Rules for Social Conduct

Manners may be, as teenagers would have you believe, old-fashioned concepts that no-one bothers about nowadays, but they do oil the wheels of social interaction. If we all said exactly what we liked and did whatever we felt like, one shudders to think how awful life would be. Ettiquette is rather an out of date rule of behaviour in our times, but good manners are not, for to be well mannered is to be considerate of other people, which we all certainly appreciate in others.

I amused myself recently by writing out a list of reminders to myself. Have I forgotten anything essential?

Here goes:

Arrive on time.

Stand up when introduced to people.

Be cautious and consider other people’s culture when offering your hand. In some cases you should wait until they offer their hand to you. On the other hand, to refuse to shake someone’s hand is a grave and studied insult.

Do not, on first being introduced, take possession of someone’s name and bandy it about as if it belonged to you.

Eat whatever is put before you with gratitude.

If you have a LONG list of things you dislike/won’t eat/have reactions to, stay at home.

If you Don’t Drink, Don’t Drink quietly. Don’t announce it emphatically as though everyone else is a drunk.

If you do drink, don’t get drunk.

Attend to the serving and needs of your fellow guests at dinner.

Do not begin to eat, or even lift up your cutlery, until your hostess has done so.

Listen with sympathetic attention to what other people are saying.

Exert yourself to be amusing and entertaining but do not hog the limelight,

Be generous and complimentary but only say what you believe to be true. You can always find something to praise.

Do not engage in scurrilous gossip.

Do not flirt unless you are quite sure it will not be misunderstood, or will not upset anyone present.

Be interested in others, but do not ask intrusive or impertinent questions. In particular, do not ask questions which will embarrass others; or any questions designed to reveal wealth or status.

Do not boast. It marks you as irredeemably vulgar.

When you are someone’s guest, avoid subjects which might disrupt or upset the occasion.

At a large gathering, you must bid your host and hostess good-bye before you leave.

If possible, there should be no longer than 5 minutes between the first movement you make to leave and your actual departure.

Send a message of thanks (phone call; email; card; letter) for any hospitality, gift or help received.

Good manners requires that you ignore and draw no attention to, any lapses in manners from anyone else.

Be just amd fair in your judgement and where possible give the benefit of any doubt.

Treat everyone as you would wish to be treated were you in their position.

Treat everyone with respect and caution. They may not be as they appear.

Be respectful and solicitous of elderly persons. You will become one far sooner than you think!

Do not condescend to children, the elderly, the sick, the disabled, the uneducated, the poor, those from other cultures etc. They may have gifts that far surpass yours and even if they do not, they are entitled to our best treatment.

Recognise that whoever appears to be the most important person may not actually be the most powerful.

When you have made a mistake (and if you think ‘I never do’ you have a problem), apologise promptly and do what you can to make amends; but do not expect automatic forgiveness for that is the offended person’s gift.

If you are the offended party however, be fair and generous.

Discharge your debts promptly.

Pay your full share of any joint expenditure and be generous to others in any calculation.

Be generous with tips and with praise for those who give service and do not be over critical.

Treat everyone as if they are of high calibre and good will and as if they behave to the highest standards. Although few people actually do, your giving them this position may encourage them to rise to the challenge.

Examine your own conduct frequently to see where you could have done better.

Do not expect other people to follow your set of personal guidelines. They will have their own.

Do not reveal the whole of your thoughts. Other people can’t stand it.

Be at peace with yourself, because despite the love of those around you, in the end, you walk alone.