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Manners…What Emily Post Knew (and You Should Too!)

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I recently made a most amazing discovery – a treasure, if you will – hidden deep in the suburban basement of a neighbor’s home. No, I wasn’t in search of a valuable find…it was just random luck as I assisted good friends and neighbors in the clearing of cobwebs in preparation for their summer company. The unexpected find was a serendipitous bonus.

“Manners are the way we communicate good intentions.”

Wise words from another friend of mine, spoken to our children. Being that this particular friend was from another country and English was a second language made it all the more interesting. I began to ponder the vast importance of this politeness stuff…making translation unnecessary.

It was pristine, untouched, recklessly abandoned beneath tattered copies of Harry Potter and the latest Lucado…Emily Post’s Etiquette book. So, it wasn’t an original, first edition – but it was a 75th Anniversary, 16th Edition, revised and updated by Emily’s great-grand-daughter-in-law, Peggy Post. I had been searching for this book for years (um, ok, so I could have gone to a bit more trouble in accessing a copy…but lets not take away from the moment.). I believe my friend’s response to that admission was something of the, “You’re so weird!” sort, but I suppose that much is true. (And with that, I was confident that she had *not* read the book, ha!)

Etiquette, according to Wikipedia, is a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class or group. Let me paraphrase here: RuLEs FoR NorMaLCy. Oh, and this stuff can be hysterically funny too!

Food For Thought…

“Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.” Emily Post

“Nothing is less important than which fork you use. Etiquette is the science of living. It embraces everything. It is ethics. It is honor.” Emily Post

“A compliment is baloney sliced so thin that it is delectable. Flattery is baloney sliced so thick that it is indigestible.” Archbishiop Fulton Sheen via Emily Post

Continued Wisdom…

“When it comes to general conversation, the old adage ‘If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” is good advice.” Emily Post

“Suitability should be a factor in choosing your stationery, just as it is in choosing your wardrobe.” Emily
Post

“Graceful standing and walking posture includes the following components: shoulders back, chin in and slightly
up, abdomen and stomach in, back straight and knees relaxed.” Emily Post

“There is little you can do about the annoying speech mannerisms of others, but there is a lot you can do about your own.” Emily Post

It Might Be Funny…BUT

Laughter aside, rules for appropriate behavior according to social norms are great ways to help our children excel in their world, and there is now information on internet etiquette in the updated edition…a concept called “netiquette.” Read, laugh, enjoy, giggle…but in the end, you might have a few extra insights that could come in handy – personally and professionally.

“Women frequently ask whether they should call an unzipped fly to the wearer’s attention. Unless you are total strangers, do.” Emily Post

…and if they’ve brushed up on their manners, they will kindly thank you, wink!

 

 

 

photo: decepa 

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Comments
  • comment avatar Amber Johnson August 2, 2012

    Society definitely doesn’t emphasize the importance of manners anymore. What are some specific examples from the book? Really liked the zipper one. Sometimes you’re just never sure.

  • comment avatar jaime swartzendruber August 4, 2012

    I agree, Amber, manners are becoming an exception rather than a rule. It really is unfortunate because it is such an easy way to show others that you care.

    Fun examples from the book:

    If a nude person at the health club engages conversation with you, just look them in the eye while talking. (always good advice!)

    The small end of chopsticks is for inserting food into the mouth. To retrieve food from the communal bowl, turn the chopsticks around and use the large end. (use the chopsticks if they are offered – and you are able)

    While it’s ok to peel and bite a banana at home…one should remove the peel, slice and eat the banana with a fork in public. (I would advise the same for those frozen and served on a stick)

    If you’ve forgotten someone’s name and another friend joins the conversation, you should introduce your friend to the stranger by saying, “Oh, haven’t you met Janet Cartozian?” The stranger should then offer their name. If you are confronted with the loss of memory, be honest and admit that you do not remember their name and allow for them to finish the introduction.

    It is permissible to remove food from the mouth by discretely pushing it into a napkin with the tongue and disposing of the napkin.

  • comment avatar Laura August 4, 2012

    ohhhh, this is so timely. We’re working on manners around here, especially at the dinner table. Good table (and elsewhere) manners are going to serve these kids in everything from not grossing out a date to behaving at work functions. At the very least, they won’t end up like the fellow I used to work with who ate lunch at his desk and chewed loudly with his mouth open.

  • comment avatar Melissa August 4, 2012

    Love the quotes you pulled out of that wonderful treasure of a book!

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