Dear Barb—Changing Etiquette

Dear Barb:

Hi, we are a group of girls in our twenties who are working on a college paper about the evolution of etiquette and changes that may have occurred over the years.  A couple of girls in our group are presenting the theory that the rules of etiquette have never changed and personal behaviour that was expected in the 50’s is still required today.  Two other girls, myself included, say that accepted social behaviours have changed and loosened in recent years.  What would you say about this issue? Have behaviours changed or stayed pretty much the same? Thanks Melissa. 

Hi Melissa:

What an interesting topic.   Some basic rules of etiquette are always expected, and others are only expected in certain situations.  I believe that basic politeness and manners have remained the same throughout history, although some are not practiced consistently.  Therefore, I guess you could say the level of acceptance has changed, but the rules remain the same.

It is always important to take into consideration a person’s feelings, that has never changed, and I don’t believe it ever will.

Here are some basic practices that most people should follow in all situations:

  • If you are invited to an event and you are unable to attend, RSVP as soon as possible.
  • Turn off your cell phone when out for dinner with friends.
  • Do not feel the need to respond to every email the minute you receive it, that takes away from the person you are with.
  • If you are out somewhere, say ordering food or coffee, do not ask the person waiting on you to wait until you finish your phone conversation.
  • Do not add personal arguments or conversations on social media, if necessary send private messages.
  • Chew with your mouth closed.
  • Keep your elbows off the table.
  • Do not reach your arm in front of someone’s face.
  • Do not allow your children to act like wild animals in a restaurant.
  • Do not touch a pregnant woman’s belly.
  • Wash your hands after going to the restroom.
  • Do not bring your dog to other people’s homes unless it is cleared with them first.
  • If you are having a party, do not ask guests to bring their own food unless they have special dietary requirements.
  • Do not lend someone a book or item, unless they ask for it.
  • Do not attend a party empty-handed.
  • Do not make your dietary requirements the host’s responsibility, bring your own food.
  • Do not announce the death of someone by text, face to face is better and by phone is acceptable.

I don’t know if I answered your question.  I believe you girls will be able to put together a pretty good paper representing both sides.  Best of luck Melissa.

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