! 

And if that wasn’t bad enough, there was strike number two when he trivialized her birthday by saying “what's the big deal, it's not like it’s your 21st" and then strike three when he told her she was just being silly and taking a "hissy fit". After a heated exchange, she exclaimed “you just don’t get it!” and then landed a stinging slap across his cheek and stormed off. Needless to say, he has much to learn about the opposite sex, and I teased him about getting his face slapped by a few more ladies until he starts behaving like a proper gentleman 😉

To his credit, he took it like a man and seems less concerned about his wounded pride and more concerned about the young woman's feelings. I think this could be a teachable moment for him, and I also think he can repair his relationship with his girlfriend if he goes about it the right way. Just wondered if you had any nuggets of wisdom to offer.


Dear Reader,

Thank you for reaching out to me! That's quite the situation your son finds himself in. Thankfully since he recognizes this young lady's hurt feelings are more important right now than his pride, we can start by focusing on her.

First and foremost, a sincere apology is in order. This apology could be verbal or through a letter; absolutely not by text message and preferably not over the phone. I am a fan of writing out a card so you can ensure that you say everything you want to and that it will come out in a clear way. He should validate her disappointment and tell her that the last thing he would want to do is make her think he doesn't care. He made a mistake and is sorry and asks for her forgiveness.

Next, a thoughtful gift will help express his regret over his actions and show that he is attentive and values her. Perhaps he could get a small collection of gifts all in her favorite color or get her a few books by her favorite author. A themed gift is not difficult, but conveys that you put thought and time into personalizing your gesture. It need not cost a lot of money or be extravagant, rather, he should aim to do something he knows she likes and appreciates. The goal is to make her feel special and show that he cares for her.

Lastly, delivering the apology and gift, along with a nice meal or other date (such as a movie or bowling or whatever they enjoy doing together) will demonstrate to her that she is special to him and he is sorry for trivializing something important to her.

I would point out to your son that perhaps he should reevaluate this relationship. While I completely understand the young lady's frustration and disappointment, a slap is not an acceptable way to express how you're feeling. No matter what, if your son and this young lady decide to continue their relationship, they must discuss how they will communicate when they are unhappy moving forward. Verbal communication and carefully listening to one another is essential for a lasting and healthy relationship.

What advice would you give this reader? I'd love to hear your take on it!


-AJF
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P.S. I'm considering creating a form for readers to ask etiquette questions that I can respond to here on the blog. Would love to know what you think of that; please let me know in the comments below.

January 3, 2018

How To Set Qualitative Resolutions For 2018

Welcome to the first week of 2018! Now is the time for setting goals and creating intentions for the new year. For 2016 I posted about setting principles, and for 2017 I wrote about creating a mantra. For 2018 I've been reflecting on where I would most like to grow and how to articulate how I'd like to develop so I can take actions to drive these changes. Instead of the usual "work out more" or "read more books," I've realized that my goals are harder to measure and the normal SMART goals approach isn't going to cut it.

If you're finding that you'd like to improve in qualitative rather than quantitative ways, here is how you can verbalize your goals and create a plan to start out the new year in a strong way.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Now that it's the start of 2018 it's the perfect time to set your goals for the new year. But what if you can't exactly put your goals into numbers and measurements? Here's how to set and meet qualitative goals

Examine how you would like to improve

My favorite form of self reflection is journaling (here's why it's essential and how to start journaling). Whether you love to journal too, or take extra long showers to think, or have your best ideas while on a long run, take the time to honestly reflect on the past year and how you would like to develop further in 2018. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to spark some ideas.
  1. When was I most proud of myself this past year?
  2. What is a moment I wish I could relive so I could respond in a different way?
  3. When did I feel most excited and alive?
  4. When did I feel most frustrated and stuck?
As you can see, by reflecting on your current strengths and weaknesses, you'll be able to see where you can get even better and where you need to focus your efforts. You could also talk to those who are closest to you and ask their advice. On a walk with my mother I brought up the topic of self improvement and her first remark was, "This is going to turn into a blog post, isn't it?" Well, yes, yes it is.

Verbalize your goals

To me, this is the hardest part. When I say "verbalize," I don't mean that you have to run around shouting it from the mountain tops (although you can if you need accountability), but just to have it clear in your own mind. For example, imagine that you (read: me) want to get better at speaking up for yourself. You always find yourself being the good listener and acting like things aren't a big deal and don't matter to you and accommodating others regardless of what you actually want. Instead of focusing on how you are holding yourself back, use positive, proactive language. 

In 2018 I will value my needs and feelings, and act in my best interest even when it is challenging or at odds with others.

Envision your ideal action

Since qualitative goals are tough to measure, try envisioning what it would look like to act in accordance with the positive statement you created. I see myself telling friends when they do something that bothers me. I see myself not taking on more than my share of work with a smile and not a single word. I will speak up for myself and realize that if I'm not going to say anything, no one else is going to do it for me.

You can play out specific scenarios in your mind or decide that you will respond in accordance with your goal. It will take practice to recognize when you're in a situation that requires more mindfulness and taking action, but you will be able to cultivate awareness and make modifications that will continue to serve you in the long term.

Since it is not easy to measure such goals, thinking back to your positive statement and evaluating if you've been living it out will keep you on track. Periodic evaluations (every month, every week, every day...) are essential to continue your improvement.

What qualitative resolutions are you setting for 2018? How do you continue to improve when you can't easily measure yourself? 


-AJF
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December 27, 2017

2017: A Year End Review

This is the 4th year I am doing a year end review on the blog and I absolutely love being able to look back at what I did and who I was with and to see my self grow. You can check out 2014, 2015, and 2016 if you care to take a trip down memory lane with me.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! 2017 was quite the year, with tons of travel and adventures. Check out my recap of the best of 2017
Although I say it each year, and this time I really really really mean it, 2017 was huge. With travel, and graduation, and starting my career, there is a lot to recap, so let's jump in!



At the very start of 2017 I traveled to California with my best friend Ally. We spent a week driving (in a Mustang convertible!) and exploring and it was my first experience of the West Coast. I learned a lot about my travel preferences and had a lovely time with my favorite person.

For some live action of California you can check out this video.
As you all know, I am a proponent of minimalism and giving gifts that are experiences rather than things. I gave my family a group gift of going to Escape the Room and it was one of the most fun challenges we've done together!

Another experience gift was taking Joe to see his first broadway show, Wicked! It was fantastic and even better than I remembered.

Joe's experience gift to me for my birthday was visiting D.C. and it could not have been more perfect.

Annnnnd another experience gift was going out for dinner in the city with my brother and to see the Metropolitan Opera. Admittedly, I did fall asleep for part of the show, but he loved it and that's what mattered.

Some more travel came surprisingly when I found myself alone at Disney world. I was in Orlando for work and there was a series of delays that left me stranded in the happiest place on earth, so you can bet I made the most of it.




Travel continued when I headed off to Cancun for spring break. My favorite day of the trip was going to see Chichen Itza and getting to stop and swim in a massive sink hole along the way. From beautiful beaches to fun nights out, it was a great way to celebrate nearly being done with senior year.

I love nothing more than a live performance (except maybe being on the water...or history...or Bollywood) and this year was full of them. Joe and I went to see Father John Misty, Andrew Belle (to celebrate our anniversary!), and Ke$ha and I had a fantastic time at each.


Speaking of being on the water, since I missed crew so much, I figured participating in a cardboard boat regatta would be a great way to relive the glory days. Although it was a far different experience, it was such a blast to work with my team to build and race the boat (and to win first place too!). Joe is also the best and brought me to a restaurant on a boat so I'm never too far away from my favorite place.










The biggest event/life change of this year was graduating from college. Over the last four years I got to experience so many ups and downs, made wonderful friends, had my heart broken and fell in love, and learned more than I could have hoped. TCNJ was the best place I could have gone and I made my mark while I was there. Being the commencement speaker for the School of Business and ranking second in my class was the best way to finish up my career at TCNJ (and jumping in the fountain with Joe was a highlight of the day). Sorry for so many pictures, but this was such a big deal and I couldn't resist sharing, especially because I never posted about the event.

You can check out more live action of the spring in this video.


Right after graduation, the travel continued when I headed off to Florida to visit my grandmother and to Busch Gardens with Joe and his family.

Aside from college graduation, the biggest change of this year was starting full time with IBM in the Summit Program. I won't go into much detail because my blog series on the program covers it thoroughly, but entering the professional world has been phenomenal. Closing out the year by graduating first in my sales program and landing a role on my dream team (Watson Financial Services) has made me even more excited to continue to learn and work in the new year.

A last round of travel at the end of the year with Joe to Chicago was awesome. Exploring cities is by far my favorite type of travel and Joe is the perfect person to go with. We had such fun on the architecture river cruise and checking out museums and eating dessert to our hearts' content.

There you have it, another year in the books!

What were the highlights of 2017 for you?

-AJF
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December 20, 2017

How To Make Peace With The Future

If there's one thing I know in life, it's that the future is uncertain. There are no guarantees, no promises, and if you make a plan, it will almost certainly change. Despite knowing all of this, it doesn't alter the fact that the future is scary and uncertainty is hard to make peace with. I cannot claim to be an expert in this at all, but I have been working on becoming comfortable with change (my mantra for 2017 is growth comes from discomfort). Now that it's the end of the year, I thought it would be a good time to give an update on what I've learned and how you can make peace when the future is uncertain.

Click to read now or pin to save for later! The future is uncertain, but we don't need to live in fear. Here is how you can make peace when the future is uncertain and embrace the unknown
I love to create disclaimers in my mind. I love to make contingency plans and convince myself that I won't be too upset if x, y, or z doesn't work out because I knew that was probably going to happen anyway. It's a way for me to protect future Alyssa's feelings. It gives me a sense of control because I know that there's an alternative in place. However, I learned that there are things that are completely outside of your control. That no matter how much you try to convince yourself, you can't always do something about it.

You may remember that I posted about chronic illness a little while back, and it's still something that is on my mind and in my heart daily. There's a limit to how much you can do and the choice is to either fall into a pit of despair and spend all of your time on the internet finding out what could also be wrong with you (still hard to stop myself from doing that) or to acknowledge that this is what you are experiencing and that thinking about it nonstop won't change the situation and to make peace.

How do we make peace? How do we get ourselves out of the cycle of wondering if we will always feel this way or if heartache is in store for us in the future? These are the two key ways I have learned to settle my heart when the future is uncertain.

Perspective, perspective, perspective

If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times: how you feel about your life is dictated by your perspective. Those who can be appreciative and grateful for what they have, and view what they can achieve in life as unlimited will be the happiest and most at peace in the present moment.

Take heart in the fact that everything changes

Yes, it means that some wonderful things we experience now won't always be there. But it also means that we will experience joys in the future that we can't even imagine now. Also, change happens to everyone. Absolutely everyone. For a longer post on the topic of change, click here. Just remember that it's not change we fear, it's the uncertainty of what the future holds. It's hard to remember this on a daily basis, but the important part is that you do remember. That you remember that your future is not something to be feared, but something that you must embrace as it comes. 

Here are a few actionable suggestions for when you need to reflect and reset your mindset:
  • Journal. This is by far my favorite way to lay out what I'm thinking and figure out where I may need to shift my mind. Check out posts on journaling here and here.
  • Yoga. While I am not into meditation (I took a mediation class in college and couldn't stand sitting still with nothing to do), I do like the singular focus that yoga promotes. Here are free yoga resources and adaptive yoga resources.
  • Blog/insert hobby of choice here/focus on something else. Although it may seem counterintuitive, sometimes you need to take a step back from whatever you're dwelling on and focus on something external to gain perspective.
As we head into 2018, let's make a commitment to make peace with our future and approach the new year with an attitude of abundance. 

How do you feel about the future? How do you ensure that you are positive and maintain perspective when things are tough?

-AJF
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December 13, 2017

IBM Summit Program: Weeks 23-25

Check out weeks 1&2, 3&4, 5&67&89&1011&1213&1415&1617-19, and 20-22 here!

6 months and 10 blog posts later (well, 9 months and 21 blogs posts if we count the internship too), we’ve arrived at the last installment of my Summit Program series. When I wrote my very first Summit blog post during my internship last year, I was hopeful that some people would read and enjoy my trials and tribulations and successes as I navigated IBM. What I didn’t expect was to have thousands of views and for dozens of phone calls and meetings to follow with people who connected to my writing and stories. It is only appropriate for this final post to begin with a thank you to everyone who has taken time to click on my post.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! This final installment of my IBM Summit Program blog series is all about graduating, attending industry events, and figuring out what career topics to tackle next
Now, let’s jump into the last three weeks! Thanksgiving week was short, so I don’t have a ton to report. It was the usual combination of landing team work and getting ready for Global Sales School the following week. The final week of Global Sales School was all about bringing together every element of sales we had learned over the past 6 months and creating a distinctive experience for the client. The picture for this post is me right after my last role play. Don't let the smile fool you, I was crying on the inside. Thanks to Matt for taking this photo!

I headed off to Chicago on Sunday to be ready bright and early on Monday. First, we had “agile” training where we learned about the best practices for teaming and continuous improvement in self organized groups. There are many elements of agile, but instead of going into all of that, I’m going to describe an exercise we did that I loved.

In our group of 30 people we were each given a tennis ball and told that we had to maximize the number of tennis balls that every single person had touched. The catch was that you could not pass the tennis ball to the person directly to your left or right. Oh, and the ball must end where it started to earn a point. We were given less than a minute to organize and execute. As you would imagine, the first time was chaos as we tried to work together, but with each successive round we got better. This taught us to identify bottlenecks, have a clearly articulated goal at the start of a project, and the value of multiple iterations.

In the afternoon, we began our role plays. At the end of this week had to give a final presentation with our team and write a proposal for an e-commerce solution for the client. To find out the client’s requirements and what they wanted in a solution, we listened closely during every role play and got together to determine what we had to make sure to ask in each conversation.

After a full day of role plays, we went out for dinner then made camp in the hotel lobby to work on our proposal. Looking around at all the other teams I felt like I was on The Apprentice with all of us getting ready for the next day. What I love about the Summit Program is the perfect mix of competition and support for each other. The next morning we were back in the office, hard at work on the proposal in the morning, and then the afternoon and evening were spent on the presentation. I’m so grateful for the team I got to work with during the program. These guys are talented and fun and smart and I did not stop laughing as we worked together.

When we gave our presentation the next day it was surreal to realize that we were done with the Summit Program. There was a final lunch where our instructor, Feridoon, passed out our graduation certificates and announced that my team won the presentation competition!

I also found out that I graduated first in the class and was given a book on international business etiquette as a prize. If you’ve ever read my etiquette posts, you’ll know that etiquette is a passion of mine and I was so excited to receive this book!

Leaving Chicago and saying goodbye to my friends was sad, but here’s to hoping we’ll reunite at the THINK conference in a few months (Vegas, anyone?). The Summit Program was a wonderful introduction to the professional world and now I am focused on putting to use the skills I built with my landing team.

This past week I attended the IBM Payments Summit in Manhattan where IBMers and clients got together to discuss trends and progress in the payments industry. It was a great learning experience and gave me the chance to meet more of my team who live across the country. After that event, Logan and I went to a Fintech talk that IBM hosted about how startups work with large companies. These sort of events teach me more than I could ever hope to on my own and provide a great place to meet people in the industry. Being in Manhattan puts me right in the heart of the action of the Financial Services industry and I cannot wait to continue my career here.

There you have it. My final Summit Program installment. Blogging about my experience has been a wonderful way to capture and remember this time, and I would love to continue sharing my career story in the future.

-AJF
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