Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Are Proper Manners Lost in a Modern Society?

I like to think that minding ones manners and proper etiquette would come naturally,  but is doesn't.  Like anything it must be taught and practiced. Emily Post quoted:
"Manners are made up of trivialities of deportment which can be easily learned if one does not happen to know them."
When I was four, my mother taught me how to walk with a book on my head, how to properly use my utensils and behave in front of company.  She taught me the importance of the thank you note, and how to be gracious.
Coco Chanel
She gave me the best advice via Coco Chanel; "Remove one accessory before leaving the home." and "A girl should be two things: Classy and Fabulous."  How you outwardly appear to yourself and to others does reflect on how you behave.  Being well dressed in public is a means of showing respect to those that are keeping your company.
In today's world, manners and proper etiquette seems to have fallen by the wayside. They are not current in today's fast paced world of iPhones, Facebook and E-mail.  The idea of putting pen to paper for a proper thank you is unheard of in most circles.
Children by and large are with out manners, they are coddled and excused for every inconceivable behaviour by their parents and live in a world of self entitlement.
Rather recently I encountered a family in a crowded restaurant. A boy and a girl with Mom and Dad. They were maybe seven and nine years old.  They sat quietly having a very civilized conversation with each other.  They said "please" and "Thank you" to each other.  I was so impressed, I made a comment to the mother on how very well-behaved they were.  She smiled at me and said "Thank you, I demand it, even at home." and she thanked me for noticing.
The gentleman
Proper manners and etiquette is hard to come by in adults much less in today's youth, even I falter, we all do.  However, being completely unschooled in civility is unnecessary with every technology and topic available at our fingertips.
When we don't know directions to a destination we Google it. Why can't we Google "How to write a proper thank you note?" or "Which fork is the salad fork?"
Pen & Paper
So what are the most important manners and rules of etiquette in my world?  Here is a list of my top 10
Using your phone in a restaurant.  It is rude to those that you are with.  If you must take a call step away from the table to some place private.  Spending the entire meal on Facebook is simply inexcusable. Turn off your phone and enjoy your company.
Rude treatment to servers. How one treats their waiter or waitress speaks volumes to how they treat people in general.  If you have received bad service from a server then it should reflect in your tip, not in your treatment towards them.
Crying or badly behaved children.  We can never expect that a baby or young child is going to be perfect at every turn.  However, in the event you are in a store, restaurant or other public place and your child becomes unruly or crying because she has missed her nap time, the best rule is to take them out of the environment to someplace private, such as the car, until they calm down.  If they are old enough, this is a teachable moment.  Telling the child that you will have to go home if they don't behave and following through will teach them to mind during the next outing.  On more than one occasion I have had to take my meal 'to go' due to a too tired baby.  There is no need to disturb other diners or to make a public scene.
Using capital letters in an e-mail, text or social media post.  It is the equivalent of yelling.
Not sending your RSVP to an event regardless of how the invitation was received.
You sent an RSVP for an event and said you would be attending then didn't show. Almost completely inexcusable.
You received a gift and didn't send a written thank you note.
Chewing gum or eating while talking to someone on the phone.
Asking for gifts.  No matter what the occasion, it is never proper to ask for a gift (even for a wedding.) Gift registry is nothing less than "requesting" a gift which is rude.

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