I think the mention of etiquette can sometimes turn people off, too. It sounds stuffy and borderline pretentious. But it's really not. Good manners make you likable and make people more comfortable in your presence. And, in business, I think knowing appropriate etiquette can give you a leg-up. So, today I've partnered with J.McLaughlin to share my favorite etiquette books.
J.McLaughlin's latest catalog was shot in Charleston, SC. I visited Charleston for the first time last year (here) and it won my heart. It's a stunningly gorgeous locale with an abundance of southern charm. I went to school in Virginia and spend time in Georgia every summer, so I'm no stranger to southern ways.
Another thing that I love about the south is that everyone I come across is polite and mannerly. For my book recommendations, I am recommending ones that I personally have and have actually read. While all of the advice is similar, there are some really great tips in each book.
I should admit, I wasn't always super into etiquette, though. In middle school, my parents sent me to cotillion. At that time, I hated it. I remember trying to think of anything to get out of it. But now, in hindsight, I am so glad that I went because I always know what fork to use, know how to set a proper table, know how to appropriately dance at weddings, and my thank you notes are prompt and personal.
But since it is 2017, the water gets a little murky when it comes to what is appropriate. I mean with social media, emails, etc. things change and what used to be appropriate often no longer applies. For example, I think if you are on a date, you should never use your phone at the table unless there is an emergency.
Funny story about this. I was on a date and my parents and sister knew that I was on the date. My sister had texted me several times and when I hadn't responded in an hour or two, she called. I didn't answer because my phone was in my handbag, so she got worried (because I always have my phone on me). Then she told my parents and my parents started calling me!! Dinner took a few hours because we had drinks, starters, our meal, dessert, etc. As we were leaving the restaurant, I reached into my bag to check the time and I had a million texts and missed calls. Embarrassed, but I quickly sent a response back saying I was alive and all was well. But that just goes to show that at this day in age, people expect you to get back to them immediately!
To be honest, I'm pretty lax in everyday life when it comes to manners (and I think that can be said about most everyone nowadays), but when you notice yourself becoming too relaxed, that can bleed over into situations where proper, good manners are absolutely necessary. Like business, for example. It actually amazes me to see peers act in certain ways in business situations to the point where I get second-hand embarrassment. I've always said this, but I truly think that colleges need to require a general education course based all around etiquette in the workplace/adult life. You spend most of your time at work and around colleagues, that it only makes sense to learn how to navigate that space appropriately.
So here are a few of the easiest etiquette tips that I mostly follow:
- Always send a thank you note. It's never too late to thank someone and even for the smallest gesture. However, try and get a note in the mail the next day if possible!
- Never show up empty-handed. Bring a dish, a hostess gift, bottle of wine, etc. But always bring something.
- Try not to be late. Stuff happens and in turn, being late happens. But, arriving early or on time is a great way to show people that you value their time.
- Try not to use inappropriate language. I definitely don't have a sailor's mouth, but I'll catch myself saying something that I probably shouldn't every once in a while. I think everyone should always be working on this!
- Always tip well (if good service is given).
- Use the proper utensil. This is so easy but so many people forget!
- Billboard mentality. I've written about this in the past, but this is for the internet/social media as a whole. Only post what you would feel comfortable sharing on a billboard.
- Hold doors open. This was something that JMU was known for- we all held the doors open for everyone. It's such a welcoming and friendly gesture.
- Say please, thank you, excuse me, etc. We're taught this at a young age but it's important!
- Put your napkin on your lap as soon as you are seated. This is such a habit for me now, I do it immediately.
- Always RSVP. The sooner the better.
- Always return something that you borrowed. A book, etc. Also, always repay someone immediately if you owe them money (Venmo makes this SO easy and instantaneous).
- Be discreet. I mean this as if your friend or someone you are out with/having dinner with/whatever it may be, if they do something inappropriate etiquette-wise, never call them out on it or make them uncomfortable. Also, for example, if your friend gets too drunk, discreetly help him/her to remove themselves from the situation and get home safely. Never call attention!
My favorite Etiquette Books: