Miss (or Mister) Manners

A friend of mine recently came to LA to visit and stayed at my apartment. My roommate and I were appalled at her lack of manners. At twenty-two years old, you would think she would know as much to thank her hostesses? Apparently not (and after her rude behavior during her visit, a thank you would have been the least she could have done). Manners, such a simple concept yet the younger generations (my own included) can’t seem to grasp it. I’m not just talking about not putting your elbows on the table, talking with your mouth full, I’m talking about simple everyday rules of etiquette. Is it really that difficult to say ‘thank you’? Or add a please to that request?

In a time when having cell phones at the dinner table is a regular (and almost acceptable) occurrence, it seems like manners are rapidly becoming a thing of the past… but that doesn’t mean we should give into the trend. Maybe it’s because I’m from the south, and grew up with all that “Southern Hospitality,” but I think manners and etiquette should never be sacrificed, no matter how busy you are. Here are some tips and reminders to keep your behavior in check:

• Thank You Cards: Growing up, my sister and I weren’t allowed to play with our presents until we had written and mailed thank you cards for them. Thank you cards aren’t just for little kids; if you receive a gift, send a thank you card. Even if you don’t have “Thank you cards,” send a little note expressing your gratitude or at least send an email thanking them. Your appreciation will go a long way, and chances are, you’ll get some more presents in the future 🙂
• House guests: I am a big stickler for being on your best behavior as a house guest. Your host shouldn’t even know you are there. Keep your belongings neat and tidy, offer to clean up or help with dinner, if there are dishes in the sink you should do them without hesitation. Sometime during your stay, give your host some sort of token of appreciation. Whether is a bouquet of flowers or a bottle of wine, and always follow up your stay with a thank you card.
• Punctuality: Most people view tardiness as a sign of disrespect, so do your best to be on-time, if not a few minutes early. Check the traffic and give yourself plenty of time to arrive at your destination. If you are going to be late, call and inform the other party.
• Party Time!: Just because you’re attending a party doesn’t mean you can leave your manners at home. If you want to bring a friend, ask the host first. Ask if you can bring anything, a bottle of wine, some chips and dip, or maybe your iPod and speakers? Even if they say no, it wouldn’t hurt to show up with a little something. Offer to help clean up before you leave and after the party, be sure to let the host know how much fun you had. Shoot ‘em an e-mail or send a Thank You card for extra points. Chances are, you’ll be invited to their next shindig.
• Please and Thank You: Adding these simple words into your everyday speech will make you a much more pleasant person to deal with, and probably make your life easier. “Could you please check if you have this in another size?”; “Thank you so much!” sounds much better than “I need this in a smaller size.” Even if your request isn’t granted, you should follow it with “oh, well thank you anyway!”
• Cell Phones: Running errands may seem like the perfect time to catch up on your phone calls, but when you are in line at the grocery store or the bank, that phone call can wait. Not only is it rude to the employees helping you, you are slowing down the lines. So put your phone on silent and call your mom back when you are in the car, or even better (and safer) at home.
• Favors: If your friend does you a favor, pay them back (no, not necessarily in the literal sense). If you borrow someone’s car, return it with as much gas, if not more, as when you borrowed it. If your friend picks you up from the airport, let them know the next time they go out of town, you will return the favor. They scratch your back, you scratch theirs… get it?

While it may appear otherwise, there is still a place for etiquette, and you never know when having good manners might help you move ahead in your career. Besides, good manners won’t cost you much, but not having them will prove to be much more expensive 😉