The Revival of Common Courtesy ~ Every Day Manners

“The cardinal principle of etiquette is thoughtfulness, and the guiding rule of thoughtfulness is the Golden Rule. If you always do unto others as you would have done unto you, it is likely that you will never offend, bore or intrude, and that your actions will be courteous and indeed thoughtful.” ~Emily Post

“Parents who insist that their children practice courtesy and good habits at home are doing them a great service, for these habits then become lifelong and the natural way to do things. It is then unlikely that they will ever embarrass themselves socially or in business, for their unconscious actions will reflect a well mannered person.” ~Emily Post

Need I say more? Evidently yes based on what I see in everyday life. Just this past weekend I observed at least a dozen occasions where this was NOT being practiced. When I was young I was taught to say please, thank you, I’m sorry, excuse me and a variety of other niceties that tend to make life more pleasant as well as show respect for my elders.

Though the reasons for many things has changed, the act of doing them has not. For example, in Victorian days a man escorting a woman on the street would walk on the street or curb side of the woman to keep her from being splashed by mud. These days, a man still does it, but now more for safety.

Social amenities are still in fashion despite women not being the frail creatures once thought. I know feminists everywhere will hate me, but I LIKE when my husband opens the door to a building or even our own car for me, stands when I leave the table at a nice restaurant, takes his hat off indoors or walks on the street side. After all these years we have developed an instinct for being courteous to each other. Our children were taught the same.

As a society we have wandered away from many day to day courtesies. We as parents have the responsibility to create the adults of tomorrow and that training begins at home. That is pure fact. I recently overheard a couple of moms out having lunch complaining about how their kids were not learning manners at school or in daycare. HELLO? I truly blame this on the parents. It is not up to the schools or daycare to teach the children manners. Many common courtesies are no longer practiced by many families and/or enforced by parents, but we as parents have the responsibility to make time in our lives to do just that; teach manners to our children, expect a certain level of courtesy from our children and adjust the bad habits before they get out of hand.

One of the examples of the need for everyday manners is on public transportation. Awhile back I was on a subway when a young mother carrying a baby got on as did an elderly gentleman with a cane. The car was full and not one man or teenager got up and offered their seat to either of them. I was embarrassed for us as a society!

There are some personal habits that should be addressed, but based on today’s casual acceptance I will only mention and then leave the interpretation to the reader: men removing hats indoors, slouching/posture in general, elbows on the table while eating, chewing with your mouth closed, belching/burping in public, women in dresses sitting in a ladylike manner, disposing of your gum appropriately, smoking in public, being a good neighbor, personal space/crowding and the list goes on and on.

I have seen many well behaved children and truly appreciate the effort their parents put into their training. I just get so disappointed that so many other parents are readily accepting less than acceptable in their lives as well as their children’s. The ME generation does NOT have to be here to stay. Hubby and I went out for a nice leisurely afternoon lunch today at a little restaurant we like to frequent. It is very quaint and scenic. Halfway through our lunch a young family came in (the kids were about 2 and 5). Mom and dad sat at the bar and ordered a drink leaving the kids to wander. HELLO?? The 2 year old wanted something the 5 year old had and when she didn’t get it started a tantrum that the parents were ignoring and the rest of us were enduring. NO ONE said anything! I was beside myself. Normally I would have been pissed, but not said anything. Today was not normal – I had a splitting headache and was just beginning to relax when this all occurred. I calmly walked over to the parents and asked if they wouldn’t mind taking the little girl outside to calm her down. They were quite insulted by MY nerve as they put it. I told them I was insulted by their nerve. They were clueless!! I actually had to spell it out for them that while everyone was trying to endure their little girl’s tantrum, it was not our responsibility to do so. We were all out spending our hard earned money on a relaxing day which did not include providing daycare for them as their children ran around unsupervised.

While there are even more situations we could address because our entire life is full of them (strangers, prejudice, those with handicaps, unexpected visitors, hospitals, church services, etc… the ultimate rule of thumb is and always will be the Golden Rule for ALL situations.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
How were you taught everyday manners?
How should manners be introduced in everyday life?
At what point do you insist on good manners from children?

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The last several months have been a little stressful for us with all the trips to the hospital, the invasive tests and surgery.  Hubby has been a true prince throughout it ALL!  When I went for the original test before the Big “C” diagnosis, the facility was an hour away and it was a routine test that was going to be followed up by a doctor at a later date so I went by myself.  As with so many things in life, routine turned into something else.  Halfway through the test I was introduced to a new doctor who observed the remainder of the test with a few technical requests to the technician and then he sat me down and proceeded to tell me I had cancer and that my care was being transferred to an oncologist.  I had a mammogram scheduled for an hour later and had to sit and wait for that having heard the worst possible news I could have been given.  I then had to drive an hour home and tell hubby the worst possible news I could.  He took it like a trooper and has been my hero ever since, well even more so than he was before.
Since December 28th I have been a prisoner of my disease.  The best positive advice I have given myself is the I AM NOT MY DISEASE and I will not quit living life.  I still haven’t been released to “normal” life, but as long as someone else drives I can start to get out a bit more.  So, hubby and I are reinstating a ‘date night’ into our life starting with tonight.

I loved getting out more than I will ever be able to describe.  I just about live in flip flops, Levis and comfy t-shirts, but being able to get dressed up, put on some make up every now and then is awesome. My question is, what has happened to the world while I was away?  

We drove to the theater district and parked.  It was almost too easy.  We chose a little romantic Italian restaurant for dinner ~ you know tablecloths and cloth napkins, quiet and subdued lighting type of place where we had a great meal, but sat just across from us was a father and daughter waiting for 3 others in their party.  Daughter was hyper and all over the place, spilling drinks and let’s not forget her flashing roller shoes.  Dad was loudly on his cell phone and ignoring the daughter ~ need I say more?
We then walked to the theater where we sat out front and waited a while, people watching.  I was appalled by the people coming to the theater in ragged clothes that I wouldn’t be seen  in weeding my garden or painting the house.  Does no one take any pride in their appearance anymore?  When the ushers are wearing tuxedos, doesn’t it seem only prudent that you should be wearing something nicer than holey jeans and t-shirts with inappropriate sayings on them?
These are just my observations, but personally I’m sick of casual grunge!  Despite all this date night was a success and has be reinstated in our life to help give up perspective!
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The Revival of Common Courtesy & Personal Service

I think it is time to revive “The Revival of Common Courtesy”. I know the world is changing, but I don’t necessarily believe it to be for the better. Let me tell you about a transaction that happened to me recently at the local Coffee House and Cafe, the only coffee house in town, and you be the judge. Let me tell you no matter how much I want a specialty coffee, I will NEVER set foot in there again, which is sad as it was one of the few cleaner places in town, but the lack of health department code enforcement is a different post altogether.

We recently had our big, once a year festival in town for Humungus Fungus. It features mushrooms, city wide rummage and sidewalk sales, a parade and street dance and many other activities. Humungus Fungus is a pretty big deal for this little town. After many hours of rummage saling, we decided to treat ourselves to lunch so we went to The Coffee House & Cafe. Lunch was okay and we left to continue with the rummage sales. Later that afternoon while I was balancing my account I saw that they had triple charged (3 pending transactions for the exact amount at the exact same time) my account. Their credit card machine is in the back room so I can not say what actually happened. I called them up and spoke with the manager/owner and she flat out denied it and said it was ‘my problem’ because she only had 1 transaction slip and didn’t know how to fix it. Here is where the personal service should have kicked in. I would have accepted her telling me that she didn’t know how to fix it, but would look into it and get back to me, BUT to tell me they didn’t do it when it is so blatantly there in black & white and that it’s not their problem when they are the merchant and I get a bit peeved! I called my bank and was told it had to be released by the merchant. So I gave her over the weekend for the issue to be resolved. Late Monday I went in with a print out of the account to speak with her as it had not been resolved. I asked her if she would look into it and she said she didn’t know how. I asked her to call the 800 number on her machine or her bank and she flatly refused. When I asked her how she planned to resolve this issue she told me not to get snotty because this wasn’t her problem and she worked her butt off there for absolutely nothing. I’m sorry, but you don’t get to cause a problem and then play martyr! I have filed a dispute and am writing a letter to the city council as well as the better business bureau, but am afraid it will fall upon deaf ears as so many things do these days. It seems strange to me that so many people are so willing to accept the lack of courtesy being provided by so many businesses. I for one will not and will boycott said business as well as spread the word. As far as I’m concerned businesses like that should be put out of business if they are not willing to provide the most basic of common courtesy. I’m a BIG believer in positive attitude, etiquette and good manners. Attitude is everything and hers SUCKED. You shouldn’t be in business if you are not willing to cater to customers ESPECIALLY when you made the error!

Ironically I recently learned that the business owner who didn’t know who to call or how to fix it worked for a local bank for a long time. Scary isn’t it?

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The Revival of Common Courtesy ~ Interrelationships

Have you ever noticed that many people tend to save their best manners for when there is company or are they are in the company of strangers? Have you noticed how the relationships that matter the most in their lives are manner free so to speak? Is this true of your life? Our families and close friends are some of the most important relationships and the longest and most enduring, don’t these people deserve our very best?

I recently overheard a young mother complaining that her child was not learning manners in school. Hello? Manners should be taught by parents AT HOME and begin at a very early age. There is nothing wrong with demanding our own children learn how to say please, thank you, take turns, share and be respectful of their elders in their home as well as out in the world around them. In fact, the fate of our society may well depend on it. Learning it at home first will hopefully extend into their everyday world and future business life. Children crave discipline and direction. Offer it up to them.

Some of the major categories that should be addressed while they are young are the basic please, thank you and table manners, but don’t stop there. They should be taught about privacy, and how to answer the phone and the door properly. Privacy is a two way street. Your children crave it as much as you do. As long as the lines of communication are open and there is an element of trust between you and your child this should not be an issue. Left unattended children are naturally nosy and will snoop, eavesdrop and tattletale creating even bigger issues. Learning how to greet people properly at a young age will help them to overcome shyness and social settings with strangers. Shyness is not an acceptable excuse for the lack of politeness.

No matter the fashion fad, being clean and neat shows your children to respect their own bodies and ultimately they will realize that neat, clean and polite convey a self esteem and self confidence that moves with them through their life. Giving in and letting them ‘do it’ because all the other kids are only brings their self-esteem down and creates a herd animal mentality. Now I know this makes me sound as old as my grandmother, but I do believe this whole heartedly.

All of these build to teaching older children to become young adults that learn to entertain one or more friends, date and plan events for a group. They need to learn how to make an invitation, how to RSVP and when a hostess gift is called for. They need to understand what you expect in your home so that they can not only abide by it, but learn to appreciate and live it. One day they will have their own homes and children and you would like to think that you helped give them a head start on making that life a bit easier.

In today’s world we no longer have the ‘traditional’ family with 2.2 kids and a stay at home mom. So you do need to tailor all of this around your own family life. whether it has stepparents, extended family, grown kids who have moved home, etc… It is NOT written anywhere that you must be a soccer mom gone from home 5 nights a week where no one sits down to dinner together and offers up conversation and manners. Have a family night, dinner night, game night or some such. Offer up your very best to those you love.

The question I leave you to ponder this week is:

Do you use your best manners only around company or strangers or do you use them everyday for the ones you love and deserve it most? Are you doing enough to teach your children good manners?

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The Revival of Common Courtesy ~ Travel & Tipping

Traveling is stressful enough in today’s world without enduring delays, crowds, lines, security check points, etc… So, why add to it? One of the easiest things you can do is to prepare in ADVANCE by making reservations for flights, hotels, rental cars, etc… DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE! In today’s world there is a ton of competition for your business as well as many discount business available to you.

Remember one thing though, many times you get what you pay for, so don’t be bashful when making reservations. Ask for names and confirmation numbers. TAKE NOTES! If you have a problem don’t accept a NO answer from a clerk who doesn’t have the authority to give you the YES answer to begin with. Ask for a supervisor. But do this in a pleasant and business like manner. Always be polite! I have a nephew who recently purchased first class airline tickets for his family of four. He purchased the tickets online with a credit card. When they were checking in at the airport he was informed that they had sold 3 of his First class tickets and that 3 of his party would be in coach. Besides himself, it was his wife, a toddler and a nursing baby. They had purchased the first class tickets to allow for the extra space and ease of traveling with the children. He was informed by the counter clerk that an online ticket is NOT guaranteed even when paid for immediately by credit card and in advance. Long story short, he asked for her supervisor and escalated the issue to the appropriate level. He did NOT fly off the handle (I’m so proud of you Ryan), but dealt with the issue in a business like and professional manner all the while being polite to the employees. He told me he was trying to set a good example for the toddler too which is sooooo important to remember. How many times have we all seen that person making a scene? Do they get their way? Probably NOT!

So remember to make your travel plans in advance, take notes, names and confirmation numbers. If you have ANY doubts, call and confirm a day or so before the travel date.

Tipping is a very social custom in our society and it is an expression of gratitude for a service provided. This includes bars & restaurants, salons, taxis, delivery personnel, skycaps, doormen, bellboys, hotel maids, valets and any other situation where your gut tells you you should be tipping. Tipping on cruises is a requirement on most cruise lines. The amount you tip will vary depending on your cruise line and the length of your cruise. Cruise lines usually publish a suggested guideline for tipping. If you are new to cruising please be aware that tipping helps the service personnel make a decent wage. Their overall wage is usually a small stipend only. Many times gratuities are automatically charged to your shipboard account. Check with the individual cruiseline to locate their policies.

I worked in the fine dining industry for a number of years and can attest that tipping is truly based on service. It is definitely NOT okay NOT to leave a tip. It is okay to leave a tip compensatory with the level of service. Remember also though that you need to communicate if there is a problem. Slighting your server of a decent tip because there was a problem with the food that the cook prepared is NOT okay. Give your server the opportunity to correct any problem. Tipping in a restaurant depends on several things: the quality of the restaurant (fine dining usually receives a higher amount 20-25% whereas casual dining is 10-15%), the amount of the bill (base your tip on the pre-tax amount), and the quality of service. Remember that your server will be required to report a minimum of 8% to the government on your check so if you stiff them you are basically taking the money right out of their pocket for your meal. Now that is not to say that you MUST tip the full amount for poor service. There are two tips that truly make an impression on servers; the large tip with a penny on top and the tip that is just a penny. The large tip with a penny on top means EXCELLENT service whereas just a penny means that you were NOT satisfied with the server. Remember though it is your responsibility to convey your dissatisfaction and give them the opportunity to make you happy before you do that.

So the thought/question I leave you with for today is, Do you prepare in advance for traveling? Do you communicate well when there is a problem? What can you do to make your travel and tipping easier for you?

Future themes:
October 7th ~ Interrelationship Manners
October 14th ~ Babies & Showers
October 21st ~ Engagements & Weddings
October 28th ~ Deaths & Funerals
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The Revival of Common Courtesy ~ written by Forgetfulone this week

Professional and Public Manners
courtesy of Diana this week – thanks Diana
I’m down with a bad case of the flu so thankfully Diana has covered all the bases

What are Professional and Public Manners?

Professional manners are those etiquette rules that govern your behavior when you are associating with professionals (as in a Doctor’s office or place of business) or when you are working with colleagues in a professional manner.

  • One should observe the hierarchy in one’s business, study it, and emulate it.
  • Typically, a lower ranking person is introduced to the higher ranking person.
  • Stand when meeting someone, and stand for a higher ranking associate, male or female.
  • Professional courtesy usually calls for a handshake upon meeting a new client or colleague.
  • If offered a business card, it is best to acknowledge some information from the card while making eye contact with the giver.
  • Dressing as a professional is common courtesy in most places of business.
  • Avoid gossip and back-stabbing.
  • Keep emails in a professional tone, and keep personal email to a minimum (if your boss approves) or to none. Just because email is so much easier to use than the telephone doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve the same attention to detail and professional courtesy that a face-to-face conversation would receive.
  • Keep professional conversations short, and leave out personal information unless specifically asked.
  • Don’t complain about your boss or your workplace while you are in the workplace.
  • You can create a professional image with just these few reminders!
Public manners are those that are always on display when you are in public.
  • Out in public, it is best to keep your cell phone calls private.
  • Other rules you may follow to display courteous manners include saying “Excuse Me” or “Thank You” if the situation calls for it.
  • Another rule of etiquette to remember when you are out in public is to be patient.
  • You may also consider it proper common courtesy not to spit, litter, or curse in public.
  • It’s easy to present a positive image in public by following a few, simple rules of etiquette.
In both professional and public situations, treat others with consideration. For me, that boils down to the three P’s.
  • Be Prompt
  • Be Prepared
  • Be Polite
(These are the same rules I have in my classroom, and they pretty much cover everything.)
“Manners are the happy ways of doing things. If they are superficial, so are the dewdrops which give such a depth to the morning meadow.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

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The Revival of Common Courtesy ~ Public and Professional Manners

Lucy over at LULU’S PETALS recently posted about her day trying to run errands and running into rude people and situations.

This was my comment to her: “I used to be just like you – I swear you described my day to a tee! Now I’m somewhere between you and Larry. I always try to remember what my dad taught me when I was little, If you have something negative to say, always start with a positive so you have their attention. I recently had a similar situation at a Walmart return desk. The ENTIRE transaction took place without the clerk uttering a SINGLE word to me. But she did speak to EVERYONE around her and taking time from what she was doing for me to help the other cashiers who were helping people from the line behind me. I was going to say something to her, but it was like a challenge to see if she was ever going to acknowledge me. All the while I’m staring at her name tag that says “Courtesy Associate” on it – you have to be kidding me? Anyway, I did stop and speak with the store manager saying something like, “I knew you’d like to know that while my return transaction was handled properly, it was not handled courteously” and then explained what transpired to him. You know what he did – he actually pulled her off and spoke with her! I was so surprised. I said something to him to make me feel better and my seething go away never truly expecting anything to come of it. I guess dad would be proud I tried his positive spin thing and it worked. LOL Then there was the time the cashier gave me a lecture on buying products from another specific country… so to answer your question I NOW speak up, but do it as nicely as possible trying to give the benefit of the doubt.”

I decided this would be a good food for thought to open up the theme of Public & Professional Manners which I am postponing until next week so I can celebrate my birthday with my family tonight. Thank you for understanding and I’ll see you all back here next week.

Future themes are:
September 23rd ~ Professional & Public Manners
September 30th ~ Travel & Tipping
September 7th ~ Interrelationships Manners
October 14th ~ Babies & Showers
October 21st ~ Engagements & Weddings
October 28th ~ Deaths & Funerals

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The Revival of Common Courtesy ~ Table Settings

I have read and reread the chapter in Emily Post regarding table settings. I could do a formal post on formal settings including tablecloths, napkins, place cards, menu cards, silver, crystal. china, centerpieces, candles, etc… but I have decided after talking to many people that it is more important to concentrate on the basics.

I took a poll amongst my bowling league and various others I ran across this week and asked 1 simple question, “Where do you eat dinner?” I was utterly amazed at the answers. When I actually figured it out as a percentage, less than 10% ate at the table as a family. No wonder many of these kids do not know how to set a table properly, carry on a mealtime conversation or be meal time polite.

Consistently the answers were that they ate in front of the television and many said dinner was a free for all where everyone made their own. I have to admit I was appalled. When I was a kid, it didn’t matter how many activities were going on at school or scouts, I was expected home for dinner at a certain hour, no exceptions. I also had the chores of setting the table and cleaning up after.

So today’s topic is table settings. There are specific measurements, but we won’t get into those here. The basics are that the plate goes in front of the chair with the fork to the left of it, the knife and spoon to the right and all of them neatly placed. The napkin should be under the fork, to the left of it or if using napkin rings centered neatly on the plate. The glass goes just above the knife.

Bu sure you stop over and visit Diana over at Forgetfulone as she has wonderful diagrams of table setting layouts.

I want to expand on the basic topic and ask, How do you bring your family to the table for dinner, or do you? How do you teach your children table settings and do they have the chore(s) of setting the table and cleaning up?

Future themes are:

September 16th ~ Professional & Public Manners
September 23rd ~ Travel & Tipping
September 30th ~ Interrelationships Manners
October 7th ~ Babies & Showers
October 14th ~ Engagements & Weddings
October 21st ~ Deaths & Funerals

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