These days, the notion of etiquette and social graces seem so passé that you begin to actually miss right manners. If having the right manners seems so old-fashioned, I think there are still many who recognize that etiquette remains one of life’s necessities.
Remember those days when modern-day chivalry meant gentlemen who would open doors for a lady? Where have those days gone when men would generously give up their seats for elderly women in jam-packed trains or church pews?
These days too, so many people forget to have the meek politeness of not speaking so loudly on mobile phones in a crowded restaurant or in an elevator where everybody literally overhears their conversation.
A pet peeve of mine is when others skip the cue in the ladies’ room and go straight for the cubicle doors. The same goes for women who hog the bathroom sink to put on makeup or to gossip when there are obviously other ladies behind them who need to wash their hands.
What about diners who thoughtlessly place their handbags on a separate chair in a crowded restaurant? The list goes on.
I even heard an amusing story about a couple who were invited by the family to celebrate their dad’s birthday over dinner at a restaurant. Having arrived a bit early, the man called to tell the celebrant’s son that they’re feeling a bit famished and asks if it would it be possible for them to order something ahead.
“Go ahead and have some appetizer as you must but, we’ll be there in about 10 minutes,” the son replied.
Alas, when the celebrant and his family arrived at the restaurant, they found the waiters clearing the table, and soon enough realized that the couple had already helped themselves to the menu, and polished off their chosen meals! As the rest of the party ate dinner, the couple even had the nerve to look on impatiently.
At the office, social decorum too seems often forgotten. My friends and I usually refer to it as “urbanidad.” If you must, use your earphones if you’d like to have music playing as you work. Know that not all people share the same musical preferences as you do. And please, never rummage through another person’s thing without their consent, even if it is just for a pen.
At parties, never ask someone the price tag on what she’s wearing, and do not be so presumptuous as to ask a person you’ve just met what they do for a living.
At the end of the day, etiquette isn’t simply about politeness. It also has to do with respect. For instance, dressing up for an occasion isn’t merely about looking good for yourself but also a sign of deference for the guests and the occasion. When you know how much effort the family has put into planning a big occasion, do show up in your Sunday best.
Social graces are imbibed and developed through the years and one’s upbringing is reflected through one’s behaviors. Nonetheless, manners often times have to be deliberately taught and modeled. After all, who would ever want to be called crude or uncouth?