Thursday, September 1, 2016

Old Fashioned Rules of Etiquette to Keep in a Modern World

modern etiquette rules
Unfortunately, we are in a day and age that has allowed the demise of old-fashioned etiquette in most forms. Manners, courtesy and any sort of care about behaving properly have become little more than a distant memory and an absolute rarity. In a world surrounded by lewdness and vulgarity, there are still a few standards of etiquette that we should keep alive and well.


Starting here because it is a very big pet peeve of mine. Not RSVPing is not the same as RSVPing "With Regrets". The host or the hostess is likely trying to plan and budget for the projected number of guests and may not want to risk not having the necessary concessions on the chance that those that didn't return their RSVPs may show up. If someone took the time to send you an invitation, please take the time to respond in a timely fashion.

2. Thank You Notes

Really, "thank you"s in general, but for all intents and purposes, I'll stick to notes. Again, if someone has taken the time to do something nice for you, especially a gift, please take the time to send a proper "thank you". Please avoid the inclination to take the easy way out by using e-mail/Facebook/or other impersonal forms of social media, a simple card with handwritten gratitude still goes a long way.

3. Handshake

A handshake goes beyond a formal greeting to a sign of confidence and respect. A good, firm handshake will take you a long way.
Gentlemen meeting a lady: Allow her to dictate the personal contact by waiting for her to extend her hand first.
Ladies: Extend your hand, please.

4. Punctuality

Please be courteous and respectful of other people's time and show up on time, "fashionably late" is far from fashionable.  Showing up on time is much more appreciated than an "I'm running late" call or especially text.

5. Opening Doors

If someone is entering a building behind you, it is polite to hold the door for them. Please, if someone holds the door for you, acknowledge them with a thank you and a smile.
Gentlemen: It is polite to hold the door for a lady and let her enter before you. It is also still polite to open her car door for her.
Ladies: Please accept this courtesy graciously. It is not flirting, an attack on feminism, or an insinuation that you are not capable, it is simply (not so) common courtesy.
*Side note: My husband recently took a business trip to New Jersey and attempted to hold a door for a woman walking up behind him, only to be snapped at that she didn't need him to hold the door for her and that she could do it herself. She then proceeded to stand and wait for the door to close all the way so that she could open it herself.

6. Asking for Gifts

This one, in particular, has been making the rounds lately as I'm sure the entire free world has already seen the viral letter sent out by the parents of a one-year-old in regards to a birthday gift. (I will not be linking to it since I am sure that they have already suffered their fair share of mortification with their letter being plastered on every blog and social media site out there.) Although gift registries and wish lists have become commonplace, it is generally impolite to make mention of or request gifts. On the other end of the spectrum, it is also impolite to dictate "no gifts" as this would tend to insinuate that gifts were otherwise expected.

7. Personal Hygiene is Best Left in Bathrooms

Personal hygiene is a wonderful thing to have... at home. There are definitely instances where personal hygiene concerns require immediate attention and it is always best to excuse yourself to the restroom instead of flossing your teeth or filing your nails in a public space. This is especially true for restaurants. It is considered impolite to do anything more than touch up lipstick at a dining table.

8. Speaking Negatively

It used to be considered impolite to speak of anything negative at all or to even ask a question that could elicit a negative response. (ex: it would be impolite to ask "how is your mother?" as this could illicit a negative response if she were unwell, it would be considered polite to say "I hope your mother is well." instead). This is a little extreme for the modern age, but I like that this can be adapted in a less extreme way by avoiding speaking of negative situations unless asked or necessary, especially with people that have no part in them.

9. Public Discretion

The ideals on this area of etiquette used to be very different for men and women. While it was expected of men to make themselves as visible as possible to avoid the appearance of a "lurker", while it was expected that women do the exact opposite to avoid catching the gaze "lurkers" and "loafers". Many of the old-fashioned views on public discretion can be easily and well adapted in modern times to simply exercising some modesty and dignity (in both attire and behavior) in public situations.

Modern Bonus: 10. Public Cell Phone Use

This one pretty much goes hand in hand with number nine, but with its prevalence, it deserves its own number. Public cell phone usage is best avoided as it takes the privacy out of private conversations and generally disturbs those around you. There are those urgent phone calls that must be taken right then and there, but please do so with courtesy and excuse yourself if possible.

What rules of etiquette would you like to see make a comeback?

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