Newport Manners & Etiquette: Huge Decline In Presidential Standards, Apologies + Phone Safe Box

Thursday, October 12, 2017
Didi Lorillard, GoLocalProv Manners + Etiquette Expert

The fall and decline of presidential standards, speech preparation tips, trending phone safe boxes, and why the sorriest word should not be sorry were all questions to Didi Lorillard this week at NewportManners.

Really awful downfall of Presidential standards and behavior

Q. It wasn't that long ago when Republicans were bashing Obama for not having presidential manners. It appears that they've lowered their standards for the current occupant of the Oval Office. The alt right press used photos of Obama and his aids playing pickup games of basketball or touch football on the White House lawn to illustrate his lack of appropriate presidential behavior. 

It's true whether shooting pool or bowling, Obama cannot contain his competitive nature, but at least he works it out in a healthy manner. And when photos of him in shirt sleeves appeared, Andrew Card, President George W. Bush's chief of staff, criticized Obama to the press saying, "Wear a suit coat and tie." Do you agree that it is disgraceful how this country has lost dignity through its deterioration of manners and etiquette spiraling downward in this current administration?  MC, Washington, DC

A. The standard of presidential behavior has deteriorated in the disgraceful Trump administration to rock bottom when the president of the United States gets away with mocking foreign leaders and calling them despicable nicknames. He's not even criticized for calling for the firing of a "son of a bitch."

Don't get me started:

  • While playing golf Trump criticizes the mayor of a city underwater from a catastrophic hurricane for "poor leadership." The rest of the world refers to it as a "Medical Crisis," because "The Whole Island Is Critical."
  • To make it worse, without compassion Trump adds insult to injury by complaining that the victims of the hurricane "want everything to be done for them."
  • Further to the insult, after throwing paper towels at the victims, he tells them they should be "very proud" that only 16 victims died already.
  • Whether he's attacking a senator battling cancer or making reference to a supreme court justice as a "judicial prostitute," his behavior is despicable.
  • He stoops so low as to call transgender children part of "Satan's plan." Come on... 
  • What's presidential about calling the White House "a real dump"? And inviting to the Oval Office a friend who threatened to assassinate President Obama and called him a "subhuman mongrel"? Don't forget, Trump called his opponent a "worthless bitch?" Really, who talks like that? Certainly not the president? Even if he is calling for an investigation of his opponent seven months after winning the election.
  • At tax payers' expense, Trump spends one day in three promoting his properties where a photo of him on the cover of Time magazine applauding his business successes is hung on the walls. How tacky is that?
  • He shows no respect whatsoever for the survivors of victims of 9/11 and the 20 school children who were massacred in Newtown, CT., by awarding press credentials to a website that claims both incidents were "a hoax." 
  • Mocking the mayor of London for his cautious, serious reaction to a terrorist attack, doesn't win us friends abroad. 
  • Nor does hogging a photo opportunity with another head of state by shoving him aside during a NATO meeting in Brussels.
  • Did you know that it is a known fact that Trump is caught in a lie on an average of more that five times a day?


Between the tweeting addiction, compulsive lying, firry war and peace rhetoric, meddling with prosecutorial independence, incendiary campaign rallies disguised as presidential addresses, etc., all are breaches of the unofficial etiquette of presidential manners.  

*Many thanks to the New York Times for recent editorials on this subject.

8 great tips for what to do when a speech is interrupted

Q.  In preparing to make a speech, what should I be anticipating?  I've made the speech before, but afterward, I wondered if I would be as lucky next time. My sympathies are with British Prime Minister Theresa May, who certainly hadn't planned on having an allergy attack while making a speech recently.  Edwina, Chicago


A.  Not much more could have gone wrong during a recent conference event that made international headlines, but I have to give Theresa May a lot of credit for soldiering through by keeping posed and not losing her wonderful sense of humor.

A good speech needn't turn bad. Be prepared for the worst possible case scenario by planning accordingly:

  • Don't freeze up or panic.
  • Accept whatever interruption happens.
  • Don't think about how you look, your audience really does want you to succeed.
  • Throw your shoulders back and keep them that way while smiling.
  • Acknowledge the interruption and when your audience is ready continue.
  • Find out who you would turn to if something did go wrong, such as the sound system and remember their first name. Publicly thank them for their help.
  • Never blame anyone for the distraction. Just be polite. Grace under stress is an endearing quality.
  • At the end of the day, you want to roll with the punches and go with the flow. Look at interruptions as distractions for an opportunity for levity and a blessing in disguise to show adaptability, humor, and most of all, that you're human.
  • A really great two minute warm up you can do before any presentation or entrance is to practice Amy Cuddy's Power Pose. View Ms. Cuddy's TED talk on body language here. 


Trending phone safe boxes at the best restaurants

Q. At our upscale restaurant we are investigating the possibility of adding phone 'safe boxes' to assure a more pleasant ambience for our most valued customers who have been complaining about the annoyance of cellphone activity in our restaurant. What do you recommend?  Name Withheld


A.  Better restaurants have recently been exploring the trend of installing 'safe boxes' for diner cellphones to enable customers to give up their cellphone for the duration of the meal. Certainly, I would be willing to give up my cellphone while I eat, but I've made a habit of turning it off when I enter a restaurant, just the way I would turn it to off when arriving a someone's house or office.

These days restaurant dinner tables ring out with buzzes, pings and jingles and one wonders what happened to good old-fashioned conversation. If the business dinner or date is too important to be interrupted by your cellphone or theirs (which may have cost up to $1,000 to replace), a 'safe box' might be a brilliant idea to explore. Here's what we've discovered:

  • Only the wait staff will know the combination to release your phone from the 'safe box,' which apparently is disguised as a book so it won't look too weird and out of place on your table.
  • Additionally, restaurants will be able to make a lock box available for diners to buy so they can try the social experiment at home


Let's ask readers for their input by having them leave a comment below after scrolling down. You can then see for yourself what the climate of the culture around cellphone use while dining really is.

The sorriest word in the universe should not be sorry

Q. I need to apologize to someone and I just can't bring myself around to making the actual apology. It doesn't help that I'm being pressured by others to apologize. The walls are closing in. Any advice?  Name Withheld

A.  Never underestimate the power of a straightforward apology. Even when it wasn't personally your fault. As tiresome as it might be, verbalizing your regret and sympathy for another's adversity demonstrates benevolence and helps to cool a heated exchange -- often preventing unfortunate consequences.

  • Nor does an honest apology mean telling the person that you're "sorry that they feel that way," or that you're "sorry that you've chosen to take offense," because, of course, that puts the blame on the other person.
  • Saying you're sorry is only the first step. Next you've got to make it alright by rectifying the mistake.
  • With a family member, lover, friend or colleague:
  • Don't procrastinate a moment longer, because bad feelings fester.
  • Ask if you can meet in person. When that's not possible, pick up the phone. Remember that a voicemail, text, or email saying that you're sorry won't have the backbone of a one-on-one conversation.
  • Make sure that the apology takes places in private.
  • No matter how awful you feel, do NOT turn the blame around onto the other person.
  • Reiterate with a follow-up message. Sending a gift shouldn't be necessary unless you've inadvertently destroyed something irreplaceable.


You've got the essentials, however, if there is contributory blame, find out if the aggrieved person would help you analyze what went eschew. In going over the incident, during the process their own shortcomings are identified as are those of the person making the apology.

Lastly, it goes without saying that if the incident stemmed from a comment you made or something you did that others were witness to, you probably want to apologize again in front of that same audience.

Didi Lorillard researches manners and etiquette for her upcoming book at NewportManners.

  • September 9 & 10

    RI Seafood Festival at India Point Park

    Providence, RI 

    The Rhode Island Seafood Festival is an annual event, which started in 2011, that brings together the best local sellers of seafood and other fine fare as well as beer, wine and spirits from Ocean State producers.

    The festival includes live music, great food and much more. 

    The festival will go from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

  • September 10

    3rd Annual Ocean State Beer Festival 

    South Kingstown, RI 

    The third annual Ocean State Beer Festival will take place at Whalers Brewing Company in South Kingstown. 

    The festival will feature beer from breweries around Rhode Island. 

    The festival is hosted by the Rhode Island Brewer’s Guild. 

  • September 12

    Phantom Gourmet Food Festival

    Boston, MA

    The Phantom Gourmet Food Festival is an event to look forward too and it will be held on September 12 from 12- 4 p.m. on two streets next to Fenway Park.

    Tickets are $40 in advance and online and will go up to $50 at the event.

    The ticket includes sampling 100 of Phantom's foods from hot dogs and pizza to pulled pork and more. Beer and wine will be served on the street.

  • September 15-17

    Wormtown Music Festival at Camp Keewanee

    Greenfield, MA

    A three-day long concert featuring bands such as The Alchemystics (pictured), a community bonfire, craft vendors and more.

    Kids 15 and under are FREE to the event. 

  • September 15-17

    Misquamicut Fall Festival

    Misquamicut Beach, RI 

    The 2017 Misquamicut Fall Festival features live music from John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band and other local bands. 

    The festival will also feature a car show, crafts, food truck rodeo and much more. 

    Parking is free. 

  • September 15 - October 1

    The Big E 

    West Springfield, MA

    The Big E in West Springfield, Massachusetts features a circus spectacular, Mardi Gras parade, agricultural competitions, arts & crafts, food contests, live music, and midway. 

    Sample food and enjoy rides, games, horse shows, historical exhibits and more. 

  • September 15 -16

    2017 Fitchburg Greek Festival at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church

    Fitchburg, MA 

    The 2017 Festival begins at on Friday, September 15 from 5 10 p.m. and continues on Saturday, September 16 from 11 am. to 10 p.m.

    The festival will feature an outdoor bar area, a menu including Mezedes, Greek BBQ, and pastries, vendors, music, and dance. 

  • September 23

    Ocean State Oyster Festival at Riverwalk Park

    Providence, RI

    The Ocean State Oyster Festival hopes to raise awareness and celebrate RI’s aquaculture industry. 

    The festival will take place on Saturday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Providence. 

    The festival will feature fine local food, beer, wine, and refreshments, local bands & DJs, activities for kids, culinary exhibitors, educational exhibits, a shucking contest. 

    Purchasing a general admission ticket gets you a half dozen oysters and an ice cold craft beer of your choice.

  • September 23 & 24

    KidsFest 2017 at Wachusett Mountain

    Wachusett Mountain, MA 

    The festival runs from 10 a.m. on the 23rd to 5 p.m. on the 24th.

    It will include entertainment such as a BMX Bike Show, Rainforest Reptile Shows Inc., and a Baby Animal Petting Zoo.

    There will also be sample skiing and a USA Ninja Warrior Challenge Course. 

  • September 29 -30

    Harpoon Octoberfest at Harpoon Brewery 

    Boston, MA

    Octoberfest will feature beer, bratwursts, chicken dancing, and more as Harpoon celebrates 28 years of Octoberfest. 

    Entrance to the festival is $25 and includes a souvenir pint glass and your first beer. 

  • September 30

    Burke Mountain Fall Foliage Festival

    Burke, Vermont

    The Burke Mountain Fall Foliage Festival is one of the biggest festivals of the year in Vermont.

    Events at the festival include a parade which begins at 10 a.m., a farm animal petting zoo, horse-drawn carriage rides, a beer and wine tent open from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. and live music by Tritium Well from 2:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. 

  • October 5 - November 5

    Roger Williams Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular 

    Providence, RI

    This annual event, created by artists and craftsmen of Passion for Pumpkins, and features 5,000 illuminated jack-o-lanterns, with over 125 of them artistically carved and displayed in scenes to play out the annual theme. 

  • October 6-8

    Freeport Fall Festival 

    Freeport, Maine

    The festival will feature more than 130 artists showing off their work ranging from photography oil, watercolor, mixed media and much more.

    The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

  • October 7

    International Oktoberfest at Bold Point Park 

    East Providence, RI 

    International Oktoberfest will take place over Columbus Day weekend at Bold Point Park. 

    The festival will include seasonal beer, German cuisine, and live music. 

  • October 7-8

    Annual Fall Festival Weekend - Sunday River

    Newry, Maine 

    The annual Fall Festival Weekend welcomes the start of a new season with live music every day, a crafts fair and some friendly competition. 

    That competition includes the 17th Annual North American Wife Carrying Competition where teams will compete and winners will receive the wife's weight in beer and five times her weight in cash.


    PHOTO: Sunday River

  • October 7-9

    Columbus Day Festival on Federal Hill

    Providence, RI 

    The annual Columbus Day Festival on Federal Hill is ready to take place once again featuring three days of Italian music, food and entertainment. 

  • October 14

    8th Annual Fall Harvest Celebration at Patriots Place 

    Foxboro, MA 

    The day is filled with fall activities for all ages including hayrides, pumpkin painting, live music, and more. 

    The celebration runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

  • October 14

    9th Annual New Hampshire Brewfest at Redhook Ale Brewery 

    Portsmouth, NH

    The New Hampshire Brewfest will feature more than 150 beers from over 50 brewers. 

    Admission includes entry to the session specified on your ticket, 5oz souvenir sampling cup, beer samples, and live music and festivities

  • October 20-29

    2017 Vermont International Film Festival 

    Burlington, Vermont

    The 2016 Vermont International Film Festival is set to take place from October 20 to October 29. 

    The festival will feature films from all over the world. 

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