Easy and Elegant Life

The Search for Everyday Elegance and the Art of Living Well.

Mind Your Manners, Please.

Revolving Door, istockphoto.com
(“Please, allow me….”)

I hate to have to post this, but having witnessed enough little violations of etiquette of late, I am afraid that the more egregious offences are not long in coming.

Everyone needs a refresher course now and again, even those of us with shelves full of etiquette books. So, let’s review a few basics.

Five Easy and Elegant Rules:

1) When confronted by a revolving door, the gentleman goes first, being careful to not speed through if an older woman or young child is next.

2) Don’t ask anyone’s age. It will be volunteered, if necessary.

3) Don’t ask how much someone paid for a large purchase, like a condo. It will be volunteered, if necessary.

4) Don’t ask how much someone makes as salary.

5) “Please” and “Thank you.”

14 thoughts on “Mind Your Manners, Please.

  1. Trying to raise decent and well mannered children is one thing. Constant reminders of the “please” and “thank-you” abound daily as well as never ask a woman her age. Then the but “why’s” start. — Because, I said so!
    There is something to be said, for “Yes, Mam and No Sir” – call me old fashioned!

  2. Hard to believe, indeed. And people who are old enough to know better, to boot.

    Old-fashioned? How about well-mannered?

    There was a wonderful line in the first episode of “Mad Men.” It went something like: “Please forgive Mr.____, he left his manners back in the Fraternity House.”

  3. One etiquette rule I’ve taught my daughter (now age 6) but which many men have forgotten: when on a sidewalk, a gentleman always walks on the right (ie street side) of the lady he is accompanying … old-fashioned, yes, but sensible in order to (1) protect her from splashes by passing cars and (2) guard against errant vehicles, et cetera. If I ever forget, even for a moment, she will correct me, saying, “Papa, you are in the wrong place.”

  4. Aesthete, a fine reminder. You will always be able to pick me out in the crowd. I am the one performing the ridiculous dance trying to stay on the street side of the maundering Mrs. E.

    I hope that my children turn out half as observant (and eloquent.)

    Peak, I was honestly at a loss. And don’t get me started on the “Are those real?” questions that Mrs. E. has to field about her jewelry.

  5. I’m always shocked when friends ask me what I make or what I paid for my condo! That kind of putting someone on the spot is totally unacceptable in my book but I generally cave and answer under the pressure – assault by surprise! I think this is an etiquette point that is taught to children ( or not taught as the case may be! )

  6. BtC, I, too, have yet to learn how to politely decline to answer. I tend to make a joke of it. “It was steal, only $50,000; but I have to pay off in gold Krugerrands.”

  7. All fine points, indeed, and ones that should, of course, be second nature, but for unknown reasons, are not. {I’m still scandalized by the dinner guests asking to watch your television.}

  8. I was always taught that you walked on the side of the lady from where you thought the greatest threat to her personage might come from i.e. if you must walk by a dark alley you walk between her and the alley, even if that means she is closest to the street.
    Now I know that seems old fashioned, and I’m not sure if I’d be any real help if there was trouble in that alley, but that’s what I’m looking for while walking with my wife.

  9. I have a friend who prides herself on her good manners, yet whenever I wear something new she always says ” what did you pay for that – I could probably have gotten it for you wholesale”. It drives me crazy, and now I just say “it was a gift” so I wouldn’t know, and I of course wouldn’t ask the giver.” (I’m hoping she gets the message on that but so far no luck).
    Bad manners on her part, but any other suggestions on how to deal with this?

  10. Hi Sally and welcome. Thanks for the question. That’s a tricky situation and your response is the one that I would probably choose too. You can also choose to skirt the issue with a quick “I’m so glad you like it, I think it’s very flattering and I’ll get a lot of use out of it. You know this colour would look great on you….” In other words a bit of misdirection to steer the conversation in a direction with which you are more comfortable. Hope that helps. Good luck!

  11. The other breech that I find annoying is people asking others what they do for a living. Then they make a value judgement on what they perceive of different occupations. When confronted with such invasive questions a good response is, “How kind of you to take an interest in my personal life,” with nothing else said.

    Another rude thing that I find on an almost daily basis is people cutting in and cutting in front…in the subway, in doorways, in lines, and in traffic. I always think that their urge to get somewhere is more important than any concern of what others might think of them. And I guess that in an era of Lindsay Lohans, few really care what others think of them.

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