Saturday, January 30, 2016

                          What Happened to Manners?

     When I was growing up, manners were taught in the home. We didn’t have or need courses in school to teach us when to lower our voices, not to interrupt, not to brag, not to draw unnecessary attention to ourselves or how to behave at a concert or as a guest in someone’s home. I noticed on the Today Show the other day a segment about how to behave when you visit someone in their home. What? We need a segment on national television to teach us the obvious? Perhaps this is for the children in my own children’s generation, but if I learned it, then I taught it. So it must be for Generation Y or the Millenials. They aren’t watching television during the day, however, and if they were, they would probably not be watching the Today Show. 
The amazing thing to me is that the people I most often see or hear demonstrating their ignorance in this matter are 50 and over, many 60 and over. What does this tell me? They know the rules but don’t give a damn? Their parents didn’t teach them like mine did? They have forgotten?

     Last night, we were having dinner with friends at our country club. Now the country club is a microcosm of every social faux pas you could ever imagine, but you might have to look and listen carefully. Here are lessons I learned before the age of seven that people ignored last night: (They did not all occur at our table).

  1. Do not approach a table to talk to people when they are eating dinner or engaged in talking to the people they are with.
  2. Do not interrupt people when they are speaking.
  3. Do not change the subject when someone is speaking, without acknowledging that you are doing so.
  4. Do not talk or laugh so loud that people at surrounding tables can’t hear their own conversations.
  5. Do not approach a table where you know one couple and just ignore the other. Introduce yourself and leave promptly after greeting friends.
  6. Never ever interrupt your spouse without expecting consequences.
  7. Never correct your spouse publicly without expecting consequences.
  8. Do not blow your nose at the table.
  9. Do not pick food out of your teeth at the table.
  10. When someone shows you photos, be polite, look at them, and say something kind, not negative.
  11. Do not look at your cell phone during a conversation or, Heaven Forbid, answer a call without leaving the table.
  12. Do not leave the table sitting there while you’re scrolling through your phone trying to locate a photo of your pet, especially if the people are not pet lovers.
  13. When leaving the couple you’re with, leave them feeling better about themselves than when you got there.

People may forget everything you say, but they won’t forget how you made them feel.