Saturday, March 17, 2018

Manners for Young Children

On Politeness of Young Children – “Give a boy address and accomplishments, and you give him the mastery of palaces and fortunes wherever he goes.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Children should be taught that it is rude...

  • To yawn without trying to suppress it, or without concealing the mouth with the hand 
  • To whistle or hum in the presence of older persons
  • To make any monotonous noise with feet or hands, beating time, etc... 
  • To play with napkin rings, or any article at table during meal time 
  • To pick the teeth with the fingers
  • To trim or clean one’s nails outside one’s room 
  • To lounge anywhere in the presence of company
  • To place the elbows on the table, or to lean upon it while eating
  • To speak of absent persons by their first names, when they would not so address them if they were present
  • To acquire the habit of saying “you know,” “says he,” “says she” 
  • To use slang words
  • To tattle
  • To hide the mouth with the hand when speaking 
  • To point at anyone or anything with the finger
  • To stare at persons
  • To laugh at one’s own stories or remarks
  • To toss articles instead of handing them
  • To leave the table with food in the mouth 
  • To take possession of a seat that belongs to another without instantly rising upon his return
  • To leave anyone without saying “good-by” 
  • To interrupt any one in conversation; 
  • To push or shove others
  • To ridicule others
  • To pass, without speaking, any one whom they know
From Practical Etiquette by N.C., circa 1881

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Café And Restaurant Etiquette

“Tip quietly, discreetly; the girl with you will know you don't kiss and tell,” is the first rule of correct restaurant conduct, according to Niccolo de Quattrociocchi, who ran “El Borracho” in New York. The famed café was well known for it’s “Kiss Room.” Thousands of signed ‘lipstick-kissed’ cards, from various female patrons, hung all around the room. Newcomers added to the cards as time passed, adding to the room’s romantic whimsy.

Man Who Knows New York’s Famed 
Café Society’ 
Tells How to Behave Properly in a Café 

“Tip quietly, discreetly; the girl with you will know you don't kiss and tell,” is the first rule of correct restaurant conduct, according to Niccolo de Quattrociocchi, who runs El Borracho, a restaurant and rendezvous of 
Café Society. 

Nicky Q, as he is better known, has turned author with the issue of his book “Love and Dishes.” The volume is a combination autobiography and cook book, including recipes which Nicky has culled from his own kitchen as well as from the kitchens of other famous eating houses here, and abroad. 

Other rules which Nicky, a stickler for etiquette, puts forth for guidance are: 
  • “Your cash looks much nicer than your personal checks. If you must write checks, make sure they are not ‘rubberized.’ 
  • “Check your hat when you enter a smart joint. What's two bits to you? 
  • “If you are the suave, mysterious type, you talk quietly. People next to you like to carry on conversations of their own, which is impossible if you are a loudmouth.
  • “Don’t nag, frighten or otherwise convert waiters into nervous wrecks. Be nice and they will spread the word around about what a gentleman you are—if you are the type that likes to be taken for one. 
  • “Make sure you really want what you order. A restaurant is not a department store. Exchanges sag the profit. 
  • “If you are a girl, you will look ravishing and very alluring as you comb your hair in a restaurant. But who wants alluring hair flying into his soup?Use the powder room. 
  • “If you feel romantic, don’t neck in a restaurant. There is time, place and a quiet room for things of that sort. 
  • “Restaurants’ pepper and salt shakers and silver are really no better than yours. Besides, restaurants are not in the souvenir business. 
  • “Don’t pick fights in restaurants. Chances are you will lose. 
  • “If you feel sleepy, go home. 
  • “If you are a boy who consents to his lady friend paying the check, make sure she comes across in the taxi. Everyone sees the money she passes to you under the table. 
  • “Don’t be a sound effect eater. Chew with your mouth closed. 
  • “Don't rinse your month with coffee. Please!” – New York Times, 1951

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Etiquette for the Uncomfortable

Sometimes people just want to dig into your personal business, or think they're being helpful by patronizing you. 

Dealing with an Uncomfortable Subject

I've said it before: humans are unpredictable. And interacting with our fellow humans can place us in unpredictable situations that challenge our behavior. Like when you're having a conversation with someone and that person all of a sudden brings up an uncomfortable subject. Maybe she forgot the hints you've given that you don't want to discuss it. Or maybe he is trying to get a reaction from you. Either way, your first reaction may be to cut and run. Or to react defensively. But neither of these will resolve the situation appropriately.

The Games People Play

Aunt Sally knows that you don't wish to discuss your relationship status. Being single during the holidays gets to you sometimes. And yet, as she does nearly every year, at Thanksgiving dinner she pipes up, “Has the marriage bug stricken you yet?” Almost worse than the invasive question is that you know she has a hidden agenda. She’s always wondered about your lifestyle leanings.

Or maybe your co-worker grimaces every time you use up-talk in his presence. Sometimes he says, “Really?” You try to pay attention in order to break the habit, but you're also very tired of feeling scrutinized in most conversations. Does he want a reaction from you? Or is this his way of helping you break the habit? Does he really just forget that you’ve asked him before not to bring up this topic?

These, or similar situations are common. Sometimes people just want to dig into your personal business, or think they're being helpful by patronizing you.
In the past you have tried changing the subject directly, laughed it off, looked away and pretended you didn’t hear, or brought someone else into the conversation with a fresh topic. Now it’s on the line. You are being confronted with a situation that requires tact and direct solution. And in the company of others.

Take Your Stand

You have every right to stand up for yourself when you feel put upon or are unfairly pushed into the spotlight.

To deal with similar scenarios as with Aunt Sally or a co-worker, relax your face, put on a friendly (not smirky!) smile, and say with an even tone:
“Aunt Sally, why would the answer to your question be of interest?”


“Jonathan, is perfecting my speech habits a top office priority?”

Each of these responses will put these folks on the spot. And as there is no place for them to go without losing dignity, they will probably sputter and you can easily move on.

To recap - follow these three steps to stand up for yourself:
  • Keep agitation and anger in check.
  • Confront the person in a friendly, but firm, manner.
  • Verbally respond by getting straight to the heart of the matter. Keep it short - you don't want to talk about this subject.

You also don't want to get pulled into a long, private conversation afterwards. So if an apology is issued, you might respond with: 
“Aunt Sally, thank you. I appreciate your words. Let’s head on back to the kitchen and get on with cleaning up. We can drop this subject forever now, can't we?”

“Jonathan, it’s ok. We both have so much to contribute and we’re going to do just that! Let’s walk down the hall and see if Mary has time to review our project.”

In personal and professional communication, truth-telling should be a way of life. But there are some things that, for whatever the reason, you do not want to talk about. And that’s perfectly fine - you always have a choice.

Just remember that you can be honest and kind simultaneously with ruffling everyone’s feathers.

Contributor, Candace Smith is retired, national award-winning secondary school educator, Candace Smith teaches university students and professionals the soft skills of etiquette and protocol. She found these skills necessary in her own life after her husband received international recognition in 2002. Plunged into a new “normal” of travel and formal social gatherings with global leaders, she discovered how uncomfortable she was in many important social situations. After extensive training in etiquette and protocol, Candace realized a markedly increased confidence level in meeting and greeting and dining skills and was inspired to share these skills that will help others gain comfort and confidence in dining and networking situations. Learn more at

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Cross-Cultural Dining Etiquette

Best keep table manners simple and straight 
“I would tinker with all the different instruments arrayed on the tablecloths: the knives, the forks, the completely round spoon that was only for soup, the funny-shaped spoon for the slab of ice-cream, and so on.” – Ruchir Joshi

In the middle-class Indian household in which I grew up, the dining table was a relatively new thing. Visiting my parents' families in Ahmedabad, I sat cross-legged on the low wooden paatlaa for my meals like everyone there.

At home, at the dining table, we replicated what I would call basic South Asian rules of eating with the hand, always using the right hand and never the left, of jhootha and clean, etc... The only implement used at our table was the spoon in various sizes. It was only when we made the rare visit to restaurants that other cutlery came into play. Here, fascinated, I would tinker with all the different instruments arrayed on the tablecloths: the knives, the forks, the completely round spoon that was only for soup, the funny-shaped spoon for the slab of ice-cream, and so on.

At some point, at my parents' bidding, a friend of theirs, P-Mama, coached me in the correct method of using a knife and fork: elbows always away from the table, hold the knife and fork at right angles, use the fork to keep the target bite of omelette or cutlet in place while the knife severs it from the main body of the dish; tilt the soup bowl away from yourself and spoon up the soup, again, always away from yourself, but do the opposite with other spoonable matter; always squash the peas against the back of the fork so that they didn't roll away; keep knife and fork crossed on plate if you are only pausing during eating, and parallel and close together if you have terminated your meal or that particular dish, and so on and so forth.

Because table and cutlery manners were embedded in a continuum of gracious behaviour, along with this training came a lecture on the use of bad words. 'I was once at meeting with my business collaborators in London,' P-Mama recounted, 'and I used the word 'damn'. My opposite number immediately got up from the table and called a break, "Mr P you are clearly upset. Let's meet after lunch." and I realised my mistake.'

Reaching America as a college student, I quickly grasped that for every set of rules created by western society there existed an exact opposite set of behaviours. Students in my college canteen used the fork in their right ha nd, rarely used the knife, used the fork to throw food at each other and their hands to throw peas. They also used a lot of bad words, epithets much further down the civilisation chain than the demure 'damn' that had got P-Mama into such trouble in those ancient British times. After college, working as waiter in a posh singles bar and restaurant in New York, another set of 'manners' came into play, from bantering with customers, (but only up to a strict, invisible line) to accepting or refusing politely when you were offered a line of cocaine under the table.

Afterwards, it was the tip the table left you that mattered and not the hieroglyphic mess of cutlery scattered here and there. Moving into different cultures, one understood that table manners were complex and shifting things. It was better not to use chopsticks in a Chinese or Japanese restaurant if you weren't adept, and certainly not cool to make slant-eye jokes while fiddling incompetently with the damn things. The French always immediately put their napkins on their laps while Anglo-Saxons tended to wait till the food was served. Continentals would use the table-cloth to break bread and use their hands to eat it, both a complete no-no with P-Mama who took a long time to show me how to slice a bread-roll in half, butter it and put it back together again, with minimum use of fingers.

Then came the actual experience of another truism one had only read about: the more 'aristocratic' you were, in England, the worse you behaved at table, the 'better' you behaved at table the more you gave away your aspirant class. This reminded one of the old story about how it was once highly impolite in exalted circles in China to do anything but throw your bones and other foodly rejections over your shoulders - to keep stuff neatly on a plate implied the host was too poor to employ a vast army of servants to clear up after his guests. Coming back full circle, a few years ago, I found myself tagging along with a friend for dinner at a Spanish woman's house in Jorbagh. As we sat down for aperitifs, the lady launched into a diatribe about how she couldn't stand this Indian business of eating with the hands.

'Barbarians!' she exclaimed, completely oblivious, or perhaps not, of my presence in her living- room. For a moment I contemplated vicious retaliation: I would eat each thing this cretinous senora served at dinner, but only with my hands, making the most outrageous slurping sounds as I did. As it is, I suddenly remembered a phone-call I was about to receive on my land-line and left the party, leaving my friend, a Frenchwoman, to berate her host for her insulting comments. I remembered this when I read recently about the Indian couple whose children were taken away by the Norwegian authorities. Later, other factors came to light, but we all shared the initial outrage when reading that the kids had been taken away because they were being taught to eat with their hands.

The other day, I ate an Indian meal with an English friend. Like most of the British public, my friend is more than happy to tuck into desi khana, pizza, sandwiches and, yes, Spanish tapas with his hands, and he rapidly got busy attacking the dal, chicken and sabzi laid before us. I started eating and then noticed the strange contortions my friend was making with his fingers, as well as the awkward combinations of knife, fork and naanas- implement to get at his food. For a brief second I felt like giving him a demo-lecture on how desi food needs to be eaten (and yes, in these modern times, eaten with both hands fully deployed) but then I did away with my discomfort. I remembered, once again, that genuine manners, especially table manners have to do with two basic things.

First, you want to avoid inciting repulsion and disgust in the people around you, wherefore the edicts against eating with your mouth open, burping and slurping, dribbling sauce down the side of your mouth and so on. Now, disgust is a highly context-driven thing. My vegetarian mother, for example, could not bear watching a person tear into a tandoori or barbecued chicken, mining the bones for little treasures of meat as proper non-vegetarians do.  Some European aristocrat, on the other hand, might not be able to stomach the sight of a desi sucking on drumsticks or licking their fingers clean of dal. So, a good idea is to more or less stick to what will cause minimal discomfort to the audience of your meal-taking, but within the cultural context of the meal. Second, and equally if not more important, is the role manners play in putting the other person or people around you at ease.

Food, essentially is about nourishment, and this nourishment best takes place when the eater is relaxed and un-fussed about his or her ingesting environment; duty meals are among the most stressful rituals that humans put themselves through.  If we follow this basic doublesided principle - while eating, put others at ease and protect your own - we should be able to eat as we like, using the fish knife for buttering, using the fingers for tearing the steak and the coffee spoon for stirring the tea. – Originally published by Mail Online, March 2012, written by Ruchir Joshi

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Etiquette of Debt and Borrowers

Mere conventions, mere formal ceremonies, do not indicate good manners. Good manners are the result of an unselfish desire to avoid annoying others and to give pleasure to one’s associates.” – Ella Wheeler Wilcox 
Borrowers Should Form a Union and Establish Rules and Regulations 
Too Many Receive Favors Only to Forget the Lender...
Failing to Recompense and Never Thinking to Express Gratitude, Thus Hurting Hearts That Were Friendly

It’s a world malady which few of its denizens are able to escape. Sooner or later, the burden of debt is incurred for a longer or shorter period of time. It is a misfortune but not a crime to incur debt. The man who owes somebody, has a much larger company with whom he associates than the man who lends. So old and so almost universal is the position of the debtor that a “Debtors’ Union” ought to be formed. 

Every union, every organization of any kind, has its certain laws, formalities and obligations, both written and unwritten, which make what might he called the etiquette of the order. The borrowers of the world need such a union, and are sadly in need of an understanding of its laws of etiquette. Here are a few outlines of those laws: 

You who have asked and received money, or influence, from anyone in the world to enable you to further your own interests, will understand that these laws are outlined for your special benefit. And if you will, be glad to know in your heart, that the reproof they convey to the delinquent, the thoughtless or the indifferent does not apply to you. The reproof is intended for the thoughtless, the delinquent and the indifferent. 

After Receiving the Favor, Too Many Lapse Into Silence 

A struggling youth, intelligent, moral, industrious, found herself in temporary embarrassment, and wrote to a friend asking for a loan. The loan was granted promptly, and with words implying the pleasure it was to be aide to bestow this favor. A grateful acknowledgement of the accompanying check was received in reply. Then an utter silence ensued. Months became a year and no word was heard from the young woman who had been benefited, save an occasional item of information through casual mutual acquaintances. 

The etiquette of the Debtors’ Union should demand that at least twice a year a courteous and friendly note should be written from the debtor to the lender, telling of his doings, his interests, his efforts toward success and his belief in final attainment of the goal he was seeking. No continual reference need be made to the debt, but the individual who is sufficiently interested in another to lend him aid of any kind is sufficiently interested to feel the wound of silence and neglect. 

Another young lad had passed through great sorrows and unusual tragedies, which resulted in the breaking up of his home and in his becoming adrift in the world without kith or kin. He wrote to a lady who had known him from childhood, asking for a small loan, with which he could provide himself decent raiment to wear in the fulfillment of duties he had recently secured. He assured the lady he would repay her one dollar a week until the debt was liquidated. The check was sent gladly, and in the accompanying letter, the lady said she accepted his terms of payment, as she felt it would enable him to feel more manly and to form business-like methods. Her bank returned the voucher of her check, which had been cashed, but in that way only was she even aware that it was ever received. No acknowledgment was sent to her, and even a letter of inquiry, after more than six months, brought no reply. 

These are but two illustrations of what seems to be an almost universal habit of the borrowers of the world. To lend money to one's friend seems almost invariably to cause a deterioration of character and a loss of high ideals and nobility of thought in the borrower. It may be urged by the borrowers that they feel sensitive in regard to their debt and do not like to write until they are able to liquidate it. But if they are not too sensitive to ask such favors they should not be too sensitive to refer to them after they have been granted. 

There are shining exceptions, of course, to these dark examples. A woman struggling in direct poverty with a sick husband and a large family of small children (a woman of refinement and education) borrowed $100.00 in an hour of great despair. That was ten years ago. Two or three times a year the benefactor receives a few words, at least, and often a long letter from the one benefited, and even small sums have been insistently enforced upon the lender to lessen the debt in order that the borrower might retain her self-respect. In that way, half the sum has been paid, but better than that, admiration and affection for the borrower have been strong factors in enriching the life of the lender. Here was one who understood, without being taught, the etiquette of debt. But they are few. – Ella Wheeler Wilcox, 1915

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Junior Miss Etiquette of 1964

“This is my first big holiday season and the list of parties is almost endless. I am terrified that I may commit sonic social error and not even know it....” 

Dear Miss Deb...
For answers to your questions on dating, etiquette and beauty 

Q. My dates and I have no trouble with conversation until that agonizing good night scene at the door. I could die as I shift from one foot to the other and stammer, “ . . guess I’ll he seeing you” for the millionth time. How can I develop a graceful exit technique?

A. By planning ahead just as you did in getting ready for the date. Locate your keys, express your feeling about the good time you had, make the small talk on the way to the door. Let him unlock and open the door for you. Don’t linger. Say your final “wonderful time-good night,” and allow your smile to float back briefly as you disappear behind the closing door. If you work it right, he may be disappointed, but not offended! 

Q. This is my first big holiday season and the list of parties is almost endless. I am terrified that I may commit sonic social error and not even know it. Are there any definite party going rules I could learn for insurance?

A. There probably are as many rules as there are parties, but here arc three tips which provide a general rule of thumb. Always try to be helpful, cooperative about any special party plans, and a happy conversationalist. (If you're not good at small talk, be an enthusiastic listener!) Be as thoughtful about the family and their home as you would want people to be about your own. Express your thanks for a good time and leave promptly when the party is over. These guideposts should make you the most popular guest of the season.

Q. Older people make me self-conscious. I always feel they are critical of me because of all the talk about wild teenagers. Should I just avoid them whenever possible?

A. The sooner you learn to deal casually and respectfully with older adults the better. They will be coming into your life more and more as you go away to school or out into the job market. Begin by relaxing and being as natural as possible. Remember, adults like to be put at their ease, too. Just as you don't like to be considered a “wild teenager,” adults don't like to be thought of as “has-beens” or “critical old fuddy-duddies.” Try to listen for the likenesses between you instead of the differences.

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Monday, March 12, 2018

Men’s 1911 Etiquette Do’s and Don’ts

“I know that women’s hats often annoy you more than yours possibly can them. I have been informed of these and all other arguments on the subject before. But you see, I didn't establish the custom. Convention did that and she still favors it.” – Ruth Cameron, 1911

A Few Etiquette “Do’s and Dont’s” for the Masculine Sex

  • Never smoke when on the street with a woman. 
  • Never smoke when in the room with women, no matter how well you know them, without asking their permission. 
  • When you are smoking, never talk with your pipe between your teeth. Always remove it before speaking. 
  • Always remove your hat in an elevator where there are women. Yes, I know that an elevator is not so very different from a street car, and men keep their hats on there, and I know that women’s hats often annoy you more than yours possibly can them. I have been informed of these and all other arguments on the subject before. But you see, I didn't establish the custom. Convention did that and she still favors it. 
  • Never just touch your hat. The true gentleman always lifts it well off his head. 
  • Never take a woman's arm in the street. If you wish to assist her you should offer her your arm, but that is not customary except at night or if she is aged or infirm. 
  • When you are with a woman, always get off a car before her, so that you may help her off. 
  • Never clean your nails or pick your teeth in the presence of your intimate friends any more than you would in public. It is just as unpleasant to them to have to see you as to the general public, and surely you owe them as much consideration. (Will the people who think that warning is not needed, anyway please watch and see how many really decent looking men they see offending that way?)
  • Always rise when a woman enters the room where you are calling and remain standing until she is seated. 
  • In the theater, if an usher helps you find the seat, let the lady precede you. Otherwise you precede her. 
  • Don't sit in a street car with your feet stretched out in front of you where people will be apt to tumble over them. That is selfish and dangerous, as well as ill bred. 
  • At the table, always remain standing behind your chair until your hostess is seated. I think it is a charming bit of domestic ceremony when this custom is carried out in the home circle and the father and children remain standing until the mother is seated.  – by Ruth Cameron, in The Morning Chat-Chat, 1911

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia