Sunday, March 21, 2010

First of Two Parts: Good Manners Will Never Go Out of Style

Is good behavior ever overrated in social and business situations? I think not.

While I love technology and convenience, sometimes these become reasons why people alter their behavior and consequently overlook appropriate, considerate and tactful responses to certain situations.


Call me old-fashioned but I am still a big fan of being intentional about good behavior in all situations. I also strongly believe that this kind behavior is always a representation of Christ-like character.

I made a list of situations that represent the common courtesies of life. Maybe we (that includes myself!) can learn a thing or two and hope that we are more mindful on how to act properly in different life situations.

1) Being on time.
I believe punctuality is representative of a person's reliability. While chronically late people have already made a joke about how they will be tardy for life, I believe that it is never too late to develop the habit of being on time. It is respectful of other people's efforts to meet you and spend time with you.

2) Saying "thank you."
The most traditional way of doing this is through a heartfelt, handwritten card -- which I believe is still the best way.

I, on the other hand, believe that people are made differently. Other ways a person can express gratitude is through e-mail, SMS, IM or a private message on your favorite social network. The most important thing about saying thank you is that it has to be personalized, sincere and expressive. Nothing is more awful than a general mass thank you or a casual, verbal, impersonal "thanks."

What situations require a personal expression of gratitude? Here are some.

  • When someone gives you a gift
  • When someone throws a party or shower in your honor
  • When someone hosts you at their home and extended their hospitality to you
  • When someone visits you while you are ill
  • When someone interviews you for a job opening
I cannot stress enough the importance of personalizing your thank you. Just think about this. If a person went out of their way to do something special for you, a couple of minutes of your time is nothing when it comes to expressing your gratitude.

3) Staying a few feet away when standing next in line.
Defiance of this basic social rule is the one that probably frustrates me the most. There have been many occasions where I am at the grocery checkout line and many have failed to respect my personal space. As if standing way too close to me will save them minutes of checkout time!

When you are in queue in an ATM machine, a fast food chain, or a check-in counter in an airport, the same rule applies. Give the person in front of you the space he/she deserves to conduct his transaction. The time you save from standing too close isn't that much and won't make a difference.

4) Using mobile phones sparingly in social gatherings.
In an SMS-obsessed world, the use of the mobile phone has turned even the most polite into disconnected, withdrawn dinner party guests. It's bad enough to excessively send text messages during intimate social gatherings but the recent popularity of smart phones has made a lot of people too comfortable in checking their social network updates almost every second (and even play with installed applications!) instead of having a real, live conversation to the friend sitting next to them.

While I personally don't think there is anything wrong with attending to phone calls and text messages that require immediate attention, it is important to stay focused on the purpose why you attended a social gathering in the first place: to interact with people.

5) Share milestones and big news to family and best friends in person.
Have you ever had the misfortune of finding out a close friend's promotion, engagement or pregnancy over Facebook? It's not so much that it's rude. It's hurtful. Big news are still best shared in person with your family and best friends. If face-to-face is impossible, a personal phone call, e-mail or text message is also very thoughtful.

6) RSVP promptly.
RSVP is a French acronym that means "Respondez S'il Vous Plait" which is translated in English to mean "please respond or respond please". People who host formal or casual gatherings have become dependent on asking who is coming or not. Why? Because hosting is expensive, time-consuming and a requires a lot of heart.

As an invited guest, it is only considerate to respond to an invitation at the soonest possible time. A host went out of his/her way to include you in an event; show respect by letting him/her know the status of your attendance. If you are not sure, please let that person that your answer is a maybe. It's much better than ignoring the invitation completely.

And if you do say you're coming, please show up. I was at a wedding recently and found it sad to see so many unclaimed dinner place cards. It was hard for me to believe that adults will say that they are coming (at the expense of the married couple) and not attend at all.

7) Pregnant?
No matter how sure you are based on a glance, never assume that a woman is pregnant. If you are eager to know if she is, simply ask how she is doing. Chances are she will share the happy news immediately.


This is just the first of two parts. Have you experienced any of these situations? Do you have any stories to share? I would love to hear about them in the comments section.

4 comments :

*poink* said...

ey sam, i totally agree with this completely...especially on the rsvp part. before, as much as possible i tell the person hosting whether i can make it or not, and always sort of let it pass when i hear of weddings where people don't show up etc etc...like at my sisters' weddings...i thought it was "the norm". only now i realize the importance of a specific RSVP now that we're preparing for our own wedding and relying heavily not just for headcount (cost!) purposes but even seating arrangements or gifts =\

happysammy said...

I agree with you! We all have that big realization when we are planning our wedding!

So excited to see you on Saturday!!!!

jennpunzalan said...

great blog sam! it's a good reminder for me too!

happysammy said...

Hi there Ate Jenn! Glad you liked the blog entry. I learned all these etiquette lessons because I, myself, learned the hard way. And undoubtedly, I still have lot to work on :P