eSSENTIAL AND eXCEPTIONAL eTIQUETTE

Yes, I’m back.  It seems like I was away for quite awhile; unfortunately life has a way of drowning out the things a person loves to do sometimes…such as blogging.  But I decided to jump from my boat and go diving to rescue my love from the bottom of the ocean (in other words, I’m letting the dishes go for right now and blogging instead=)

Every choir practice with the girls, I have a short devotional on something that relates to them.  This season we have been using the theme, “Becoming Daughters of a King”.  We have looked at different character aspects, but this last time I decided to switch it up a bit and talk about a practical, every-day subject- Basic Etiquette.

Awhile ago, I stumbled across a big red book called, The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Guide to Etiquette, which was written back in 1952.  I was amazed to read through chapter after chapter of simple things that make a world of difference.  How could a culture lose so much in only a few generations, I wondered.  Most individuals were polite (for the most part) and practiced basic manners a century ago.  Perhaps they did not value it enough, maybe they did not realize the importance of passing it on, possibly it was dropped when things such as “do your own thing, free love, go with the flow, if it feels good- do it” became a person’s philosophy, or perchance broken homes and abusive relationships helped to change society.

Whatever the cause, I quickly saw many things which needed corrected in my own actions and interactions.  I could not wait to share some “polite” jewels with my girls.  

It was almost hilarious to see expressions as I talked about certain things.  Eyebrows raised at words such as, “Always leave the best seat for those older and more honored than you.  Give up your seat if someone does not have one.  Don’t leave during a lecture/class/sermon unless it is an emergency.  Always eat a little bit of everything that a hostess has prepared (no matter how much you may dislike something)”.  Arguments burst forth at the part, “Children and young people should not be the first in food lines.  Do not begin eating until the hostess or those around you have begun.  Always ask to help the hostess with preparation and then do the dishes afterwards as a thank-you for the meal.”

No, not nearly all the girls disagreed or eye-rolled, but there still were a surprising amount who acted as if some of the basic etiquette practices were foreign to them.  And my choir girls are angels compared to most children in today’s society.  If you met those young ladies, you would instantly fall in love with them because they are respectful, caring, and well-kept eight to fourteen-year olds.  

But I can’t act like it is crazy that they need help on some points of etiquette because I, myself, have discovered quite a few areas in which I need work.

I’m not saying that a person has to become extreme about this issue.  Life would be zapped of all fun, enjoyment, and personality if we all had to walk around stern, rigid, and intent on making sure not a single point of politeness was missed.  I have seen a few people who live their lives this way.  They are not even enjoyable to be around because they are extremely guarded and cautious.  I’m always afraid that I’ll spill something or laugh too loudly and instantly offend them. 

Then there is the other extreme…the people who let it all “hang out”.  They sprawl across the couch, eating potato chips with their mouth hanging open as crumbles fall out, and then wipe the grease from their hands on the cushions.

Why is etiquette so important?  “Rude, insensitive behavior showcases not
only a lack of manners, but also a lack of respect for other people.  Practicing manners is a way of expressing love and consideration for others.  Showing honor and respect to those around us is a principle that should translate into every corner of our lives- from servers at restaurants and strangers at the mall to pastors and teachers sharing truth with us and our own family members in the privacy of our homes.”- Leslie Ludy

I also think that as Christians, we should especially exemplify politeness and practice etiquette.  We are ambassadors representing a pure, clean, love-encompassed Kingdom.  One would never realize that was the case if we are crude, sloppy, unkempt, and rude individuals.

I’m giving myself a challenge to try harder to think of others, to be more polite and mannerly, to be a Daughter of a King who is a worthy representative of her Father.  I’m leaving that challenge with you today as well.  In a culture that has little respect and almost zero manners, be something different and unique!

I gave a paper to each of the girls with this list.  Most of us practice the majority of points on the list, but there may be one or two things that catch your attention.  If nothing else, it is always good to brush up again on decorum and manners=)

  Most of the following notes were taken from The Lost Art of True Beauty and The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Guide to Etiquette

Conversation: 

  • look at people when they are talking
  • remember names
  • converse (don’t make the other person have a one-sided conversation)
  • introduce properly (elderly, women, and honored name is said first)
  • ask insightful questions
  • practice elegant speech
  • use proper names such as Mr., Mrs., Miss, Dr., etc…
  • don’t use crude humor or offensive language
  • don’t use fillers and slang
  • don’t belittle/gossip

Eating:

  • keep mouth closed when chewing
  • take small bites
  • don’t race through eating but don’t be the one on which everyone else is waiting
  • don’t talk with a full mouth
  • don’t grab- ask for it to be passed
  • keep elbows off the table
  • use proper utensils (work from outside to inside)
  • wait for proper cue to begin eating
  • don’t leave table until hostess dismisses
  • TIP customary amount to servers at restaurants
  • put napkin on lap
  • wipe mouth often and before taking drinks
  • take a little bit of everything and eat it
  • clean-up if you have an accident
  • use salt and pepper discreetly if must (although advised not to because of offending hostess)
  • check mouth in restroom after meals

As a Guest:

  • leave everything better than found (make bed, fold, arrange, clean down bathroom sinks, clean hair out of shower….)
  • respect others’ property—don’t use or touch something unless permission was given (instruments especially)
  • replace what is broken if you break something
  • do dishes for hostess
  • ask hostess how you may help
  • don’t ask for something unless it is an absolute need
  • always say thank-you
  • always leave a hostess gift
  • RSVP within time frame
  • always throw trash away
  • arrive punctually
  • don’t overstay

Home: 

  • respect your family, do your work and help with others’ chores as well
  • be respectful of sharing closet space/bedroom/personal property
  • keep time in the bathroom short and on schedule
  • use toothpaste neatly
  • clean down sinks, flush toilets, hang up towels and washcloths, pull shower curtain so it can air-dry
  • clean up after yourself, without having to be told
  • close doors and turn off lights behind you

Hospitality: 

  • invite others (include everyone not just the “cool” people),
  • think of your guests’ needs, don’t be afraid to give!
  • invite someone back after you were invited by them, don’t make them always do the inviting and hosting

Meetings/School/Church:

  • sit straight
  • no texting/drawing/etc…
  • don’t leave during session (always use restroom before and after)
  • pay attention (taking notes helps with this)
  • thank the speaker

Telephone:

  • answer with a polite and audible “hello, this is _______ speaking.”
  • take messages
  • don’t give personal info to strangers but still be friendly

Relating with others: 

  • don’t laugh/point/stare at those with handicaps-treat them like any other person
  • ignore others’ embarrassing accidents unless it is something with which you can help them
  • give up seat if there are not enough
  • compliment!
  • practice gift-giving!
  • visit friends in the hospital, attend funerals and weddings
  • don’t text or be on your phone when with others
  • be patient, be thankful, SMILE
  • move through crowds carefully/don’t bump into people
  • let someone with only one or two items checkout before you
  • if someone drops something-pick it up for them
  • obey signs (such as keep-out, private property, etc…)

Personal:

  • sit and stand straight- don’t slump
  • don’t whisper or yell when you talk
  • when you sneeze or cough- turn away from people and cover your mouth with sleeve
  • leave table if you have to blow nose or do it quietly
  • don’t drum fingers or make annoying noises
  • take showers, use deodorant, brush teeth, comb hair, watch for bad breath, take care of lint/dandruff

Money:

  • budget
  • share, don’t become a miser
  • tithe (at least 10%)
  • keep a savings

Technology:

  • don’t overshare
  • be considerate of other people’s privacy when you post pictures, locations, etc..
  • do not allow technology to come between personal relationships
  • be respectful of others’ time when chatting, emailing, or spending time on the phone
  • always ask yourself if what you are posting, visiting, or viewing will dishonor God and you as His ambassador

  Have fun practicing your manners today!

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2 thoughts on “eSSENTIAL AND eXCEPTIONAL eTIQUETTE

  1. Kara says:

    Love this! Etiquette should be a full-on course in both school and college! No one is too rich or poor to be well-bred and polite.

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