Etiquette to Please

Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others.
If you have that awareness, you have good manners,
no matter what fork you use.”
—Emily Post

Culture and Kindness Through the Ages

Learning rules for etiquette and how to be kind usually come from our parents. The word ‘etiquette’ and rules for etiquette were first established within the French royal court between 1600-1700. Etiquette has since manifested to the unwritten rules for etiquette which we have today. Some of these still are in place, while overall etiquette, in many ways, has become much less formal.

How far does society go before it is realized that offensive words and actions really are inappropriate? Tolerability becomes acceptance and then acceptance becomes the standard. Eventually, the standard becomes engrained in culture, far removed from the initial level of what was acceptable. “Is acceptable now” and “was acceptable before”, if compared side by side would make the differences between the two more obvious—so much so that we might even instantly correct ourselves. It is not often this is reflected on. Perhaps looking at the masters of politeness, today’s experts on manners and respect, can serve as new-found consciences to help hone in on etiquette practices which have fallen away and are relevant to today’s culture. Today’s speech and actions may seem preferred because they are casual and candid, but the truth is, they are often times more damaging and unkind. There is a digression of culture in respectfulness toward one another that has been caused as a result of this.

The understanding of common etiquette has been contributed to by many world cultures over the course of human existence. As far back as 2400 BC, the Egyptians had rules written in a book including how to interact with superiors. Small polite phrases such as “Bless you” originated as early as 590 AD when Pope Gregory ordered that each person who sneezes be blessed, because of the Plague. In 1290 AD, a Milanese monk, named Bonvicino da Riv, wrote a book called, Fifty Courtesies of the Table, which covered manners at the table while eating. Many of these same manners we follow even today such as eating with a closed mouth, not picking your teeth, and turn your head when coughing and sneezing.

Establishing practices for good manners and politeness was even more in place in France at the time of King Louis XIV. In the 1600s, at Versailles, King Louis XIV’s gardener was working in the garden. The garden has signs in place to indicate where not to walk as he was working. These signs were called ‘etiquette’ in French, or ‘place cards’. Despite having these signs in place, the aristocrats walked where they pleased. King Louis XIV ordered that the etiquette boundaries must be observed. Following this, the word ‘etiquette’ became the phrase for boundaries within the court.

Within our own country, George Washington, wrote a book on Rules of Civility. In 1922, Emily Post published Etiquette—In Society, In Business, In Politics and At Home. Judith Martin, or “Ms. Manners” is well-known today for her column and books as a guide to good manners. Peggy Post, Emily’s great-granddaughter wrote a book, The Etiquette Advantage in Business: Personal Skills for Professional Success, and also has several books on Internet etiquette.

Wisdom can be found from lessons of etiquette and manners formed over the course of history. Practicing good etiquette is always the best policy for kindness, politeness, and respectfulness, which improves the culture of society. When speaking, here are a few easy suggestions to remember for practicing good etiquette:

• Speak softly
• Always answer when someone speaks to you
• Remember to use “Excuse me”, “Please”, and “Thank you”
• Be sincere in giving and receiving compliments  
• Respect the personal space and beliefs of the other person
• Realize the human dignity of all people and be respectful

[written for @cultureofkind]

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George Washington’s Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation
(Little Books of Wisdom)

by George Washington

Etiquette—In Society, In Business, In Politics and At Home
by Emily Post

The Etiquette Advantage in Business: Personal Skills for Professional Success
by Emily Post

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It’s Sensitive Man

Q & A of Making Sense of the Sensitive


Q: I am concerned about a stranger, and want to help, but I am not sure of the best way to approach the person to find out how I can help. What do you suggest?

A: There is a difference between prying and sincerely wanting to get involved to express concern and help someone. First, start with a basic question. Listen and watch for indications of how the person is reacting as you converse. If the person is open to the way the conversation is progressing, continue with further investigation asking more specific questions. If the person becomes hostile or abrupt, then back out of the discussion and change the topic. You can try to come back to test the waters again later if the person seems more receptive. It is always a good idea to be sincere and warm in your approach. People can usually tell if you are being nosy or if you truly care. Once you are able to determine what the situation is, express compassion and ask politely how you can help. It is kind and thoughtful to follow up later if you are able to.

Q: What is the proper way to confront gossip?

A: While confrontation is typically not recommended, when it comes to gossip it is best to confront the gossiper and address it. By ignoring and not addressing it, the gossip being said results in being represented as being truth.

Q: How do you politely ask someone to stop swearing or using inappropriate references?

A: Ask the person to please stop using language around you. Tell them that the references being made are highly offensive and inappropriate.

Q: What is the best way to address emotional relationship issues?

A: Emotional relationship questions and conversations can be delicate situations. Follow the rule of 3 C’s. Current, Concise, and Continuity. Focus on what is current, not the past. Be concise. State a continuity plan of what you would like to see moving forward. Plan for a quiet place to have a private conversation and be honest, welcoming open communication. Always ask questions with kindness and respect.

Q: How do you effectively ask someone to stop gossiping or spreading rumors?

A: If a person is igniting gossip, there is usually something missing within that individual, such as a lack of self-esteem or a desire for popularity. Try to compliment the person and build them up, countering their negativity. Ask the person to stop, explaining how the gossip is damaging and not appropriate.

Q: How can a person communicate with the highest level of dignity to a person?

A: The best way to communicate to someone with the highest level of dignity and worth is speaking directly to the person with sincerity, respect, and value.

Q: Is there a checklist of questions I can routinely ask myself to make sure I am being kind to myself?

A: No matter what your state in life is, there is a responsibility to take time to care for yourself. Being kind to yourself means fulfilling your basic needs, as is necessary to human existence, and making time for yourself. Think of how you can rejuvenate your energy and spirit. Take time for yourself by treating yourself, taking a break, making time for a nap, relaxing, spending quiet time in meditation, or doing something you enjoy. Taking care of yourself on a regular basis makes being kind to others easier.

Q: How does a person state a complaint about something which is offensively affecting others?

A: The kindest and most polite way to address this is to start with a comment addressing the oblivion, stating what the offense is resulting in, followed by the request. For example, a person may be wearing a strong scent. Rather than responding with a rhetoric statement or dramatic remark, you could say, “I don’t know if you realize how strong that scent is—you might consider using it more sparingly.” or “There have been some complaints from people who are having a reaction to that—and I’d appreciate if you’d cut back.”

Q: I am not in agreement with how someone believes. I feel strongly about this and want to say something. Normally, I blurt my opinion out unsolicited. How can I state what is on my mind in a more kind manner?

A: It is considered impolite to tell people “You should do…”. No one has the right to tell someone how to live their life. The best way to state your opinion, or complaint, is to first state what does work and then follow by saying what doesn’t work. This is considered constructive criticism. Invite open discussion if you are able to. This is the most kind and considerate way to address personal and professional matters of differing opinion.

Q: What is the correct way to respond to a rude statement?

A: Treating offenses as accidents, rather than offenses, shows you believe the best in a person. It is a polite way to give the offender a way to back down. Politeness usually has a higher success rate than responding to rudely to rudeness.

Q: Is it polite to give advice to someone even if it is for improvement?

A: In most cases, no. However, if the advice is welcome from someone who you are already close to, then it should be done with humility and with tactfulness.

Q: How do you respond to let someone know that a question is not welcomed?

A: Respond to unwelcome questions by thanking the person and then stating an appreciation that they asked, without satisfying them with an answer. For example, you could say: “Thank you, I know you mean well.” or “Thank you for taking an interest.”. Another way to respond is with an irrelevant reply. A long pause before responding to indicate disapproval is also a way to responsd. These responses should suffice to indicate that the question is not welcomed. Keep in mind that there is no need to humiliate the person for being nosy. However, it is not out of line to state that they should have more consideration in the future from asking such an invasive question.

Q: I am often asked questions which I do not know how to respond to based on the circumstances. Do you have any suggestions?

A: Try non-verbal responses such as raising your eyebrows or giving a mysterious look or smile.

Q: When a conversation is beginning to turn into gossip, what is a way to stop this?

A: Two replies you can say to counter gossip are:
“Does that person know you are telling me this? Because we are good friends and I wouldn’t want to have that person think I am talking behind their back.” or “Please do not put any ideas about that person in my head. I will not carry around a conclusion about another person without sharing it with them.”

Q: What recommendations are there to responding to anger with kindness?

A: Giving a person or yourself time and space to cool down, is an effective and kind response to anger.

Q: I have noticed that people have differing views on privacy of others. How can there be more sensitivity to the kindness of privacy of human lives and relationships?

A: It is not just unkind, but extremely rude to intrude on another person’s privacy. Privacy comes in many forms. Having individual privacy or privacy within relationships is a necessary part of life. Intruding on this ruins intrinsic joys, and the very essence of the human spirit. Examples of privacy could be a new friendship, a couple kissing, buying a present for someone, having a conversation with a family member, praying, being creative, writing, expressing love for another, or other personal moments in a person’s life. Responding with sensitivity to these private moments means averting the eyes, asking permission before taking the liberty to join in, and declining to trespass given the opportunity. When noticing someone violating the privacy of another, be sensitive to this by encouraging them to kindly stop out of respect for the other person.

Be Cultured. Be Kind.

[written for @cultureofkind]

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Fathers As Role Models

“Train up a child in the way he should go:
and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
—Proverbs 22:6

Dads have a special place in life. They are role models for their children training them how to have good morals, solid character, work ethic, motivation, discipline, manners, and how to treat people. These set develop a firm foundation in children which will remain with them for the rest of their life.

A dad specializes in teaching wood-building and special projects, they are the fix-n-repair solution masters, the money sense geniuses (unless it has to do with electronics), and they are fabulous chefs-of-the-grill. These are the some of the basic essentials. Some also are experts on camping, fishing, golf, football, or a number of other sports, and of course, how to maneuver the latest technical device.

As a disciplinary, fathers exercise tough love, which is equalized with a soft-side of hugs for daughters and pats on the back for sons encouraging with statements of “Good job!”, “You’ll get it!”, and “I’m proud of you!”. With this positive encouragement, kids can soar, and accomplish a lot. When older, words of encouragement and wisdom still ring in the self-conscious of their children as adults, because they are inbred into the person defining their self-esteem and knowing that they can achieve anything.

Dads and father-figures are instrumental in teaching respect at an early age to their children. They have a special impact on teaching daughters on what to look for in a date and a spouse, by the character and values they exhibit within their family and to the community. They teach sons how to be leaders and how to love and respect women properly. Being a good role model, their lives define what good character is and what healthy relationships are. Children learn how to love and how to be loved.

Although not all are fortunate to have a dad, or one who has served as a role model, most have had some sort of father-figure who has stepped up and filled this honorable role. It is not an easy job, but one which has infinite rewards and requires endurance. As its own venture, fathers envision many things for their children. Plans and a list of values they want to instill are already being formed even before a child is born. There is not a manual, but most do an exceptional job. While most look forward to high school or college graduation as relief, the job does not end there or ever. Fatherhood manifests into a new dimension as an adult dad who has retired from most instruction and discipline, but who has a special place of honor and is still a source for advice. Once a father, always a father. Fathers deserve to be commended and appreciated on this special day of the year.

Father’s Day is a time to remember your father and tell him “I love you!” and say “Thanks!”.

Happy Father’s Day!

[written for @cultureofkind]

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The Expectant Father: The Ultimate Guide for Dads-to-Be
by Jennifer Ash and Armin A. Brott 

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Taboo Topics

What are you talking about?!? Good etiquette means practicing good manners. There are 4 topics that are things you should never talk about if you want to practice being polite: Money, Politics, Religion, and Sex.

These topics are sensitive areas either because they are classified or core beliefs. Talking about issues in these categories can cause friction and discomfort to the other person and even be very hurtful. When you are aware of this you respect the other person’s dignity and beliefs. Unless both parties are open to discussing topics in these categories, it is very inappropriate.

Make friends by politely asking if the other person minds talking about a certain topic which may be sensitive. If so, then be open-minded when you discuss these issues being sure not to counter the other person tearing them down and rudely opposing them. Your belief is not the only way. Welcomed open-discussions are a great way to learn from others. However, if these topics are not welcomed for discussion, do not proceed. There are so many other things to talk about. You’ll win a friend and good manners is good etiquette.

[written for @cultureofkind]

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Wave and Smile

One of the easiest ways to extend an olive branch, and a touch of human friendliness, is to wave and smile. Many people are never greeted each day. Most people are so engrossed in their cell phones, or computers, that it is rare that human eye contact is even made unless you specifically are out to meet up with someone. The standard of ‘politeness’ is to stand from a distance, giving a person their respectful space, of course, and throw a comment their way, whether kind or not. As adults, it has become an insult to actually talk in person to anyone unless it is to ask for directions or for a business reason. Try it. Wave and smile at someone in person. Even if they are different than you or if you disagree with them. Without even saying a word, you just acknowledged another human existence with the easiest way to be respectful.

This suggestion was made by a child in line for a Library Reading Program in Cedar Hill, TX.

[written for @cultureofkind]

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Compliments—a Spoken Gift of Kindness

Complimentary thoughts spoken can be twice as powerful when shared. Sincere compliments are thoughtful ways to express admiration toward someone. It is a way to politely and honestly say that you admire or appreciate a quality about another person. It warms the heart and often brings a smile. When was the last time you gave someone a compliment?

Compliments are not as popular as they used to be. Sarcasm and cut-downs are more commonly heard as the trend, tainted with the preferred flavor of negativity. Much of the time, it can be the culture of the circle of people you surround yourself with or interact with throughout the day. These groups, whether personal or professional, may classify negative comments or thoughtless remarks as “it is just the way it is, and we don’t mean to hurt anyone, and we all understand that”. Or do they? These type of remarks can hit the core of people and may be absorbed without expressing the hurt they cause the person. Compliments bring positive energy, boosting the mood of the one it is given to and often the result is the person responding with positive energy. It is unquestionably a sprinkle of praise which can do a world of good, beyond that which you may never even realize.

A compliment is easy to give to someone you know, but it must be genuinely said with sincerity and within the right context. If you compliment someone in the wrong context, the compliment could easily be an insult rather than a compliment. It is easiest to compliment people who are known because we already know the qualities we like about them. How frequently do you appreciate these qualities by vocalizing them? Try to make complimenting as part of your list each day and compliment 1-3 people. Don’t be shy.

For those who appreciate and practice spirituality, we can also compliment the Creator by making compliments throughout the day about the beauty around us. This is a healthy step away from electronics and the busyness of life by noticing the natural world that we often don’t notice. Take a break, observe, and give Him a compliment, saying “I like that sunrise.”, or “You did a great job on the flowers and the squirrels.”, “Thank you for creating these people whom I appreciate and whom I see You in, in all their many positive qualities.”

We run into plenty of strangers during the day who we can also compliment. These compliments generally are about external qualities that are observed, such as attractive physical looks or appearance such as clothing. However, compliments can also be given for an action such as opening a door. It is polite to return a compliment for the thoughtfulness of an act of kindness, as it acknowledges and praises the person in appreciation. This promotes a culture of kindness and is a positive way to encourage kindness.

So take care to spread this little love of kindness selectively and only when you truly mean it. Some recipients may respond back negating the comment. React with a big smile, reassuring them that you speak in truth. Give someone a compliment today! 

Here are a list of compliments. Pick a few to use today or come up with your own!

You did a great job.
Your perspective is so refreshing.
You are an awesome friend.
You are more helpful than you realize.
I like your sense of humor.
You’re even more beautiful on the inside than you are on the outside.
You bring out the best in people.
You are a good example.
You’re a great listener.
You smell good.
You’re inspiring.
You are brave.
You are strong.
You’re one of a kind.
You have the best ideas.
You are so creative.
You always know what to say.
You’re so thoughtful.
You’re gorgeous.
You’re the coolest person I know.
You look nice today.
You are beautiful.
I think you are handsome.
I appreciate you.
I like your style.
You are one of the nicest people I know.
You have the best laugh.
You’re a gift to those around you.
I am so proud of your accomplishments.
Look at you, you are dressed so nicely today.
Thank you for helping me.
Thank you for your encouragement.
You made my day.
You are super.
I enjoy being around you.
I really appreciate that you respect my privacy.
Thank you for respecting when I say “stop”.
Thank you for respecting my space.
Thank you for respecting my wishes when I say “no”.
Thank you for making time for me in person.
Hanging out with you is always a blast.
I know I can trust you.
I know that I can confide in you because you are trustworthy.
Thank you for your honesty.
Thank you for being you.
This dish you made is fabulous.
That is a really great idea.
I am proud of you.
You can always find the right words to say, even when everything is wrong.
People pay attention and respect you.
You are a role model to so many.
I admire your patience.
All of your hard work shows with how this has turned out.
You worked really hard on that and it certainly was worth the time and energy in the end.
You are so organized and neat.
You are so resourceful.
You are such a blessing.
You are a spiritual role model.
You are a great teacher.
Thank you for showing me.
Thank you for sharing.
You are so thoughtful.
That means so much to me.
Thank you for taking the time.
You are making a difference.

If you were a box of crayons, you’d be the giant name-brand one with the built-in sharpener.
You’re all that and a super-size bag of chips.
Aside from food, you’re my favorite.
You’re more fun than bubble wrap.
I bet you do the crossword puzzle in ink.
There’s ordinary, and then there’s you.
You’re better than a triple-scoop ice cream cone. With sprinkles.

[written for @cultureofkind]

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