Q&A Wednesday: A Flu Etiquettes?

by Mindy Lockard on October 13, 2009


Well, ladies and gentleman, there is a new four-letter/digit virus in town and it’s H1N1. Today, while volunteering in Elle’s class, I sat across a very small table from three wide-eyed, hair-tussled, semi-adult teeth baring first-graders. I extended my hand to say good morning. As my hand made contact, the voices of reason and not so reasonable began to speak their mind, in my mind.

Reasonable: “Uh oh, perhaps a fist bump would have been better.”

Not so Reasonable: “Oh dear! What have you done?  Hurry sanatize… SANATIZE!”

Reasonable: “I’ll just wash when I have a moment.”

Not so reasonable:  “Did you just feel that ping in your head and scratch in your throat?  You’ve been exposed!”

I know I’m not alone.  Although many wouldn’t share the “voices” in their heads–you and your voices are out there. I know it. With this being said, there is a discussion to have in the manners department and how we handle ourselves when we are sick or sick with fear of being sick.

Before we get started please note that is mannerly advice, not medical advice… just an etiquette consultant’s prescription for gracious living!

When you are sick or your children are sick: STAY HOME! Yes, I know you have work to do. Or, having your children home will really throw your day off… especially when you have a hair appointment and your hairdresser is weeks out. But truly taking you and your germs off the market is the most gracious thing to do. Don’t push your body or your luck with those you work with or socialize with. Sometimes we honestly don’t know we are sick… but many times we do and put those around us at risk.

Be honest: Be honest with yourself and those around you. If you have symptoms or your children tell you they aren’t feeling well, be honest with what that looks like. Take a temperature. If you or your children have a fever, please don’t take a fever reducing medicine and then convince yourself that a miracle has happened. Also, tell the school or your work if and when you are sick and what you have. Although it can be embarrassing, it’s respectful to let any organization know what others may come down with. Most companies and schools have systems for disseminating information without giving specifics of who or even what. Honesty is always the most mannerly policy!

Stay informed: Don’t spend all day googling and web searching every symptom–as you may come away with greater fears and what may seem as larger issues than when you started. Contact your doctor if you have any symptoms and/or schedule an appointment (over the phone is best) to discuss your concerns.

Talking about Feelings: Sometimes sharing our concerns make us feel better and sometimes they light a wildfire of fear that’s hard to control. Cornering people at a PTO meeting or monopolizing dinner conversations around your concerns won’t make anyone feel better. It’s perfectly normal to be worried when there are major health concerns. Again, talking to your doctor will help you be informed and stay as healthy as possible.

When other’s have it: It’s acceptable to stay away, even doing a “ding dong ditch” when you’ve made a store run for them.  Don’t gossip about them or tell everyone you know that they “have it.”  If you come in contact with people who clearly aren’t well and they extend their hand for a shake, you have two choices.  One, leave them hanging and tell them you have a policy this winter to not shake hands.  Or, shake and sanitize… not in front of them but keep a small bottle of sanitizer handy and access it as soon as possible.

What are some gracious or not-so-gracious health issues you’ve encountered?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer S. 10.14.09 at 5:05 am

There was a huge national fencing tournament held last weekend. Although the rules state that competitors must shake hands after every bout, they decided to encourage everyone to bump bell guards or elbows instead of shaking hands. It was hard for people to remember, fencers are hardwired to shake after every bout, but they definitely tried.

The only problem is when fencers know each other well they tend to shake hands (bump guards, in this case) and then hug. That sort of defeated the purpose. 🙂

admin 10.14.09 at 5:15 am

I’m sad to see some of the traditional gestures in sports be changed because of this nasty virus! I love that fencers are hardwired to shake after every bout, it’s a great skill to have in one’s hard wiring! Thanks for sharing this, Jennifer!

Rebecca 10.14.09 at 8:46 am

Thanks for your insight. I completely agree about the reasonable/not-so-reasonable internal voices! I flew this weekend and saw quite a few people wearing masks and using hand sanitizers. I’m glad to see people are taking a more proactive approach to keeping the flu at bay!

admin 10.14.09 at 8:54 am

I agree that it’s nice to see others taking a proactive approach! Thanks Rebecca for stopping by and for your thoughts — I love reading readers responses!

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