When I was growing up, I was blessed to have a family that kept me in line and were always looking to perfect my social skills. Their devotion to this task made it possible for me to be taken anywhere and into any environment, almost never creating a scene and upsetting my family. Ok, maybe once or twice, but only because my brothers made me do it! All kidding aside, a simple whisper from my mother or one of her “looks” would remind me that no one enjoys the company of a spoiled child, never mind what would be waiting for me when we got home! I was taught to share my toys and always respect my elders, among other things. Good manners create goodwill. We can all use a little more civility in our society. Let’s remember that the manners we live by should also be passed on. We set the example for our children and others to follow.
That said, here are (my top) ten points of etiquette that simply drive me crazy!
If you choose to smoke, never put your cigarette out on the sidewalk, street, or floor. It is not okay to leave the butt on the ground. Put it out on the street if you must but take it with you to the trash! Cigarette butts are litter and littering is bad. Throwing a lit cigarette out of car window is an even worse offense. Don’t do it!
Never eat off your knife. Yes, I know. I can’t believe it either. I recently had dinner with a new friend and was horrified to see this. I just about lost it when it happened the third time. I wanted to call his mother! Bad boy, bad boy!
Remove your sunglasses when you’re inside. WHY? Why would you even consider wearing them inside? Of course, there are people without sight who often wear dark glasses. Otherwise, it looks foolish, not cool.
Please, say “please”. What is more gracious than following your request with “please”? I am shocked and dismayed when I hear people make requests for things and they don’t bother to say “please”. I hear it all the time in restaurants. You have no idea how this one little word can have such a pleasing effect in your day to day experiences. “Yes, please.” “May I please have a glass of water?” “Please sit down and make yourself comfortable.” “Please join us”, or “May I have some bread, please?” Or my personal favorite, “Please take root and grow!”
I love this one. I make it a practice to stand when a woman excuses herself from the table, and again when she returns. Talk about a WOW factor, especially these days when women are not expecting it. Fellas, don’t be afraid. It is a sign of respect and acknowledgment and most women, not all, but most will be impressed.
Bring a new neighbor a pie or a small gift to welcome them to the neighborhood. Moving to a new neighborhood is difficult enough. This small effort will go a long way towards setting the tone of your neighborhood for years to come. I guarantee that if you do this for someone, they will do if for others.
If you are an overnight guest in someone’s home, offer to make dinner or take your host and or hostess out to dinner, your treat. Chances are your host or hostess will decline, but you get credit for being a considerate houseguest. Better to pay for dinner than to pay for a hotel.
Keep your commitments. Do what you say, don’t just say what you’ll do. Don’t offer if you can’t deliver, that’s my motto. Nothing is more aggravating than someone reneging on a promise or commitment especially when it involves others or there is a deadline. It is most inconsiderate and people will grow not to trust you. If you can’t do it, don’t accept it!
Isn’t it nice when someone holds the door open for you? Or steps aside to let you enter a building first? I think it is and I always offer up a “thank you” for the many little nice ways in which people are gracious and polite to me. Acknowledging polite behavior often seems to fall by the wayside in our hustle-n-bustle world. Could you sit on a bus or train and watch an elderly person or pregnant woman stand? I can’t. It just ain’t fit’in!!
And lastly, this is one of my pet peeves. You’re standing in the aisle of a grocery store or drug store surveying the goods and someone walks right in front of you as if you didn’t exist. Hello! The polite thing to do is to simply say “Excuse me” as you walk in front of them. That’s it. No big deal. That little gesture means that you acknowledge that the person was there before you and you have cut off their view if only for a second. It is the polite and civil thing to do.
Good manners preserve good relationships. In my home, I keep several etiquette books and refer to them as needed for answers or clarity on some not so common questions. In the end, keep in mind that you should always be treating others the way you would like to be treated, with consideration and respect. It’s the only civilized way to live. Manners and etiquette should be a part of our everyday life. Going overboard will, of course, drive everyone around you crazy. We can all learn something small and meaningful every day. If you simply follow your heart and the Golden Rule, you’ll find that you’re minding your manners at the same time. And that is a beautiful thing!
And there you have it.